Rainy-Day Thoughts: Take Every Thought Captive

The more I experience life with Christ, the more I realize the importance of “taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Take, for example, this morning. Today I woke up to the rain and, as usual, began thinking through my day. Classes are the same as usual, and aside from one errand after school, I have nothing going on. Usually the free time is encouraging, but this time I was ambushed by a sense of emptiness. I remember this feeling as a child, when video games were denied and I didn’t feel like playing outside… it’s like boredom, with an added sense of “meaninglessness.” For the briefest second this morning, I asked myself the question, “What’s the point of today?”

I don’t have much experience with deep depression, but I can imagine that this is how it starts… burning feelings of futility and lack of purpose. It’s in those moments like this morning that taking our thoughts captive is of UTMOST importance. When faced with feelings of emptiness of meaninglessness, we have a choice. We can fixate on them, leading to a downward spiral of despair and hopelessness, and then depression, or worse, the belief that our life doesn’t matter at all. On the other hand, we can choose to take them captive and, in the spirit of Paul’s language, interrogate them and reorient them towards Christ. Why do I feel empty? What has been my motivation to live the past few days? Have I been living for the weekend or for free time? Do I live for the chance to play some thoughtless video games at the end of the day? Do I live for simple entertainment? This morning, I realized I had. The only difference was that this time, when I looked forward in my day and saw the free time, it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t satisfied… and I wasn’t surprised. By God’s grace, as I got ready for my day, I began to take those thoughts of emptiness and expose them for what they really were, misplaced desires. Today I’m working to “make them obedient,” which means reminding myself where my motivation truly lies, and what I really live for. Lot’s of reading and prayer on my schedule for today, which is a fantastic use of my free time.🙂

Anger, when entertained, leads to hate, gossip, hurt, and at it’s most extreme, murder. Lust, when entertained, leads to impure thoughts and deeds, and at it’s most extreme, damaging sexual sin. Envy, when entertained, leads to malcontent, crippling jealousy, and contempt. Make the choice to discern your own thoughts. Don’t become captive to them… take them captive in Christ.

Sudden Death, Sudden Glory… Sudden Greif, Gradual Strength.

Sudden Death, Sudden Glory!

Words penned by Charles Spurgeon and echoed yesterday by our pastor in Budapest have scarcely seemed so real and close. Pat Curby, a quiet, faithful, selfless servant of God suddenly passed from life, to death, to glory while at his home in Érd, Hungary on Friday night.

And yet while we know that Pat is finally where he was eternally meant to be, the grief is still heavy, real, and ever-present.

Death may be sudden, and glory may come in an instant, but God gives strength slowly. After 2 and a half days of shock and processing what had occurred, many (myself included) are just now beginning to feel the real effects of loss. Pat was a good friend, the Curby family being a kind of second family for us in Hungary. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, holidays when those closest to you are in the same room with you, were spent with Pat, Tina and whichever family members of theirs were in the country at the time.

For those like me who know the Curby family so well, the heaviness of grief is two-fold. First, the loss of Pat… but second, the deep sadness felt for Tina and their daughters. All Friday night, all I could think of after hearing the news was Tina, Cassie, Alli, Erin, and Anna. I count Cassie as one of my closest friends during my time in Budapest in 9th grade, (10 years ago!) and I taught English alongside Tina just this past year. I haven’t cried a whole lot yet, but I can’t make any promises when I see them in the coming days.

Most of the reason I’m writing this is to get it off my chest. I process things like this internally, and it takes something like writing to get it out. (I can thank my dad for sharing that quality with me!)

However, if there’s anything I’ve learned (and there’s much more learning to go) in the past couple of days, it’s that God uses everything for good. With sudden grief is coming gradual strength and comfort, even to the precious middle-schoolers we teach. On this, the first day back to school since Pat’s death, one girl is struggling during the 6-year anniversary of her mother’s death from cancer. Another 8th grade Hungarian girl approached Ariel today wanting to talk about a friend she lost to Leukemia last month, something we didn’t even know about. She came with questions of why, and Ariel was able to explain that even know we don’t know why, we know that God is good.

