Monday, March 30, 2009

Drew

First of all, I want to thank each one of you for your prayers and support. We are so thankful for friends and family who have stood by and supported us through this scary time. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness that Drew is ok. (For those of you who don't know - Drew was horse collared at a scrimmage on Saturday. He got hit a bunch of times and pulled himself out of the game. He lost feeling in the right side and blacked out a few times. He was taken to the hospital) I can't tell you how scared I was. The MRI and the CT scan is all clear. It looks like he walked away with a concussion and no lasting damage to ligaments. The doctor explained it to me like this: think how you feel when you hit your funny bone and the sensation that it gives you. It is a bit like that around your spine and so when it gets hit, it renders that sensation on the spine and him numb on the right side of his body. He needs to take it easy for awhile and is it out of any sports for three months, much to his dismay and my relief! Most of you know that this is not that first time I have looked over my son and watched his eyes roll back and wonder if this was it for him. It is that feeling we all dread, when your heart goes into your stomach. You are praying and telling God "NO" at the same time. On the ambulance ride, they were pricking Drew with a needle and he was not responding at all. I just kept telling the Lord, I can't do this again. I can't Lord. Please don't make me.
For those of you who don't know about the death of our younger son, I will attach story to the bottom of this e-mail or you can go to www.theewingfam.com. But walking through this the last couple of days, I have learned a few things! First being that God gives us the grace we need, when we need it. He doesn't supply the grace we need for what we fear might happen - He gives it to us when it does happen. I have been able to experience the greatest fear come true and get the grace I needed for that day and I can now say I have watched my fears not come true and I am very thankful. This has taught me to be careful in my fears, (while valid) and not let them take over me. Why? God's grace comes in when we need it.

I have learned that He can be trusted. His ways are not our ways but His ways are the RIGHT ways. Even in the midst of death and just plain scary situations. I was scared but I was also calm knowing that in all things His plan would not be changed. God's will would be done. There is a great comfort in that.

Also, I am learning what God walks us through will always be used for His glory. I just got an e-mail from Drew's coach and how he read and learned about Jake and share His story. God is always using everything to reveal Himself to His people. One scripture I am memorizing right now comes from Job 42:5-6 "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." I have to tell you before Jake died, I had heard lots of things about Jesus. LOTS. I knew Him and loved Him. But walking through the death of Jake let me SEE Jesus for who He really is. I learned to really love him and to trust him each step of the way. Sometimes, that was a minute by minute thing. The pain was so bad you have to trust Him, there is no other way (for me, there are other ways but that wasn't an option for me and would only bring more hurt on myself instead of letting Him heal the hurt). However, the more we begin to see Jesus the more we see ourselves and see that there is none not righteous, not one. The closer we see Jesus the more I see how I need to repent of my ways. There are many days I take my family and my kids for granted, many days I don't love them with the love Jesus gives to me to love others. Many days I think of my needs before theirs. The list goes on . . . those are just the public sins!

Most importantly, as the old quote goes "God cares more about our character than our comfort." His goal is to make us more Christ-like and often that takes suffering. Suffering is what puts us at the end of ourselves and makes us willing to trust and lean on Him. Eternity is at stake for most of the world and often our lives is the one thing they get to see that demonstrates Him to them. What is your life looking like? I am taking a long hard look at myself and what I need to change. Those scary times let us see what is important, really important. Beth Moore in her Esther study says this, "the world doesn't care about our relationship with Christ . . . it cares about our resemblance to Christ."

Knowing Jesus is the most important decision you will ever make, if you don't know Him. Please talk to someone who does. Let them share with you who HE is! He is worth knowing!


Jake's Story:

OUR LOSS. HEAVEN’S GAIN.

As I look back on my life, God has been so faithful and good to me. I had never really experienced any deep loss or anything up until we lost our son. I had lost grandparents, but that’s really part of growing up so it felt somewhat like a natural progression of life.

But when we lost our son in a car accident, it was a real blow to our faith.

