My Top 10 List for the Last Decade

 

I Thought I would jump on the bandwagon and give my top ten events in my life over the last ten years.  Without a doubt the last ten years have come with the biggest changes ever in my life with the coming of 5 boys and lots of other stuff you will see below and not in any particular order of importance, but in chronological order.

1. The Birth of our first Son Luke Timothy Kunkel – May 09, 2000

The birth of my first son would forever change my life in many ways.  Luke was a special blessing.  Jennifer’s pregnancy with Luke came with its challenges.  Jennifer took the blood test that you can take with pregnancies.  That test indicated a possiblity of Triconomy 18 which praise God was not the case, but brought some fear.  Luke was what we thought a “normal” baby when he was born.  I still remember the day, he was born through C-section as he was breech.  We had to travel 2 hours to Oklahoma City from Wichita Falls, TX where we were living at the time because I was in the Air Force.  The Hospital their was having issues with its operating rooms so we had to travel to OKC.

We would later that year find out that Luke had a hole in his heart.  We would also find out that Luke was what we thought at the time just developmentally delayed.  More on Luke later in the list.

2. My “Call” into Ministry – Fall of 2002

At the time I was involved in Youth Ministry at our church University Heights Baptist Church.  We were serve at a youth retreat.  God began to speak to me clearly there that the prompting of His Spirit that I had been ignoring for years was indeed some sort of leading into vocational ministry.  What at the time I did not know!  That call has since been clarified as a Pastoral Call into Urban Church Planting.  That clarity came through a number of circumstances as did my general call into ministry.  I think that we can often get caught up in a one time call, which I think is important but often times a calling is revealed little by little as we are faithful and obedient where God has us! Romans 12:1-2

3. The Birth of our Second Son – Levi James Kunkel – December 31, 2002

Levi was born at 8:20pm New Years Eve.  Just in time for another tax break in 2002!  His birth was a long and difficult one.  Jennifer’s labor with him was about 20 hours in length.  He was also born with a cleft lip and palate which was very scary.  We had no clue this was going to happen even though we had numerous  

Those first few months and even years were very challenging with several surgeries and procedures and hundreds of Dr Appointments with both Luke and Levi.

4. The Birth of Our Third Son – Jacob Daniel Kunkel – October 20, 2005

Jacob was born and was such a blessing!  He was our first baby born that did not have any medical complications.  So we were able to enjoy him in ways we couldn’t with Luke & Levi! 

5. Luke – Winter of 2005

In the winter of 2005 we had some extensive testing done for Luke to find out what was really going on with him.  At this point we were told and thought he was just developmentally delayed, because he didn’t walk until he was 2 1/2 and didn’t talk until sometime about 3 or 4 and in fact still is not real clear with his speech.

But through this day long extensive testing we found out that Luke had a moderate mental disability.  This diagnosis really rocked my world as well as Jennifer’s.  We were not expecting this and it was hard to handle.  Not necessarily this diagnosis but the realities that came with it.  Such as Luke would most likely live with us the rest of our lives, he would never get past a 6th grade education level or so, and he would never lead a “normal life”.  And many other realities.  Most of these realities shattered the many dreams you have for your kids as a father. 

But Luke has been a special blessing and God has taught me many things and continues to teach me many things through Luke.  God’s plans are not our plans, but His way is higher and better!

6.  Birth of Joel Thomas Kunkel – February 15, 2008 

I can remember Joel’s birth coming 3 weeks early and we were not prepared.  For one I was pretty sick and couch bound.  I was just starting to recover after several days off work and was at my first day back and Jennifer called and said her water had broke.  So that was probably the most “exciting” birth as I got to rush home and then rush her to the hospital.  All of the other births were scheduled with the exception of Levi I think.

Joel is a lot of fun.  We have nick named him tank as he is all boy and likes to play rough and eat everything in sight!

7.  My Graduation from College – May 2008

It only took me 12 years to finish college.  But needless to say this was a big accomplishment for me as by this time we had 4 children.  I finished college while a, husband, father of four boys, working full time, and heavily involved in ministry.

