Posted by: Daniel McCurdy | February 22, 2012

life, the staying at home part

Hannah has been the other big change this past year. I have thoroughly enjoyed having her as my daughter and staying home with her. Just the other morning she did something really cute. Instead of waking me up by crying I wake up to hear her humming to herself in her crib…I think she is the most adorable little girl ever, but  I am very biased.

Life as a stay at home dad comes with many benefits and some challenges. While I do not feel held down or bound to the home I am not completely free to do as I would like. This is an obvious statement but has a slightly more profound impact than I thought it might. While, I do not believe that providing for my family solely means that I have a job and make money, I would still like to provide in that way to some regard. I have recently been thinking of this or that idea of something I could do from home with Hannah around, but I haven’t come up with anything yet. I certainly do have plenty to do while I am here with Hannah.

One thing I have been doing is teaching science for four boys (elementary and middle school) which has been really fun. It has been a good type of challenge for me to learn how to teach at the elementary level as I have very little experience there.  I have also been working with some of my church people in helping plan for some groups that are coming to do work in the city of Reading. My role will mostly be in hospitality. Tasks will include organizing food and snacks, making sure there is all the bedding people need and otherwise making people feel at home.

A challenge for me has been the severely limited time with Rebekah. Since she works about 80 hours a week she just isn’t home that much…or awake for long when she is home. I truly love taking care of her when she is at home. It can be hard for me that we don’t always have time to talk or do things together but she gives me all the time she has, and I am so thankful for her love in that way. Part of the challenge is that the only time she is home (except when she is on nights or off) is that she is home in the evening. This seems normal enough, but it limits the types of activities I can be involved in. We really can’t afford the time for me to be off doing things when she is home. Occasionally, I do something but those times are far and few between. There isn’t room for a regular commitment.

Right now this is probably the most difficult thing, next to Rebekah being away so much. There are a lot of good things I could get involved in if I were more available in the evenings. Part of this stems from the fact that since high school I have bordered on being overcommitted with my activities and often had somewhere to be every evening. Now most of that is gone, I do take bagpipe lessons on Thursday evening. This is one area where I do feel a little bound and held down on occasion. But given the choice I would still want to be here with Rebekah and Hannah.

Along with the long work hours comes an inherent emotional toll for Rebekah. While she loves the work it is long and hard and for the most part consumes her life. This can lead to frustrations that I am powerless to fix. We have been learning to find joy in these moments because they lead us both to look to God for our strength and encouragement. Having Hannah here has also helped a lot for both of us.

I love having the time to cook. Cooking is probably my second favorite thing about being a stay at home dad. Rebekah even got me a culinary school textbook so that I could learn more techniques! She has certainly benefited from it. Another hobby I am thinking of taking up is rug braiding. I have some supplies and a book so I’m going to give it a try. If I like it I might try selling rugs online. We’ll see!

Just in the past few days a number of ways to get involved with church have been opening up and I am hoping that some of them pan out. For now I am going to pick a project up that I had almost forgotten about. I was developing a curriculum to go along with the books Ministering Cross-Culturally and When Helping Hurts. These are two books I have found to be very helpful. I could see myself teaching a class or seminar in relation to these books so I thought it would be good to have some material.

So most days I’m doing well, occasionally, I have a day where I am lazy but I work well most days. Stay tuned!

Posted by: Daniel McCurdy | February 22, 2012

Life update…the vocational part

Well, it has been quite awhile since I have written on this blog. I suppose I got busy and just decided to share my thoughts with Rebekah. Now that I am home with Hannah I have more time to write down my thoughts. My life has been full of changes the past few months, most of them good but a few a bit more difficult. Hannah has been the best change. 🙂

The beginning of September started a difficult time in my year. From middle school through this fall I always thought that I wanted to be a high school or middle school science teacher and have worked towards that goal. I went to Messiah College and got a B.S. in Biology in three years and started at the graduate level to get my teaching certification from Drexel University. I enjoyed all of my classes leading up to my student teaching semester. As expected student teaching was difficult and something I was not really prepared for (which is just sort of the way that has to be). I was confronted with the reality that most of the expectations of me were things I didn’t really like doing and things I wasn’t really good at.

