Monthly Archives: May 2007

A Spiritual Career?

This morning my study was in Ephesians 2:1-10, an amazingly packed portion of scripture. Ephesians 2:8-10 is a recognizable passage to most Christians, and one I memorized in grade school, and I am glad I did. In the NIV, it goes, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Such a clear and simple laying out of the plan of salvation, in just three short verses.

It is by grace we are saved — it is not something I have earned or ever could earn — it is only available to me as a gift. For that reason, I can never boast in my salvation. And good works are not necessary for salvation, but rather good works are proof of God’s grace in my life. God saved me so that I could do good works for the benefit of his Kingdom. In the words of my bible commentary, “While it is true that we are not saved by good works, it is equally true that we are saved for good works. We do not work in order to be saved, but because we are saved.”

“But the question arises: What kind of good works am I expected to do? Paul answers, Good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. In other words, God has a blueprint for [my] life. Before [my] conversion, He mapped out a spiritual career for [me]. [My] responsibility is to find His will for [me] and then obey it. [I] do not have to work out a plan for [my] [life], but only accept the plan which He has drawn up for [me]. This delivers [me] from fret and frenzy, and insures that [my life] will be of maximum glory to Him, of most blessing to others, and of greatest reward to [myself].”

“In order to find out the good works He has planned for [my life, I] should: (1) confess and forsake sin as soon as [I am] conscious of it in [my life]; (2) be continually and unconditionally yielded to Him; (3) study the word of God to discern His will, and then do whatever He tells [me] to do; (4) spend time in prayer each day; (5) seize opportunities of service as they arise; (6) cultivate the fellowship and counsel of other Christians. God prepares [me] for good works. He prepares good works for [me] to perform. Then He rewards [me] when [I] perform them. Such is His grace!” Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald, Edited by Art Farstad, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995.

How convicting! And yet how inspiring! I have been thinking through my current situation, and I am convinced that we are within God’s will in leaving the active-duty Air Force. I believe that God led us to the land that we found in Nebraska, and that He has allowed us to acquire all of the property. I believe that it will please Him for us to set up on the land and spend more time with family. I also believe that (here I am going out on a limb a bit) He would be pleased to have me have the part-time job at Offutt AFB that I have applied for. I believe that with this job, God would be providing for our family while also allowing me to have more flexibility and spend more time at home, leading the family. I could be wrong on the last point (or even all points, I suppose), but I nevertheless believe these things. Since I feel that we are squarely within God’s will, I KNOW that I have nothing to fear or worry over. God will reward me for following Him.

Lately I have been concerned about the health and growth of our baby in utero. This afternoon I was thinking about how God rewards us when we are within His will. I was thinking that we have placed ourselves back within His will when we stopped trying to control our reproduction and we got the vasectomy reversal last October. In February, we conceived, and today we are at 16 weeks and 2 days. This afternoon, we met with a doctor and heard the baby’s heartbeat for a second time. What a relief it was to hear that baby’s heartbeat. It reassured me that we were within God’s will and that our baby was still alive. In the next few weeks, Gina should start to feel the baby move! Anyway, this is part of our pursuit of the quiver-full life, something we think brings glory to God.

The final part of this long post is my thoughts on church. It is my dream to start or join a home fellowship of Christians when we get to Nebraska (Sterling Christian Fellowship?). The idea would be a Bible-believing collection of Christians who meet together weekly and are primarily characterized by our love, for Christ, for each other, and for others. Perhaps this is part of the ‘spiritual career’ that God has planned for me? I must confess that I often feel I would be an inadequate member of such an assembly, but perhaps that leadership of the assembly is not what God is calling me to.

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Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I just finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  It was truly a fascinating story and a fairly good page-turner.  In the end, the author explains the story quite well, so that even a dense guy like me can see some of his points.

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This is not the story of pi (3.14159…), but rather the story of Piscine Molitor Patel, a young boy in India whose family owns a zoo.  Piscine goes by Pi in order to avoid being teased because his name sounds like ‘pissing.’  The thrust of the story line is that Pi’s family decides to sell the zoo and move from India to Canada.  Along the way, the cargo ship that they travel on sinks, and Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a variety of animals, including an orangutan, a hyena, a zebra, and a Bengal tiger.  If that doesn’t get your interest, I don’t know what will.

Pi is an interesting young boy who is a boy of faith — he claims to be a hindu, muslim, and christian all at the same time.  I do not think the Mr. Martel’s point is that all three religions could co-exist, but rather that the truths that he points out in the novel could apply to any of those three religions, or indeed any religion.  During the book, one man does not believe Pi’s story, because he simply can’t believe it.  Pi tells him that the things of faith are also unbelievable, but that doesn’t make them untrue.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable story — one I would recommend.