So we praise God for the slow movement of strength, encouragement, and love he is bringing many people through this tragic event. We also pray for those who bear the greatest load of grief, for it is certainly not me. May those of us around the family gather God’s strength, so we may pour it on them in prayer and fellowship and love. Amen.

God’s Great Gift of Emptiness

Hello all.

I reluctantly approached my keyboard this morning out of an overwhelming desire to write again.

See, I’ve been writing deep and interesting things since I was, oh about 12. I kept a (nearly) daily journal of everything you’d expect a middle school (and later high school) boy to write about, which eventually filled up five or six notebooks. And while the content was rarely all that special or moving, I felt like I could freely express every thought in its most vivid sense. Writing was a release, because I said things in a way that I could never speak them. This continued into college until my senior year, where the only thing I could even think about writing was my 22-page thesis.

But then it stopped. Or at least slowed to a crawl.

I’ve approached this keyboard many times since then with not nearly as many results. I’ve sent missions newsletters and support requests, but when it comes time to bare my soul on the page, I end up looking at what I’ve done and pressing delete.

Sometimes I’m afraid of what others might think. Sometimes I tell myself I can’t write well anymore. I am my harshest critic.

But today I have peace. Today, I won’t press delete.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Two nights ago, my wife asked me “What do you love best about living in Hungary?”

An answer flew into my mind, and it concerned me. I wrestled with it as long as I could, trying to think of a way to say it in a way that did not sound so harsh… but I couldn’t, so I just went with my gut:

“It’s not America.”

I quickly explained to her, as I will now. I love America. I’m so glad I’m an American. I’m not naive enough to believe that living in Hungary is just as easy and freeing as living in America. America is indeed the land of the free and the home of the brave, and I love that.

But it’s also the land of the stuff and the home of the self.

Again, don’t accuse me of being short-sighted. I know the love of self and the love of things are universal to the entire fallen human race. I’m speaking from my situation and my eyes, and I ask you to see what I see for just a moment. Nothing (besides truth) is absolute when talking about how Christians live in their culture. I know Christians in America who live absolutely sold-out lives for Christ in the midst of a self-centered society, and that may be the most impressive feat I have ever witnessed.

What I’m talking about is the state of the body of Christ in the culture. After living 23 years in the southern United States and then moving to central Europe, I think I can speak in an informed manner about cultural differences. When I think of Hungary and America together, what I can’t help but notice is how empty we are here… and how wonderful that is.

I’m going to try and paint a picture of our daily life, so you can start to see what I see. We don’t have a car, we have bikes. Going places takes effort, and time. Lots of time. Going downtown for dinner, instead of a 20 minute car ride, is a little over an hour of biking, bus-riding, subway-hopping, tram-surfing, and walking again. Groceries are carried on our back as we bike back home. Our apartment is tiny, and the floor plan is odd. We don’t really have room for a real table, just an end table. We can’t rely on the stove, because the gas lines are having problems. We had to leave a lot of our relatively few possessions in the US, so we have pretty much just what we need.

It sounds like I’m complaining… but I’m actually ecstatic. Why? Because in the void created by lack of things, lack of comfort, and lack of convenience, God has regained his place. I didn’t realize how distracted I was until the distractions were removed, and I have God alone to thank for that.

It’s probably because we can’t read much Hungarian, but here we’re not surrounded by advertisements and promises of happiness. We’re not being force-fed the propaganda of the American dream, the necessity of home ownership, the glorious finish line of retirement. We’re not distracted by the need to have a strong opinion of every politician and give our manifesto on the latest pop-culture event or scandal.

Every time I log on my social media, I feel like I’ve dived right back in to that culture. My news page is ABSOLUTELY CRAMMED with things that don’t matter. Here, we have emptiness. God is gradually emptying our hearts and our minds of selfishness and want, and filling it with humility, gratitude, and a love for Him and His people.