For example, one of the requirements is to have lesson plans written and submitted ahead of time. I can do this if it is one lesson from time to time but I have a lot more trouble doing them in volume. I also have a trouble with the ahead of time part of things. This was most likely the task I had the most trouble with (another was being innovative in my lesson ideas). Unfortunately, I was getting myself into some trouble by not fulfilling these requirements. There other area I really got myself into trouble is that I wasn’t asking for help. I am a stubbornly independent person and have a lot of trouble asking for help when I feel that something is my job or responsibility.

I got to a point where I realized I was in way over my head and needed help from my cooperating teacher, so I asked for help but didn’t get the type of help I needed. In retrospect I think that it would have helped to be mentored more. Anyway I tried a little bit more but was struggling so much that I had a bit of an emotional breakdown. I had been up all night trying to catch up on my work and barely making headway and made a rash decision. I said that I would not be coming in to teach because I needed time to reevaluate where I was and get some help. My mistake here is that I did this without leaving the teacher any resources as to what to do. This is a bit of a “catch 22” in my opinion but that doesn’t make my choice wise…it just served to make me feel more stuck.

I was able to talk with Rebekah, a number of my friends from church and my pastor who gave my wise advice. That was to trust God and see if I can pick up the pieces instead of quitting and at minimum to restore relationships. In the next two days I was able to talk with some of the faculty at Drexel where we reached the mutual decision that it would be best for me to withdraw from the student teaching placement.

Since then I have been working through what went wrong in my mind. I was able to take a personality test a few weeks after all this that helped me understand some things about what happened. Skills that I would rank as very important in being a teacher in today’s system were the skills that I scored lowest on. The areas I scored best on lead to a bit of a different career…I’m not entirely sure what. Just today I realized the biggest reason I wanted to become a teacher, I loved the way that my teachers were able to take time just for me to talk with me and help me. This is what I wanted in teaching, but I now realize that teaching is probably not the best way for me to accomplish this goal.

This has had an effect on what Rebekah and I think I may do when we, Lord willing, move to Africa as missionaries. Originally, our plan was that I would either teach or become involved in education development research, and projects. My thinking has moved towards something simpler and potentially more profound. I have found that I love hospitality, cooking and having the opportunity to sit down and talk with people on an individual or small group level. I have known this about myself for a while, but these events and the previously mentioned personality test have helped me to see this more clearly.

For a number of years now I have been a person that people seem to like to talk to about issues they are having, and I like being able to listen and love people through their difficult times. I have never really been sure why people like to open up to me but I have been thankful for the opportunities to help brothers and sisters in Christ as well as be a witness for Christ to others. Rebekah and I have decided that I should have a small restaurant/tea/coffee shop so that I can use my love of cooking and hospitality to create a place where people can gather. The idea is that I would also spend time talking with people. This isn’t a sure thing but an idea of something I might enjoy doing.

To sum up this part of my post, I am not sure where I am going with these things right now but I am trusting God to lead me. I have recently contacted a friend in leadership in the Christian Missionary Alliance (the organization Rebekah and I would like to go with as missionaries) to see what sort of training they might suggest.

Posted by: Daniel McCurdy | May 31, 2009

Many thoughts

As I continue to grow and get older I see many areas that Christians in our country don’t seem to see as important as the Bible describes. These are areas that have sometimes have been defined as “culturally related” ideas in the Bible. The integral mistake is that when we use this argument we allow current culture to define how we should live rather than the Bible. Before I give the areas I want to write about I want to write about why this is such a grievous mistake in interpretation. A common assumption is that our struggles now are somehow greater than they were then. This is not a true statement because we deal with the same basic temptations to sin against God. This error also reads into the next something that is not there…that is to say it puts an end to an idea that does not say it will end. Relations between men and women both interpersonal and in the church, relation to governments, Sabbath rest, and involvement in church are a few of the concepts of Christian living that many Christians ignore.

All too often now many Christians are taking a view of women that is unbiblical. I’ll try to keep my words to a minimum so that the only one you have to get angry with is God because I’m going to quote a lot of scripture, especially on this topic. Let’s start with answering the question: Why was woman created?

Genesis 2:18,22 “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”… Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”

It was not so that woman could be over man but so that woman could help man. A misunderstanding of this leads to a misunderstanding of marriage.

