In the Eye of the Storm

I have recently been walking in and out of difficult times.  I heard this song on the radio a couple of weeks ago and it was a great reminder that God is never-changing, and cares for us, even when we are right in the middle of the worst bits of life.  This is a simple song with a simple message that I want to share with you.



Eye of the Storm

Ryan Stevenson 

 

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm
When the solid ground is falling out from underneath my feet
Between the black skies, and my red eyes, I can barely see
When I realize I’ve been sold out by my friends and my family
I can feel the rain reminding me

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm
Mmm, when my hopes and dreams are far from me, and I’m runnin’ out of faith
I see the future I picture slowly fade away
And when the tears of pain and heartache are falling down my face
I find my peace in Jesus’ name

In the eye of the storm (yeah, yeah), You remain in control (yes you do, Lord)
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me (Your love surronds me) in the eye of the storm (in the eye of the storm)

When the test comes in and the doctor says I’ve only got a few months left
It’s like a bitter pill I’m swallowing; I can barely take a breath
And when addiction steals my baby girl, and there’s nothing I can do
My only hope is to trust You
I trust You, Lord
In the eye of the storm (yeah, yeah), You remain in control
In the middle of the war (middle of the war), You guard my soul (yeah!)

You alone are the anchor (ooh), when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me (yeah!)
In the eye of the storm, You remain in control (yes you do, Lord)
In the middle of the war (in the middle of the war), You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor (ooh), when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm, oooh
Oh, in the eye of, oh, in the eye of the storm
I know You’re watching me, yea, ay
When the storm is raging (when the storm is raging)
And my hope is gone (and my hope is gone, Lord)
When my flesh is failing, You’re still holding on, oh whoa
When the storm is raging (the storm is raging)
And my hope is gone (and all my hope is gone)
When my flesh is failing (my flesh is failing), You’re still holding on, oooh
When the storm is raging (when the storm is raging)
And my hope is gone (and my hope is gone)
Even when my flesh is failing (flesh is failing), You’re still holding on, holding on
The Lord is my Shepherd
I have all that I need
He lets me rest in green meadows
He leads me beside peaceful streams
He renews my strength
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His Name
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid
For You are close beside me

 

Victory in Jesus

With the Olympics coming to a close in the next week,  I thought it would be a good time to revisit this post from last year.  This truth is something that I often need to remind myself.  I have added a little more to this post than was posted in 2014.  Comment your thoughts at the bottom of the page. Enjoy.


We have victory in Jesus! That is really awesome, isn’t it?  We will “run the race set before us” and because we have Jesus, not even the fastest man in the world can catch us, right?  We finish looking like this:

Bolt at the Finish line

Usain Bolt crossing the finish line.

We have crossed the finish line, and we feel great, we may even raise our arms to praise Jesus (BTW, that’s not why Bolt has his arms raised).  Sounds lovely.

Unfortunately, victory in Jesus, is not always so lovely.  When we cross the finish line, we will probably look less like Usain Bolt than we would like to (especially me, as one look at me could tell you that I am definitely not Jamaican).  The sad truth is that if we are truly living our lives for Jesus, we will be beat up, the race will be hard, and we will most definitely have some hurdles to get over in our lives.  When we cross the finish line, we are more likely to look like this after we cross:

26-erik-sjoqvist-is-exhausted-at-the-finish-line-of-the-5000m-event

Erik Sjoqvist is exhausted at the finish line of the 5000m event.

or like this when we feel so weak we can’t even stay on our feet:

a-fitts_20111105_1258-edited

Kristan Higgins finishing the 10K meter run.

or like this when we can’t move alone

Meghan Vogel helping Arden McMath across the finish line at their high school state track meet.

Meghan Vogel helping Arden McMath across the finish line at their high school state track meet.

or even like this:

Bill Iffrig lay on the ground after a second explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Bill Iffrig lay on the ground after a second explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

All of these runners had long, hard runs.  They were not sprinting 200 meters, but running races of endurance (Hebrews 12).

