Music Mondays- Mine by We The Kingdom

Jesus looks at us and he says- MINE. What a wonderful truth that if we believe in Jesus, we belong to him forever. He welcomes us into his family. Think about it. Jesus looks at us and not only knows our names, knows all about us, but also claims us as his own and he will never let go.

Wherever we go in life and whatever situation we are in, Jesus claims us as his own.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.


Saturday with my Ukrainian Friends

Vladimir was one of my first students when I began teaching ESL in March 2000. We had fun studying together each week. One memory that stands out for me is one morning while we were studying in a coffee shop. My back was to the window, so I did not see what was happening, but Vladimir did. His eyes got real big with a look of surprise. He pointed at the window and I looked to see what was happening. The police were arresting someone. Realizing Vladimir had come from Ukraine that used to part of the old USSR and that people used to get arrested and disappear there, I changed our lesson to rights in the USA.

Photo by Mathias Reding on

Yesterday he was working outside at the church making a gazebo for them to use for barbecues. It has pillars made of stone for support. When he came in, we talked and reminisced about our study times in the past. It is always good to see him again.

My Ukrainian friends are hardworking and have made a beautiful church building. They did all of the work themselves. My Saturday class is in a nice room in the basement.

Speaking of my Saturday class, we continue to have fun studying together. Yesterday we had 18 people come. Each week I am impressed with how refugees who have only been in the USA four weeks, six weeks, etc. are being resilient. I know they have been through trauma and have a lot to adapt to here, but they have great support from the Ukrainian church.

After class, I was again blessed to have lunch. Nadia was teaching Middle School students cooking again and yesterday it was rice pilaf. It was delicious. She is wonderful with the children as she teaches them cooking.

This morning I will be with my Hispanic friends at my church. I called each of them last night. Our room will be filled with laughter, music, and Spanish as we practice English together. Then it will be time to taper down at the coffee shop.

How has your weekend been?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Phone Call Caused Nostalgia for Me

I knew it was coming sometime this year, but still when I received the call, it caused a lot of feelings of nostalgia for me. Wednesday evening the Director for ESL, English Second Language, called me to let me know she is retiring as of October 10th. She is the one who interviewed me and hired me.

Photo by Huy Phan on

We have been through many changes together in the department. We worked on curriculum changes, starting the Family Literacy Program and more. She once referred to me as her most flexible teacher because she could call me with short notice to sub a class.

Her anticipated retirement marks a bit of a milestone for me. Over the past twenty-two years, God has opened many doors for me to share Jesus with the nations living in my city. Twenty-two years ago, I still had a landline with an answering machine. Times have changed, but Jesus never changes and he continues to give me opportunities to share his love with the nations living in my city.

Now I am the last remaining original person involved with the Family Literacy program and the longest serving person in the ESL Department. That is a scenario that perhaps no one would have seen coming thirty years ago when I was going through my first bout with autoimmune issues.

While it is nice to reminisce about what God has done over the past twenty-two years, it is the new things he has me doing that excite me. As Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

God can do new things even in what looks like a wasteland in our lives. He did it twenty-two years ago for me and continues to do so today.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Student Reactions to Winter Pictures

This story time is a collaborative effort between me and Gary of You know those outdoor adventure type shows? They perhaps pale in comparison to Gary’s outdoor adventures. He lives in the far north of the USA where I think they have a few weeks of summer each year and almost endless winters. Where he lives, they can pull a shack onto a frozen lake in the winter by driving a pick up truck onto the frozen lake. I think he spends most of the winter in his ice fishing shack. 🙂

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

Gary sent me pictures of his winter adventures with his family for me to have a little fun with my students. I have been showing them to my students this week. The picture above is not from Gary simply because I did not ask permission to put one in my post but if you go to his blog, you will see pictures of his outdoor adventures.

My Ukrainian students were not phased at all which was no surprise. But the looks of shock on the faces of my students from places like Mexico, Burma, Sudan and Vietnam were fun to observe.

When I asked if they wanted to go ice fishing, some responses were:

“No, I don’t want to die.”

“No, I don’t want to need the hospital.”

It was part of having fun with my students as they laughed with me. When my students laugh, it gives me joy because I know how hard life has been for them.

Laughter is a gift from God. Psalm 126:2 says

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.

Some of my students know Jesus. Some do not. It is my heart’s desire that they all come to know Jesus and the joy of knowing him.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Gives Us New Lives

In my afternoon class at one of the high schools in my city, one of my students is a Yazidi woman who never went to school as a child. English is the first language she has learned to read and write in. After coming to America nine years ago, she was a busy mom taking care of her family and also working. Last week, she shared with me her regret about not having learned more English by now.

My response was, “You were a busy mom taking care of your family and also working. You are a good student. I am happy you are in my class.” Then we talked about the difference between opportunity and ability. She did not have the opportunity to go to school as a child in Iraq and she did not have the opportunity before now to go to an English class here. We talked about how she has the ability to learn, but did not have the opportunity before, however, now she has the opportunity to learn.

