Category Archives: Church

Life in Review: 2010

Considering 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 all involved births or a miscarriage, 2010 could be rated relatively boring in comparison.  However, that was certainly not the case, so I thought it would be beneficial to take a brief look back at various areas of my life as a marker looking back and an opportunity to look ahead.

Work
Where to start?  It was quite a year.  I received a promotion and continued to take on increasing responsibility.  In fact, one of my co-workers retired at the end of the year and we hired an analyst so that I could take on more revenue generating responsbility in the office.  God has continued to bless my work and grant me favor with my co-workers and colleagues.  Praise God!

Chilren
No additions to this category this year (as mentioned above), but our children continue to grow, change and develop.  Abel and Amariah both started pre-school this past fall.  My wife, Angela is homeschooling this year and using the Sonlight curriculum.  So far it has been very profitable academically for our children and worth the up front cost.  It’s really neat to watch our children learn and hunger to know more.  Abel continues to love to build with Legos, he is a detail oriented four year old.  Amariah has the most creative imagination of any child I have ever known.  She loves to sing and play make believe.  Isabel and Elliana are now over 19 months old and walking / running / climbing whereever they please!  It’s so much fun to watch them interact with each other and their older siblings.  Children certainly have a way of keeping things in perspective.

Family
My brother got engage to his college sweetheart and we look forward to their wedding in April.  My sister and brother-in-law are finally catching up with us on the kid count and are due to equal us in March of 2011.  My parents continue to be blessed with good years farming and enjoying their seven grandchildren.  My mom had another good year of tests at Mayo. She has now been officially cancer free since her last surgery in December of 2007.   What an amazing work of healing and restoration.  I continually praise God for his goodness and do not take my time with my extended family for granted!  

Church
At First Family Church, we finished series in 2 Peter and Romans, and did a topical study on the Gospel-Centered Life.  We also spend the entire year in our “new” facility.  It was nice to finally have a place that we call “home” after being a mobile church.  We led a Lighthouse group for the first half of the year and then took a break beginning in the fall to take a year to “recharge” from the demands of having a young family and leading. 

Spiritual Growth
It was a good year of growth for me in some theological areas that I had been studying coinciding with the various sermon series.  However, I found myself struggling with consistency in scripture reading off and on.  When my work schedule became hectic, I found myself leaving God with the leftovers… ouch… that’s a tough thing to admit and something I am not very proud of.  I did not have a formal bible “reading plan” outlined at the beginning of the year, and found that did not serve me well.

Eternal Outlook
While, my posting was down this year (only 21 posts = yikes!), I feel that each year God is changing my outlook on life and focusing my gaze eternally.  I want to have a year that counts for eternity and be able to look back with satisfaction that I am not only encouraging christian living with an eternal outlook, but living as a Christian with an ever increasing eternal outlook.

Blessings!
Travis

Thinking Man’s Religion

Since my wife and children are enjoying a nice vacation at her parents’ house in Nebraska, I was spending the weekend visiting my family in Eastern Iowa.  Otherwise, this morning started rather normally, waking up, grabbing a Dr. Pepper for breakfast (needed the caffeine), and then heading to church at BIG.  I always enjoy heading back to BIG and seeing the church body that we were apart of when Angela and I were married.  It’s always a sweet time of genuine heart-felt worship and this morning was no different.

Pastor Bill opened up to Matthew 28:18, and immediately my mind flashes back over the numerous Great Commission sermons that I’ve heard preached.  Thankfully, I was able put aside any pre-conceived notions and allow the word of God to work in my heart.  There nothing necesarily “profoundly new” or “earth-shattering” about the sermon, just the simple and powerful word of God.  However, the statement made at the end of the sermon, I quickly jotted down, and have been pondering it throughout the day: “Christianity is a thinking man’s religion”.  How true that statement is!  While child-like faith is the pre-requisite for entering the kingdom of God (Mark 10:13-16), the facts for the thinking man do hold up.