Ephesians 5:22-33 “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.””

There is nowhere in this passage that says it was just for ancient times. I think in fact that this passage very clearly speaks for all times from beginning to the end. There is a reference to Genesis when woman was first created which is the part about being from the beginning of time. The reason I say this passage is for all time is the comparison of marriage to Christ and the church. The relationship of the headship of Christ over the church should not change…will not change. Because of that this comparison is for all time…not just antiquity.

This idea of headship and leadership in a marriage is not well understood by women and men. I think this is one reason there are so many weak marriages. Marriage was created by God to be composed in a certain way and he very clearly describes it for us in the Bible. If a person tries to rebel against this plan it is no wonder that things become more difficult.

A common challenge to this idea goes as follows: What if a wife becomes a Christian yet the husband does not?

I Corinthians 7:10-24 “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.  And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.  For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.  How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.  Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised.  Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.  Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.  Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so.  For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave.  You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.  Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.”

I know the ideas I am combining here are not at all popular…that is all the more reason to spread them. They are not mine but God’s and there cannot be reason to look to culture over God for advice…that is not wise at all.

Proverbs 31:10-31 gives a good description of a woman’s’ role in marriage as well:

“An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.”

This passage describes the exact opposite of what most women think of in being a wife and mother. This describes a woman who is highly esteemed and regarded, who works to please God. This passage describes such beauty is a woman that every Christian man should be asking God for a wife that reflects these values. The life described in this passage is not a life of boredom and idleness that many people think mothers have. I would challenge you, if you think that being a stay at home mom is dull, to ask a mother who stays at home and teaches her children if that is the case.

Now, if a woman is going to follow her husband the husband must lead. As I showed in Ephesians it says that a man must love his wife as Christ loves the church…that is no small command. Christ sacrificed Himself, He left His place in heaven (Philippians 2) to care for His people. He listens to us and gives us what we need. As Paul does mention this is quite a mystery as to how He does all this. However that does not mean that man are relieved from trying to reflect this. A man who is caring for his wife must take into great concern and care what she desires. Marriage is meant to be a beautiful union that is glorifying to God and showing of His love and sacrifice for us…a husband must work to show this in all aspects of the marriage of which he is the head.

Now there is another common misconception in our era as to the woman’s role in the church…it is not so different from the misconception of the woman’s role in a marriage. The idea is that women are biblically given an equal opportunity in church leadership…where this is ever seen as good in the Bible I am unsure. In my search I find the opposite distinctions.

Titus 1:6-9 “An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”

I Timothy 3:1-13 “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.”

I do not find that there can be alternate interpretations of these passages…I do not see how they could be more straightforward. So many people look back with a negative view on Patriarchal society but this is what God, not people say. We cannot allow the ideas of our day hinder our service of God.

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We must trust in God and not society. The logical question a woman may ask is: What is my role in the church?

Titus 2:1-8 shows not just what women should do in the church but a lot of what the church should look like.

“You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

This is such a good picture of what the church should look like…sadly this is not the case. We have allowed society to enter age gaps into our church. Many ministries are focus on separating everyone by age to teach age appropriate lessons in stead of allowing the older and wiser members mentor the younger members of a church. This comes from the consumer view of, “What can I get from church?”

This leads to people who will go to church not to truly worship God but to “learn how to better serve God.” While this is something we should desire church is not just for going and hearing a sermon and singing hymns. Perhaps some people would begin to wonder what it is all about then. A church is not just a building to go to a couple times a week but rather a community that decides to meet in a specific place. These members are to be encouraging each other and building each other up to remain accountable to God. Fellowship is a key to church as well. The Christians must be willing to speak of what God is doing in their lives and give glory to Him. When a member is struggling the others must be willing to sacrifice of themselves to help physically, emotionally and spiritually. The body of believers must be praying for each other.

The community of believers must also be outwardly focused in their work. They must reach out to those who do not know Christ in their local environments and in other countries. The call to sell all our possessions and follow Christ didn’t stop when Christ went back to heaven…we must be willing to sacrifice all our earthly goods, including our lives to glorify God. Far too few Christians are willing to do this and even fewer are able to leave what they own to go to another country and serve God. The need to serve full time over seas is not gone. There are still unreached people who have NEVER heard the Gospel of Jesus. How can we sit in comfort entertaining ourselves all the time when there are people to reach?! This is not just giving money so that others can go either…this is going. Money does not always get the work done…people still have to follow God’s commands.

