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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America in Crisis part 2

Sorry it has taken so long to get back with the second half of this post. I have written and re-written this post about a dozen times filling about 8 to 10 pages, I keep changing things each time I review it. Of course there is also that little thing called work that keeps getting in the way. I have learned from this post that in the future when I have a post divided into several posts, I need to have them all written in advance so I don’t leave people hanging. Guess I won’t be a writer in demand.

Please take the following as a generalization as there are definitely exceptions, but I am convinced that this crisis applies to even some of the most conservative homes.

The crisis in America goes deeper than politics. It goes deeper than the liberal left or the conservative right. And it goes deeper than the social and financial problems of our country. These are all symptoms of a bigger issue. I believe the biggest crisis that we as a nation are facing is a battle for the Christian home. Satan is in overdrive attacking the Christian home like never before. Unfortunately, in many cases he is winning. Look around us today we can see even homes that appear to be so strong falling apart. How does this happen?

Over the last 20 to 30 years we have seen the Christian home attacked by Satan through local, state and federal government actions. Our homes are bombarded with media every day discounting parental authority and the family in general. Our children are victims of a perverse society. The home is attacked on all sides. Sadly, even groups within the church can have a negative effect on our homes. Yet while all of these things are difficult on the home, the home can be victorious in each of these cases if it keeps the Authority of Scriptures as its first and final authority and it is taught in a loving and instructive manner.

Why is the Authority of Scriptures so important, why is this the key to keeping our families strong? Because if we lose this, if we divert from the foundational building blocks of doctrine and faith, our faith will begin to crumble, we will be tossed with every wind of doctrine as the book of James says and our life will become as a swinging pendulum swinging back and forth going from one extreme to another. As our home takes such wide swings, we lose credibility and an effective testimony with our friends and family.

If we begin to move from Biblical Authority and it’s foundational principles for everyday living, our homes will begin to become like the church of the Laodiceans as described in Revelation chapter three. We are neither cold or hot, but lukewarm Christians. Our homes will just “function” instead of thrive. It is interesting to me that the Laodiceans said in their hearts, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” – Rev 3:17. Doesn’t that sound like Christians in America today? We have become so satisfied with the cares of this world that we don’t e even realize that we are wretched miserable people, spiritually poor, blind and naked. We fail to realize that God has so much more to offer us if we would only learn real obedience.

So how did we get this way? Like the church of Laodicea, we have become immune to the world and Satan’s devices. We have learned to accept the things that we cannot change, we accept the status quo. We have forgotten that our God is a great God and He controls even the wind and the waves. We have accepted the world’s humanistic worldview of self-reliance, selfishness and pride. We have forsaken the Word of God for so called “tolerance” and ecumenicalism. We have accepted the false teachings that God didn’t really mean what he said in the Scriptures such as in Genesis chapters 1-11, it was all an allegory. Yes, many of us would be firm that we believe in the inspired Word of God, yet our actions deceive us and we become poor examples to our family.

We have become so much like the world that our form of Christianity appears to be no different than the definition the world gives to Christianity. Far too often, we look and act no different than the world. Our attire, even in church has become immodest and rebellious yet we call it stylish. Our concerts look and sound like the world, our church services have become an entertainment venue and a social club instead of a spiritual hospital and place of encouragement and in depth spiritual training. Our homes have become fragmented with each member running at a full tilt in different directions. Our homes are contentious and tumultuous, instead of a home of unity, forgiveness and love. Our homes should be a refuge for the hurting not a place of harassment and nagging. It should be a place of security, not a place of loneliness. Our homes should be a place of rejuvenation and fulfillment, not a place that drains the spirit. We have allowed the world to define us as Christians and what a good and strong family is instead of looking to the Scriptures for guidance. The world says two mommies or two daddies is fine, that a broken home is the norm, that the parents are fools and the kids should have free reign, and discipline and responsibility is old fashioned. And, yet while we may disagree with such characterizations, we do little to act and make a difference. We are afraid to be called intolerant, we are afraid to be call fanatical, we are afraid to be different. Are we ashamed of our faith? Good question.

Why is this crisis in our homes a crisis for America? Our government spends more than it takes in because our homes do the same. Many have an entitlement mentality in our nation because in our homes, we don’t develop responsibility and accountability. We have cheats and thievery all around us because we teach our children that we deserve a break today and the end justifies the means and the little things don’t really matter. Our children see their mom or dad clawing to the top in their business for “success” while ignoring and spending little time with their spouse and children. The morals, values and character are missing in our businesses, our government, our county because they are missing in our homes. America is the way that it is because we have allowed our homes to fail. Do question why we don’t have principled leaders? It’s because as fathers, we have failed to be leaders. As the home goes, so goes the nation.