It happened on Sunday, August 26, 2001. Kasey and I had two boys at the time (Drew who was five years old and Jake who was 23 months old). We had gone to eat after church with some friends and had just pulled up in the driveway. I had to run back up to work to get something so I told Kasey to leave the car running. She and the boys were out of the car and walking to the front door, so I walked around the car to get to the driver’s side to go to work really quick. Well, as I backed out of the driveway, I felt the
car run over something...or someone. It was Jake.

I was so shocked because I thought Kasey and the boys were inside the house already. I guess he had ran behind me when he saw me turn around to get back in the car. It happened so fast and is still a hard thing to think about. Our neighbors came out and helped us call 911 and all that but it was too late. After a while at the emergency room, the doctors came out with the news that Jake had not made it.

When the reality of Jake’s death sunk in over the next few months, our faith was tested like never before. That was, by far, the worst day of our lives. This was the kind of stuff that happened to other people, right? Our world was rocked! Once the shock began to fade away, the reality that Jake would not be around anymore came upon us like a flash flood.

BUT GOD... Those two words are so simple, yet profound.

God came through. He gave us comfort from His Word like we’d never experienced before. God’s promises seem to hold more weight when we are hurting. Grief is a bittersweet time. It’s so painful and tiring, BUT GOD shows up in those moments of hurt like a perfect father does. There are too many stories to share of how He healed us (and still is) but I will simply share just a few.

God story # 1 - When Kasey had given birth to Jake she went ahead and had her tubes tied. Two boys seemed just right for us. Oops! Well, about a year after Jake had died, Kasey’s parents said that they had felt led to help us do the tubal reversal surgery. This had been on our hearts for a while but we just didn’t have the means to make it happen so we were excited. We had no idea what to expect, BUT GOD blew us away. The surgery had taken place in mid-November and by January Kasey was pregnant with our third little boy, Jackson. This was after a 6 week recovery time, too, so the Lord worked quick on that one.

God story # 2 - My dad and a few others had accepted the Lord for the first time at Jake’s funeral service. Kasey’s Uncle Fred shared the gospel and they responded by giving their lives to Christ.

God story # 3 - The same day of the accident, the Lord gave me a song called “But Until Then.” You may say big deal, but if you knew what condition my heart and mind were in that day, you would realize what a gift from God that song was. It’s like God just said, “grab a pen and write this down.” We were able to record the song and played it during Jake’s service.

There are so many things that God did, but I’ll leave you with this thought. Growing up, one of my favorite verses was Romans 8:18 that says, “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.” That verse means more to me now than ever before. The trials in life last for a little while, but this verse reminds me to hold on to the hope of eternity. That promise alone, got me through some tough nights. There were times of depression and stress during the grieving process, but this verse came many times as a reminder that it will be worth it all. I could just imagine the Apostle Paul saying, “Don’t quit! The hard times are worth the wait. This life is not then end and death for Jake is the beginning of a life in paradise.” That thought alone gave me comfort then and still does today.

The grieving process was very painful, but the sweetness of the Lord’s presence during this time has not been matched in our lives before or since. HE IS the God of all comfort and He is the healer of my soul. I can’t imagine not having the Lord in my life or having a living hope to trust in when the waves come. I can rest in faith that I will see my son again and he will be able show me around heaven one day with my grandparents and loved ones that beat me there. O happy day!

As you have been reading this, our prayer is that God would use our lives as a bulletin board for His faithfulness. Even in our darkest storm, we saw the hand of God moving and felt the nearness of God in a way like never before. If you are hurting today, I pray that our story will encourage you to keep holding on to Jesus. He knows your pain and wants to heal you and put a joy deeper than any circumstance in your heart. God bless you and thank for visiting the site. It’s an honor you would come.

Love - Brad, Kasey, and the boys

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Curb Appeal

UPDATE: These verses were in my Bible Reading this morning and I thought they fit perfect for what I was talking about yesterday. Matthew 23: 25-26 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."

We have our house on the market and once someone looks at the house, they give their feedback to us. We got this yesterday, "Did not like the outside, no curb appeal. Loved the inside! Great floor plan and excellent decorating. May want to see it again this weekend."

