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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Warning Signs: Lesson #1 From My Heart Attack

A heart attack rarely happens just out of the blue.  Oh, we may have been surprised by the event but if we think back over the years, more than likely most of us failed to address the things in our lives that got us to that scary point.  I am not a medical professional or even pretend to know a lot about heart attacks, their signs and symptoms, so for those interested in the details, I will refer you over to the American Heart Association at .  The purpose of this post is to point out one of the lessons I am learning the hard way from my attack.

I have learned the hard way that there are warning signs and red flags that we need to be not only aware of to avoid heart problems but it really does require action, for awareness does not always equal action.  Over the past 2 years I have been working on a design / implementation team of 10 people that has developed one complete benefits package for 35 companies, over 100 domestic locations and 16,000 employees.  One of the foundational philosophies or goals was to build the entire benefit package on wellness and wellness education.   And while being involved in such a project encouraged me to make some changes in my life, I still had more of a head-knowledge and not much of a heart-knowledge.  For the most part I knew the things I needed to do, but I figured that I wasn’t too bad off.  I knew I should work harder to eat better, but the ice cream and cheese sauce for the nachos kept calling my name.  And although earlier this year I had started to exercise regularly, I should have started years ago.  I knew the extra pounds around the waist were trouble, but hey, I wasn’t obese.  I had shortness of breath when I did yard work but a little exercise will fix that right?  I won’t say I was out of shape, because round is a shape, but I figured as I continued to exercise, various signs and symptoms would go away.  My “numbers” seemed fine, and although my Mom had quadruple bi-pass surgery at age 70 and my grandfather died from a heart attack in his late 60’s, I wasn’t near that age yet, I’m fine.  Heart attack?  Not me.  Warning signs and increased risk factors?  Not for me, I had rational reasons for all of those things.

So as I have thought over the past few weeks after my heart attack on December 11th,  I wondered what God wanted me to learn through all this?   I’m a slow learner and I have always told my wife, don’t give me hints, I don’t get hints, just tell me.  Well I think God decided to take me up on my “advice” also.  So one of the things I am learning (and I hope I really get it) is this:

Lesson One:  Don’t waste the Warning Signs and Risk Factors.

1.  If you ignore or take less than serious your health, over look the warning signs and don’t do what you should, you’re flirting with a shortened life.  Since December 11th, I’ve taken the time to imagine what my personal legacy that I am building to leave for my children and grandchildren may have been.  No doubt shortened and possibly incomplete because of my carelessness or half-hearted attitude of my health.  My doctor told us the day after my heart attack, only 50% of those who have my kind of attack make it to the hospital…alive.  It is only by the unmerited grace of God that I am one of those 50% to make it.  He gave me and my family a special gift for Christmas, pray with me that I don’t waste it.  Heart health must be a part of your being, who you are all the time.  Eating healthy for a day and then eating junk food for the remainder of the week does very little good.  I am still working on all of this to move it from a head to a heart knowledge and I suppose it will take me awhile.

2.  Like heart disease, there are warnings and risk factors with Sin and if we take these signs and warnings serious we can avoid the sin that creeps in quietly yet can do major damage.  I am reminded of a saying that was written in the front of one of my Bibles, it goes like this:  “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.”  It is a reminder that just like our physical heart, what we feed our spiritual hearts and what we mediate on determines our future.  If our spiritual food is from feel good preaching, slick TV evangelists and their religious books and radio shows then we can expect a spiritual diet of marshmallows and whipped cream, just a lot of fluff with no substance.  What we need for our spiritual heart is healthy food, a daily diet of God’s Word, and biblical instruction.  And just like the need to eat some of the foods that we may not enjoy, biblical correction and conviction from God’s Word is necessary for our spiritual heart health.  Even if we eat right spiritually but we fail to exercise our faith regularly then we become “fat Christians”, always taking it in but never giving it out.

God has created our bodies to tell us when something is wrong but if we fail to listen to it a major crisis may be coming.  It’s the same with our spiritual life.  If we fail to heed God’s Word and listen to the Holy Spirit convicting us when we are headed for sin, we are headed down a path of great regret and sorrow.

Harkening to the warning signs of heart disease is easier said than done.   I guess right now I have a recent experience that helps to motivates me.  I pray that as the further I get I will be as motivated.  But ultimately doing what is right for my heart is an inward attitude.  It’s the same with sin.  We have a free will to decide to sin or not.  The question is what will we choose to do?

The following is a simple outline to help both our physical and spiritual heart.