8.  My Commissioning/Ordination as Pastor – June 15, 2009

I was officially commissioned as a Pastor after working for  6 1/2 years to get there.  It was an honor and privilege to be called by God and the Pastors at Indy Metro Church to be commissioned.  It is a joy to serve as a pastor at Indy Metro Church.

9. The Birth of our Fifth Son – Caleb Mark Kunkel – October 9, 2009

Caleb has been a lot of fun.  We are trying to enjoy him as much as possible as we plan on this being our last child.  He has been somewhat fussy, but the last couple of weeks have been much better as I have had several evening when I could snuggle with him for over an hour without him being fussy.

10.  Levi’s Salvation & Baptism – 2009

I remember at the beginning of 2009 praying about and hoping that this would be the year when Levi would come to know Jesus.  Earlier this year he did just that.  We regularly talk about the gospel with our kids.  One night when we were doing that Levi told us he had prayed and trusted Christ already.  So we talked about that and it was clear he had made that decision.  Not just from his words but also from his actions as there was a noticable difference in his behavior after his conversion.

In the summer of 2009 I was able to baptize him as well.  It is such a joy to see your children following the Lord.  It my prayer and goal to see the rest of our children come to know Jesus in this next decade.  Levi also just led his friend to the Lord just this week.  It is awesome to see him excited about leading his friends to Christ too.  

Conclusion:

It has been an awesome 10 years!  I have lots to be thankful for and lots to be praising God for!  It is a joy to be a husband to a great wife of 11 years and father of 5 awesome boys.  We are blessed beyond description.  I am looking forward to what God has in store for us over the next 10 years if the Lord does not return before then.  Most of all what a Joy it is to know and serve the risen Savior Jesus Christ my Lord!  All of these joys and blessings are not possible apart from him.  Without Him I am Nothing! John 15:5

The Staying Power of Christ in the Midst of Suffering

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As I have been reading through the New Testament this year and this mornings reading fell on the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I am using a Bible that takes you through the entire Bible in a year, but I have been doing just the New Testament portion.   

The New Testament portion was John 19:1-22 describing the horrific yet beautiful sufferings of Jesus Christ on the cross.  This horrible suffering that Jesus went through began with a scourging which involved Jesus being stripped and tied to a post and beaten by two torturers who took turns after getting exhausted.  They would use a whip that had pieces of leather on it with sharp pieces of metal and bone attached to the end.  They would whipp the victim and it would go around the front of the body and literally pull the skin from the body.  This would often end up exposing muscle, tissue and even bone.

Pilate had this scourging done in hopes of letting Jesus go free, but the Chief Priests would not allow that to happen and Pilate had no back bone.  So Jesus was sent to the cross where he was nailed to the cross and suffered even more physically.  But perhaps the greatest suffering of all came when God the Father turned his back on Jesus as he bore the sins of the world.  II Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Christ died on the cross for our sins.  He cried out it is finished as he breathed his last the Scriptures tell us.

But I am so thankful that Christ did  not stay dead but he rose again conquering sin and death.  And because of this sacrifice and resurrection we can be set free from the bondage and consequences of our sin.  We can enjoy the hope of eternal life with Jesus Christ our King because of the death and ressurrection of Jesus.

I have also been reading a book by Stu Webber called “Tender Warrior”.  In this book he describes one of the components of biblical manhood being what he calls “staying power”.  This he describes as the power to stay in difficult situations.  The power to stay committed even when times get tough.  Staying power to stay when your marriage gets difficult, staying power when your job stinks, and staying power to stay on mission with Jesus when it gets difficult. As I ponder the cross and the sacrifice Christ made I can think of no bigger staying power then the power of Christ to remain on the path of suffering and sacrifice for you and me.  He could have called ten thousand angels he could have taken a different path he could have done something different and called it quits be he stayed on the path because of his love for you and me.  Weber says this in his book “When He could have turned away from the cross, He stayed the course, setting His face like flint, all the way to Calvary.  When He could have come down from the cross and sidestepped teh suffering, He stayed.  When He could have summoned armies of angels to deliver Him and called down divine air strikes on His adversaries, He stayed.  He perservered and “stayed under” all the way until that moment came when He could cry out, “It is finished!”