Ok, so, what do you do with that? How do you create curb appeal? After a few searches on HGTV and quick e-mail to my Mom and sisters, I got a plan--Walmart clearance. I found some cafe chairs and a small table for the porch, some cheap flowers (it is possible we will still have a freeze and some snow here in CO), and some finials' that I spray painted black. Under a $100 and we have some curb appeal. I still need a few evergreens but Walmart didn't have any. Next weekend!

I have been going through Beth Moore's study of Esther and she is discussing how hard it is to be a woman these days. I have really been thinking about how we get the same message I got about my house. Not enough - we can have a great floorplan (shape), great decorating (clothes and make-up), someone can love us from the inside (our hearts) and still feel like we are lacking in something! No curb appeal maybe? Or maybe our decorating isn't so hot? Or worst, our hearts are a mess?

What is that you are struggling with? I feel like I get one area under control and then I am lacking in another. I am doing great with my quiet time each morning and reading my Bible plan. Then my exercise falls by the wayside or my house is a disaster. How do we do it all? The whole package!

We can't. The best thing we will ever learn is that we can't do everything well to the glory of God. Sometimes, we can only do a few things well. Sometimes, it is just one thing. We try to do too much and end up doing many things poorly.

What do we do then? We focus on our heart. We focus on the inside - let God change our hearts and our curb appeal will enhance, that I guarantee. Show me a woman who is in love with the Lord and finds her security in Him and Him alone and I will show you some curb appeal.

Ezekiel 16:14 "Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you." declares the Lord.
Kasey Ewing

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Miss Hollywood


I have wanted to write this post for a few weeks but my heart just wasn't ready to deal with the death of my grandmother. I was honored to get to go to the funeral (thanks to my dad for tickets--first class, but I won't brag) and help my mom and dad clean out her stuff and drive around where she lived and soak up the history of my family.

My grandparents lived in a small town called Montmorency, South Carolina. My Pop was a farmer and had lots of land. I spent many summers there driving tractors, jumping in bins of fresh pulled cotton, and working in the country store they had on their property. I watched as family after family came in to get their groceries, usually on their tab. I learned all about helping people in need. I watched as Pop would take groceries to single moms and to the elderly who couldn't get out. I questioned him one day why he kept letting people add to their tab when they hadn't paid in years. He would shake his head and tell me that they needed it more than he did. At that tender age, I was enamored by the big white plantation house they lived in and all the farms but I saw what was really important in the day to day activity of his life. People!

At the funeral one of the workers at Nana's home got up to tell a story. She said she had just begun working there and was sent to get a lady named "Miss Hollywood." She said she looked all over the place for someone named "Miss Hollywood" and couldn't find anyone by that name. She was confused. She finally asked who is "Miss Hollywood?" "Oh girl, that is Mrs. Flanders (my Nana) and we call her "Miss Hollywood" because she is always dressed up, has her make-up on and all her jewelry." My Nana still went to the beauty shop each week to get her hair done. I got to help my parents clean out her rooms and I can't tell you all the stuff we found. She had turned her bathtub into a closet with hangers full of clothes because the other two closets were full. She had drawers of earrings she had filled up ice cube containers with thousands of earrings. She had her lipsticks divided into colors and probably had over a hundred. She had bags and bags of cosmetics and beauty supplies. You have got to love her.

My Nana took me for the first time to buy makeup. She walked right into Dillard's and told the cosmetic lady that it was time for me to learn what to do with makeup. I got a full facial and a makeup artist to teach me how to apply the makeup. I was spending the summer with her and I am pretty sure she never asked my mom. I came home that summer all like "Miss Hollywood." My Mom recovered well but she was pretty shocked to say the least. I thought I was pretty special! The best part of it all, she charged it all to my mom's credit card. :)

The funeral was a perfect representation of her life. My Nana spent most of her life helping the fire department. She raised money for them for everything. The chief of the fire department told us that they wouldn't have a department if it wasn't for her. The fire department came to her funeral with lights flashing. They carried her casket behind the truck and walked her to her grave. She went out in style, perfect Hollywood style!

