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Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving! A Year of Blessings to be Thankful for


It's Thanksgiving eve, and once again I will be going out for dinner with my brothers and their wives (And fiancĂ©,  Tommy still is yet to close the deal as the last holdout but like tomorrow's Turkey his goose is cooked!)  We're going for Mexican and a few laughs.  I won't be drinking.  I'm happy to report I've been sober sine 03/22/15 and I ain't going back! I am truly blessed because God has freed me from the prison I created for myself. Alcohol's lies have been exposed and I will remain vigilant to steer clear of the drink that consumes you.  Hey man to each their own I just know how I am and I am happier to leave it behind forever.  

Sobriety is enough to be Thankful for all by itself every single day of my life but God has given me so much more.  

The year in review of thanks! 

January, I was happy and thankful that a transition to a new foreman in the Schenectady line crew went off without any problems.  After some doubt and last minute changes, I ended up in a situation I was content with.

This January had virtually zero snow and I was extremely thankful for that because I work outside and I pay to have my driveway plowed.  I don't ski or snowmobile so I'll take all the snowless winters I can get! 

February- I went on a mission trip to Zimbabwe and Zambia. I also went on a safari in Botswana and saw Victoria Falls.  I honestly felt I was my ideal self on Mission, all my thoughts and actions were directed to the service of my Lord and Savior. 


As fate would have it while I was away. My wife Michele suffered a recurrence of a kidney infection/ stones. She was in a great deal of pain and terrible health.  I am thankful for the doctors and my parents for helping her  in my absence.  And I thank God that she has been healed. 

March - I was thankful that my eldest brother Matthew finally got married at 47 years old!  Kat Flynn is a wonderful person for taking this burden upon herself, welcome to the party Kat! 

April- I'm thankful for Easter where we celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive!  It's no zombie movie,  Jesus was risen to show that He is the Son of God and that through His work on the cross all who put their faith in Him will be forgiven of their sins and live forever with Him in paradise! 

May - Verizon went on strike, so I am thankful for my Union brothers and sisters that took a stand for the middle class by sacrificing income to insure we there could be good jobs in this country.   In the face of corporate greed who make billions in profit there is no reason they can't pay a wage where their employees can prosper.  I pray for other workers to band together to insure good jobs and dignity for all Americans.  

June - Verizon and the union came to an agreement.  It was back to work and I thank God Almighty because I was able to work again and to grab enough overtime to meet all my financial needs after being out of work for six weeks. At times I didn't think I would make it but God was with me.  

When I say that I really mean it.  One Sunday one of the women at my church that I did not even know was led by the Holy Spirit to give me a financial donation at a time when every penny counted.  I hadn't told anybody that I was in need and I didn't know this woman.  She told me that during her morning prayers the Lord directed her to give to me.  The money was appreciated but the thought that God moved this women to give to me, that God was thinking about me, and sending help is a blessing that I will always be thankful for.  He is real. He is alive. Salvation is through Christ alone. Please believe me and put your faith in Him! 

July - I took my family on a vacation to Niagara Falls Canada.  It was fun, even with the two angsty teens although it may be their last trip! Lol.   So In retrospect in 2016, I beheld the glory of God's creation by seeing 2 of the most magnificent waterfalls on the planet, Victoria & Niagara Falls! God is awesome. 

August- Michele and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary by going to the Rhode Island ocean and had all you can eat lobster at the world famous Nordic Lodge. The weather was sunny but not too hot. It was a nice weekend away. Recalling this I am reminded that through all my insanity and the wrong I've done, life's tragedies, the good times and the bad, Michele has continued to love me.  We've lived together since 96, so I am truly thankful for the 20 years of Michele's love and life that she has given me. She hosting my family for Thanksgiving so that proves she loves me! 


September - This was the month my Son Brennan,who had been a slacker for the past two years by not doing his homework and getting in trouble at school, decided to change his life.  He decided that a life of irresponsibility and the chaos that came with it wasn't the way he wanted to live anymore.  He started doing his work unprompted and has a real desire to succeed.  

My daughter, Haley, who had made that decision a few years ago after being a slacker, continues to do her work.  

So both my kids are staying out of trouble, they do their school work, they don't fight one another and they do whatever is asked of them.  They may be a little obsessed with video games and watching you tube but they haven't bugged me for cellphones...yet.  They talk to me and we are endlessly joking around. I am so proud and thankful because I honestly couldn't be happier with them. 

October - Autumn in upstate New York is a sight to behold.  Fall Foliage!  Also I got assigned to the double wood crew in Albany,  right where I wanted to be at the beginning of the year. It's a shorter commute and it's just in time before winter starts roaring.  

The kids both decided to sign up for drama, both getting small parts in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.   Like I said before, very proud.   

The kids had a Halloween party with their at the house to end the month! 

November- The election happened and the world didn't end.  I don't comment on politics, other than to declare that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

I took the kids to see Julius Caesar in Chatham and it was really good. The kids of course sat with there theater friends but I'm cool like that.  
A day later I had the pleasure of seeing my kids in Romeo and Juliet. They were great and I think they really found what they are good at.  I wonder how they became so dramatic? 