  1.  Recognize that we are all tempted.  James 1:14   But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Temptation is not sin, yielding is.
  2. Flee temptation.  1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22;  I Corinthians 10:13  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.  When tempted, remember God has given us a way to escape, look for it and take it.
  3.  Used God’s Word as a defense.  Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.   2 Corinthians 10:4-5  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;   My question for us is, how can you use the Word of God if you don’t know and memorize it?
  4. Focus on God and his Word.  Psalm 147 is a great passage about the glories of God.  Another way to focus on God is to sing hymns.  It is hard to sin when we are focused on God in some way.
  5. When we fail, and we will fail, repent right away.  Romans 6:1-2  What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?    Proverbs 24:6   For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

So the next time we are tempted, are we going to heed the warning signs?  Are we going to go watch for the risk factors?  Are we going to have just a head knowledge of what we should do or will we take action?  Your action or inaction will determine your future.

(Thoughts and comments welcomed.)



Lessons I’m Learning from a Heart Attack – Intro

How I got here in the first place.

I guess it kind of creeps up on you.  One minute you’re a skinny 72 pound 7thgrader and the next thing you know you’re 46 and in the ER having a heart attack. 

 I always was a skinny kid and pretty active playing on a soccer team, Ti Kwon Do, tennis, etc. but like most people, as we get older we tend to get over run with life in general and the activities tend to change.  Torn tendons and multiple twisted ankles cause you to rethink playing soccer or doing most any kind of running.  Add onto that a pinched nerve resulting in numerous injections in the neck when the chiropractor can’t help anymore make you leery about strenuous exercise.  And those are my excuses and I’m sticking to it!

The long and the short of it is that over time, we tend to let things slide.  We make excuses for why we don’t do the things we know should do.  We add the extra salt to the steak, we start to have not one or two containers of ice cream in the freeze but have three to five going at a time.  We look at others and tend to say to ourselves, I’m not that bad, I eat pretty healthy, they’ll have “issues” way before I do.  I don’t smoke or drink.  I live a pretty clean life.  Hey, I even started back exercising 3-4 times a week 45 minutes a day this year.  I’m doing fairly well aren’t I?

So is all this why I had a heart attack?  I don’t know.  My doctor said even with the little extra weight he said he would not have thought I was a risk for a heart attack.  So was it genetic then?  Maybe.  I’m sure I didn’t help myself at all with some of the choices in foods I ate and my lack of serious attention to my health.  Could it have been as with Job were God allowed Satan to attack him?  Well, I’m no Job.  Maybe it was God’s way of getting my attention.  If so, why?  We can ask all the questions and still be wondering why, but the point that needs to be made is, it has happened, so what can I learn from this?  How is God wanting to use this in my life and in the life of those around me?

Over the next several weeks I hope to be posting some of the things I am learning from a Heart Attack.

(Comments, suggestions and insights are welcome)

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Are you a Vestigial Christian?

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.   Ephesians 4:7

The proceeding verses tell us in what manner we are to walk but in verse seven Paul begins to tell us about the gifts that are given to each Christian.  There are two general types of gifts mentioned in this verse.  One is the foundational gift of God, which is the gift of the indwelling of Jesus Christ within us, our gift of Salvation.  The second gift mentioned here is the “grace gift” or the special ability for service given to each Christian, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, as Christians we are all given at least one grace gift and we are expected to exercise our gift(s) for the edification of the body of Christ.  As a body has many members, each member has a purpose and function.  So too we, as members of the body of Christ all have our purpose for edification, not the tearing down and working against each other.

An interesting note for us as parents, Paul makes it clear that EVERYONE, this includes children are given grace gifts. As such, it is our responsibility as parents to help our children discover their grace gift and to teach them how to use these to edify the body of Christ, yes, even as children. 

“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”

 In verses 8-10 Paul quotes from Psalm 68 to explain what is he means when he says, “according to the measure of Christ”.  Paul is explaining that it is the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20) that enables us to serve the body with the grace gift(s) given to each of us.  Take the time to go back and read Psalm 68 and see the power of God that works in us.  The grace gifts are not only for the outgoing, the polished tongue or those with an electrifying personality, but God, knowing full well who we are and our self-perceived  shortcomings and limitations has given each of us grace gifts and He has given us HIS power to exercise them.

I find myself for the most part to be more of an introvert, the guy who would rather sit at home than go to a party.  I’m the guy who gets weepy eyed and emotional, the guy who’s not good at public speaking, yet God know who I am and has given me the power to exercise the specific grace gift He has entrusted to me.  The question for me is am I willing to step out of the boat and take God at His word?  Are you?

We know that every part of the body is needful.  And contrary to the evolutionists, there is no such thing as a vestigial organ (a body part having lost all or most of its original function).  Every part of the body was designed by God and has a purpose.  And so it is with the body of Christ, we all are designed by God and have a grace gift that is needful to the body.  He made no mistake when He “issued” you your grace gift.  God has a purpose for each and everyone of us in the body of Christ.  The question for you and me is are we willing to actively learn, understand, develop and use our grace gift(s) that God has designed and purposefully given us for the edification and full function of the body of Christ?