Yet there is still time, there is still hope, as long as there is hope for our homes, there will be hope for our country. We must fall on our knees and repent from our sin of failed leadership, we must repent of our pride and self-reliance and self importance and remember we can do nothing of any lasting value apart from God. We must be willing to break away from the world’s view and get back to a biblical worldview. We need to call our families to holiness and righteousness regardless of the cost. We must be willing to take a stand on our knees for our family’s sake, for our country’s sake.

There is a crisis in America, and it is in our homes. Who sits in the Whitehouse all depends on who sits in the heart of the people.


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Is beauty really only skin deep?

So often we throw the word beauty around for so many things but is that the right word all the time? I recently finished reading short book called “The Disappearance of God” by Albert Mohler Jr. Over the course of three chapters he reviews the difference between the words “pretty” and “beauty” and makes some very valid points. Much of the following is taken from this book. I trust it will cause us to ponder what is true beauty.

Mohler leads off that beauty is in crisis. First beauty has been devalued in our culture. “We speak of beauty, when what we really mean is prettiness, or attractiveness, or even likeability. None of these things, however, is actually equal to beauty.” He goes on to say “that culture confuses the artificial for the real, pretty for beauty and the untrue for the true“. Take a look at how the media and society view beauty and we find so often people and things that while attractive, are fake and untrue. How may “glamour photos are photo-shopped and manipulated? Even family portraits are “touched up”. If we were to take two photos and set them side by side, one of a glamorous model, another of a down syndrome child which one at first thought would say is beautiful? Interesting question, isn’t it.

The second evidence of beauty in crisis is at the level of the elitists and academia. He goes on to cite writers and philosophers that say beauty is misleading, should be discarded altogether, and others say that the only thing that really matters is power.

Mohler concludes the crisis of beauty is also in the church because we as Christians have allowed culture to define beauty for us instead of allowing beauty to be defined the One True God. Plato understood that the Good, the Beautiful, the True and the Real all reduced down to the same thing. “The four transcendentals are unified in the One”. As Augustine has suggested, we as Christians uniquely understand the good, the beautiful, the true, and the real are one because they are established in the One triune God. He alone is good. He alone is beautiful. He alone is true. He alone is real. Everything else can only be, at best, a reflection of Him. When God finished each day of creation He said it was good. On the sixth day He said it was very good. Because it was created by God, his creation was perfectly beautiful. Today, we as Christians can look at God’s creation and can call it beautiful – almost. Almost, because perfect beauty on this earth was lost when man sinned. We will only see a perfectly beautiful earth when there is a new heaven and new earth as described in Revelations 22. I would urge you to take the time even today to read this passage.

As Christians we should see true beauty as coming from God, therefore we can look beyond the surface and see the beauty in an old rugged cross. We can see real beauty in a down syndrome child or disabled and deformed individual because we are made in the image (reflection) of God. There is a senior saint in our church that I cringe a little when she gets up to sing. Musically, she is not in her “prime” but I can honestly say that she sings beautifully because she is singing and reflecting the joy and love of God. She is good, true and real.

I won’t try to reiterate all that Mohler discussed over the three chapters but I would like to end with a recommendation, a quote and a final comment. The next time you and I use the word beauty or beautiful, is who or what we are describing truly beautiful, good, real and true? Or are we meaning to describe the person or thing in a more superficial term? As Mohler suggests, to call something or someone beautiful that is not good, true and real violates the Scriptures and character of God.

Augustine in his “Confessions” wrote:

I have learned to love you late,
Beauty at once so ancient and so new!
I have learned to love you late!
You were within me, and I was in the world outside myself.
I searched for you outside myself and, disfigured as I was,
I fell upon the lovely things of your creation.
The beautiful things of this world kept me from you and yet,
If they had not been in you, they would have had no being at all.
It was you then, O Lord, who made them.
You who are beautiful, for they too are beautiful.
You who are good, for they are good.
You who are, for they too are.
But they are not beautiful and good as you are beautiful and good.
Nor do they have their being as you the Creator have your being.
In comparison with you, they have neither beauty nor goodness nor being at all

I would propose to you today that pretty and attractiveness is only skin deep but beauty goes right to the heart.


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The Great Depression Again?