I feel like God has been throwing us soft pitches this month. If we went back home, I don’t know if I could live like this. It would definitely be harder. So for those of you living in the land of the distracted, I pray that you would be given the strength and the grace to rise above. You can’t know how distracted you’ve become until you’ve emptied yourself. Try cutting back on events you don’t need to attend, and get rid of the things you don’t need. Spend less time online and more time in the neighborhood. Change questions like “How much can I get done in one day?” into “What can I let go of for today?”

I challenge you to replace distraction with what matters. Swap things for people. God’s people, with the power of His Spirit, can walk into a distracted and self-obsessed world and say “not I but Christ.” And they can live it. And it is worth it.

A Critical Time!!! (Update!)

Last week, we shared with you that we had received 15% of our support.

We also told you that the International Christian School of Budapest greatly needed us in August.

A few (okay, a lot) of things have happened this week, and we want to share the wonderful things that God has done for us!

1. Our Support Level Has Changed.

Last time, we told you that we needed to raise $4,500.00 per month in order to live and teach in Budapest. After a few adjustments, we were able to cut that down to $3,450.00 per month. This is a big adjustment, bringing us much closer to the full amount! We have also made some large adjustments to our one-time cost as well, bringing it down by a few thousand, with the potential of bringing it down even more.

2. We Have More Partners Joining Us!

We have been at an international teacher conference in rural New York the past two weeks, which means we are unable to meet personally with people to share our story and look for partners to join us. However, God is faithful, and we have received monthly commitments while we have been away! Also, teachers at the conference who are being paid by their schools have been generously giving us donations as well. Our home church began supporting us this week, adding much to our monthly total. Although we were at 15% last week, today we stand at nearly 40%!!!

3. We Are at a Critical Time!

This is the beginning of July. ICSB opens its doors in 8 weeks. We firmly believe that God can provide our support in time. If you are currently supporting us, please pray that other supporters would partner with us during this next month. If you are not supporting us, I invite you to pray about the possibility of partnering with us! For those that want to be financial supporters, we would love to hear from you! There are MANY people that we are still looking to approach about partnership, and we can only talk with so many people per week. It blesses us richly when others who are aware of our situation approach us about giving, no matter the amount. Time is of the essence, so we ask that you don’t delay if God is calling you to give!

Support Update!!!

Today marks the first day of a two-week “Pre-Field Orientation” conference for teachers of international schools around the globe. We are here with teachers from Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, and various island nations, all learning how to better minister to the students we teach. Pray for us as it promises to be a productive and growing week!

While we speak with the teachers around us, it makes us even more zealous for the ministry in Budapest. However, we cannot teach until we have raised all of our monthly support. With that being said, I wanted to provide an update on our progress and a challenge to all of you.

Our current monthly support level is 15% of 4,500 a month, for two years. With that level, there are 2 main considerations to be made.

1) We are waiting on a few churches and individuals who have committed to giving but have not yet decided on an amount.
2) We are still making a few adjustments to our overall budget which could result in a smaller required total.

Still, even with those considerations, we have a long ways to go to reach 100%. Here are some specific ways you can help.

1) Partner with us Financially. We thank God for every single donor regardless of how much they give. All we ask is that you give generously as God calls us all to do. We also ask that you give as soon as you can, because August is approaching rapidly, and with it the beginning of the school year.
2) Spread our Need to Others. Regardless of whether or not you give, I believe every one of you know at least one person with a heart for missions and Christian education. Would you contact that person this week and share with them our ministry and need? 
3) Pray with  Us. Prayer has become all to common and passive in the church at times. We really believe that God listens to the prayers of his people, so we ask that you would join us in fervently praying for miraculous works of God in providing the funds we still need. We are ready to go on a moment’s notice, for we know He could drop all that we need in our hands at any given time.

We believe God can do spectacular things to get us there in August if that is his will. Please pray that we would trust in his will and be faithful to his call. Thank you.🙂


Look Out Your Window.