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Guide or Command

I have often said that we have felt God leading us to our land in Nebraska.  The other day when I spoke with Chris, he left me some verses that he said might help me — they had to do with obeying God.  It makes me wonder, now,  whether we are being guided or led to the land in Nebraska or if we have been commanded to go to Nebraska.  And is there a difference?  The former would be like a string of breadcrumbs leading us to the land — we can follow or not at our own will, but following obviously means we get to a place where God wants us.  The latter would mean that to fail to follow God’s command would be hazardous to our communion.  Or maybe this is all semantics.   I’m sorry to have wasted your time with this post, but I guess I realize now that either way, to follow God’s lead is to reap the rewards he has planned for us, but to ignore his guidance would be detrimental to the fellowship we cherish and desire.

One of the things I like about blogging is that I can sit down and type out my thoughts.  Typing out my thoughts forces me to think through issues or questions in a (hopefully) logical fashion.  I also like that I can post my thoughts and get feedback from someone who visits.

God Bless!

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A Conversation with Chris

Last night I had a conversation with a good friend and brother, Chris.  Chris is former Air Force and I feel ashamed when I complain about how long things take and remember what he went through.

As those who pay attention know, I have been rather frustrated lately with the wait.  Progress is being made, but I want to see the future so I can be comfortable with it.  I know, however, that God holds my future and that He will protect me and provide for me.  I was especially frustrated as we entered this month and I was offered a job within the Air Force as a labor law attorney in Washington, DC.  I couldn’t understand why we were being offered this job when I felt clearly that God approved of our move to Nebraska and I felt that God had clearly opened doors for us to move to Nebraska.

Chris used to be a F-16 fighter pilot, which involved a 10-year commitment to the Air Force, but he felt God calling him away from the Air Force after just 3 years.  He waited for 7 years for God to show him where he was going and for God to release him from his obligation to Uncle Sam.  During this time, Chris did exceptionally well in his career path, which tempted him to stay in the Air Force, even though he knew that God was calling him away from the Air Force.

Chris shared the following scripture with me from Hebrews 11:24-27:  “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.  He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.  By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger;  he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”  Chris had been led to this passage when he was struggling with his own decision to follow God’s calling and leave the Air Force.  Chris’ detachment from the Air Force is greater than mine because Chris believes that he should have no active involvement in the government.  So when Chris left the Air Force, he totally severed all ties.

But can you see the application of this passage to my life today?  It practically screams out to me.  I do not need to be known as an officer of the United States Air Force — I should be known as a son of God.  I should not be giving my life to serve the United States of America — I should be giving my life to serve God.  Such stances will not make me respected among the people of this world, but it will reap me much greater rewards.

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This Morning’s Reading

This morning I read Galatians 5:16-25.

I had just gotten done reviewing the What I Believe page on my blog and I saw that I had said that Christ not only frees us from the penalty of sin (death), but he also frees us from the power of sin.  1 Corinthians 10:13.  Then I started reading this passage and I understand better now where that freedom from the power of sin originates.  If I spend my time getting closer to God, pursuing Christlikeness, then I will not have that time to pursue gratifying my sinful desires and my sinful nature.  It is a simple matter of focusing on Christ.  If I focus on Christ, then I am not focusing on my self.

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Still Waiting to Move

Today I will submit my application for the part-time attorney position at Offutt AFB.  I am within 4 months of leaving Arizona now!  I am so excited about the prospect of moving to Nebraska and getting started on our country living.  We have been moving toward this for so long — it is so very exciting to be this close.

We decided a couple years ago that we wanted to start trying to live a more self-sufficient life.  We started out by reading John Seymour’s guide to self-sufficiency, which is probably one of the better books I have ever read.  We then discovered Joel Salatin’s books and I moved on to reading some of Gene Logsdon’s books.  We started to think about a move to the midwest to give this self-sufficiency a try.  Last March, we drove through Nebraska on our way home from Alabama, and Caleb played with his cousin, Tate.  They had such a great time playing together that I felt moved to move to Nebraska.  In September, we went to Nebraska to look for land.  We thought we wanted to live in the Fremont/Wahoo/Lincoln corridor, so that I would have easy access to Omaha and Offutt AFB.  But when we got there, land just wasn’t selling for what we wanted, until we found a newspaper ad for 78.68 acres of land selling for $1200 per acre.  When we went down there, it was so much of what we wanted.  It was almost all in pasture land, with the exception of some trees and a few ponds, which, again, was exactly what we were looking for.  Then we went to talk to the neighbor, and he told us that he was thinking of selling his house in the Spring!  Long story short, we ended up buying the pasture land in December and the house in March, so we are now the proud owners of 83.23 acres in Johnson County, NE.

God has truly blessed us, and we have felt his guidance throughout this process.

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Call for help — draft resume

I have been working on a new draft resume, taking advantage of some of the things we get with our MacBook Pro.