The point here is that there most definitely is victory in Jesus, but victory in Jesus usually means limping across the finish line after a long, hard race.  We all have our pitfalls, we all have things that we struggle with.  We all have our sins that we can’t seem to escape, no matter how hard we try or how far we run.  The good news is that we still have victory in Jesus; while that does not mean that all of our struggles will go away, we will still cross the finish line into heaven.  Some of us will cross still struggling with addictions or with overcoming a particular sin, but no matter how much it hurts, no matter if we can stay on our feet or need to lean on those around us, all of the followers of Jesus will have victory in Him.

 


Original content posted by Dan Buckley on Oct 27, 2014.

P.S. The men’s marathon will be running while you are  church on Sunday.  Keep the phones in your pocket until the preachers says Amen. 😉

Let’s Pause and Talk about the Christian Part of Being a Christian Wife

Last week, Dan wrote about how the Lord specifically calls men to exemplify Jesus as heads of their households. I’d like to talk about biblical womanhood, but since its a big topic, I’m going to break it up.

This weekend, I was at a women’s retreat that focused on biblical womanhood. Before I could think about what the Lord specifically calls me to do as a woman, I needed to remember what the Lord is calling all of us to do; I needed to remember biblical human-hood first.

God has given us this purpose: to live lives that bring Him ultimate glory and honor. We do this in a number of ways (helping others, sharing the Gospel, submitting ourselves, etc.), but I think at the end of the day, being biblical people means being people who are desiring that their lives make much of Him. Here are a few verses to back me up:

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. – 1 Peter 2:12

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations… – Matthew 28:19

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. – Ephesians 5:8-10

Do not conform 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. – Romans 12:2

So, the key things I get out of this are:

  • Be focused on people, and help them to be disciples (which is code for people who serve and glorify God).
  • Live good and pure lives, which is marked by things like goodness, righteousness, truth, and dependence upon God.
  • Be counter-cultural and “attractively different” from the world of darkness around us
  • Live according to God’s will and plan, not our own (also known as submission to God’s will)

I could keep going, but I’m going to stop there. When thinking about biblical womanhood, we have to remember who we are as biblical Christians before we try to figure out who we are as biblical woman. My ultimate purpose is to make much of Jesus, and while He calls me to do it in a specific way as a woman/wife, He calls me first to do it as a person.

I’ll give some thoughts about the woman/wife stuff next time (because I do think that it is incredibly important too!), but I first wanted to lay these thoughts out here. I need to know my identity first, and then I can figure out what I’m called to do. I need to know who I am! I need to know that I am loved, that there is abounding grace in store for me, and that I am designed to worship Him and bring Him praise! I’ll leave you with this last verse.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – 1 Peter 2:9-10

 

ATTN Feminists: The Man Leads at Home

As part of a weekly newsletter, our church, Citylight, sent several paragraphs briefly discussing the biblical role of men and women, and the relationship between them.  Among Christians, this is a widely debated topic.  This bible is clear, however, that a man is the head of his household (1 Corinthians 11:3).   Much to the feminists dismay (and many will try to argue against it) this is the template by which God has designed marriage and family.

Many will argue against this point.  “Man should not be the head of a household because that kind of ideology is oppressive” or perhaps “God created us all equal, why would he make a man the head of the house”, or perhaps even “women can do whatever a man could do,and probably better.”  Though that last thought might be accurate, it is not the system that God has established.

Furthermore, being the head of the household is not all it is cracked up to be.  One paragraph that was included in the newsletter reads:

In contrast … to other household codes… the husband as head of the wife is commanded in Ephesians to love his wife, “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).  Oppression is not the existence of headship or authority.  If it were, God’s rule over us would be necessarily oppressive.  Christ’s union with the church would be one of oppression, since He is head of the church (Ephesians 5:23).  However, if you know Jesus, you know that’s not what His headship is like.  He’s the one who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).  Oppression is not the existence of headship or authority, it is the abuse of it.  That kind of headship is vehemently opposed by God throughout scripture (e.g. Psalm 9:12).  But headship that lays down its life for others is exactly the kind of headship Jesus exercises over the church, and that husbands are assigned to image in their marriages.

