Faith of a Father

"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised; – Hebrews 10:23


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What’s Your Passion’s Fruit?

passion Fruit 

Passion:

“A strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something”

 We are all passionate about something, it could be our family, our faith, politics, a form of education, a hobby, or thousands of other subjects too numerous to list.  But we all have at least one passion and some of us no doubt have several passions that we like to pursue.  For some, their passion becomes a hobby, for others, they make it a career, a “cottage industry” or even a movement within their circles of influence.

As Christians, our passion does not define who we are in Christ, but it does define our actions and how we are seen by others.  God knows our hearts, others know our actions.  Our hearts are usually expressed by our actions which are defined by our passions.  The Bible has something to say about this:

 Proverbs 23:7

            “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:…”

Matthew 12:34b 

            “…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”

 An apple tree is not defined as an apple tree solely on its ability to produce apples, but the fruit is a visible characteristic of being an apple tree.  That being said, looking from the outside in, as Christians, our fruit should be what differentiates us from the world. 

Having a passion for family, for an educational process, a hobby, or a political bent does not necessarily distinguish us from the world.  You can easily find non-Christians passionate about these things.  As Christians, these may be mere avenues of expressing the underlying passion for the Trinity and the Word of God.  My concern in America today is that we have allowed secondary passions to suppress what should be our primary passion for Christ.

If someone were to ask you today what your passion is, what would you say?  Have you thought about it recently? What makes you tick, what excites and motivates you?  My purpose today is not to condemn one or another, but to spark something inside each of us to encourage us to rethink our passions because often the passion(s) that we should have as Christians can become sidetracked by otherwise good or secondary passions.  What should be our primary passions can be consumed or overridden by the secondary.

Why is it important to understand what is our true passion?   Because what we are truly passionate about is what will ultimately flow out in our actions.  Our passion is not necessarily what we claim it to be, but our true passion is usually evidenced by the fruit / actions we actually produce.  It is this visible fruit that defines us by those around us.   

If you and I were to be judged solely on the fruit produced by our passion, what would people say is my passion, what is your passion?  While we think about this topic, let me put out there several things to consider:

  1.  What pops first into your thoughts may not be correct.  Our initial thoughts may be what we think is expected of us and what others expect us to say.  As an extreme example, a spiritual leader may state that their passion is God’s Word and the feeding of God’s flock, but in reality, the fruit of their passion, may show something else.  We need to think deeper about what makes us passionate and not settle for the expected reply.
  2. If we asked your closest friends what was your passion, what would they say, how do they see you?
  3. If we asked your peers and co-workers what was your passion, what would they say, how do they see you?
  4. And if we asked your immediate family what was your passion, what would they say?

 Now the answers to this question may not be completely accurate because man can be a great deceiver that will often go for years fooling many, but if we consider the fruit that others see in us, it can be a good indication of what we really value.

Here is Paul’s passion:

Philippians 3:4-14

Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

As we clarify in our hearts what our real passions are, the big questions are:  How does that stack up against the Word of God?  and What changes in our lives do we need to make to reflect the right priorities in our lives?

“Purpose may point you in the right direction but it’s passion that propels you.” – Travis McAshan, Entrepreneur and Web Strategist


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The Problem with “Andy Griffith”

So, do you like watching the Andy Griffith Show?  You know, the wholesome show with the down home humor and quaint town.  Barney, the inept deputy is constantly getting himself into trouble and Andy, the Sheriff provides his country wisdom to work out the problems of the day.  Each episode has an overriding lesson for the viewers. What’s not to like?  Over all, I think the show has some redeeming qualities but as I have watched them from time to time, there is a reoccurring problem in the foundational structure of the show that I think we need to be very careful about and particularly discerning if we allow our children to watch the show.  In many episodes I have found that subtle lies are often told and accepted.  To me, this is very troubling, particularly as this show is often extoled for its values. 

As we come to the next section of our study in Ephesians (4:25-32), I want to make a quick stop at verse 25.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Lies vs. Truth – How often in our daily lives do we hear the comment about “little white lies?”  Isn’t that we see often in shows such as the “wholesome”, “family values” show of Andy Griffith?  As seen on TV, it is unfortunately far too often so easy to bring this idea into our own homes and we don’t even realize it.

I will not elaborate on this topic, but another example that comes to mind is the topic of Santa Clause and his friends.  From the very beginning of our parenting experience, we never told our children that there was a Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny or Santa Clause for them to believe in.  We would describe Santa as a Christmas Clown or someone dressed up in a costume for fun during the Christmas season.  I’m not here to judge anyone on what you do or say about such topics but I would ask that you consider the foundations that you are laying for the future of your children’s character.