There are no vestigial Christians; we are only limited by our power source, and what a power source He is.


(Thoughts, comments and insights are always welcomed to any post.)

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But He’s Different Than Me…

After several weeks of failed attempts to divert from the text and go off on a rabbit trail on the topic of diversity and tolerance, I have finally learned my lesson, stick with the text.  In verses three through six of chapter four of Ephesians, Paul discusses the topic of unity of the believers.  “Endeavouring” to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:3-6

As a review, we recall in chapter two and three, how Paul addressed the conflict between the Jews and Gentiles and how that we, as Gentiles are fellow-heirs with the Christian Jews.  This was a big deal back then and I suspect it is a big deal in Christianity today.  Moving into chapter four Paul reviews our vocation and how we are to walk in our vocation –through lowliness, meekness, longsuffering and forbearance in love and then he gets to unity of the believers.

Paul uses the word “endeavoring” in verse three to describe how we are to approach this biblical unity.   Endeavoring means to do/give/be diligent, to labor, to study.  We are not to approach unity with a hum-drum attitude, and attitude of carelessness or complacency.  Unity does not come easy and Paul is telling us that we are to be diligent, to pursue it, work at it, to strive for it.  

How often do we pursue unity among our breather that may be a little different than ourselves?  Do you homeschool, use the public school system, or a Christian school?  How is your unity with those who use other forms of education then yourselves?  What about your church?  Is it an “us 4 and no more” kind of church?  Do they fellowship with other churches that do things a little different than you do?  I’m not talking about having unity with a family or church that has significant doctrinal differences for as we know, light and darkness cannot not go together, but what about those that may do things a little different than you do?

Why is it so hard to have unity with people that are different?  Paul hit the nail on the head, the verse just before verse this one.  We always want to assume that we are right and the other person is wrong.  We want to be the person that has it all together but that other person or group are the ones that just can’t get their act together.  Oft times don’t want the heat attitude of longsuffering or tolerance for those who may be in a different place in their spiritual walk.  We have the attitude of, “Hey, I got it, I understand what God is teaching me, why don’t they?”  Not realizing how God deals with us as individuals and therefore each of us are learning different biblical principles at different times or places in our lives.  It is interesting and obviously planned by the Holy Spirit to have Paul write about these character qualities BEFORE he mentions unity.

Another reason why we find it so hard to find unity with those different then us is because we fail to remember what Paul reminds us of in verses four through six.   “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”  Notice that last phrase, “and in you all”.  Wow.  How often to I fail to remember this of other Christians?  How about you?

On the flip side, I think that we all have had instances where we were somewhere in a non-“religious” setting and we met someone for the very first time and immediately our hearts spoke to us and told us that they were believers.  How does this happen?  It is that unity of the Spirit that is bound in the Peace of God. No other faith on this earth can ever hope to have this kind of Spirit-filled unity.  We are blessed beyond measure to have the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity, living inside of us.  Teaching us, guiding us and uniting us together in one body.

In a world that teaches and preaches diversity and how much we are all different, the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, teaches us how much we as fellow-heirs have in common.  That is the foundation to unity.

We could continue on for another many hours discussing this section of this chapter but if I even intend to get to chapter six, the chapter I originally wanted to discuss, I need to move along.

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Forbearing One Another in Love

My first cursory review of the last part of verse 2 was inaccurate.  I read it as to bear or lift one up in love but this does not seem to be the definition.  It says to, forbear one another in love.  The word forbear means to put up with – to endure.  Another translation uses the phrase “showing tolerance”. 

You see, when Christians around us see things differently, hold different views in portions of the Scriptures, put more emphasis in one area of their life then someone else, and yes, even at times offend us and harm us in so many ways, we are told in this verse to put up with them.  They may be a little weird, they may have a few “extreme” convictions or preferences, or they may be lacking discernment in a few areas of life but we are called to, forbear one another in love.  As an example, Paul discussed the issue of eating meat offered to idols in I Corinthians 8.  Here Paul was describing how that some felt eating the meat that had been offered to idols was sinful while others did not see this as an issue.  In summary, Paul tells the Corinthians that while there is no issue in eating this meat because there is only one true God, if eating the meat causes another brother to stumble and sin, then we should defer to the weaker brother and not eat this meat so that we are not encouraging them to go against their conscience and sin.  In essence Paul was saying that the one should forbear or tolerate the other in love.  Not to do so was actually sin by the “stronger” Christian.  (For some good messages on the Conscience please listen to our  Pastor, Dr. Bryan Ferrell here.) 