Several days ago while at the library with my wife one of my sons asked about finding a book on the Great Depression. Apparently this has been a growing interest of his due to some other books that he has been reading. While impressed but curious, Sherry asked our son what caused him to become interested in the Great Depression? He said with a smile, I want to be prepared in case President Obama causes another Great Depression.

While humorous, this comment caused me to think about the messages that we as parents send to our children. Are we teaching them to be wise stewards of what God has given them even with things are “going well”?

Earlier this year the family went on an extended vacation to Branson. God has been good to us and we were able to put money aside specifically for this trip. As we were traveling we were able to do many things that we usually don’t do. My favorite saying during the trip was, “its only money.” While true, thinking back on it, was I sending the right message to my kids? Was I teaching them by example to be careless about money? I hope not but I am learning to be more careful about what I say.

One example that gives me some assurance or at least hope that we might be on the right track and are teaching in the right direction regarding finances is that our oldest has become very proficient in her computer use especially when it comes to finding deals online. She has found Christmas gifts and magazine subscriptions at greatly reduced costs. If she has a choice of paying full price or not purchasing an item, she will usually decide to wait until the item goes on sale or until she has a coupon.

It has been a blessing to see our children growing up understanding godly principles of stewardship even when their dad isn’t always perfect in this area.

Prov. 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.


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Can someone be “Pro-Choice” and believe in Evolution?

Sunday evening we had a service that focused on the value of life, particularly with regards to the life of the unborn.  During the service, a guest speaker from the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center (www.blueridgepc.org) presented their ministry primarily to women but also to men/fathers.  It was sad yet encouraging to hear that this ministry helps young girls as young as 12 year old and up to see the value of life, even that small life they are carrying.  What an awesome opportunity to share hope and God’s grace (that brings peace, see previous post) and to let them know that there is a better way then an abortion.  Those in attendance were blessed to hear how they are saving one little life at a time. 

Following this presentation our Pastor preached a message about the 5 Facts of Life.  The following is a brief outline of the message. 

1.  Life is God’s.  – Genesis 1 and Colossians 1:16

2.  Life is Valuable – what God creates He values including the disabled – Exodus 4:11  It is a shame that we hear so often how many are aborting life because their child may be disable in some way.

3. Life Begins before birth – Psalm 139:13-16

4.  Taking life outside of God ordained judgment is murder Exodus 20:13, Gen 9:6, Num 35:16-19 etc.  

5.  The taking of Life can be forgiven – Luke 23:34 is a great example of forgiveness.

Following this outline, Pastor Ferrell then listed some things we a Christians can do:  Adopt, Serve in a Pregnancy Center, Go into government. or the medical field to introduce legislation or use medical skills to save life, use our voting power to influence the laws, and share the pro-life position lovingly to those who would listen.  (Go to the following link to hear this informative message preached on 11/15/09 PM:  http://www.timberlakebaptist.org/page.aspx?id=210479  it should be posted soon) 

What does all this have to do with my title?  I’m getting to that.  I know, I know, the long way, but I’m getting to it.  I said all this to say that the message this weekend prompted me to write this today.

A few months ago I was having had a discussion with some Human Resources folks about evolution.  After the energetic discussion about evolution, someone brought up the topic of abortion.  For some, two completely different topics.  Of course this brought up all kinds of comments and beliefs and of course it led to another energetic discussion. 

On my way home that day I was replaying both discussions in my mind and then all of a sudden it hit me.  Many of the comments made that day from both discussions revolved around when life began and the evolution of life.  The pro-lifers / creationists believe that all life comes from God and that life begins at conception while the pro-choicers / evolutionists contradicted their own comments when they switched topics.  As a “pro-choicer” they believed life didn’t begin until months after conception but as an evolutionist, they said life began as a simple single cell.  So which is it Mr. or Mrs. Pro-choicer / evolutionist?  Did life began as a simple single cell or does life begin after millions of cells are combined to form something that looks like a human being and is “viable” outside the womb?  Did life begin when that supposed simple cell burst onto the scene 3.5 billion years ago as talkorgin.org states and could only exist in a “perfect environment” or did life begin when a mass of cells could breath on it’s own after birth?

  For creationists the consistency of when life began is not a problem but it appears to be for the “pro-choicer / evolutionist.  Of course there are other issues and discussions we could springboard into but we’ll leave those for another time.  Just remember, the next time you hear someone say that they believe that life does not begin at conception, ask them if they believe in evolution.