peace

Adventures in Faith

I Did A 180 In While Praying In Bed

Check out this turn of events last night as I sought the Lord for wisdom and peace in the face of anxiety...

Here is the text from the Oswald Chambers devotional for July 7th:

Coming out of this devotional, my attitude is very different. I'm embracing Scriptural truth delivered precisely at the time and way that I need it.

But then, as I often do, I say to God, "This is great, I would love to hear from you from your own Word, from the Bible." So I open my Bible app, and I read this:

You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
— Psalms 4:7-8

I mean, come on, I'm laying in bed wide awake with a sort of anxiety, God shows me truth directly applying to my hardships, then reminds me what He's given to me, and who is in control. At this point, I'm feeling amazing, and just 30 min. or so after feeling faced with insurmountable odds.

It doesn't end there.

I feel like there's one last thing I should check, at the end of the day, I was introduced via email to a guy that, I'm thinking now, might be worth looking into before I fall asleep.

I do a quick check, and after a couple of clicks, I find myself reading this article. If you're an entrepreneur, you need to read that article. But for me, this article addresses the precise issue that I'm wrestling with in the start-up at my firm, which is this, there is a typical team that is looked on to solve tech problems, and we don't have that team, so how do we proceed. The article, very pointedly, talks about a new kind of team--what are the chances of that?

So in under an hour, all of my anxieties are addressed, i'm reminded of who's in charge with incredible lasting wisdom to remember, and the cherry on top, i get a new framework to think about my business problem in a practical way, so practical, it reshapes my plans for the next day.

How's that for answer to prayer?!

Adventures in Faith

I Just Turned Down a Sweet Job

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Colossians 3:15 -  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

So I had this amazing opportunity presented to me. An international diplomat with a vision to launch this really cool business start-up in Silicon Valley, through a wild set of circumstances/connections was introduced to me. And, low and behold, after a few Skype calls, felt like I was the guy to launch this thing in Silicon Valley, and I had to turn it down.

As the opportunity unfolded, I put a lot of prayer into the decision. And what I heard early on was Colossians 3:15. When I say "heard" what I mean is that I opened my Bible for guidance and when I read it, that verse jumped off the page. Then, it showed up in a devotional. Then, when I talked to a pastor about this big decision, he brought up the same verse without knowing it had already come twice before.

This pastor told me that the word "rule" in that verse, in the original language (Greek  βραβεῖον), it means to umpire or call the shots. He told me that whenever he has a decision with lots of little steps, like an interview process, he let's the verse guide him. And so I took that fact that this verse had popped into my life three times in a row, well, I decided to let God's peace rule in my heart too. 

And so as I take these steps, I let God make the calls, if I get peace about it in prayer, in reading Scripture, through my wife, etc. then I know that I am in God's will, if I do not, I simply backtrack and move in another direction.

That was easy when I had peace about it. Then, something strange happened. A few communications with the parties that were involved left me feeling less at peace. There weren't any huge red flags, by all means, I still wanted to take the job. But, the peace was fading. So, I brought in the big guns, my incredibly discerning wife, to see what kind of peace she had. And, as we reviewed the details, she had great insights, and she too had a fading sense of peace.

There were still a couple of steps to take short of taking the job, and so I decided to take them, and continue to see what happened with this feeling of peace. Within another week, it did not return, and so I reached out to the various parties who were now involved both in Silicon Valley and abroad to withdraw my application. 

The good news is that these guys are also Christians, and I knew they were praying about this whole thing too, so I figured it wouldn't end badly. And, in fact, they were so gracious in their understanding. We agreed that this was the best solution, even if it wasn't predicted or convenient. I resolved to continue to find a way to serve the project and certainly pray for it.

Within 48 hours I realized that the contacts I believed would serve this start-up should still be plugged into it, even without me at the helm. And so I reached out to make those connections. I continued to pray for the project, and then a dear friend of mine, who I had discussed this whole thing with, sent me another candidate for the job. So, I reached out again with a new candidate for the job, someone with arguably a better skill set for the position that I have.