You know, there are just some people that are hard to deal with or with whom to get along.  I can think of a half dozen people right now that for one reason or another, we just kind of clash, and on the flip side, I am probably on someone’s list.  But Paul is reminding us that along with lowliness, meekness, and longsuffering, we are to “put up with / tolerate” in love those around us.  Can you imagine Christ and his tolerance for the brethren?  Can you imagine the differences, the Son of God had with his disciples?  Yet He loved each one of them, and was willing to die for them.  In the same way, He has tolerated us in love so much that He died for you and me.  We are undeserving, hardnosed, rebellious, sinners, deserving of Hell only, yet He loved each one of us enough to die for us.  Put that up against your tolerance for your fellow believers and see how you compare.  We come up short don’t we?

It’s hard to forbear in love a fellow believer when our own hearts are not striving for that lowliness, meekness and longsuffering.    Yes, in public, out of responsibility or duty we can usually find a way to put up with other Christians that differ from us, but how are we at home?  How do we respond when their name comes up around the dinner table?  How is our heart attitude toward the individual?  Are we really forbearing in love?  When our own hearts are right with God, and we are practicing lowliness, meekness and long suffering, and we are pursuing our ultimate vocation which is to be a follower of Christ, we are able to respond outwardly in love from our heart rather than responding with hypocrisy.  Please don’t read into this that I am implying that to prevent this hypocrisy we should be rude and respond how our heart really feels towards an individual, (some would try and call this “being real”). Remember, two wrongs don’t make a right (bad heart, bad response).   We should examine our heart, and recognizing the lack of real love for that individual, and through the Holy Spirit we should be convicted unto repentance.

Although the other items in this verse are big, for me at least, forbearance in love can be extremely difficult to keep in check.   If someone isn’t doing what I do, or doesn’t believe exactly as I believe, if I am not careful, I can become judgmental and shun those people.  This sin, yes sin, can creep into our lives so easily causing our pride to grow (lack of humility), and our meekness and longsuffering to be stifled so that we cannot accomplish what Paul writes about in the next verse – Unity.

I think we can see through this entire verse that Paul is focusing not on our outward actions but on the heart attitude.  Come back and we’ll take a quick look at how unity cannot be achieved without the fulfillment of verses 1 and 2.

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Longsuffering or Patience? Ephesians 4:2 continued

Longsuffering.  As we continue in our study of Epheisans 4:2, we come to this word seldom used in today’s vocabulary.  When I look up the definition of longsuffering it says, “patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance”.  Noticing the word patience, I looked up the definition for patience which says, “steadfastness, constancy, endurance”, the same definition for longsuffering.  I found this odd because in various passages such as Col 1:11 and II Timothy 3:10 both use Longsuffering and Patience in the same verse.  Why?  I have come to the belief that like meekness and gentleness, longsuffering and patience are defined as an inward heart attitude and an outward action.  Longsuffering is your heart attitude, allowing the Holy Spirit control over your emotions.  Patience is the outward expression of the Holy Spirit controlling your actions.  While I have not been able to find supporting commentary explaining the two differences exactly as I have put it, Matthew Henry separates them in his commentary on Col 1:11, into bearing patience and waiting patience.  I think my definitions can sit side by side with his definitions.

So Paul is saying that as a practical matter, as we walk in our vocation, we are to walk in longsuffering, a right heart attitude.  If we have the inward heart attitude of longsuffering, the outward expression of patience will be an outflow of the heart.  Paul is telling us what we have learned in Matthew 12:34, “that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” 

For a time, we can fool people by our actions but ultimately our true self, our heart, will be exposed.  There have been so many examples of this over the past several years as we follow the political scene.  So often politicians will say and do the exact opposite.  We have heard some preach family values only to be caught in immoral activities.  We have seen others tell how they value the hard worker and then tell how they want to “share the wealth”.  When we hear these things, we get outraged, I get outraged.  Yet how often are we, am I, guilty of saying one thing and doing another?  How often do we fail to deal with our heart attitude and only try to control our actions?

Being in Human Resources as a vocation (a secondary vocation), and as I study more and more and then apply God’s Word to everyday practical living, my heart’s eyes are seeing how that the secular world attempts to change / improve the actions of the employees without addressing the heart.   While I have known this for many years, it has become even more evident to me.

 We have policy after policy to tell people how to behave, what they can and cannot do yet unless the heart attitude is in sync with the company attitude, the expression of the heart / behavior will come through anytime it gets a chance.  Think through employees or co-workers that you have worked with, those whose heart is in tune with the company tend to need very little discipline and have a “can do” attitude.  These kinds of people need very little in the way of policies or rules.  Those who tend to have disciplinary issues, those who have continual authority problems typically are those who need the rules and policies and management watches them like a hawk, knowing they will step out of line. It is just a matter of when.