Five years ago, I was a senior in high school, looking forward to one thing: Senior Trip. We were going skiing in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, a place I had only ever heard and dreamed of. All I could think about was getting to the top and finding out what 10,000 feet above sea level looked like.

What I didn’t know was that climbing that mountain would be equally – and perhaps even more – impressive that the view of the summit. As we drove across the base of the Rockies, they took my breath away. I had never seen something so massive, so seemingly unreachable, and here we were slowly making our may up the mountain. Even after reaching the resort, we still had to take a 5-10 minute cable-car to the top. The view was as incredible as I had hoped… but looking back, I’m so glad I paid attention to the journey.


—          —          —

Ariel and I are SO READY to be serving in Budapest. But we aren’t right now. We would love to have a date circled on the calendar in the next month or two… but so far we don’t. And while we trust in God that he will bring us to Budapest in his time, we would be foolish if we didn’t look out the window on the way. The way has been hard, and continues to be. We haven’t done this before, we don’t have complete control over our timetable, and we (especially me) are being forced to use and develop our weaknesses along with our strengths. It would be so easy to complain, to cry out to God and say, “Why is ministry so difficult? If you want us there, why don’t you provide as soon as possible? Aren’t all things possible with you?” But when I do that, I’m like a child who’s closing his eyes while scaling the Rockies, whining, “Are we there yet??”

All my life, I’ve wanted to be a better communicator. As a teacher, good communication is pretty much the most valuable thing I could have. I’ve never been a good speaker. If there’s anyone who understands Moses’ panic at the burning bush, saying (paraphrasing), “Please no, I…. you don’t understand… I… I hate talking. Like, I can’t. I just can’t…” then it’s me. So God called us to Hungary, and gave us a journey where we go into people’s homes, and we talk. I talk. I talk about what is perhaps (besides my wife) the most important part of my life right now, and I’m learning to enjoy it. I’m learning how to pick up the phone and ask people to join our ministry, even though calling someone has always been my LAST resort of getting in touch with them. We’re looking out the window at the hugeness of God and the greatness of his ministry in Budapest, and we’re finding, slowly but surely, the wonderful ways he brings us up a seemingly unconquerable mountain.

This week, please pray that we would not be discouraged, but that we would praise God for the ways he’s preparing us for our ministry in Budapest. Pray that we would trust him to provide. And as always, please let us know if you would like to partner with us. You have no idea what your giving means to us, much less to the people of Budapest and to God.

An Urgent Request.

To All Our Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and Church,


We need your help.


Many of you know that Ariel and I have been raising support to teach in Budapest, Hungary for two years. What you might not know is that the International Christian School of Budapest greatly needs us for the start of their school year in August, 2014, and we cannot go until we have all of our monthly support.

Yes, that’s in 2 months.

We’re calling on all of you to give, not to us, but to God’s ministry in Budapest through us. ICSB is a growing and fruitful ministry to missionaries, their children, and other students from Budapest and across the world who have never heard the gospel.

What do we need? We need $4,500 a month in order to live and teach in Budapest for 2 years, and that money comes from those who choose to partner with us.  We ask that you seriously consider and commit to supporting Ariel and I for these two years. Right now, we are at 12% of our monthly support.

You don’t have to give much to make a difference. Even commitments of $20 a month cause us to praise God. But we ask that you give generously as God has equipped you to give, not withholding anything.

Please don’t think we are begging you for your money. Our earnestness and passion comes from constant communication with ICSB and hearing about how much they need us there. We cannot afford to sit and be passive. We’re asking you to act. If God is calling you to support us in any fashion, please do it this week, today even. The faster we reach 100%, the faster we can begin the transition to Budapest and our ministry to the students of ICSB.

TO DONATE: Go to www.uwm.org/donate or email me at briandicks115@gmail.com for more information. Please do not send checks to us as they must go through our mission board, United World Mission.


In Christ,

Brian and Ariel Dicks