One other topic of the church I would like to touch on is prayer. How often do we pray for matters in our church? How often do we pray that God will bring new people to our church? Do we believe He can? Do we trust or are we just fools as mentioned in James who do not believe God will give what we ask for? I would dare say that most Christians, often me included do not pray for their church, that God would grow them that they may reach farther into their local area and into the world. Often we put too much faith in ourselves to accomplish these things and put too little faith in God. Rather we must put our faith in God and ask for His strength to accomplish these things that He may be glorified.

We have been given the Sabbath as a day to rest from our work…I will not write much on this here since I have a rather large post on this from a few months ago so you should read that if you haven’t. The Sabbath is a day to spend looking to God and His word and fellowshipping with believers as I mentioned before.

In the past few years I have encountered some interesting idea concerning a Christian’s relation to earthly governments. We are of course above all else citizens of God’s eternal kingdom. There is the idea that this citizenship requires that we not be involved in earthly governments. I do not think this is a statement that logically follows from being a citizen of God’s kingdom. Daniel and Joseph quite clearly were involved in kingdoms that were not their own. There is nothing that says this was wrong for them to do, in fact in both instances their rise to power was shown to be God blessing them that His name would be further glorified.

When Paul was on trial he took full advantage of his Roman citizenship and God used that for His glory as well! There are a number of Roman officials who became Christians and did not leave their posts but stayed that they may reach those they were around.

Matthew 22:15-22 “Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.”

I bring this up because I do not think Jesus was just teaching on taxes…there are of course duties that we owe to our governments that we ought to pay. For example we must respect and pray for our leaders. David is an example of this. He would not harm the authority God had placed over him because David knew it was God who put other in authority.

Romans 13:1-7 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

I don’t think there can be any doubt as to what God desires here.

I pray that Christians will base themselves in the word of God in stead of what our culture and society say. God has taught very clearly how we ought to live as Christians. I pray that God may use these writings to exhort, encourage and edify all of you who are reading. I ask that you pray that I will continue to grow as a child of God always learning to apply His word better to my life.

-Daniel

Posted by: Daniel McCurdy | May 3, 2009

Life is Now

I think that one of the biggest confusions to college students (and others I’m sure) is that life is in fact right now. Most students separate college from life because life is not viewed as now…or that college is meant to get us ready for life .  I think that this adds to confusion in how to live during college and how to work.

If college is perceived as part of your life then the classes you take and the things you do have more meaning. To take the opposite view leads to the often asked question, “Why do I have to take this stupid class? I don’t know when I’ll ever use it!” If there is no other reason there is a t least the fact that you need it for your degree. There is another enormous concept in play here and that is the view of the work.

As I wrote a couple months ago our work is not really our own as Christians but things God has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).   This does not just apply to work after college. If we are in college then it is clear that our school work is our work and must be done to glorify God (I Cor. 10:31).  So few college students, it seems, are thankful for they opportunity they have to study in college. Something that bothers me a lot is how included everyone is to complain about anything and everything.

This is certainly not an attitude glorifying to God and not an attitude that causes us to focus on God. Job 1:13-22 speaks of when Job lost all that was his and did not complain. If anyone had what is often called, “the right to complain” it was Job but he saw that God was the true owner of his possessions. I realize that I complain often but I strive not to because to complain means that I am not being thankful to God.

I don’t start being thankful for what I have after college though, I must be thankful for all things in college as well. The patterns developed now will not magically change after college because suddenly we are in “real life.”  Now is the time to learn to be responsible, now is when we should be learning to manage our time. If we don’t learn now what will make us learn later? Necessity? Were that the case you would make sure you got enough rest now, you would make sure you use your time now. Your body needs the same things the week before graduation as the week after graduation.

I encourage you to take the time while you are in school to learn these things. School is a slightly more controlled environment designed to help you learn how to live. Be sure that you are thankful in all things and glorify God in all your work! I pray this for those of you who read this and ask that you pray this for me as well.