Now take this back around to you and me, to our families, to our children.  Unless our hearts are right, the wrong will come out in our actions.  There is a saying in our family and it goes like this, “Obedience without honor is disobedience.  If we want gentleness in our families, we need to teach meekness, if we want patience, we need a longsuffering heart.

Are we getting the hint from Paul that godly relationships must begin in the heart and not in our outward actions?

Reader, we cannot have true gentleness without meekness, we cannot have true patience without longsuffering.  I know I have some work, how about you?

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Meekness Ephesians 4:2

In the last post we briefly discussed the topic of lowliness or humility.  As we continue on with a brief word study of the word Meekness, we find that many sermons have been preached and books have been written on each of the characteristics described in Ephesians 4:2.  In just a quick internet search I found over 360,000 hits referencing meekness and the Bible. 

In our search we found a variety of definitions for the word Meekness.  Many will use the word meekness and gentleness interchangeably but these two words are truly different.  Gentleness (epieikeia) refers to our outward actions while meekness (prautes) describes a heart and mindset, an internal attitude.   Matthew Henry describes meekness as, “that excellent disposition of soul which makes men unwilling to provoke others, and not easily to be provoked or offended with their infirmities; and it is opposed to angry resentments and peevishness.”  A.R Fausset has this to say about meekness, “that spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us without disputing and resisting; and also the accepting patiently of the injuries done us by men, out of the thought that they are permitted by God for the chastening and purifying of His people ( 2Sa 16:11 ; 2Ti 2:25 Tts 3:2 )…”   And A.W. Tozer wrote, The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto.”  Today in the Word, September, 1989, p. 19

I consider my own heart in this area of meekness and how it relates to my vocation(s).  Gentleness is something I find fairly easy to show.  As they say, I’m a lover not a fighter and so because confrontation for me can be difficult, having an outward gentleness can be somewhat a default action. 

I reflect back on my childhood and can see how this played out in my young life.  I grew up with two older brothers and a sister that is 3 years my junior.  I can remember times when I would get so angry with her that I would rush at her and raise my fist to strike a devastating blow all to end up bring that fist down on her arm with such gentleness she could have mistaken the “hit” as an infant’s tap.  While I had learned that hitting her would bring the wrath of Mom or Dad down on me and so I constrained myself and showed “gentleness”, I was far from being meek.

I find it so much easier to show gentleness to others in my daily walk, whether it is as a father, husband, employee, boss, neighbor or any other vocation I have, than it is to actually have meekness – the right heart attitude.   I find that for me, and I suspect each of us, it is so easy to put on a facade and to hide our true heart attitudes.  Why is this?  I suspect the root sin of all sins, pride keeps us from allowing the Holy Spirit control in our hearts because in short, we think more highly of ourselves then we ought.  It is interesting how this ties back to our discussion on lowliness / humility isn’t it?

Dear Lord, help me to learn humility (ok, take it easy on me please) so that I can not only show gentleness to those around me, but to show meekness.  May I strive to have a pure heart and not just goodly actions.  And may I often remember, in myself nothing, in God, everything.

–          Donn

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Walking the walk (Ephesians 4:2)

In verse one we discussed what our vocation was, and now in verse two Paul begins to delve into to the details of how we are to walk in our vocation.  Ephesians 4:2 says:  “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;”

With lowliness and meekness, longsuffering and forbearing one another in love.   Wow, our vocation is to have these traits.  This is to be our demeanor as we walk the Christian life.  As I look over what God has called me to do, I start to ask myself, do I exemplify these characteristics in my vocation(s)?

Lowliness.  The lexicon defines this as having a humble opinion of oneself; a deep sense of one’s littleness.  So often I compare myself to others and what I can do or have done instead of comparing myself to the Creator.  How often do we lift ourselves up because of our job, or finances, or our “network” of friends?  How often does pride get in the way of being humble?  Far too often I am afraid.  Let your mind wander a little and think of your vocation, your calling from God.  Do you see more pride than humility?  Even in our primary calling of being followers of Christ, I can see where my pride inches in.  I’ve grown up in a Christian home, went to Christian colleges, have been a steady active member of a Bible believing church, read my Bible, have more Bible knowledge than most pastors in third world countries and many even in this country.  It is easy to become prideful and push off humility even when it comes to our spirituality and our relationship with God.  Let’s be honest with ourselves, it can be so easy to unknowingly become like the Pharisee and say I thank my God that I am not like…

I have given this example before but find it appropriate to do so again.  Take a grain of salt and place it in your hand, go ahead, get some salt…..  Now, imagine that single grain is our universe and you and I are on the earth inside that universe.  Now imagine your hand is the finger tip of God.  Do we now get a deeper sense of our littleness? 