Pastor took us all over the scripture to illustrate the disciples adherence to making disciples of all nations, by their willingness to reason, go to the scripture, reason again, and go back to the scriptures.  Spend every sabbath doing it, spend every day doing it, week in and week out for months and years at a time.  We often hear Great Commission sermons focused solely on the disciples adherence to going to the ends of the earth to spread the Gospel, but we often overlook the necessary work reasoning and contending for the scriptures.

While I have always held an affinity to the the truth and theological discussion, I often wonder if “we” as the “American Church” have missed the boat.  In our drive to grow the church numerically have we missed the message of the Great Commission and God’s design for church growth?  Why shy away from the fact that God’s truth is bulletproof, there are no contradictions?  In our efforts to simplify the gospel to the “Romans Road” or “Sinner’s Prayer”, have we stripped the Gospel and the Word of it’s power (Romans 1:16)?  Perhaps, I’m over thinking the thinking man’s religion or perhaps we need a fresh dose of the Great Commission lived out as the disciples did.

Challenged to be Moved

Today, our church was blessed to have a special speaker, Daniel Punnose from Gospel for Asia.  Daniel is the son of the founder of Gospel for Asia and author, K.P. Yohannan.  I have heard representatives from Gospel for Asia speak before, so last night I knew that this morning I would be faced with an eternally focused message.  In all honesty, there was a part of me that was fearful of that.  Sure enough, Daniel brought the word of God with conviction and sincerity.  Preaching from a familiar passage in John 4:27-35, he emphasized the last verse and Jesus instructions to his disciples…”lift up your eyes.”
For the better part of the past year, my wife and I have felt at times like we are running on empty.  Four kids, four and under presents its daily challenges, but the real challenge has come in my battle with my selfish, sinful nature.  In all honest, I feel much like the disciples in John 4:35, who are so concerned with the physical (i.e. the harvest is 4 months away), that I am missing the spiritual (i.e. the fields are white for the harvest).  It is apparent that when you are unable to take your eyes off of yourself, you miss the spiritual (“lift up your eyes”).  I wonder if perhaps I am not alone in this “confession of a selfish 21st century Christian”?  Not that it would make me feel any “better” about myself, because I know it is God who is stirring my heart (thankfully!).  But I have to come to the realization, that without making the choice of doing things differently, I am just going to have the same ho-hum spiritual results.  If I want a vibrant prayer life,then I need to eliminate the snooze button of my life and rise to pray while my family still sleeps.  If I want the word of God to speak to me, I have to desire it above my physical appetites.  This stirred heart of mine has challenged me to be moved!
Lord, you know all things and know my heart.  Lord, you know my weaknesses.  Move me.  Change me.  Teach me to live authentically so that because of the way that I’m living my life someone else will know the gospel!  Lift up my eyes and stamp eternity on them!  In Jesus’, precious, holy, saving name!

The Squires Lighthouse


Another year of leading the Squires Lighthouse has begun.  This month marks the start of the third year of the Squires Lighthouse and our fourth year involved in the Lighthouse (small group) ministry at First Family Church in Ankeny, Iowa.

I always look forward to fresh beginnings.  A chance to kick it up a notch, get back on track.  For one thing, we typically take summers off, so it’s refreshing to be back in regular fellowship with other believers. Secondly, the last four months have been a rather blur.  Needless to say, with a three year old, two year old, and twin infants, regular adult fellowship was harder to come by this summer.  My wife and I absolutely love meeting with fellow Christians and are so thankful for the opportunity to have Christian friends who we can meet with and enjoy godly fellowship.

Anyways…so what is exactly is the Squires Lighthouse you ask?  The Squires Lighthouse is currently comprised of young married couples in various stages of life.  We love the Lord and strive to have deep, godly fellowship when we meet Sunday evenings to study the bible, pray, and grow in the Lord together.

If you live in the Des Moines area and want to meet and join in our fellowship let us know!

Blessings!

Travis

A Dose of Grace

I am so thankful for all of the friends and family who have helped my wife and I out during these past two stressful weeks (see here, here, here, and here).  It been amazing to see how our family, friends and church has responded to us in our time of need.