The same weekend, Michele and I had the pleasure of attending Matt & Kats Wendy reception, 8 months later? It was a great venue and it was good time for all (even with Matt's tribute to all things Heavy Metal).  

And tomorrow is the big feast! 

All through the year I have had the honor of attending rock solid church, I am so thankful Pastors Jaron Halsted, Chris Romano, Mike Lambert, and Ethan Thomlinson, who has taken the reigns  as youth pastor this year.  I am thankful for the worship team and all those who serve and attend.  

I am thankful for Celebrate Freedom, my sponsor and mentor Bob Costello and the opportunity to teach. I am thankful for Paula williams, Cheryl Manchuck for leading the women's group. I also extremely thankful to Chris Manchuck for picking up leading worship.  Guitar hero I am not! 

I am thankful for Pastor Bob Engelhardt's preaching that has inspired me to write a book about Spirit-filled Christianity.  It's his work that will be the basis of the book and I pray my efforts will bring more people to the Lord.  The work is rewarding and challenging and I hope to have it completed soon.  That's why there's been no blog entries for months.  I've been working almost ever morning since the strike.  

I am so thankful for all of this and of course God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit who are responsible for it all!  

To all my friends and family, trust in Jesus and Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

It really is a wonderful life! 




Saturday, March 12, 2016

AFRICA and BACK HOME

Bloggers blog right? or write? RIGHT!  
I have been gone too long. I need to share to tell you, and to remind myself, of all the wonderful things the Lord has done for me.


Well I made it back alive from my mission trip to Africa.  My life was never really threatened but we are never promised tomorrow and I suppose there were plenty of moments in my trip where my life could have ended:

 plane crashes (6 flights in total),

disease (Ebola screenings!),

street violence (I’m assuming Soldiers/police in downtown Harare and in the Shop Rite in Livingstone carry AK-47s for show),

falling to my death from a fool hardy trip halfway down a 500 foot gorge (I was wise enough to turn back when I realized that Crocs didn’t offer the best footing and that it wasn’t  worth it.  An exhausted companion who did the entire trek later confirmed “It was stupid!” Apparently the river below didn’t offer much more than the view from above, except swarms of mosquitoes and flies. )

However, the Lord watched over me and I am safely back home.



It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. The fact is dedicating two weeks of my life solely for the Lord’s purposes was one of the greatest things I have ever done.   I felt like I was my ideal self:  all my time could be categorized as working for the Lord or proclaiming the gospel and my personal testimony.   All throughout the trip I felt I was being led by the Holy Spirit. Every devotional or gospel message seemed to lead to the next in a purposeful unfolding that made everything I encounter seem truly momentous: AS IF IT WERE MEANT TO BE!!! 

The mission  team from my church were united in spirit and purpose with no division or conflicts which isn’t always the case with large groups of diverse people (16).  I found a new level of respect for Pastor Jaron Halsted and Pastor Mike Lambert as they ably lead and ministered to the group with great skill. 

The team spent a week in Harare Zimbabwe where we did concrete and tile work that would help support an orphanage that was funded by Pastor Ephiel Mukamuri of Logos Rhema Ministries. Pastor Ephiel welcomed the team into his home and was a most gracious host providing for all the teams needs during our visit.  While in Zimbabwe, I spoke at Pastor Ephiel’s church and two schools that he supports sharing my personal testimony and the Gospel.   We ended our time in Zimbabwe with a picnic with the orphans, dancing, and praising the name of Jesus in song.   


The team then went to Livingstone Zambia where we did brick and mortar work for a school that the Temple of Power church is building.  Pastor Nelly Chibwela opened up her home and heart to the team richly providing for our needs during our visit.   While in Zambia I preached at Temple of Power Church and at Pastor Buster Tembo’s House of Testimony Church.  Near the end of our trip the team crossed the border into Botswana for a day long Safari, where we took a river Safari and then hopped into trucks going into the bush!  The African landscape was graced by spectacular blue skies and sunshine as the team spied, herds of elephants, lions, wart hogs, baboons, crocodiles, hippos, impalas, lynx, and cheetahs.  Our final day in Zambia we went to the awesome splendor that is Victoria Falls. 




My time in Africa was well spent and I don’t regret it but in life sometimes things aren’t always so wonderful. 

The truth is my wife, who doesn’t share my zeal for missions or evangelism, was not happy with my decision to go to Africa.  I had made a determined decision to go regardless of her feelings and she barley communicated with me while I was away. What made matters even worse was that Michele suffers from recurring kidney stones and infections. She was hospitalized just before my trip but she was out when I left, granted with a subsequent appointment to remove a stint while I was to be away.  Things took a turn for the worse and she had to be hospitalized while I was away, another stint had to be put in.  She was extremely angry for what she sees as me abandoning her.  Upon my return , she was cold telling me she had contacted a lawyer in regards to getting a divorce.  She was also very ill. She refused to go to the Hospital that day but after a night of vomiting and not being able to keep anything down we were headed back to Albany Medical Center.    

