20 June, 2012

Trials, Tribulations, and Spiritual Growth.

Over the years that I have worked within emergency management I have seen plenty of times in which people run from danger. I have seen fear in the eyes of men looking at a wall of flame four times their height, and I have seen the chaos of the crowd when the tornado siren wails...but I have also seen the beautiful growth after that same wildfire, and that storm.

The grass grows green and healthiest following the wind driven fire...
The flower brightens and heightens most after the spring thunderstorm...
The gold refined to it's purest form once run through the heated kiln.
and so it is true with my life and yours.

Great disaster and difficult days drive me to prayer. Prayer: humble and broken brings me nearer to my great God. I have seen others that too have been touched by tough situations, pains, and loss...and when I look so often at those who have weathered such a season with God as their Captain I see that they carry a confidence that others who even in the calm do not. How awesome to see our King bless those who are faithful to Him! How awesome to see that the fruits of those storm covered days grow larger and sweeter than the fruit of the easy days!

If troubling days you find yourself in, take heart, fellow believer! Take heart, for our Lord does not promise you an easy path to the Promised Land, but He does guarantee a safe path. And, if in your days of trouble you look to Him, if in His hand you trust your day, you will have the most blessed of fruit grown in your life.
The Gettys: When Trials Come

08 June, 2012

Psalm 121

"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber not sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore."
                                                  Psalm 121

Sometimes, it seems like I have it all put together, all sorted out, things figured out, direction given, action being taken. Or, at least that is what I have been hearing from others most of my life.

Early this week I heard something different. My good friend Rob said, "Bradley, I have never seen you un-sure of anything."
You know what, Rob was right (kinda). I may be unsure of my direction, I may be unsure of my job, of my living arrangements, my transportaion methods, even at times my friendships...But, I have never been unsure of who my God is, or where it is that I recieve the strength to carry on through each day, and each moment within those days.

My Lord, is Creator of all. My King, the Director of my life. I may be doubled over. I may be in pain, turmoil, and anquish...but I am strong with His strength. I am strong with Him as my Captain. I trust Him fully, and nomatter how difficult the path is that is before me, I will always faithfully take that next step!

I hope that as you read this you find that you can have the same confidence in your future as I have in mine, and I pray that this quickly written blog post is an encouragement in your day!

In closing,
Happy Friday! Go enjoy your weekend!

07 June, 2012

True Commitment, True Love.


"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
                                                        John 15:13

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to run with one of our residents (we will call him AP) here at the facility. It was so good to get out and do some running with AP, as he is soon to be completing his time here and he has set a goal for himself to run daily when he is out of the 'system'. He has only recently decided that he wanted to do this, and now cites that he wants replace smoking with running when he gets stressed out and overwhelmed.

Since AP has voiced his goals to me, I want to take these last couple of weeks and prepare him to accomplish them. We started our run just shortly after the rain started to fall (which any of you that know me well, know that I love running in the rain!), the sky was overcast, and our spirits were high.
As we ran out of town we kept a solid pace, and had to walk only three times of about fifteen seconds each. When I pointed out the turn around point of three miles and said I wanted to try to keep from stopping, he doubled up his efforts to keep moving forward.  We were successful in that goal, and after showing him how to do a wide turn around that prevents a runner from losing momentum we were on our return leg of the run!

As we began our trek back I encouraged him to push onward without coming to a stop, and took this time we had together to ask about his life. He talked to me about his moving often and about gang life. He told me about the good aspects of being apart of a gang (basically security...people don't mess with you when you belong to a crowd), and about the negative aspects of gang life ("having to rob people at gun point is not fun", "I don't want to kill someone", and "I don't want to end up somewhere worse than here"). He spoke to me about his wanting to be done with it all when he 'got out', and about no matter how much he is ready to move on he still has a tie to 'them' (his fellow gang members), he still has a commitment to them, and basically how they were still his 'safe place'.

After running in silence for a mile or so...well outward silence because I was not truly silent. I was praying through all that silence, praying that I might be used by God to bring this young man to Him...and that even if He chose not to use me to do so, that He would still draw AP to Him through others! After that time in prayer, I told AP that he had to do whatever it took, whatever he needed in the short time he has remaining here at SFAP to sever that 'committment' because it was a false commitment. I told him that his "homies" might kill for his security,  and that he might do the same for them, but that they would not die for him nor he for them. I told him that there is only One that we can trust, and that that person is not even our own selves for we are only human too. I told him that the only real security we have is security given by God.