My mind has just been reflecting on the events of the past few weeks and I realized that I am so grateful / thankful:

  • that last week when we were in the hospital the “kiddos” were at my parents house
  • a Pastor who cared to come visit us in the hospital (and other friends who offered)
  • for the friends and neighbors who have sacrificed their time and groceries to prepare us a meal
  • for Melissa for organizing to arrange for help and making a “grocery run”
  • for fellow believers who have offered to pray for us on the hour during waking hours 
  • for our Lighthouse group at First Family Church at how we are able to encourage and humbly serve one another
  • for the flexibility of my employer and the ability to work remotely (thank you technology)
  • for the Lord’s financial blessing on our lives
  • for friends who drop off extra carpet for our unfinished basement
  • for my wife’s patience with me as I try to pick up some slack around the home
  • for my wife’s mother coming to stay with us this week to help out with Angela and the kids
  • for all of those who have offered to help and pray for us, so simply being the “body of Christ” to us and sharing in our joys and suffering
  • for the blessing of children as a gift from the Lord
  • for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and that Salvation is freely offered to all who believe upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
I’m sure that I’m forgetting some things, but these things that I have “listed” have given me a dose of grace in this time of need!
Blessings!
Travis

Day #1

I believe that today represented Day #1 of retraining myself of what it means to “serve my wife”.  My wife has been recently put on “modified bed rest” at 29 weeks for her pregnancy with our twins .  While this week was extremely stressful for me (I’m thankful no one was trying to take my blood pressure), I have felt God’s surpassing peace in a real way.  I have also come to a few very real conclusions:

1) My wife is a “super-mom” and “super-wife” (I knew this before now – just reiterated).  In other words, she makes things pretty easy for me.  While I work outside of the home, she works in the home preparing meals, doing laundry, keeping the house clean, taking care of the kids, paying bills, running errands, etc.  This enables us to have great family time every evening without worrying about taking care of the daily tasks that she is able to tackle.  Now that her “super-mom” and “super-wife” role looks different (i.e. bed rest caring for our newborn babies)…

2) I need to “fill” those shoes (as an act of love – Ephesians 5:25)

2) “I” cannot “fill” those shoes (not enough hours in the day).  However, I am confidently claiming the word of God as authority on this situation, “I can do all things through Him, who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).  The house may not be as clean and spotless, or the bills always paid on time, but I know that God will sustain us during this time.

4) I need the Lord to continue to teach me what it means to be a servant. I am thankful for God’s great shepherding in bringing about this area of sanctification in my life.  I know that I need to serve more joyfully and the Lord has given me many opportunities, starting with the wife that I married 46 months ago and our two kids!

5) I am thankful for the body of Christ.  Our families, Lighthouse group, and church family has been awesome and encouraging.  Thanks!

Blessings!
Travis

Lessons from Jonah

Since the beginning of the year, we have been going through the book of Jonah at First Family Church .  It has been a very good series, and sadly to say, I realize that there is more “Jonah” in me, than I care to admit (i.e. selfish, stubborn, “un-compassionate”, etc.).  On the positive side, one thing that has really stood out to me the past couple of week is God’s amazing ability to shepherd his people.  For He is the Great Shepherd, who knows His sheep and the needs of His sheep.  God is so patient with Jonah in chapter 4, prodding him and teaching him what it means to obey with his heart and have “God-like” compassion on the souls of lost people.  He didn’t strike him dead for his disobedience or pronounce destruction on his life, but God faithfully shepherded the heart of Jonah.   He appointed a plant, a worm, a scorching east wind all because he wanted Jonah to see the wickedness of his heart before a holy God.

It makes me take a step back and wonder, what circumstance in my life is God “working in” to bring about my sanctification?  More importantly, as one of His sheep, how have I strayed from the Good Shepherd, and what wickedness do I need to purge my heart from?  Perhaps, I need some more time to ponder these questions…