Memories in Minnesota

Our family cherishes the memories from vacation, and our trip to Minnesota was no exception. We had a great time with my side of the family. Praise the Lord for family and the time we have together! Here are just a few of the highlights (click on any picture for the full view)…

Vacation with Creation

When I go on vacation, I love to enjoy God’s amazing creation. I like to spend a lot of time outside, doing active things with my family. We did a lot of that last month during our annual vacation with Marsha’s family, and we had a blast.

Here are just some of the pictures from our trip to southeast Missouri, although there were a lot of moments we did not get pictures of because of jumping off cliffs and climbing rocks…

Never to Lose

When I play all-time quarterback (meaning quarterback for both teams, for those who do not know and/or have not had the joyful privilege) with my kids and nieces and nephews, I never lose. I suppose you could say I never win either, but I do not see it that way. Instead, I get to throw touchdown passes all game long and the team for which I play wins in the end. As a competitive person who hates to lose, I kind of like being all-time quarterback. The game is fun, and I get to throw the winning touchdown pass. Never to lose; always to win.

I was thinking about this during our recent vacation when I had the privilege of playing football with some of the kids (pictured above). Seriously, I never tire of being all-time quarterback, kind of like I never tire of winning, although I do not always win in sports (or in life).

A much better victory is possible, though.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Ezra 5-6 on “Reclaimed Victory.” When we know and follow the Lord, we have a victory that is so much greater than anything this life has to offer. We have a victory that is far superior to the greatest of sports dynasties. We have a victory that lasts infinitely longer than any potential fame and fortune.

Victory in Jesus is eternal. We must respond to Him in order to experience His victory, though, and His victory demands a continued response from us. How are you responding to the God of victory?

Sure, we learn valuable lessons in life when we lose. Those lessons are good for us because winning does not come easy, and no one always wins in this life.

When this life is over, though, you will either have eternal victory or eternal damnation, eternal life or eternal death. Jesus enables you never to lose when you come to know Him. We must respond to the God of victory, and I hope to communicate those necessary responses Sunday morning. May we experience His victory, and may we celebrate His victory! To God be the glory!

If you have yet to experience victory in Jesus (or are unsure if you have), would you please check out The Story and turn to the Lord today?

Family Time in Illinois

Last month, we had a great time hanging out at my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Illinois and doing a day trip to Chicago. We do not see our nieces, my sister Stephanie, and my brother-in-law nearly as often as we would like, so times like this are sweet. Here are just a few pictures from our trip…

Fun with Family

We have had a great time with family in Illinois this week. I love my job and can think of no other job that I would want more. But, I am beyond grateful to the Lord for vacation, as it allows me to spend uninterrupted time with family that I never get otherwise. Praise the Lord for my church and for my family!

Help Is Always Needed

I am not a fan of the “Footprints in the Sand” poem because I believe it misses the very foundation of the Christian life – that we always need Jesus to carry us. There is never a moment when we are sufficient and adequate on our own, but rather we are always in need of God’s mercy, grace, and help.

During our vacation last week, we did a lot of swimming and hiking. Vacationing actively outdoors is my favorite way to vacation, as physical activity is something I enjoy and something that recharges me, especially because my job as a pastor requires very little physical activity. Thus, a physical vacation is a real vacation.

One of our hikes in the Smoky Mountains is the type of hike I would typically love. It was up and down mountainous terrain, and our destination was a waterfall. Perfect, right? I thought so, until we did the hike with 27 people, 17 of whom were my five kids and 12 of their cousins. There were no bathrooms, no drinking spots, and we decided to hike hard with no breaks. And, it took us all afternoon. Again, this would not normally be an issue, but when I failed to be prepared with drinking water (huge mistake) and realized that much hiking for our 5-year-old son, Micah, was quite ambitious, my enjoyment of the hike quickly diminished.

LESSONS LEARNED

Well, I definitely learned my lessons. When you hike with small children, take some breaks and make it fun. When you hike on a hot summer day, bring water – plenty of water; drinking fountains do not exist in national parks.

