Author name: Matt

Back Pain: an update

I would like to give everyone an update about my back pain. Right now I am doing much better, however, things got much worse before they got better. When I went to the doctor he warned me that it could. My doctor also struggles with back pain so he was able to tell me from experience. He told me about one time that his back pain was the most intense. So much so, that it felt like someone stuck a hot knife in his back.
After visiting the doctor I was feeling pretty good. On Saturday we had some friends and their kids over to play at our park and have lunch at our apartment. I enjoyed the visit, but it exhausted me. A few hours later Liz and I went out on a date and saw a play with a group from our church. Unfortunately, the theater was small so there was nowhere for me to stand during the play. So although it was painful, I sat through the performance. By the time we got home I was hurting pretty badly.
On Sunday I took my morning walk to loosen up my back. When I got back, I was still walking with a limp and not feeling any better. I knew then that two services would be impossible for me, though I was scheduled to play guitar that night. I decided to call in sick and rest. However lying in bed was not helping so I decided to lie on the floor for a while instead. I soon found out that it was a mistake to do this because it took me nearly four hours to get up off of the floor and not without help from my wife!
I could barely stand after that and I went to bed as soon as I could. When I got up from bed the next morning I felt the hot knife in my back. I immediately laid back down in bed and contacted my doctor. He got back to me and ordered me to stay in bed for the next forty-eight hours.
It may sound like the easiest thing to stay in bed for two days, but it was not. There were projects that I needed to tackle, Liz needed help with the kids, and the sun was shining, for crying out loud. However, as I laid there I noticed two things. First, was that I was actually starting to feel better. I had been having pain just lying down, but now that I was resting for a while the pain was going away.
The second thing that I noticed was that I had time to read, and think, and pray, and pursue God. The projects that seemed so urgent, weren’t all that urgent. Liz needed my help, but God gave her the grace and strength to endure. Most of all, I saw that I was finding my worth in what I do, instead of being thankful that God, in his power and by faith in Jesus, has already granted to me “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3). Through all of the back pain that I had been dealing with I never took the time to slow down and recover. But, I needed to recover far more than just physically, I needed to stop and spend time pursuing God.
I got up last Wednesday with only the slightest back pain. For the most part, I don’t have any more pain, though I still need to strengthen my back. Most of all, though, I need to remember that I have been cleansed from my former sins by Jesus my Lord and that my worth comes from being in Him, and not by anything that I “do for Him.”

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Freedom from Back Pain

Pack Pain by used under CC BY solarized from the original
I continue to struggle with back pain. The only thing that seems to help is walking. I can hardly sit at all. In order to get any work done, I have converted my desk so that I can work while standing. Getting up in the morning is most difficult. After I drop Naomi off at school I walk for thirty minutes and that at least gets me to where I can function for the day. However, after avoiding sitting all day my feet are painfully tired. That is especially hard on evenings that I teach or have meetings.
This Tuesday night, for example, I met with the team that runs a class that I help out with. We had dinner together and discussed developing the class further. It was a good meeting but I could barely sit through dinner. After that had to stand through the rest of the meeting due to the pain in my back. When we wrapped up at 10 pm my feet could hardly take any more.  It was a relief when I finally got to bed, but I dreaded getting up the next day.
Thursday I finally threw in the towel and went to the doctor. He prescribed me some medications for the pain and swelling and suggested that I take breaks from standing throughout the day -move around more or lay down to give my back and feet a rest. I can’t lay down long, though or standing back up is difficult. Also, I have a referral to a physical therapist, which Liz is glad for. I don’t think she wants the job anymore. I’m not the greatest patient.
I so want to break this constant relationship with back pain. It invades every part of my day. I think of those who deal with chronic pain and I now have such a respect for what they deal with. Especially my brothers and sisters who deal with it with such patience and grace. They are my new-found heroes.  Even as I write this, I long to be free of this pain, yet how often am I thankful for that from which I have already been set free in Christ Jesus (John 8:34-36)? I pray that might be my meditation as I continue in this struggle. Would you pray with me on this? Please do pray that I do improve in these next few weeks. My next trip to Ukraine is coming up quickly, and I hope that things have improved by then. How can I be praying for you?