-Daniel

Posted by: Daniel McCurdy | April 19, 2009

A shift in focus

The last few months God has been teaching me in some amazing ways. He has shifted my focus to Him and has been teaching me much about trust.  The past few months have been rather phenomenal. I feel as if this is a point I will look back on and see how God used this time in my life to make some rather important changes.

God has helped me to see the need to look to Him for my strength. I wrote about this in a previous post. This has been one of the most integral lessons I have been learning. Looking to God for my strength inherently brings me closer to Him becasue I am focusing more on Him and less on myself. I started learning this when I was sick but life didn’t wait for me to fee better. I realized then that I would have to trust in God to get His work done. As I got over my cold I realized that it is still true when I am healthy. Recently I have been striving to look to God for my strength in all things. There are many things God has given me to do and there is no way I could do them on my own strength. If I have claimed to submit myself to His Will I better be ready to trust in His Will as well.

God has been working in me to show me the need to trust Him even in the “small” things such as school. I realize now that God cares about my life…not just when I interact with others on a spiritual level. I am striving to see God at work instead of myself in all areas of life.  I must allow God to work through me to do His Will.

My reason for doing things has been another big change. My focus has been more and more that God would be glorified. This is not a new idea but one God has been growing in me much more. As I strive to serve Him I want Him to be glorified through me, that my life may be a song to His glory.

Thinking about these points leads to a much more God centered focus in my life. I am very thankful for what God has been teaching me and how God has been challenging me to pursue a closer relationship with Him. I am more and more trying to die to myself that Christ may live through me. I of course do not suceed at any of this on my own strength and I am not perfect in this. I don’t say these things so that I may look better but I say them in order that God may be glorified and we may all be spured on to submit ourselves to God. I pray this for all those who read and as that if you think of it you might pray that I will keep my eyes on Christ.

-Daniel

Posted by: Daniel McCurdy | April 12, 2009

Easter Joy

Today I am so filled with joy. The past few days have been incredible. The services at church have been so moving in ways I’ve not seen before. The closer I grow to God the more and more thankful I am for what He has done for me.

Thursday’s service left me overwhelmed by God’s love. Friday’s caused me to weep when I heard God’s Word being read. I am amazed not only by the physical pain Jesus bore but everything else He went through as well. He became sin, God turned away from Jesus, this I will never have to comprehend. It is easy to just think of the physical pain, which I don’t want to diminish at all, but we often forget that there is more than the physical pain. I was wrought to the core by thinking about this.

Today is of course Easter and I have not been this joyfull in my memory. During church I was just bursting with joy because I know what Christ has done for me and that He is risen!  The more I try to think about this to write out what I feel the less I know. It was hard to sit still through the sermon because I just wanted to sing out my praises to God. I was also sharing the joy of all those who believe as well. It is important to remember that Christ did not just die for ourselves but also those around us who believe.

I am so thankful for what God has done, is doing and will do in my life. I am excited to see how I can serve our Savior further in this mortal life. I look forward to the day when my praises will go on for eternity! May my very life be a praise to God! I pray this is true and I pray the same for you!

-Daniel

Posted by: Daniel McCurdy | April 5, 2009

Strength

I’m sorry it has been so long since I have posted. There are of course many ideas bouncing around in my head but I have been very busy with all my various responsibilities and that’s a lot of what this post is going to be about.

As many people, I have a lot to do these days.  I love all the responsibilities I have and all the chances I have to serve God but at times I do not recognize how I must be working. In a previous post on honoring the Sabbath I brought up the concept that the work we do is not our own but the work God has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2).  If you have not read that post you should so that you can have a more full idea of the concept.

If our work is not our own then that requires a very large shift in how we ought to work. When we are looking to God for what our work should be we should not just go and try to do our work. To do that would mean we are trying to please God on our own strength which we cannot do. Paul speaks of this in Romans 7 showing the constant struggle to do what God has placed before us. Our strength is just not sufficient to serve God…it wasn’t enough to save us that is for sure so why would we be able to serve God on our own? We MUST look to God for our strength to do His will. Proverbs 3:4-6 talks about how me must not look to ourselves but to God.  In John 15 Jesus preaches on this very topic. This is where he teaches about the vine and branches…in fact this is so integral to this essay I’m going to put it in, so don’t skip it over.