As our children get older and they are able to understand truth, should we be said to have provided them with an example of “ok lies”?  God forbid.  As parents we do enough unintentional lying without deliberately lying to our children.  If we are willing to make it acceptable within our families to tell “little white lies”, to be deceptive to the ones that we love the most, how much bigger will that deception carry over into our other relationships such as our extended family, our church family, our neighbors, and our co-workers and bosses?  The crooked CEO’s and politicians didn’t wake up one morning and determine to be deceptive to those to whom they are accountable to, their deception began in the home.

As we rear arrows (our children) to be shot into a dark world, are we honing them into straight arrows or crooked arrows?

In the proceeding verses in this chapter, Paul speaks in generalities about living a godly life, in verses 25-31 Paul gets into some specific interpersonal sins that we need to be cautious about in our relationship with others. With each sin that he warns us about, he tells us what to replace it with.  Don’t do this, but do this.  In verse 25, he tells us to put away lying but speak truth.

How are we doing as parents?  Are we keenly aware of the world around us and the deception and lies that it bombards our households with?  Are we instructing our children in truth and pointing out the lies of this sinful world and our own sinful nature?

Character is like a seed planted in a young heart.  How we feed and water it or neglect it may not be evident today, but as the fruit grows within their heart, so will the sweet or bitter flavors be known.

Those who think it’s permissible to tell white lies soon become color-blind. 

Austin O’Malley.


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Happy New Year From Faith of a Father and Faith of a Family

Happy-New-Year-2014
Happy New Year to all our friends and family!

As we begin a new year, many of us will set new resolutions or new goals.  This is a great opportunity to make needed changes in our lives and it is a very important step in our personal growth as it helps us to re-focus on what is really important.

I found it interesting that the next passage of Scriptures that we were set to review in our study in Ephesians tells us that our success is at least a three step plan.

Ephesians 4:20-24

But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

  1. Put off the bad (the old man) – Write down how you are going to do this
  2. Change your heart and mind  – Write down how you are going to do this
  3. Put on the good (new man) – Write down how you are going to do this

A. You have to get rid of something.  I can’t say that I will now do that which is righteous and holy and yet continue to do that which is sinful.  If I want to read my Bible more, lose weight or spend more time doing __(whatever)__, I must consciously give up something.

B. You have to change the way you think.  So not only is there a Stop and Start process, but there is an internal action required.  To do steps one and or three without step two (a heart/mind change) will only bring a temporary or ineffective outward change.  (Please note, only in the power of Christ can the heart and mind truly be changed.  This would make for a great personal in-depth study).

C. You have to replace the old with the new.  We must fill the void with something profitable, if we don’t, it will be easy to slide back into the same old rut of doing what we have always done before.

Romans 12:1-2 says all this in a slightly different way:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

So when you write down your 2014 goals or resolutions, remember to also consider what you will be stopping, make it clear.  Also think through how you will be seeking the Lord’s direction and looking for his continual reminders and encouragements along the way to change your mind and heart.  “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:  – Proverbs 27:7a

Don’t forget to share your goals and action plan with an accountability partner to help keep you accountable throughout the year.

And remember:

I can do all things through CHRIST, which strengtheneth me. – Philippians 4:13


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It Was Only The Beginning

cross-shadow-on-manger-743969

As we celebrate Christmas tomorrow, let’s not forget about the reason for Christ’s birth.  Christ’s birth was only the beginning of God Himself stepping down from Heaven to rescue sinners headed to a godless eternity in Hell.  Christ took upon human flesh so that we might have everlasting life; for without this new life, we were dead in our trespasses and sins.  Christ knew that He was coming into a world that would reject Him, curse Him and even murder Him yet He still came.  Why?  Because of His great love for each of us.  A love that no man, woman or child could ever comprehend.  The virgin birth was His humble entrance into a sin filled world.  His death was the ultimate price paid for your sins, and for my sins.  His resurrection was His victory over death and our salvation from sin, eternal damnation, Hell, and a new life in Christ.

John 3: 16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 15: 13

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Listen to this song from the Ball Brothers.

Romans 10:9-10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Because of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection (all three must have happened), we can have new life.  What a great reason to celebrate and praise the Lord for his wonderful Grace and Mercy.  Christ was born once so that we can live again!  Do you have new life in Christ?  If not but you’d like to, send me an email.  Why not receive the greatest gift of all today.

Merry Christmas from Faith of a Father, Faith of a Family, and the Schnarrs


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How well do you still see in the dark?

