Wednesday, February 25, 2015


A while ago I mentioned that my dad would be contributing to our blog. Below is his first post. I hope you are all as blessed as I am by his words. Beth Kropf


My wife works part-time as a home health-care worker.  That means she gives assistance to people with physical or mental disabilities, taking them to run errands or helping around the house with chores.  One of her clients is a delightful man in his forties named Joe, who, in spite of some physical handicaps coaches a Special Olympics basketball team of developmentally disabled young adults.  A few months ago Joe invited my wife to come and watch one of their games.  "Bring your husband and son too if they'd like to come."   So the next time they had a game in town, we showed up- my wife, myself, and our 24-year-old son Ryan.  It was an amazing experience.  These people have range of disabilities- including Down's Syndrome- but what they had in common was the JOY of playing basketball.  And what skill they showed!  But even more surprising and heart-warming was the level of camaraderie they showed.  They cheered as much for a teammate's goal as for their own, with whoops and dances up and down the court.

In this particular game, they were outmatched by their opponents, and losing badly.  I found myself praying, "Lord, if they can't win, can you help the score be less lop-sided?"  It was an earnest prayer.  And I got a clear response:  "They don't need to win."  Then a moment later:
        "You're not here for them.  They're here for you."
I had to stop and think about that.  Okay, what did I need to learn?  What did this group of developmentally disabled kids have to teach me?   "What is it You want me to see, Lord?"   And He said,
     "They are not focused on their limitations."
That stunned me.  Of course.  They were experiencing joy in every moment.  They celebrated every victory, every point scored.  It was all they were focused on.  They were unaware of their limitations-- only what they were doing.

How often do I focus on my problems, my limitations, instead of the JOY the Father wants me to experience in what He has already given me?  It is so easy for me to focus on my failures, my shortcomings, the roadblocks to what I want to achieve, rather than the possibilities that God may have for me.   Bill Johnson says, "Sometimes our breakthroughs begin when we refuse to be impressed with the size of our problems."   (Experiencing  the Impossible, p.115)
I can focus on my problems-  which seem pretty impressive to me-- and my own limitations, or I can focus on the God who said, 
"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you by my righteous right hand,"   (Isaiah 41:10)

Pastor Rick


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

how to not get punched

This Sunday Caz talked about open and closed doors, and seeing God’s perspective.  In our limited understanding it’s hard to see this accurately. If I was chased out of town by people ready to stone me, I would see that as a closed door. Paul did not. Joseph was able to see the open door in feeding his brothers in famine even though they sold him into slavery. I really like that Caz spoke to the fact that even when God works things together for good (as we are promised in Romans 8:28), that does not erase a tragedy.  If some guy told Joseph that God would work things together for good when he was sold into slavery, I hope Joseph punched him.
            When Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, he said “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance” Genesis 45:7. It is amazing that Joseph had God’s perspective to see how God had ordained all of this to occur.  He didn’t say “it’s cool that you sold me into slavery.” I wonder what his relationship with his brothers was like after this point. I think he would have needed counseling before he could ever trust them again.
            There are two things going on: being able to see God’s perspective and see open doors where they seem to be shut (and also having wisdom to see when it is a closed door). The second is to not be the toxic person who tells someone suffering that God will work things together for His good. It’s true, but it is a very damaging thing to say to someone suffering. It was interesting to me that Caz pointed out that God works all things together for HIS good, not necessarily ours. Ultimately, we will be in heaven and will have no more suffering and will see how everything was orchestrated.  On earth, let’s ask God how we can better see with His eyes, both in our own lives and in how to walk with our loved ones going through loss. Let’s not miss opportunities to bless others.
Beth Kropf


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

an explanation of why I don't invite people over often (and some thoughts on choosing the right path)

How do we choose the right path?

            We have all struggled with choosing the right path. Caz’s sermon last Sunday offered some valuable insights as to why.  While it seems like a worthy struggle, Caz pointed out that often we just want God to tell us the future.  We want Him to tell us that the decisions we make will turn out well. I don’t know about you, but I’m not often given that assurance.
            It’s important to weigh decisions, but as Caz said, we are not responsible for the outcome. Isn’t that frightening? We can make a decision that we feel honors God, and yet things can still go horribly wrong. We’ve all seen examples of this: integrity met with betrayal, love met with indifference. We have to give the outcome over to God. We have to give over control.
            Caz’s guidance on choosing the right path is valuable. We have to know Jesus (to know how He would act in a situation, or what would bring us closer to Him, as my dad would say). As we are approaching Lent, I am excited that the next series is about the life of Jesus. The more we know Jesus, the more we can trust that we are behaving as He would behave. His second suggestion was surprising: knowing ourselves. If we know what are strengths are, and our weaknesses, just as importantly, we can make better decisions about what makes sense in our life.
            I’ve had to let go of a lot of ideals over the years. When we bought our house five years ago, we had a lovely dining room that was almost never used for entertaining guests. I love people but I don’t like cooking or cleaning. Let’s go out to eat, shall we? With the arrival of our second child we realized we could no longer afford to have empty space in our home. The dining room is now my office. It doesn’t look as nice, but it represents who we are, not who we want to be.  
            Maybe choosing the right path is about clearing a path. Let’s clear the path of obstacles like fear and insecurity. Let’s let go of our little god complex where we think it’s our job to make everything turn out perfectly. Let’s light our path with others who will tell us our weaknesses and strengths. We do not walk alone. Beth Kropf


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Coming soon!

I am so excited to help that my dad will be contributing to the Live Oak blog with me. He has served as pastor and therapist and co-authored the book “Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You.”  Stay tuned for some great words of wisdom from one of my favorite people on the planet!
Beth Kropf