1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other. (John15:1-17 NIV)”

Let’s look at verse four for a moment. “No branch can bear fruit by itself,” we are each a branch. No one would throw a branch on the ground and expect it to grow fruit yet we do that to ourselves. We go out to minister but we are not attached to the vine and we wither. We must remain attached to the vine, look to Christ, for our strength.

In vs 16 Jesus speaks of choosing us for our work. Combining this with the idea with Ephesians 2 it is clear that in no way is the work something we can claim as ours. Vs. 16 repeats something very important that is also mentioned in vs. 7. This idea is that God will give us whatever we ask in Jesus’ name. When I read this a few years ago I was rather perplexed by what this meant but I was looking at those two verses out of their appropriate context. In context it is assumed that we are already connected to the vine and obeying God’s commands. This then means that we are already allowing God to work in and through us.

What these two verses are saying is that when we are allowing God to work through us we will be praying not for our own glory but for God’s glory. We will pray for strength for ourselves not so that we can glorify ourselves or others but so that God will be glorified. In James 1:5-8 we see that when we ask God for wisdom we must have faith that He will give it.

I have often struggled to look to God for my strength…in fact it is a daily/hourly struggle. I so often try to run the show and it just fails every time. I try to stop sinning a certain way and for a day it works but I am right back to where I was before. This is because I am trying to be a branch in the grass bearing fruit. Recently I have had some friends reminding me all the time that I must trust in God for my strength and this has been something for which I have been asking God for a while. For this I am extremely thankful. God has been showing me very often that I must remain attached to the vine and use His strength…not my own.

Last week there were some days where I was more tired and I almost panicked about getting work done. At one point in the day it was almost a minute by minute thing and each time I had to remember that the work I was doing was not my own but God’s. God is sovereign and will work through me to accomplish His plan for His glory. If that means I do not get the grade that I want on something it is ok. I’m not using this as an excuse to be lazy in my work. The point being it’s not about what I want but that what I do brings glory to God (vs. 8).

Vs. 15 presents the concept that we have a closer relationship with Christ. While this was said to the apostles I believe it also applies to us as Christians because He has revealed the Truth to us as well and has the same requirements outlined in vs. 14.

John 17:20-26 is the passage where Jesus prays for those who will become Christians who have not seen Jesus…that’s us. I am not going to try to summarize that but it is something that I take much encouragement from and I think you ought to read it.

I don’t write this thinking that I have figured out how to always stay attached to the vine but to help myself think through this more and to hopefully encourage you. My prayer is that we will able to grow and bear the fruit which God will grow through us. I pray that we will not try to grow on our own but through God and always look to Him for our strength.

-Daniel

Posted by: Daniel McCurdy | March 19, 2009

Love

 

Today I would like to write a post about love. I often am hesitant to write or talk about this topic because I know that I will never really do it justice but I will try anyway. Thankfully God has a lot to say about love so I will use a lot of His words.

I Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (NIV)

I John 3

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 
Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. 
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother  abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (NKJV)

 

Now I know that’s a bit of reading but it is very important that you read this because this is where I have truly gained as much of an understanding of love as I can. I cannot truly grasp the love Jesus has for me. A few years ago when I was reading I John I came to understand the importance of love. Before I could have told you what love is and how it should look but I would not have been able to tell you what it looked like from my perspective.

 

At this point God began working in my heart showing me how to be loving to others…not just the ones I wanted to love. It is not hard for me to sacrifice for my friends but it is a little more difficult to sacrifice for others with whom I am not that close or maybe don’t like or maybe they don’t like me. At any rate I must have love for them.

 

Well what does this look like? It first is not visible to others because it requires a change of heart. Doing something for another is an extension of what is already inside, if you do not love and do something for someone your motivation is something other than love. A change in the heart is something that can only be done by God. He delights in making such changes and if you ask He will work in you.


This does not always take the face we want to see. Often when we ask God for change he challenges us in that very situation. When I prayed asking God to help me to love others more God confronted me with people I was not very loving towards. This just happened to me the other day, I was asking God to help me to remember to be loving with others and the next day I was put in a situation I had wanted to avoid. God replaced my attitude of displeasure with love.