While we might not look back on that hike with fond memories, I am reminded of an important lesson that applies to all of us spiritually. You and I are never strong enough to do anything on our own.

Micah really was a trooper on that hike and even finished the last 60+ minutes of the hike walking. Before that, though, he rode on my shoulders a lot. He rode on Marsha’s back a lot. He did not have the strength or long legs to keep up with us, and so the “Footprints in the Sand” poem applied well to his situation. Sometimes he could do it; sometimes he needed help. When he needed help, we carried him. And, he finished strong.

The Christian life is so much more than a hike in a national park, though. Every single one of us is so much weaker because of our sin than a 5-year-old is because of his lack of physical maturity. We need Jesus, and we need Him constantly.

Like Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me” (John 15:5).

HUMBLY RESCUED

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be continuing our sermon series through the Old Testament book of MicahWalk Humbly. Going through chapter 5, I hope to help my hearers “Realize the Rescue from God’s Judgment.” Our sin, without exception, makes us deserving of God’s eternal judgment, just like the nation Israel was continuously deserving of God’s judgment in the prophet Micah’s time (and before and after). Yet, if we humbly turn to the Lord – the only One who can rescue us from our deserved judgment – then we receive life in His name.

Jesus came to this earth to rescue us from sin and death – the eternal death we all deserve. Yet, He not only rescues all who call upon His name from the eternal death to come; He transforms our lives now. He carries us now. We need Him today, and we need Him every day.

If ever there is a moment we think we can walk on our own, we will fail. Instead, let us humble ourselves and trust the Lord to carry us. Only He can rescue us, and only He can enable us to live for Him now. Help is always needed, and so we need Him to carry us, and we need one another to grow as He intends. Turn to Jesus. Serve His church. Walk humbly (or rather, be carried humbly).

Photo by Miriam Fischer on Pexels.com
Jesus does not only carry us some of the time but rather all of the time. Are you trusting Him to do so?

What a week in Tennessee!

We had a blast in Tennessee over the past week, spending time with our dear friends the Fries family, followed by vacation with Marsha’s parents, sisters, and their families. Praise the Lord for the amazing gift of family and friends!

To see some photos and videos of our trip, click HERE.

Cliff jumping with the Fries family and white-water rafting with Marsha’s family were probably the two favorite highlights (for most of us) from the trip.

July was a fun month!

August is already here, and it feels like July never even existed. Busy as usual, July was a fun month with a lot of family events and church activities. Praise God for His kindness toward our family and our church!

COX FAMILY VACATION

We had a great time, as always, with Marsha’s family during the first week of July. For the third straight year, we spent our extended family vacation at Windermere Christian Camp outside Roach, Missouri. With 17 kids and 10 adults, this vacation is never dull. We love spending time with Marsha’s family – swimming, playing basketball, cliff jumping, hiking, playing games, doing the ropes course, playing archery tag, visiting, and just hanging out.

Below are some highlights via pictures, and you can see more by clicking HERE. The pictures below can be seen in full by clicking on them.

CHURCH AND DAILY LIFE

Below are some more pictures, but to see some more highlights from Vacation Bible School, click HERE.

Family Vacation to Windermere

We had a blast with Marsha’s side of the family during our vacation to Windermere this week! All 27 of us (10 adults, 17 kids) stayed healthy and safe, despite our active, daring adventures on the ropes course, in the lake, during archery tag, etc.

Praise the Lord for family vacations!

If you’d like to see pictures from our week, you can click HERE.

windermere

Highlights from our STAYcation

We had a great time as a family this week taking “vacation” in Istanbul. Sometimes sleeping in your own bed each night makes for the most relaxing and enjoyable vacation. Still, we did our share of fun stuff, and here are a few picture highlights. To see more pictures, please click HERE.

We had a great time at Aqua Dolphin!

HOT weather made the pool great.

Ice Age 4 was a blast.

Great time watching dolphins, seals, walruses and a beluga whale.

Silas could hardly get enough of the show.

All the animals were impressive, but the dolphins were probably the highlight.