The truth is that when people argue that the husband being head of the household is not fair, they are entirely right.  It would be much more comfortable not to be in this position.  Remember the end result of Jesus’s headship: death.

If it was up to me, I would let the feminists have their way, and give women the headship.  Amanda would likely be, in many ways, a better head of our house than I am.  This is not, however, what God has called us to.  As a husband, I am called to serve my wife, even to the point of death (I am grateful that it has not come to that; more on this in a future post).

What do you think?

Would you want to be the head of the family?

How does this perspective make you feel or react?

As always, feel free to comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts, questions, and comments (even if you disagree).

Living the Mission: El Viaje a El Salvador

We are always full-time missionaries, and right now, we [Dan and Amanda] are on the mission field in Philadelphia. We love the verse from 1 Peter 2 that tells us exactly what full-time missions looks like:

 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us. – 1 Peter 2:12

Well, as some of you may know, we are preparing for a missions trip to El Salvador this October! We are going to be doing some very exciting things:

  • Working with an after-school program for youth to help keep them off the streets and out of gangs – Schools end even earlier there, and so gangs have plenty of time to try to pick up the kiddos when they are out and about after school.
  • Working with a deportees – Over 100 El Salvadorns are deported back to El Salvador each day, but these individuals often speak little Spanish and are used to American culture. The ministry we are partnering with for the week tries to meet these people when they arrive in El Salvador and provide them another option than simply going back into gang life.
  • Determining the possibility of a medical clinic – Our church (Citylight) has many medical students and professionals, and so a part of the trip is determining if a long-term relationship for hosting a pop-up clinic will be possible.

A long time ago, the Lord placed a specific desire in both of our hearts to live, work, and serve Him in another country. While we are not ready to move away yet, we believe that He will use this trip to help us learn and refine our cross-cultural skills, help us discern if He will send us to Central America again, and help solidify our calls and desires to serve Him wholeheartedly, wherever He calls us.

So what now? Well, please pray for us! There are a lot of details to manage to get us out of here in just 2 months! Pray for our team leaders as they finalize the plan. Please also pray for our hearts (for both our hearts and the rest of the team; there are almost 15 people going!). Pray that the Lord gives us an attitude of trust and humility as we embark on this adventure. Also pray for safety and health both before and during the trip!

The other big area that we need prayer for is to financially support the trip. We need $4000 for both of us to go. We are very far away from that goal, but we wholeheartedly trust that the Lord will provide the funds that we need. Since He has put this into our laps and we believe He wants us on this team, then we fully trust that He will provide.

Thank you so much for following us on our journey with this blog, and we look forward to continuing to share what the Lord is doing in our lives!


If you are feeling like the Lord is leading you to pray and/or financially support us, we would love to connect with you! Feel free to email us at buckleyfamily14@gmail.com if you would like to directly communicate with us. If you would like to directly contribute, you can go online to http://www.citylightphilly.com/give and designate the gift to El Salvador – The Buckley’s. You can also send checks (again, please specify El Salvador – The Buckley’s very clearly) to PO Box 29159 Philadelphia, PA 19128.

 

I’m Pressing the Reset Button Now

Reset. Start over. Try again. Do overs. I feel like this is my theme right now, and it is apply to every area of my life.

I find myself getting stuck in a cyclical pattern of personal growth where I make some progress towards growth, then stop pursuing growth which means I stop making growth (or even backtracking), and then I face the decision whether to start the pursuit again or give up. I get really frustrated when I realize that I’ve stopped trying, especially when I’m desperately trying to make growth. There are two areas where this frustrates me the most, 1) my relationship with my Savior, and 2) my relationship with myself.

One of my big pictures goals is to have self-control, while still submitting wholeheartedly to the Lord. I let things like anxiety, delicious desserts, netflix, and the enemy (who likes to use self-doubt, self-hatred, and the “you can’t do it” mentality) make decisions for me so that I don’t do what I’ve just said I’m going to do. We all deal with this! And I keep saying to myself that I’m going to stop letting everything around me dictate what decision I’m going to make.