So how are you doing in lowliness in humility?  Can you see it in your Christian walk?  More importantly can others?  What about the other secondary vocations you have been called to do?  Are you a husband, father, employee, church member, neighbor?  Do others see humility in your life as you live out these callings?  I’m afraid I can say for me, at times yes, at other times, not so much.

Oh that I would not forget who I was, a sinner deserving of Hell.  A sinner, who, left to my own devices would be living a life of vile debauchery and spitting in the face of God at every opportunity.  Without the Lord, I’d have to look up to see the bottom.  But thanks be to God for His endless love.  The one and only Holy God that reached down and drew me near to Him has shed His grace and mercy on me that now I can say with confidence and joy, I am a child of THE King.

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Ephesians 4 – Our Vocation

So is my vocation more than just my job?

Oh, it is so much more than a job.  As we found in the last posting, the term vocation means a calling or an invitation and in this case it is a calling or invitation from our Heavenly Father.  First and foremost, we all have been called to be a follower of Christ.  The gift of salvation is the greatest invitation we are offered and our decision to accept or decline this will have eternal consequences.  Have you accepted this invitation?  If not, why not?  What is preventing you from doing so today, right now? (The Gospel)

This overriding vocation is seen in Matthew 16:24-26.  Christ says that we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.  If I am to deny myself and even be willing to lose my life for His sake that pushes everything to the side, nothing else will have a priority; nothing else will / should matter as much to the Christian.  All other vocations within our lives are secondary and in essence are God given avenues used to express our primary vocation and our commitment to our Lord.  If one has declined to follow after Christ then all other vocations are incomplete, superficial and at best only providing temporary satisfaction having no lasting worth.

In addition to my vocation to follow after Christ, I have been given secondary vocations such as: being a husband, a father, a church member, an employee, a boss, and the list could go on and on.  Each of these are responsibilities I have accepted and it is important in HOW I perform these callings because it is in these that my primary calling to follow after Christ is magnified. 

We should not just claim the name of Christ but we are to live Christ-like in all that we do (I Cor. 10:31).   Too often Christians heed the call of the world to compartmentalize our faith.   We are constantly being told by the world it is ok to have our faith as long as we leave it at the door of our homes or churches.  We are told not to allow our faith to influence us at work, school or in the debate on morals or other topics, etc.  Unfortunately many times we comply thinking that by doing so we will win them to Christ but we fail to realize we will rarely win someone to Christ if  we share a compartmentalized faith.   If our vocation is to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, then every other vocation we accept has to support our primary vocation of following Him.

In the next two verses, Paul begins to describe in what manner we are to behave.  Take the time to review these verses and let’s pick it up there next time.

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Walk Worthy in our Vocation Ephesians 4:1

Picking up in Ephesians were we left off, in chapter 4 verse 1 it reads, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,”

In chapters 1-3 Paul appears to have written with more doctrine in mind but now he seems to be getting into the more “practical’ living with regards to our faith.  Matthew Henry divides the book into 2 sections.  Chapters 1-3 is about our privileges and chapters 4-6 is about our duties as Christians.  I am dividing up the book by relationships.  We started with our relationship to God (1-2:10), then our relationship to Christ (2:11-3:21), and now we are starting to look at our relationship to fellow Christians and the World in general (4:1-5:21).  Hey, this is my blog, I can divide the book of Ephesians up the way I see it.  If you don’t like it, go write your own blog.  🙂 Following this, I see three other relationships that we will discuss later. 

Paul begins this chapter with instructions to the Christians at Ephesus to regulate their life in a manner worthy of the invitation in which we are called / bid / invited, and more broadly, to all those reading his letter.  (Remember at the beginning of our study on Ephesians we discussed that this letter may have originally been written to be circulated to many churches and not just the church as Ephesus.) 

It is interesting that Paul says they are “worthy”.  We, in and of ourselves, are not worthy of anything.  But, as Paul writes earlier in his letter, we have  been chosen before the foundations of the world, we have been predestined unto the adoption of Christ, and we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of HIS grace, we have been made alive with Christ, we’ve been made nigh to Christ, Christ has broken down the partition between us, through the Spirit we have access to the Father, as Gentiles we are made fellow heirs by the Gospel, we have boldness and access with confidence by Christ Jesus, that is how we are worthy, not by our deeds but by Him.

 As I read this passage and try to internalize it I then have to ask myself what is a vocation?  When I go to to get the definition, we see that it is defined as a calling, an invitation.  It is a call to an action, a response is required.  Once I am called or invited, I have a decision to make.  I have to accept or decline the invitation. Then I have to decide to act.  And then how do I act?  In what manner do I act?  I don’t believe that just being born into my family is a calling or vocation, because I did not have to make such a decision, but I do believe that my vocation(s) affects such relationships in a major way.