 

When we have allowed God to change our hearts to those of love the world is a very different place. We do not have room to complain about others but have a need to encourage and exhort others. We desire to see others grow closer to Christ. For those who are not Christians our heart cries out to God that He would make Himself known to them. We have a desire to reach out to those who once annoyed us. It is a glorious change.

 

Loving others is not always a happy task, though it is a joyful one. It can be difficult to love those who hate and persecute us but we must. How can we hate when our very salvation is based on Christ’s love for those who once hated Him? There is no room for hate even for those who intend to do us great harm.

 

Another area where love is not always easy is when we may be angry about something, We must not act out in anger but in love. Think of an example of a parent; they may be angry that their children are fighting but they cannot correct this issue by acting out in anger. This takes more work to do but we must reflect how God, Our Father, acts with us.

 

Love should shine through in all our actions. We must let God shine through us so that people no longer see me or you but God’s love. We must go singing of His love to others so that they too can start living in the Love of Jesus! Go and learn to love others! I pray that God will continue to show me how to do this and I pray the same for you.

-Daniel

Posted by: Daniel McCurdy | March 16, 2009

Sing Praise!

Luke 17:11-19

Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.  Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.  And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 
 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. 
 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 
 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?  Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

 

I always find this passage to be quite convicting. When I am need I very often (though certainly not always) go to God and ask for His aid. Once He has granted it I go on and start thinking I have it all together again. I do not take the time to thank Him for what I have done. Sometimes I do remember to thank Him. I wonder after I realize that I have not thanked God why I would ever think it ok not to thank God. I thank people all the time for every little thing they do for me and when God helps me out I don’t think to thank Him.

I ask for strength and He gives it, I ask for wisdom and He gives it. I truly am thankful that He does even when I am going to ignore that He gave it to me directly after He has given the what I asked for. We serve a loving God who helps us learn to serve Him. I am thankful for that, and I’m thanking God for that right now :).

The man in this passage is not just thankful, he does not just come back and thank Jesus. He came back in a loud voice glorifying God! I wonder how much outside of singing in church I am really willing to glorify God in a loud voice. I don’t mean standing and shouting God’s praise neccescarily but that could be part of it. I mean that I should proudly declare who Christ Jesus is in all conversation and not be afraid to bring Him up! Jesus is my life, why should I not share my life with others that I am around?

I have not had leprosy but I have had a sinful nature and Christ has taken the place of that. That is something to shout about! We must always be thankful about what Christ has done in us. He has made us new creatures, the old things have passed away! I aks that God will help me to sing His praise to others not only in song but in word and deed that they might see Jesus in me and hear about Jesus through me. I pray that this is the same for you.

-Daniel

Posted by: Daniel McCurdy | March 9, 2009

The Prayers of Children

Luke 18:15-17

“People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (NIV)

Matthew 18:1-6

” At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (NIV)

Often on Sunday morning I help with the children’s Sunday School classes. This past Sunday happened to be one of those Sundays. There was a time when we had some of the children praying for each other and it was such a convicting time for me. The children do not have a doubt in the world that God can and will provide for their needs, it is not something they struggle with.

I take my role in helping teach the children very seriously…I think that is something that Jesus is saying here. Before I started to teach the children I made sure to keep this verse in mind and make sure that what I teach is in accordance with God’s word. I love to work with children because they can teach me so much about how to be a child. In some ways I remember what it is to be a child but I have allowed myself to think that I am more grown up than I really am. Of course in a physical sense I am not as much of a child but to God I am still a son. When these children look up to me I must remember to look up to God.

In the same way as the trust God I must also trust God. That is what God has required of us, He is our father and has gone to every extent to provide for our needs. Think of this like our parents here on earth. Most of our parents when we were younger would rather have gone hungry and given us the food were our needs that severe…our Father, God, did so much more than this. He sent is only Son, to die a horrendous death in which God turned away from Him so that we might be provided for.

I strive to be a child in how I look towards God, He cares for me and I certainly do love Him. I encourage you to spend time with children if you have forgotten what it is like to be a child, it might help your faith a lot. I pray that you do not allow yourself to think you are too grown up.

-Daniel

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