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.

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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.

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!

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.

 

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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.

Our Story. God’s Call. Your Opportunity!

Our Story. God’s Call. Your Opportunity!

A special message from Brian and Ariel Dicks…

By now most everyone in our lives has heard that we are planning on moving to Budapest, Hungary. Many people have heard we are going to teach, and some have even heard about how God has brought us to this point. Right now, as our journey to Budapest is picking up steam, we want to share with everyone who is reading this just how God has brought us to this point.

We both grew up in strong, godly families who were a part of healthy, Bible-believing churches. Both of us made decisions to give our lives to Christ at an early age, while experiencing the testing and renewing of our faith that often comes with growing up in Christ. God made it evident early on that he was calling us to a life of service… Brian was called to teach Bible to high school and middle school students, and Ariel was given a love of science, yet still outdone by her love for children and students.

In bringing us together as two teachers looking to impact students for Christ, God made it evident that we would be given the opportunity to serve together as husband and wife.

In 2005, during his ninth grade year, Brian moved with his family to Budapest for 8 months, staying from August until the following April. During that time, he experienced what it was like to be a “missionary kid” or “MK,” a term he had never heard until that year. He experienced first-hand what it was like to leave friends and country for a culture that was completely foreign. He saw how difficult it was to maintain a spiritual and relational identity when all you’re doing is following where the Lord is leading your parents.

However, he also experienced the International Christian School of Budapest, ICSB for short. The school existed as a ministry to both missionaries and their children. It provided inexpensive yet quality education, allowing missionaries to stay on the field longer. Also addressed were the spiritual, educational, and relational needs of the students through the outstanding faculty and staff who felt led to minister to them. MK’s are encouraged at ICSB to make their faith their own, and their teachers also act as mentors and role models of how to serve Christ and love Him with all their heart.

When we started praying about going to serve at ICSB as teachers, God burdened us for them immediately. We applied for positions and interviewed with the staff, and within a week they had asked us to join them for a 2-year commitment!

In order for the school to offer affordable education to families who live off of the financial support of others, the school’s teachers also raise financial support before coming to the school. This week, we were appointed as missionaries with United World Mission, a sending agency that has a passion for seeing the global church both grow outwardly and come together inwardly. For serving in a school where multiple nationalities come together to be taught by Christian teachers from many different local churches, United World Mission’s vision was the same as ours.

The school needs us for the 2014-2015 school year, which begins in August. We are earnestly praying that God provides the funds in time for the first day of School! Our support level is $4,500 per month, and we have some up-front costs as well for transitioning overseas. We would be overjoyed if you would be a part of our financial support team! While of course we welcome any support at any level, here’s an example of how you can get involved at multiple levels.

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Would you prayerfully consider being a part of our support team? If you would join with us, you can visit http://www.uwm.org or follow this direct link. Also, please contact us by phone, email (briandicks115@gmail.org) or facebook if you have any questions or would like to meet with us! We are so very ready to serve the students of ICSB, and would love for you to be a part as well.

Why, God?

Why, God?

This morning I fiddled with a flash drive that was attached to a blue bracelet, and read the words that were etched into the rubber, “In Memory of Ryan Gill” How fitting that I read those words today. They reminded me of a time that I went through something big, something that hundreds of people in Budapest and at ICSB are going through right now.

I don’t profess to have been one of Ryan Gill’s best friends, though he had plenty. I was just his doubles partner in Tennis, and by extension at least a friend. I had recently learned tennis, and he was clueless, so I taught him all I knew (which didn’t take long.) We played in the district tournament and lost, but we had fun.

But I’ll never forget the night that got worse and worse.

On the way back from a 2-day field trip, our JE Biology class received a barrage of texts and messages that two of our classmates had been in an awful car wreck, and one of them was Ryan. We heard “they’re both o.k.,” “one is in serious condition but the other is fine,” “no, it’s the other way around,” and all other manner of conflicting reports. After arriving back on campus and going home, my girlfriend’s family came to pick me up to take me to the hospital where Ryan was being kept. My most vivid memory of the whole night is opening the car door to see and hear her brother sobbing loudly and heavily, and then hear someone – I’m not sure who – say the words, “Ryan’s dead.”

“What? How? Why?” I didn’t say it, but I thought it the whole way to the hospital. I remember seeing what must have been a hundred people on the hospital lawn, and the rest was a blur of crying, praying, and staring at nothing in particular. I still don’t know why God took Ryan from his family. From his friends. From his church. What I do know is I saw the peace of God break through. Slowly, yes, but determinedly so. Classmates grieved, and then came back to God. They were encouraged and grew in their faith.

This past week in Budapest, ICSB – the school we are heading to – lost a classmate. There are so many questions and very few answers right now. He was a high-school sophomore, and the brother of my brother’s best friend. My brother was in the house when they tried to revive Stephen. Hearts are breaking in Budapest and at ICSB, and students and adults alike are asking, “Why God?” knowing that they probably won’t receive the clear and complete answer they hope for.

Pray for them in their grief, pray for their comfort. Pray for the church as it performs its God-given duty to mutually encourage each other in Christ. Pray for God to bring the strange but beautiful peace that occurs in situations such as these. Pray for our future mission field.