But I have to fight this pattern several times every day, and I have to constantly be putting in the effort to make better choices. But I mess up. A lot. And sometimes, I make a string of bad choices before I catch myself. And so what happens? I have to reset. I have to stop, think, and make the right choice. I also have to forgive myself for my mistakes, and when sin is involved, I have to ask God (and often Dan) to forgive me as well.

These cycles even happen in my relationship with God as well, specifically in my spiritual practices, like daily prayer and scripture reading. It’s not that my faith is wavering, but it is my ability to put Him first each and every moment of each and every day. That is a choice that we all have to make. And even when we make the wrong choice, He is always there to welcome us back like the prodigal son.

Scripture constantly uses the word “steadfast” to describe God, which is good news to us because we are such flaky beings! We have a steadfast, unchanging, unwavering God who is not going to shift on us when we make wrong choices! I am so thankful that our God is this loving, merciful, and awesome to not be thrown off when I’m dancing around in circles instead of walking on His straight path. Now, I just have to choose to cling to Him.

I’ve had a bit of a “blog drought” and I’m hoping that this post will be another chance for me to reset here as well. Life constantly involves moments were we just have to reset ourselves so that we can get back on the path we want to be taking. I pray that He can lift me up and get me back on track so that I’m walking in His way, and I humbly ask that you pray for me as well. Thank you!

Christian Levels of Measure

For those of you who don’t know, I am kind-of a stats geek.  A good understanding of statistics and experimental design can completely change your perspective of the results.  Not to mention the fact that there are too many good stats puns and analogies to enrich your life!

One of the fundamental principals for stats and experimental design is levels of measure.  Basically, it allows us to describe the type of data that we are dealing with.  Simply put, these are the levels of measure that we typically use or refer to:

nominal (categorical, no order implied),

ordinal (names that imply order or rank, but the difference in value between them can not be calculated; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.),

interval (their are distinct differences between the values but the ratio between them is not meaningful; 20 degrees latitude is not twice as north as 10 degrees latitude),

and ratio (there is a useful 0 point, allowing for meaningful ratios between values; mass, length, etc.).  This is typically the most valuable level of measure because it can provide you the most information about the data, and allows you to make the most useful conclusions.


Similarly, Christians can fall into very similar categories or levels of measure.  Each has a parallel to the statistical level of measure, and each will live there Christian lives different from the others.

Nominal – These Christians are Christians by name only.  Perhaps they grew up in the Christian tradition, or there parents were Christians.  Maybe they say they are Christians when they are in social circles to avoid social pressures.  These Christians typically do not let Jesus change there lives and would be little different under any other title.

Ordinal – These Christians have developed there own little ranking system.  They know what they think makes the best Christians, and perhaps what they must do to be the best Christians.  These are the Christians that are at every charity event, they may always be reading there bible and loudly praying.  They are at church every Sunday, and where Christian t-shirts.  But they do it all gain the favor of others or of Christ.  They also tend to be the first people in the church to criticize others for their misdeeds or sins, perhaps boasting about the right way to live.

Interval – These Christians are the relativists of the bunch.  They know that Jesus is a pretty good idea, but just how good he is still isn’t known.  They are pretty similar to the ratio Christians and know that it isn’t all about being the best christian.  They know that God may be pretty good, but so are they.  They have not committed any “major sins” and they may not even think that they have to earn there way to heaven.  These Christians tend to include lukewarm Christians that may have a simple understanding of the Gospel, but can’t really relate to God.

Ratio – Ratio Christians know there is a 0; they know that in comparison to the excellence of Jesus Christ, we are all “0”.  We all may have our differences (some may be older in their faith, some are better at spiritual disciplines, some seem to have more spiritual gifts, etc) but these differences are meaningless in comparison to our God.  Yet still, this is the most valuable level of Christian measure.  It is only when we recognize that we are nothing and can accomplish nothing apart from Christ that He will truly be able to use us fully for His will.


My prayer is that we can live lives that resemble these ratio Christians.  We are called to humble ourselves, as Christ did, so that He can use us to His glory, and not our own.

(and also don’t forget your levels of measure)