Monday, March 16, 2009

"You, Sir, are weak. You can't look evil in the eye and deal with it." -Jack Bauer

Are we dealing with our own sin? Are we truly "examining our hearts?" Jesus told us to examine our hearts before we partake of the Lord's supper. Lam. 3:40 says "Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord." The dictionary defines examine as "to inspect closely, to test the condition of, to inquire carefully, to interrogate closely, or to test by questioning in order to determine progress, fitness or knowledge." I wonder how much better off we would be if we really did this - if we truly examined our hearts and motives this way. 2 Corinthians 13:5 "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
The bible repeatedly tells us to test,examine, or evaluate our hearts and actions. What a difference we would experience in our walk with the Lord and with our relationships if we truly did this. I am thinking that our prayer life should include a request for the Lord to reveal to us our motives - ask Him to examine us even if it hurts. Confession of sin will free us to be person God has made us to be.
What is it that you need to examine? Is there an area that needs to be looked at through the power of the Holy Spirit, who reveals those things to us?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday's Token

"You Sir are weak, you can't look evil in the eye and deal with it." -Jack Bauer

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bible Reading Plan

What follows is Professor Horner's explanation of the Bible Reading System, as it appears on the Facebook page.

~~~

"I have more wisdom than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation." Psalm 119:99, right-hand page, left-hand column, dead center of page. Many people ask me how it is that I know precisely where virtually *everything* is in my Bible. The answer: this system. I began in 1983 (adapting and tweaking the basic design of another system) as a brand-new convert; within 3 years I knew the text of my Bible very well. Twenty-five years later it is essentially imprinted on my mind and heart. I have been all over the country and have taught this system in many churches. I have done open-microphone Q&As on Bible and theology -- with 1200 people in the audience -- as well as cultural-analysis live radio shows where you have to think fast -- and it has been the "imprinting" value of this system that has helped me provide quick, clear, heavily contextualized scriptural answers (I Peter 3:15; right-hand page, right hand column, 1/3rd way down). I have no Seminary degrees, no Bible-college or Christian school education -- hey, I never even went to Sunday School (the first church I went to, just months after my conversion, threw me into Sunday School-- to teach!!! *BIG* mistake, by the way...) All I DID have was a chair, a lamp ... and my Bible.

This is *not* merely a speed-reading program, nor is it a 'study' system. Read the 1-page description provided here to see how it works. (I'd also recommend you look at my first few posts in the Discussion Board 'Starting Up' below as well, for more thoughts.) DO NOT be intimidated! I was a college drop-out, ex-heavy-druggie when I started it. If I can do it -- so can you!

TRY IT FOR A MONTH. Then tell me what is happening!

Join if you wish to try it; stay if you keep it up for one month! And make posts about your struggles, the effects it is having on your biblical understanding and discernment, and to encourage others.


HERE IT IS:

* PROFESSOR GRANT HORNER'S 'TEN LISTS BIBLE READING SYSTEM'*

Each day you will read one chapter from each list, in order. THAT'S RIGHT -- *TEN CHAPTERS PER DAY*!!! Use ten bookmarks or sticky notes with the individual lists on them to keep track of your locations. On day one, you read Matthew 1, Genesis 1, Romans 1, and so forth. On day 2, read Matthew 2, Genesis 2, etc. On day 29, you will have just finished Matthew, so go to Mark 1 on the Gospel list; you’ll also be almost to the end of 2nd Corinthians and Proverbs, you’ll be reading Psalm 29 and Genesis 29, and so forth. When you reach the last chapter of the last book in a list – start over again. Rotate all the way through all the Scriptures constantly. Since the lists vary in length, the readings begin interweaving in constantly changing ways. You will NEVER read the same set of ten chapters together again! Every year you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the OT wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the OT History and prophetic books about 1 ½ times. Since the interweaving is constantly changing, you will experience the Bible commenting *on itself* in constantly changing ways -- the Reformer's principle of 'scriptura interpretans scripturam' -- 'scripture interpreting scripture' IN ACTION!

