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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Back Online

Dear friends, yes it has been three years since I have posted on my blog.  Much has happened over the time with some highs and lows of life.   Our oldest daughter became engaged and then married, our oldest son transitioned from the medical field with assisting people to working at a veterinarian hospital and our three youngest children all graduating in May of 2016 and are pursuing different areas of interest.

During this season of life and transition we have experienced some very lows with still unresolved family struggles that many of you are much aware of and are in prayer.  We are so grateful for your continued faithfulness to pray.  But as always through our lives, God has been faithful and good to us and has blessed us above measure.  We have learned so much over these years from our good and gracious God.   Over time we will share insights and lessons that God is teaching us as a family.  I also want to get back to finishing my layman’s walk through Ephesians.

As a reminder, I have broken up the book of Ephesians into sections about relationships.  So far we have discussed the following:

  • Our Relationship with God = Chapter 1-2:10
  • Our Relationship with Christ = Chapter 2:11-3:21
  • And we will now continue with the third section: Our Relationship with Fellow Christians and the World = Chapter 4:1-5:21

Since it has been awhile, why not go back and review some of the previous posts.  These can be found to the right under “Categories”.

My goal will be to post one blog a week initially.  If you pick up following the blog, feel free to make comments, insights and encouragement to other readers.  If you like my postings feel free to share it with others and if you see I am falling behind in posts, feel free to also give me a little nudge here or on Facebook!

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In Christ Alone,

Donn


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Following the Leader

following

When our children were little, one way that we were able to keep up with them in the stores was to have them hold our hand. There were times when I was pushing the loaded grocery cart and it took both my hands to push it so I had to improvise. On one occasion when my wife was not with us, I had brought all four of our children with me (we had not had our fifth yet). I had Trent in the backpack, Amber in the seat in the cart and wanted to ensure that Ashley and Tyler would stay nearby so I had them hold onto my back pockets. As long as they stayed close and held on, they felt secure and I knew they were right with me. It didn’t matter where I led them, they were there, close by. There security was not in what was going on around them, but was in me because they could feel me, they were next to me, their Daddy.

Paul tell us in Ephesians 5:1 that we are to be followers of God as dear children and I think before we get into the extended passage and discussion, how we are to follow after God; as dear children, I wanted to discuss the first thoughts that come to my mind.

Children’s security should be in their parents. As followers for Christ, our security should be in our Heavenly Father, the perfect example of a loving father.As His child, the closer I am to Him, the more secure I am, regardless of what is going on around me. Like a child that runs off, the further I am from God, the less secure I am in His hand, not by His doing, but mine.

I John 4:4 says, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Regardless of what is going on in our lives, we are overcomers because of Christ and His sacrifice enabling us to become children of God. As we rear our children, we need to always remember that we are setting examples for them and should be asking them, as Paul asked us in I Corinthians 11:1, to “follow me as I follow after Christ”.

Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

How can our children follow after Christ if we don’t teach them?
How did I do last week?
What can we change today to help our children tomorrow?

Following in Christ’s footsteps leads us to security and ultimate victorious living.


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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

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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