We finished our run without a single stop more, we ran hard, and the rain fell on us through from start to finish. Back at the facility, I gave AP a handshake and told him I was proud of him. Standing at the finish of our run, now soaked by God's beautiful grace, and by his beautiful rain...praying.

Today, I once again find myself praying that same prayer.

I pray that AP and I will have another chance to catch a few miles. I have been praying that the time we spent together and the words shared have been working on his heart and that as he tests them in his mind and heart he finds them to be true (as they are). I have been praying that he might have questions, I have been praying that I can share with him the rest of the story. The story of our great God and not only the security He provides, but also that although others might kill for him, Christ is the only one that has died for him!  

Won't you pray for AP too?

05 June, 2012

My God

"i am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
whom have i in heaven but You? and there is nothing on earth that i desire besides You.
my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength (Rock) of my heart and my portion forever."
                                                              Psalm 73:23-26

...actually most times things are tough. This world knocks us down, and there seems to be nobody to help us up. As we sit on the pavement the whole world walking by us, we reach out, we look to friends, family, and eventually to anybody for a helping hand.

What unspeakable peace I have in knowing that my God is here. He is here with me, no matter what I am going through or how utterly alone I feel, I take comfort in knowing that the creator of the universe is my Strong Tower, my Rock!

If today you feel like you are in a canyon with steep walls and no escape...here's me reminding you of what I have been reminded of today!

"My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty! There is nothing my God can not do!"

22 May, 2012

A new direction...the same path.

It has been a long while since my last post.
It has been a short while since my last life change...or last three life changes.

At the start of May I took a new position with SWOSU (Assistant Director of an adjudicated facility), that took me to a different part of the state, and on to my next season of life, or at least the next chapter of this book.
This window of opportunity was quickly presented and as quick as it was presented it required an equally quick response. The decision that was before me was difficult. I was plagued with the urgency of this offer, plagued by the weight that was carried by my decision.

To stay, to go?
The decision was most difficult.

The pros of staying were largely relationship in nature. People flooded my mind. Faces. Person after person; individuals I had invested time with, friends I had grown closer with, relationships that I had hoped to continue to pour effort, time, and love into, they all were there...heavy on my thoughts.
Chad and Amy
Church Members

Would the move injure my ability to continue to build these people up? Might I still be able to make a difference in their lives just as great from a distance as I could in the same town?

The pro to taking this job was very similar to the pros of staying in Weatherford. People. Granted not people in the community...250 tops, but rather the Residents of the facility. See, this program houses sixteen criminally active young men, who are given a chance to change the course of their lives.
These are mostly men that have never seen anything but what they came from, all they have are gangs for support and hardly a one has had a positive male figure in their life.

Through out the 24-hour period that I had to make a decision, a verse kept on the forefront of my mind.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
That verse consoled me. It helped me be confident in the decision that I would ultimately make.
Clearly I took the job. Now, I am looking for a house to buy...trying to take these next steps in as much faith as I took the first. I am still living in three locations it seems...here at the facility, back in Weatherford, and back in Arnett...all at the same time. I guess if you count the nights I have slept in my truck then you can add those locations too. :)

Things have turned rough this past week. I often feel all alone. I run much, and think more. My thoughts drive me to wonder about this decision to leave what I know as home for this location that is barren for friendship. I do not question my coming up here, but I do find myself less confident in being here next month...next year...and on.

Through this rough week, a verse has found itself consistently on my mind.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust. Trust the Lord with everything. My understanding is less than His. His understanding is greater than mine. Pray to Him in all things. Consider Him first in all things. Look at His will (to bring Him glory), first making that my priority and He will make my paths straight.

Today, left to my own thoughts...I am fearful. My road seems uncertain, with many bends.
Today, with this verse I look to my past. My. Path. Has. Been. Straight. He has led me through everything, straight through it all. He has blessed me daily, greatly. I know without any doubt this seemingly perilous path, will be straight, and it will be glorifying to my King.

And that reminds me of the other pro to coming on this journey. I knew that with this move my relationship with my Lord would grow as a result. And it has done exactly that.

In these hard lonely times, I remember:
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you." For I AM with you.
Isaiah 43:2

I am not alone. Nor are you. Thank you to my Lord and thank you for helping remind me: Tara, Lacie, Cole, Ben, Dad, and Heath. You were used greatly.