So what is my vocation?  Of course the first thing that came to my mind was my job, I have heard many messages referring to our employment as our vocation.  Although a different title, I’m the Human Resources Director at a world class international organization.  I can therefore begin to apply the next verses given by Paul.  But is that it?  I should think not.  My vocation does not stop there.  It is multifaceted. 

Next time we will go deeper into this multifaceted vocation.



Mom and Dad.bmp

Sorry for the delay in posting. These past few months have been pretty hectic leading up to the death of my father 3.5 weeks ago on April 6th. Dad passed peacefully after a long bout with cancer. Ashley, my daughter, was able to sing with my sister and her cousin for about the last half hour of dad’s life here on earth. Dad left this life listening to “I Can Only Imagine” being played on an I-pod and I can imagine him entering singing, “I want to See Jesus, the one who died for me” ( title: “I bowed On My Knees”). Mom and Dad both wanted me to read the post that I put here on my blog about Dad and his continued desire to learn June 22, 2010. It was a pleasure to do so. Dad’s Memorial Service was a celebration of his life well lived.
I saw my Mom as she walked through this valley with such grace and faith. Yes she had tears and it is obvious that she misses Dad, but she taught me how to go through life’s most difficult struggles hand in hand with her Savior. I was amazed with my Mom. After Dad passed away shortly after mid-night, we called hospice to come and to officially pronounce his death. After the nurse came and completed her tasks, we were all waiting for the funeral home to come and take Dad’s body for funeral preparations, and what did we all see? Mom sitting and witnessing to the nurse in the corner!
I am so thankful for the legacy that my parents have left me. Dad was in full time ministry for over 42 years and Mom was his helpmate. They partnered together in life to spread the gospel and minister to others. The number of lives that both Mom and Dad touched over the years for the Lord is innumerable. There are men and their families, now in full time ministry. There are countless people across this nation and even the world that are much stronger Christians in part due to the ministry of these two faithful servants of God.
This is the legacy I and my siblings are being left. I am so thankful that my children have been able to get to know my parents more fully over the past few years since they moved to town in September of 2009. I want my children to be left with a strong faithful legacy as well from both Sherry and I. This leaves me with the question that I ask myself, that I ask of you. What am I doing, what are you doing to leave a godly and faithful legacy? Are we living our lives each day to the fullest for the Lord or is service to our King, our Lord, our Savior an afterthought? Do we compartmentalize our faith? This question leads us into our next study in Ephesians chapter four. What is our vocation?
I trust that you will come back and continue with me in my study of the book of Ephesians.

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The Meaning of Christmas

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style…The decorations, the lights, the giving of presents and brotherly love. This is what Christmas means to so many. As a family we pile the children in the van one evening during the Christmas season and we drive around the area for several hours looking at lights all the while drinking hot chocolate and eating sugar cookies and playing Christmas music. We’ve been doing this for years and enjoy it each year as if it were the first time. Is this what Christmas is all about?

The giving of gifts is an exciting part of this season. It is neat to see the kids getting excited about their Christmas shopping and giving sacrificially to those they love, searching for that special gift for each family member. While time consuming, the making and giving out scones to the neighbors and friends is fun, knowing that you gave of your time and resources to be a blessing to those you know and love. Is this what Christmas is all about?

For many, giving out of our abundance and even sacrificially to worthy causes that touch our hearts is an important part of Christmas. Brotherly love tends to be a theme for many this time of year. Charitable giving is at its peak this time of year. Is this the meaning of Christmas?

Remembering the Christ-child being born in a manger over two thousand years ago is a wonderful event to ponder, not just around Christmas but all through the year. It’s amazing the numerous prophecies in the Old Testament that foretold of Christ’s virgin birth, what tribe he would come from and in which city he would be born have come to pass. Every prophecy in the Old Testament of the Messiah’s birth was fulfilled in Christ’s birth. But is the baby Jesus the complete meaning of Christmas?

Sadly, for many this year, these will be the only events that they celebrate. The lights, the decorations, the gift giving, brotherly love, and even the baby Jesus fall short of the full meaning of Christmas. For the Christian, the birth of Christ is only part of the Christmas event.

We celebrate each other’s birthday each year to remember the beginning of our life. Each year we look back at the previous year and recall the ups and downs of life and look forward to the unknown ahead of us. But for that baby in a manger, two thousand years ago, He knew what His life’s purpose was to be…to die. To die a bloody, painful, cruel death. The God/man who knew no sin, came to die so that each of us might live eternally with him. “For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:17 “Here in is love, not that we love God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation (he became our substitute and assumed our obligations) for our sins.” I John 4:10

Christ, the only Son of God, came to earth to die so that we might have eternal life through him. God sent His perfect gift to mankind, a gift that we could never obtain on our own through works or deeds. But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Isaiah 64:6.