While I was in Africa, I had left under the strain of a spouse who didn’t fully support me and I could understand why some people leave their families, or some people go into the mission field for good.  The problems of my life back home were gone, geographically distant and removed.   I really felt the urge to leave, find a nice Christian woman, and spend our lives being missionaries.  However, the Holy Spirit was leading me while in Africa. The messages I heard were about forgiveness, hope, and love.  I strained and prayed mightily for guidance but as much as I was taken with the life of a missionary and preacher that I had come to experience everything I heard told me to go back home and minister to my wife, to show her the love of Christ that has changed my life so much.  I sulkily agreed that this was what the Holy Spirit was telling me to do, so I reluctantly agreed to go home, apologize to Michele, and to begin to honor, love and obey her as our wedding vows commanded.  

So I apologized and started to do things to be there for my wife, reluctantly agreeing to stop going to Bible college to be there for her.   I took her to her doctor appointments and started doing things around the house to get things in order.  I still had fantasies about running off with some Christian woman and being a missionary but I decided to serve my wife regardless of my irrational feelings.  Understand me when I say I was really grieved about this conflict between my desires and what God was telling me to do but I also felt good about being there for Michele and getting the house in order (AS IF IT WERE MEANT TO BE).   

I’m happy to report that after days of speaking words of encouragement and serving my wife I had a revelation about my irrational thoughts.  I discovered that all my thoughts of running out of my marriage were just insane flights of fantasy that I had given power to by dwelling on.  I realized that in my mind leaving my wife and finding love elsewhere was built as an option to consider so I had opened a door to sin.  It’s the tenth commandment : You shall not covet (Exodus 20:17).  I was wanting things that weren’t mine and it was wrong.  As a married man, I was supposed to love my wife like Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25). I haven’t been faithful to my wife like I should have been.   God was calling me to repent.
I am happy to say that Michele has fully recovered from her infection and that she has forgiven me.  I have made it plain to her that I am going to love honor and obey her to the best of my abilities and things are going well. 

I was chasing after God relentlessly to the exclusion of my wife.  I felt the call to the mission field and went in faith.  My visions of a revival sparked by my visit to Africa weren’t realized but the Holy Spirit spoke to me. Apparently, God wanted to get me alone for a while to show me what was important. Galatians  5:22-23 says” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” I have spent two and a half years learning about God and faith but hadn’t put the lessons I had learned into practice in my marriage.  God sent me to Africa to show me that He is awesome and ever present and to tell me to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in my life and marriage.  .

I know I will be challenged and I might fail sometimes. I know that I may never get my wife on board with the Spirit-filled Christian life that I want to live. She may tire of me and leave me but I am going to try to do God’s will for my marriage.

Pastor Mike’s wife, Sue Lambert, had to endure 8 years of marriage to him before he gave himself to the Lord. Now he is a Pastor!

In the Bible, Joseph was in prison for years before he was raised to prominence and saved his family and the entire nation of Egypt.   Moses spent 40 years in the desert serving the Lord and never set foot in the Promised Land.  Paul was rendered blind when Christ was revealed to him with no knowledge that his sight would be restored and he would go on to give his life spreading the gospel. 

The point is serving God isn’t without hardship and it is not about receiving a reward here on earth (Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.). 


I am going to try to do what God would have me do in my life and marriage without the expectation of reward.  I am going to serve, honor and love my wife as an expression of my faith in Jesus Christ.  .    

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Faith on 2 Continents: Off to Africa




Well today is the day! In a few hours I will be on a plane off to Africa.  The last few weeks have been crazy: getting acclimated to a new crew at work, hitting a deer on the Taconic parkway, rushing Michele to the hospital with a kidney infection, doing 4 papers in 2 days for the Bible college, and being in a frantic state of mind preparing myself for the trip.  Many would say to call it off and just stay home but I received a call to go on a mission trip almost 2 years ago now.  I have faith that I Am supposed to do this.  Believe me at times I have doubted it  especially since Michele's medical problems but I still have this sense that I am meant to go.  So I go!  I have to trust and have faith. 

I have to trust that Michele will continue to heal and with the help of her friend, Sandy, get the care she needs. I have faith that my kids will be obedient to their mother and do their school work.  I have to have faith that God will watch over them while I'm away.  

I have to have faith in the plane! I have to have faith I will arrive and leave safely.   I have to have faith that I will do some good work for the Lord while I am in Africa.  I am not sure wheather the purpose I am going has to do with the people I meet, the work we will do on the schools and churches, my walk with the Lord, or all of the above but I have faith that God is with me in this.  

This exercise in faith of mine is no different from yours really. Although I am going an ocean away and things are uncertain for me, those who stay home are trusting that things will be good. They are trusting they and their family will remain healthy, will keep their jobs, will be safe, and they won't hit a deer on the way to work!   I can tell you, though even here in the safe U.S.A., these things are not certain.  

Only one thing is certain. God is good, he came to earth as Jesus Christ and He paid for our sins on the cross.  If you have faith in Christ, you will have eternal life with Him (John 3:16).  

In Matthew 28  18.   Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Christ has given me salvation and a new life. So I go.  God bless you all.