Last week I learned of what might be the perfect job for us. There is a position available at Offutt AFB (75 minutes from home) as a contracts attorney. The job is only part-time (20 hours/week), but if I can earn half of what I make now, I should be able to support the family and make the mortgage payments. A part-time job would allow me to make the commute only 2-3 days per week, and I could spend the other 4-5 days a week at the house with the family, working on building up the farmstead and working on building up my country lawyer practice.

This post is a call for help, but the help must come quickly, since the posting closes on Tuesday, and I really want to submit my application on Monday, 14 May. You can see the job posting here if you like, but most importantly, I would like you to review my Draft Resume and make recommendations about any improvements that you think I could make.

One of my primary concerns is that I may have spoken in military language and a reader may not understand something. Please let me know what works for you and what doesn’t.

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Separation Papers & Continuing Job Search

The big day has finally come.  Today I should be submitting my separation papers.  The military is such an anomaly.  In order to separate, I have to give 6 months’ notice!  I will be giving notice today (or tomorrow) that I want 25 November to be my last day of active-duty, but that I will accept a reserve commission.  I am also estimating that my terminal leave will start on 14 September.  Terminal leave will allow me to leave the local area;  it is the use of all the vacation time I have saved up but not used.

This is another big step toward our goal of heading out to the farm.  It is done in the midst of the Air Force wanting me to accept an assignment to Washington, DC.

On the job search front, I have heard of a new job opening at Offutt AFB that sounds almost perfect.  They are looking for a lawyer to work contract issues on a part-time basis.  I would love to work at Offutt 2-3 days a week and still make enough money to support my family and pay my mortgage.  It wouldn’t be extravagant living, but that isn’t what I am after.  I am after the ability to spend as much time at home with my family as I can.  The only thing that bothers me about the Offutt job is that I would have to do my reserve duty somewhere else — either McConnell AFB in Wichita, KS, or Whiteman AFB in Knob Noster, MO.  I think I would prefer Whiteman, but we will have to wait and see.

Last week I submitted an application for an Assistant US Trustee position in Omaha, and I am still waiting for an interview for the Deputy County Attorney position in Auburn.  I know I was referred for a non-lawyer position in Lincoln with the US CIS, but I haven’t heard anything on that job and have seen that they have re-advertised for that position.

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Lucy Gone

Well, that was a short-lived experiment.  For the second time in our marriage, we got a big dog who was an older puppy and we decided we couldn’t handle the dog.  The first time was Buster while we were in Altus, and now we have relearned the same lesson with Lucy.  Yesterday afternoon we posted Lucy on Craig’s List and she left us at 8:00 yesterday evening.  I am sad to see her go, but I know this is for the best.  Gina estimates the cost of keeping Lucy for those two weeks was about $800.  She ruined Gina’s favorite chair, Caleb’s favorite soccer ball, at least one of the seatbelts in our van, and a kennel we had borrowed from our friends.  She had also made Gina feel like a prisoner in our own house, because we couldn’t go anywhere without wondering what she would destroy next.  She also did some damage in the backyard.

I have learned that I don’t want any animal on our farm that can’t contribute in some way.  Since Lucy was spayed, she would not have been a productive member of the farm.  She probably also would have had trouble being trained out of killing chickens and eating eggs.

So we have started looking at puppies that we can raise and then breed.  Right now, we are enamored with the Maremma sheep dog, but there aren’t many, if any, breeders of Maremmas in the US.

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An Interview

I am so excited!  I just got a phone call from the Nemaha County Attorney’s office and was told they want to arrange an interview.  Maybe I am reading too much into this, but that call came at just the right time.  I have been so wrapped up in this offer that the Air Force made for me to move to Washington, DC.  I have worried that it might have been God opening the door for us.  But then I think back over all the great ways we have felt God move in getting our land and home. 

I remember sitting in the judge’s chambers in the Johnson County Courthouse in February.  I met with the Honorable Steven B. Timm and talked with him about my plan to move to Sterling.  He told me that the Deputy County Attorney for Nemaha County had just turned in her resignation.  Nemaha County is the next county east of Johnson County, not a bad commute.  I felt, on that day, so much like that was an opportunity that I never would have learned about otherwise.  I had never met the judge before that day, but because he is former Air Force, I was ushered in to talk with him.  Next thing I knew, he was talking to me about a job opportunity just up the road from where we will be living.  I couldn’t help but think that this was God working in a powerful way.

Fast forward now 2-1/2 months later, and I am feeling discouraged about the job hunt.  I have applied for many jobs, but haven’t been getting any good feedback.  I was starting to feel that I must be crazy to want to leave my well-paying job when I don’t have any jobs lined up.  And at just the moment when I was feeling like my heart my burst, I got the call about an interview.  I am reminded that I have a lot to learn about trusting in the provision of God. 

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Any why do you worry about clothes?  See how the lilies of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the gress of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fie, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

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