man in the dark
In this post I want go back to my study in Ephesians.  I left off at Ephesians 4:16 so I want to pick it up from there.
About a month ago our family gathered together with friends to enjoy an evening around a bonfire.  We had a great time.  Although it was a little on the cold side, it was a good evening.  That night the kids even pulled out their instruments (banjo, guitar, mandolin and fiddle) and played along with another friend that brought his large bass. Everyone seemed to have a great time eating chili, drinking hot drinks and fellowshipping with other believers. Of course the evening began in the light but over time, as anyone walked away from the fire, the darkness would engulf them.
At the beginning of the event the boys and a few of us old guys played some football in the front yard.  It was easy to see the ball for awhile but over time as the darkness crept in it became more and more difficult to see.  The older guys gave up shortly thereafter for fear of getting hurt while the younger boys played on in what seemed to be complete darkness.
Ephesians 4:17-19
 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:   Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
In Ephesians chapter 4 Paul told the Ephesians how to walk worthy of their calling in Christ.  He encourages them to have meekness, longsuffering and uphold one another in love.  He describes our unity in Christ and then outlines spiritual gifts that we have in Christ. After all of this, Paul brings his readers back to the basics; he reminds them of who they were before Christ.  As unbelievers they were ignorant to God because of the blindness of their heart.  They once lived in darkness but now live in the light.
I consider our world today and how so many willingly walk in darkness and how this verse can apply to them.  I find it so easy to point fingers at the world, but as I look at this verse, I must consider the audience to whom Paul was speaking, he was speaking to believers.  He is reminding them to not walk like the world, and don’t think like the world.  The world is blinded by their willful ignorance of God and is willingly following their hardened heart’s desires.  He is saying this should not be so of the believer.  I wondered for a second why would Paul take the time to tell the Believers at Ephesus not to walk as the Gentiles (world), they were Christians.  My conclusion is that even though we see in preceding verses that the Believers were following after Christ, Paul was giving a warning of the potential dangers that could befall them.
As Christian’s we are born into the light of the wonderful Grace and Mercy of God, but until we are raptured into heaven one day, we continue to live in a sinful body and a sinful world.  It is this sin nature that is a continual pull on the believer and if we are not careful we too can be drawn back into a dark corner of our sinful life without recognizing the subtle changes in our walk.
Although some individuals lose their sight through a tragic injury or accident and go from light to darkness in an instant, most people lose their sight very gradually like the boys that played football that night.  Yes, they knew it was getting dark but to them, it was no big deal, they could “handle it”.
As parents, it is our responsibility to train our children to walk in the Light of God’s Word and to recognize when the darkness of this world begins to creep in.  Often the question may not be, “Is it sin?” rather, “Is it the right timing or best thing to do?”
The following are a few questions to ask ourselves on a daily basis:
1.      Do I want to serve the Lord today, or myself?
2.      Did I feed on God’s word today to fill me with His ways and thoughts?
3.      Have I prayed that He would direct my path today?
4.      Is what I have done or about to do:
          a.       good for me?  How?
          b.      good for others? How?
          c.       beneficial for me or others?  How?
          d.      affect faith and witness to others? How?
          e.      does it glorify God, How?
          f.       does it honor my parents (if applicable)? How?
          g.      will it bring me closer to God? How?
          h.      Scripturally permissible, but is it likely to be a stumbling block to those around me?
5.      Do I have that still small voice speaking to me about what I have done or am going to do?
Asking ourselves and teach our children these types of questions can give us insights into whether something may or may not be of God.  Asking the follow up question of How, helps us to get specific and not brush off the question as easily.
We all have blind spots in our lives.  If you haven’t already, why not partner with someone close to you that can give you honest and loving feedback so that iron sharpens iron?


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Arrows of Faith – Launched

faith of a family facebook ad

I like the idea of symbolism.  I like the idea of having a tangible item to remind me of an important spiritual message.  By having something visible, it is not only a reminder to me but also a potential opportunity to be a catalyst for conversations with others.

About 5 years ago I was really struck by the passage in Psalm 127:4 that says, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.”  At my oldest daughter’s high school graduation, I spoke about this passage of Scripture and gave my daughter a store bought arrow and quiver signifying that we were launching her out into the world.  To be honest, a black 32 inch arrow with blue fake feathers really didn’t impress me.   So, over these last five years I started slowing developing an idea in my head.

This store bought arrow and plastic quiver really wasn’t what I had in mind as a display piece symbolizing Psalm 127:4.  I could tell it would be just too big for most rooms, and well, it just looked cheap and “store bought”.  I came up with the idea of having a shorter arrow displayed in a quiver, accompanied with a picture frame to display a photo of our children.  I couldn’t find the types of short arrows that I wanted, nor a quiver to fit them so I began the search on how to make the arrows using authentic arrow shafts, feathers, sinew, and tips.  I had a pretty good idea of how to make a quiver out of leather and lacing, I was able to located a supplier for the picture frame and found a local engraver to assist with the engraving of the names on each individual arrow.  Through trial and error and numerous variations of each product, I believe that I have designed a product that I hope many will enjoy for years to come.

It is my desire that these products will be something cherished by parents and children alike.  I trust that you will consider these as a reminder of the awesome responsibility that we as parents have in rearing our children.  As I said in a recent post, we as parents are launching our children into the next generation, into a generation or even generations that we ourselves may never experience.

Take a few minutes to review our “Arrows of Faith” and visit our new website:   www.faithofafamily.com   Please feel free to share the link with your friends.

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