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Weekly Dossier: Week 7, 2017

Plov- This week’s Monday meals
Monday Meals
Monday nights Liz goes to and English conversation group that is an outreach of our church. That means I cook dinner and put the kids to bed. I plan out the meal on Friday and I have as my goal to make a large enough batch that we can get at least three or four meals out of it. We usually freeze a portion or two back, which really helps when I am out of town and Liz has to take care of the kids by herself for the week. This week, I made a favorite dish from my time in Russia, Plov. Plov is a simple Uzbek dish of rice, usually with chunks of lamb or in this case beef. The ingredients are simple, but it takes at least a couple of hours to cook!
Report from Ukraine
Mark and Tim are back from Ukraine now a couple of days ago. Mark came over to our house and had dinner with us. He entertained the kids with stories and paper boats. They really enjoyed him. Then he told us all about his time in Ukraine. He said he was intimidated at first, but once he got to know the students, he really enjoyed it. They are a great bunch of brothers and sisters. I think their faithfulness is an encouragement to us as much, if not more than, we encourage them. Now, if we can just figure out how to print the books there. I’m not sure why, but the printer seems to have problems with our files. Hopefully, we have worked out our communication issues and will be able to start printing soon.
Friday Discipleship
I got to teach intro to the inductive Bible study method. It is probably one of my favorite sections to teach out of the first book. It is fun to see the lights come on as they figure out the difference between observation and interpretation. This can be really life changing for the students. Right now they are all so young in the faith and they have so many questions. It is a lot of fun most of the time, but can also wear on you. I can see why Moses was in need of Jethro’s advice (Exodus 18). One of the teachers of the course likened what we are doing with Bible study methods to teaching men to fish instead of giving them a fish. Last Friday was a good beginning to that process. The students were starting to discover things for themselves in God’s word. It was truly Glorious!

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Weekly Dossier: Week 6, 2017

Home for now
After being on the road it has been nice to be home this week. I have used the time to make a start at cleaning my office and sets some goals for the coming year. Being back in the States for the missions conference was good and refreshing in ways, but it is nice to be back home and in the swing of things. Though I have been doing quite a bit of teaching lately, I would really like to make more time for one-on-one meetings and personal contact. I love teaching, but I always want to put myself in a situation where I can both get to know people and be known. Transparency is so important in life.
Ukraine update
The reason I get to stay home this week is because Tim Ford and Mark Maddox are taking care of BTCP in Ukraine this week. From what Tim tells me there has been quite a bit of snow there. They were delayed in getting there and so missed their first night of teaching. The plan was to do a survey of both the Old and New Testament, but now they are doing more sample lessons, which is good because this group should be able to teach already anyway.
I know the guys are doing a great job without me and I am grateful for the chance to be home, but I do miss being there. So far, all of the churches that we have worked with in Ukraine have been fantastic, and I miss seeing how the students are growing and developing. I am glad to be able to share that with others, though. It is a blessed ministry to be a part of.


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Rest for Refugees

Photo: The Traiskirchen Refugee Processing facility AKA The Camp

Last night was my first night at the Oasis since coming back to Austria. It was good to finally go down there again. The meeting was packed out. I’m a bad judge when it comes to numbers, but I would say a capacity crowd for the room would be 80-100 and we got to that pretty quickly. Of course that’s a small fraction of how many are actually at the camp. Right now there are between 4-5,000 refugees in the facility. That is over 3 times the maximum capacity! Many are there sleeping outside and they have stopped taking in refugees and are hoping to send some of them to facilities in other countries. Nobody else seems to have room either. The amount of refugees this summer is truly unmatched by any other year in record. 

They asked me to prepare a message. I was inspired by Mike Grifis’ sermon on Jesus’ call to come to Him to receive rest by taking his yoke and learning from him in Matthew 11:28-30. 5,000 weary and heavy laden who leave everything behind because of fear, fighting their way through many perils in order to come to a place that has no room for you. Many because of their religious background, like those under the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, are also heavy laden with fear. They fear that they can never be certain they have done enough  in order to please God and gain acceptance from Him. I could think of no better message than Christs’ offer of rest if we come to him, become his servant and learn his ways. Rest for our souls that even in the circumstances of leaving behind family and friends, letting go of all that is familiar and embracing uncertainty to sleep out in the elements with 5,000 others. I pray that these men and women would find Christs’ rest. I pray also that we his servants, would daily embrace it.
#fa #blog

from Activity in The Plaza for Denton Bible Church
Source: Ecksfiles City Plaza

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English Teenager Camp

Please be in prayer for the English Teenager Camp (ETC) currently underway here in Austria. 35 student leaders from Austria and Denton Bible Student Ministries have teemed up to minister to over 70 Austrian teenagers at a week-long summer camp. Adam Spencer and Kasey Krominga are representing our team there at the camp as they are participating on the camp’s leadership team. Earlier in the week Liz and I had the privilege of meeting the student leaders and by helping cook a couple of meals for them while they were preparing for camp here in Denton.