Photo by Julian Jagtenberg on

She has a new life in America with new opportunities she would not have had in her home country. She is learning to read and write in English and seeing her children grow up without living under oppresion.

When I think about 2 Corinthians 5:17, I think about the new life Jesus has given me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 

My old life is behind me and only the memories of it connect me to it. Jesus has not only changed me as a person, but he has completely changed my life. I would have never imagined so thoroughly enjoying getting to know people from all over the world living in my city. I would have never imagined learning to greet people in thirty languages, visiting refugees in their homes, and the wonderful opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people from diverse cultures.

Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves and the changes he brings into our lives bring us to a greater sense of fulfillment than we could have imagined.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Saturday With My Ukrainian Friends & Thank You!!!

This morning when I arrived at House of Prayer Ukrainian Church, the pastor was smiling and said, “Matt we have boxes for you.” All of the items I listed on my Amazon Wish List for the class were purchased and sent. A BIG THANK YOU to those who donated items from my wish list!!!

Photo by Mathias Reding on

Before we studied together, I shared with them that Jesus was a refugee during the first years of his earthly life, so Jesus understands being a refugee.

We had twenty this week including a married couple who came here in July. The wife already knows where stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are. I looked at the husband, smiled, and said, “I’m sorry.” He laughed.

We will add a second class Friday afternoons with a focus on the young people ages 17 to 25. The reason is so I can mentor them as they prepare for college and careers here.

Two of the items on my wish list were packages of different snacks. They were a big hit with the children. It is great to have whole families coming on Saturdays together to learn.

How is your Saturday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Welcome Autumn/Fall

Today is the last day of summer on the calendar and tomorrow will be the first day of autumn. Yesterday we had 100f/38c and today we will be at 70f/21c. The rest of the week will be nice and cool in the mornings and perfect weather in the afternoons. Almost like clockwork, our weather is following the change of seasons, well at least for the next three days.

Fall is my favorite season of the year with the cooler temperatures, college football-America football, the leaves changing color later next month, and Thanksgiving Day. Fall brings the two changes I welcome with the temperature and the leaves.

Change is a constant in life and is unavoidable. Some changes are welcomed like getting an increase in pay, having a new baby, making a new friend. Some changes are not welcomed like a diagnosis from a doctor, the loss of a job, financial problems.

The greatest constant in life that I am so very grateful for is Jesus. He is the great I AM the eternally present Son of God. Hebrews 13:8 says:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Whatever changes come in life, positive or negative, we can look to Jesus, who never changes, to anchor us in this life. We can look to him in good times and bad times knowing he is always with us and at work in our lives.

Tomorrow I will celebrate the first day of fall by drinking a cup of coffee, black coffee, at the coffee shop. I will leave the pumpkin spice lattes to the sugar addicts. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Inspiration Christian Poetry #3 — Journey In His Word

And So God Speaks Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on Have you stood entranced By the dazzling sight Of a perfect rose Bathed in morning light, And felt that only An artist rare Could paint the loveliness Growing there? And, then, dear friend, Did you whisper low That this fragrant rose With its lovely […]

Inspiration Christian Poetry #3 — Journey In His Word

Music Mondays- Send Me by Jenn Johnson feat Chris Quilala

Isaiah 6:8- Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

The call of God is ongoing as he searches for willing souls to go to tell others about Jesus and share the love of Jesus. First Isaiah heard the call, then he responded with Here I am Send Me.

I love the song Send Me by Jenn Johnson. It brings to mind for me the times God has shown me people that he wanted me to reach out to.

God is calling. Do we hear like Isaiah did?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

How You Can Join with Me in Helping Ukrainian Refugees in My City

It is exciting for me to be able to help Ukrainian Refugees in my city. This will be at least a one year endeavor of blessings for me.

Photo by Mathias Reding on

I arranged for a young woman from my church who is a paramedic to come next Saturday to meet a young woman from Ukraine that was a paramedic there. It ties in with a theme I have with new refugees who are high school or college age-“You Dreams Are Not Over.”

If you would like to be a part of my ministry with Ukrainian Refugees, there are two ways.

PRAYER- Please pray for me for wisdom, energy, and empowerment by the Lord. Please pray for the new refugees I meet from Ukraine for their new lives here and for open hearts to hear about Jesus.

Another way you can be involved is my Amazon Wish List. The name is Matt’s Ukrainian Ministry. I have set it up for all items to be delivered directly to House of Prayer here in Lincoln NE. I will update the list as needs arise, but have the initial items needed on the list now. The link- Matt’s Ukrainian Ministry. Shipping Address- Matt/House of Prayer Church 1333 Morton St. Lincoln NE 68521

Thank you for reading. God Bless.