As I ponder the cross and my response the least I can do is stay the course Christ has called me to.  He gave his life to free us from the bondage of sin and set us on a path of mission to take his good news to a lost and dying world who needs the hope of the cross!  He put us on mission to make disicples of all nations! (Matthew 28:19-20)  When times get tough it can never be tougher than his path.  God never promised an easy road, but called us to stay on mission regardless of how tough it gets.  I think we Americanized Christians think following Jesus is somehow suppose to be easy and painfree when we see none of that in the Scriptures. 

The greatest all Tender Warriors Paul of the 1st century said this about his journey with Christ “I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.” II Cor 11:23-27  If he said this about his walk with Jesus how can we think ours will be an easy road???

Will you be able to say with Paul as he said late in his life “6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”  II Tim 4:6-8

Let us take up our cross daily and follow Him!  That is the least we can do for the One who has given everything for us!

God Shouts In Our Pain

I have been pondering this well know quote from CS Lewis “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”  It has been a particularly difficult couple of months for me and my family.  As I write this I am sitting in the ER with my son Joel and my wife Jennifer.  We thought that he was having an allergic reaction to penicillin, but it seems to keep getting worse so Jennifer called the Dr and they told us to come to the ER.  Why is that these things always seem to happen at 10 at night?

As Jennifer and I were driving to the ER we were thinking over the last couple of weeks.  We have been to the ER or Doctor’s office 6 times in the past 3 weeks.  Our oldest son Luke had a seizure and we brough him to the ER.  Joel has had an ear infection and now an allergic reaction.  Levi our six year old boy had strep throat.  Wow! Kids our fun.

But telling you about our stressful past couple of weeks is not my reason for posting a blog.  But rather what God is and wants to do through it.  God does not waste pain.  Whenever we are in a difficult time in our life there is always a reason.  Not that we should necessarily ask God for the specific reason for being where we are, but it is always a process of God conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ.  Romans 8:29

That is always the main goal of God in whatever is happening in our life.  But as in any situation our response is everything.  If we respond in anger towards God we will be putting a wall up between us and God, but if we respond in humility and brokeness and acknowledge that God is doing something in us He will!

man shouting

Reflections

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Since today is my 31st  birthday I always like to take some time and reflect on my life over the past year.  So here we go:

  • Family – Kids are continuing to grow and develope.  Probably the biggest change is Levi our second oldest earlier this year told us he trusted Jesus as His Savior.  We are continuing to foster conversations about this as we are not sure if Levi understands or if this was a genuine conversion or just something he was telling us.  But regardless it is so awesome to our kids taking steps on their spiritual journey.  Another big change is we found out about a couple months ago that Jennifer is expecting our fifth child.  She is due in October. 
  • Ministry – We continue to minister at Indy Metro Church which is an urban church in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.  We are involved in many things there from ministry to the marginalized, leading our greeter team, speaking occasionally, leading a small group etc..  Jennifer is very involved as well.  This past year has been awesome to see God use us including my kids to minister.  It is is awesome to see lives changed by the gospel. 
  • Work – I continue to work full time as a Store Manager for Porter Paints.  No new changes here.
  • Spiritual – This is the are I always like to reflect on.  I always hope and pray that as I come to a new stage of life that I am different in my walk with Jesus then I was the year before.  I mean as I grow physically I should be growing spiritually.  I can see areas in my life where I struggle where I have made progress in the last year and some areas where I have not made much progress.  It is a continual battle with the flesh.  I pray that this time next year I can see some definitive steps I have taken to grow closer to my Savior.

24To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. – Jude 24&25

Hungry – Why wait?

no-eating-sign1I have been pondering this spiritual discipline of fasting the past several days.  I struggled with this concept for some time.  I thought it was some weird thing that only holy pope like people do.  But as I look at the Bible it seems to indicate that everyone should practice this discipline of fasting.  Jesus in Matthew 6:16 says “When you fast…” as to say this should be a regular thing.  We see many people all throughout the Bible from Moses to Jesus practicing this thing known as fasting.

So what exactly is fasting?  As I can tell from scripture and other books I have read, fasting is going without something, usually food, for spiritual reasons.  I like what Dr. Bill Bright has to say about this, he says, “Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines. Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life.” 