After you’ve read any particular book once or twice, your speed in that book usually *doubles or triples* because you’re familiar with it and can move quickly and confidently -- because you are no longer merely decoding the text but thinking it through in the context of all of the scripture! Acts 20:27. Even an ‘average’ reader, if focusing on moving through the text, rather than trying to figure everything out, can usually do this in about an hour a day – 5-6 minutes per chapter. If it is taking you longer, then you are ‘reading wrong’ – stay relaxed, focus, and just keep it moving. Moderate but consistent speed is the key. This is "gross anatomy" -- looking at the whole body; you're *not* closely studying organs or systems or tissues or cells -- it is *not* microbiology. BUT
-- microbiology and the study or organs makes more sense when you know what the *whole* structure of the human body is like, and how all the parts, large and small, relate in perfect interdependence. After just a few days the reading gets *much* easier; in a month it will be a habit, and in six months you’ll wonder how you ever survived before on such a slim diet of the WORD. And then -- you'll tell others to start the system!

I began in 1983 as a new Christian and have now read (most of) the Bible hundreds and hundreds of times. You also need to get ONE Bible, keep it, and do all your reading in it, so you learn where everything is. I’ve had the same Bible since 1983 and I know it intimately. If you keep switching Bibles, you ‘lose’ this intimacy with the text. Find a translation and format you like and stick with it. THIS IS CRUCIAL.

When I was flown out by Masters for a 3-day interview/theological-grilling process, the culmination was of course being ushered in to Dr. John MacArthur's private study, which is where he asked me this one question: "Can I see your Bible?" I thought he would be horrified, because it looked like it had been through a typhoon -- it looked unloved and neglected. Something from a dumpster. It was unbound, with stringy mess and paper debris hanging out. I was so embarrassed. I thought he would chastise me and recommend I get a new study Bible if I was serious about the Word. (No doubt which study Bible he would recommend!!!) He flipped through it and handed it to his wife and said "If your Bible is falling apart, you probably aren't." I was basically hired on the spot.

Your Bible is the only thing on Earth that, as you wear it out, will actually work better and better.



THE TEN LISTS:

List 1 (89 days)
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John


List 2 (187 days)
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy


List 3 (78 days)
Romans, I&II Cor, Gal, Eph, Phil, Col, Hebrews


List 4 (65 days)
I&II Thess, I&II Tim, Titus, Philemon, James, I&II Peter, I,II&III John, Jude, Revelation


List 5 (62 days)
Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon


List 6 (150 days)
Psalms


List 7 (31 days)
Proverbs


List 8 (249 days)
Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I&II Samuel, I&II Kings, I&II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther


List 9 (250 days)
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah,
Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi


List 10 (28 days)
Acts



If you are wondering why you should read Acts (or Proverbs) all the way through *every single month* then
-- you've just shown that you NEED to read them that much!

*Put these instructions in your Bible and review them from time to time*

SECRETS TO SUCCESS WITH THIS SYSTEM:

• Read one chapter from each list each day, in one sitting or two. At the end of a book, go to the next book. At the end of the list – start it again. Do it in the order given above.
• Read quickly (without “speed reading”) in order to get the overall sense. Read as fast as you comfortably can with moderate retention. You’re not studying deeply or memorizing; shoot for 5-6 minutes per chapter. At the end of a chapter, move immediately to the next list.


GET THROUGH THE TEXT – no dawdling, back-reading, looking up cross-references!
• There are different ‘kinds’ of reading: super-quick skimming, careful moderate-paced, studying the text, deep meditation. You should be between the first and second kind.
• Most people decrease their time spent and increase their retention after just two-three weeks! I now read and retain the entire text of Matthew in 35 minutes, Romans in 20, Genesis in *one hour*!
• Don’t look up anything you ‘don’t get’ – real understanding will come through contextualizing by reading a LOT of scripture over time. Get through the text!
• If you miss a day or two – OK, get over it, then keep going. Don’t cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes and quit! Move the bookmarks along, to find your place(s) quickly next day.
Heb 4:12&5:11-14; Eph 5:26&6:17; Col 3:16; 2 Tim 3:16; Ps 119; Ezra 8; Prov 3: 1-2, 10:14; Dan 1

Followers