The conversation continues. The team that is in place to launch this enterprise, well, they are Godly men, they're praying too and while we know that I won't work with them in a legal sense, I know that in God's Kingdom we are all co-laborers, and I have a high level of certainty that we will continue to serve each other in our efforts. This is the kind of really sweet relations that can happen even in rejecting a sweet job offer when one is dealing in the Kingdom of God. 

Adventures in Faith

Minister to the Dying

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"For who knows a person's thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."  1 Corinthians 2:11

In early November, I learned via Facebook that a favorite professor of mine from college, Dr. Markowicz, was on his death bed, with only a couple of days to live. Dr. M. was notoriously difficult in the classroom--he would fail a major assignment for a simple grammatical error. After about a year of thoroughly not enjoying his methods, I realized that his high standard would elevate my skill set, and I requested that he become my assigned faculty advisor. Over the years, I got to know Dr. Markowicz outside the classroom as well. I invited him to lunch at my apartment, and he came. He invited me to play tennis, and I went. He came to my graduation party at my parents home, I saw him around town occasionally, I emailed him for advice and he answered. And so when I learned he was in his last days, I was truly saddened.

On a phone call with my father, I mentioned the professors condition, to which my dad replied that I should call him. Ah, the wisdom of a man who has been stung by death.  After I hung up with my Dad, I felt a strong nudge to call Dr. M., and even more so to ensure he knew there is a God in his last days. Mind you, while I love Jesus, I have never ministered to or prayed with the dying and the idea of it freaked me out. What will I say? What if he doesn't know God? With my heart beating hard, I told my wife I needed to leave the house to make the call, and I went into the car and prayed, "Jesus, help me now, give me some words." I turned on the radio for a minute of inspiration and I heard this verse from Matt Redmond's "10,000 Reasons":

And on that day when my strength is failing

The end draws near and my time has come

Still my soul will sing Your praise unending

Ten thousand years and then forevermore

And so I had a peace that on Dr. Markowicz' last day, I was going to call him for no other reason than to praise God. I called him, and he picked up right away.  I introduced myself and between coughs he told me that he was about to leave this world. I told him how much I appreciated him as a teacher and he replied that he appreciated me too. He brought up my sister who was killed when I was a freshman, and he said he knew what my family had gone through, and that he had followed my travels online.

I told him my life was exciting now mostly because of what Jesus had done in it and I said that I cared for him enough to want to be sure he knew there is a God. Then, I asked if he wanted to pray and he said he was good on all that spiritual stuff. I told him I wasn't sure how to say goodbye, and I wished him great peace. I hung up and wanted to cry, not because I was sad at being rejected in a way, but because God showed me His heart for this man, and showed me how important it is to minister to the dying, to simply be there. The weight of it pulled in my gut like never before.

Over the next couple of days, I kept thinking about Dr. M. I prayed for him and two days later he died. When I told a friend about this phone call, he said that above else, I was faithful to God's tug on my heart to call him, and to rest in that. I had a sense that there was a bigger picture, one that I could never see fully. I was happy that I got to talk to him, I thought it was a beautiful exchange with a dear man, so much so that when a memorial cropped up online, I wrote a short post about my talk with him:

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Then, I let the sadness of his passing go. It felt good, it felt right, he was at peace, so was I. Then a month or so later, I happened upon an obituary for Dr. Markowicz on the college's website. As I read it, I cried because it became clear to me that this was a man of faith and all of a sudden things became clear to me, and I felt I knew him better than ever before.

Dr. Markowicz, it turns out, had gone through seminary, but he was denied ordination. This was a man who, like Jesus, was rejected by the church, and organized religion very likely did not sit well with him. He had a healthy skepticism of it, he held his faith close to his heart, its likely that many did not know. He was even ministering to the homeless as part of his extracurricular activities, he launched programs to help people. I'm certain many did not know these things.

Never was it so true to me what it says in Proverbs 20:5 "the purposes of a man's heart are like deep waters..."   I found myself praising God for Dr. M. anew. I found myself praising God for the lesson that I learned, a lesson about holding the tug in my gut from God lightly, not presupposing I know what it means, even if it seems clear. I learned I cannot judge how God is using someone, whether they want to pray with you or not.