Why do we fast?  There are many reasons why followers of Jesus should regularly practice fasting, but the primary reason for fasting is to create a hunger for God in our lives.  I read this great quote in a book the other night that says “Self-indulgence is the enemy of gratitude, and self-discipline usually its friend and generator.  That is why gluttony is a deadly sin. The early desert fathers believed that a person’s appetites are linked: full stomachs and jaded palates take the edge from our hunger and thirst for righteousness.  They spoil the appetite for God”  So in other words as we take away food our hunger fuels a hunger and thirst for more of God and draws us to himself.

Fasting is typically includes going without food, but does not necesarily have to be that.  It could be giving up a certain type of food or giving up a certain activity.  Whatever it is make sure it causes enough tension to create a hunger for something more which will draw you to God.  It is always food for me since I love food so much I need to deprive myself from food to create those hunger pangs which draw me to God.  The hunger pangs remind me that I need God and I am desperate for him.

I can think of no better season than now to partake in a fast.  This is the time of year when we celebrate Christ sacrifice for us and his ressurection from the dead.  The least we can do is give up something for him for a period.  So this season fast and see what God does in your life.

Fear & Decisions

As our church Indy Metro has been going through a series on fear I have been pondering this idea a lot over the last few months.  This issue of fear can be such a crippling thing and can keep us from what God wants for our lives.  It is so important to recognize our fears and not allow them to drive the decisions we make.

The direction of our lives can easily be swayed by the fears that control us.  If you fear man and are out to please man then your life will show it and you will be trapped into thinking that making people happy is why you are here.  We need to begin to recognize the biggness of our God and begin to stand in awe of Him and fear him and allow that to drive our decisions and the direction of our lives.

I love this Psalm that talks about the biggness and greatness and majesty of  our Creator:

Psalm 19

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
       the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

 2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
       night after night they display knowledge.

 3 There is no speech or language
       where their voice is not heard. [a]

 4 Their voice [b] goes out into all the earth,
       their words to the ends of the world.
       In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

 5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
       like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

 6 It rises at one end of the heavens
       and makes its circuit to the other;
       nothing is hidden from its heat.

 7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
       reviving the soul.
       The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
       making wise the simple.

 8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
       giving joy to the heart.
       The commands of the LORD are radiant,
       giving light to the eyes.

 9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
       enduring forever.
       The ordinances of the LORD are sure
       and altogether righteous.

 10 They are more precious than gold,
       than much pure gold;
       they are sweeter than honey,
       than honey from the comb.

 11 By them is your servant warned;
       in keeping them there is great reward.

 12 Who can discern his errors?
       Forgive my hidden faults.

 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
       may they not rule over me.
       Then will I be blameless,
       innocent of great transgression.

 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
       be pleasing in your sight,
       O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

As we begin to recognize and stand in awe of our God our fears begin to not look so big.  God longs for us to no longer be held in bondage to the fears that we have.  Will you release them to him today?

In Whom or What are you Trusting?

It has been an interesting week watching the events of the week.  On Tuesday of course we had the inaguaration of our first African American President, Barack Obama.  It has been very interesting to watch.  It is exciting to see how our country has come a long way on the issues of racism.  Yet at the same time we have a long way to go.  (That is another blog for another time) 

But for other reasons this has been a sad week.  It has saddened me to watch people look at President Obama and think he is their savior.  It is sad that people look to a man or a goverment to meet their needs.  It does not matter who the person or president is, that is not the point, but rather that people are looking to a human being to bring about something that only God can do.  Of course God uses man to bring about his purposes, but it is ultimately God’s plans that prevail.

In my time with the Lord this morning I read a great passage from Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Our trust should never be in any one person, place or thing, not in our President, Goverment, Pastor or Boss.  God alone is the one in whom we should trust.

There is great story in the Old Testament that shows that God is the one whom is Soveriegn over all things including goverment. It is the story of Esther.  The second in charge in the kingdom of Persia desired to destroy the Jews and manipulated the King to allow him to do so.  But God raised up Esther through a series of miraculous events.  She became the Queen and was used to save the Jews.  This story shows the clear hand of God that was in it. 

The same God that controlled the situation in the middle east thousands of years ago, controls our nation and government today!  We can take comfort in our God who is trustworthy!

Trust in Him alone today!