Pleas pray for:

  • Unity on the team
  • The campers would respond to the Gospel
  • Good relations with the other groups that are at the hostel


from Activity in The Plaza for Denton Bible Church
Source: Ecksfiles City Plaza

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Missions Conference 2014

If you are near Denton, Texas on January 16th and 17th, we would like to invite you to Denton Bible Church’s missions Conference. Come celebrate what God is doing for His glory throughout the world. 

Our team will be attending the conference and we would love to meet with you and tell you about what God has been doing with us in Austria. Also during the conference you will hear from the several different fields, and have opportunities to attend breakout sessions hosted by our SERVE and affiliate missionaries. There is also a program for children, ages 4 months to 5th grade. 

The conference is free but you do need to register.  For more information and to register go
Source: Ecksfiles City Plaza

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Crying Over Kindergarten

I loved this piece on the topic of raising third culture kids (children growing up in a country other than their passport country) by Richelle Wright. She writes, “What if some of what I consider so traumatic and so difficult and so worthy of tears I perceive that way primarily because I have preconceived ideas based on my own childhood and growing up of how things should be and how I would have reacted? ” She adds, “Maybe what I expect to be their struggles are just normal (for them)…perhaps those circumstances I believe they’ll breeze right through are the ones that will be the greatest challenges.” I totally related to these feelings, and appreciated these insights, especially remembering the experience of putting Naomi into preschool in Vienna…

So here we were, Day One. Me, in my third trimester of pregnancy, sitting in a wheeled office chair in the back of the room, trying to go unnoticed, but occassionally having to say “hi” to the curious preschooler who would come over to stare at or show something to the very pregnant stranger in the room. Naomi, exploring all of the wonderful toys and craft stations in the room and attempting to understand what was going on and make friends. Quite overwhelming! For her, and maybe moreso for me. Naomi would try to participate but get frustrated that she didn’t understand what the teacher was saying in German. After saying a few loud and insistent “NO’s!” in English, she would come running to me in tears saying that she wanted to go home, not understanding why she had to endure this torture.

I didn’t know what to say! I felt like all I could do was helplessly watch her struggle. I couldn’t change the circumstances for her. I had no power to somehow make her instantly learn German. I couldn’t make her 2 1/2-year-old mind understand that all of this was for her ultimate good, the ability to speak German and to make friends. I counseled her the only way I knew how. “Sweetie, I’m sorry it’s hard and you don’t understand. It will get easier. Watch the other kids and do what they are doing.” Of course, I meant what the obedient kids were doing…I was just hoping that would be the majority!

It was a heart-wrenching experience for me, as I unconsciously also super-imposed all of my insecurities and fears from years of life experience onto what I was seeing happen. MY life experience. The kicker was when I saw Naomi, after several failed attempts to communicate with the kids in English or play with someone, bravely walk up to a girl working a puzzle alone, and ask in English, “Hi, my name is Naomi, will you play with me?” In that moment, I was so proud of her and heartbroken all at the same time. Tears started streaming down my face. I couldn’t keep them in anymore.

Fast forward 6 weeks, and I’m riding the bus from home to the kindergarten to pick up Naomi after lunch. Expecting her standard answer of, “I cried”, to my question of how her morning was, she responded with, “I had fun!” Praise God! Fast forward 5 months, and I’m the one sad to say goodbye to Naomi’s class for a time as we prepare for our 8-month stay in the States. Missing the teachers that were such an encouragement to me as a mom during a rough transition for our family. Naomi thinks of and talks about her class from time to time, and I hope that she will be able to join in with the same class when we return. It may be like “coming home” for her, or it may be quite a re-entry struggle, but either way, trusting God every step of the way is our only hope. May He continue to give us wisdom as parents, helping our children navigate well the waters of living in a different culture, all the while striving to do so ourselves in a way that honors Him.

#blog #fa

by Liz Eck

Source: Ecksfiles City Plaza

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