Yes, Christ came to earth as a babe in a manager, but He grew up and became our Savior. The full meaning of Christmas is: 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.” My version, Christ became man, to die, that we might live. Why do so many reject so great a gift?

Tomorrow morning, on Christmas day, we’ll get up and have fun, share gifts and enjoy the day, but I pray that before anything else, we celebrate not only Christ’s birth, but also be thankful for His sacrifice, so that through Him, and only through Him, we might be saved.

Merry Christmas, and praise God for His unspeakable gift of salvation.

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Ephesians 3:14-21

Here we realize that we are strengthened according to His glory, we in and of ourselves can do nothing. It is only by the Spirit who empowers us with Might / Ability can we have a foundation of love in our lives. It becomes apparent that we as mankind cannot have a foundation of love apart from the Spirit. It is only through His strength / empowerment that we can have the ability to love, to agape love. And it is only through His strength can we comprehend the vastness of Christ’s love. The unregulated man that does not have the Spirit cannot know this kind of love so in man’s feeble way they try to imitate such love but fail miserably. The world’s love is a false or an ungodly love and cannot be a perfect love.

All this is part of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. If we recall, the city of Ephesus was a pagen city where the temple of Diana was located, a temple of lust and fleshly passion. Knowing this, I wonder if this was the reason for Paul addressing this in his prayer for them. Regardless the reason, it is important for us as Christians to remember daily that the only way for us to have and express His love is to allow Him to control our lives and allow Him to empower us.

I find that as a frail man it is daily, difficult to give up myself to His control. Our sin nature, my sin nature reals at the thought. Daily I pray for such submission and daily I fail.

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Ephesians Chapter 3

Well it has been a while since I wrote on my blog, and even longer on the book of Ephesians. Picking up in chapter 3 we see the chapter broken into 2 parts. The first part is Paul’s call on his life to the Gentiles and the second is his prayer for the Ephesians.
Paul begins this chapter telling the Christians at Ephesus that he has been called by God to minister to them, and more broadly to the Gentiles. Of course this did not sit well with many of the Jews, as we note that he was actually persecuted for bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. How sad that people would actually be upset for spreading the Gospel.
Paul then explains that he was called to this ministry by God. He did not appoint himself to this role, but it was a calling from God. What does this calling mean, what’s the difference? I think we have all seen examples of people going into a ministry in their own strength just to see then fizzle or fade away. Maybe they had good intentions, or maybe they saw it as a way to lift themselves up in the eyes of others, or, maybe it wasn’t their desire at all but an expectation from their parents. As we see of Paul’s ministry throughout the Scriptures because he was obedient to the will of God, his ministry flourished.
Lord, help me not to place a calling onto the lives of my children, but to teach them to listen to your will for their lives and then that I can truly say, not my will, but thine be done.
Next we see that Paul confirms to the Christians in Ephesus that they are not second class Christians in God’s eyes but are fellow heirs with the Christian Jews. I’m not sure whether the Christians at Ephesus had an inferiority complex or whether they were feeling the heat from the Jews but either way it was a good opportunity for Paul to encourage them and to strengthen their understanding of their equal position in Christ. This encouragement from Paul has reminded me that I do too little encouraging to those around me, particularly to those that seem to be more introverts or seem to have a lack of self worth. This act needs to be more prevalent in my life. Why not examine your life, how are you doing in this area?
Also in this passage, it is interesting yet sad that some of the Jews actually persecuted Paul for his ministry to the Gentiles. Somehow they must have felt “better” then the Gentiles, and why not as they had been told all their lives and for centuries past that they were better as they were the “chosen people”. It is sad how they seem to forget how often they rejected God’s will and plan for them as a people. Yet Paul told his friends in Ephesus not to faint because of his tribulations but that it is there glory and his ministry to them was a gift of grace to him.
Here we learn from Paul that we are to preach and teach the gospel of Christ to whomever God calls us to go to regardless of how who we may disagree. We have to be willing to suffer for Christ’s sake and not follow a path of ministry by it’ ease. I think that we as Christians in America are far too often too quick to say woe is me for the little discomfort we feel when we witness yet Paul, even though he was being persecuted for ministering to the Gentiles, he thought so much of them to not think of his problems but to pray for them at Ephesus.
I wonder how I would have responded if I were called to minister to an “outcast”, a “second rate” people group? And if I were to heed the call, how would I respond to the persecution? Paul took all of this as a great gift, would I? Would you?
While some of us are called to go to another part of the country or another part of the world to share the Good News to others, I believe that each one of us has been called to a special “people group” that are all around us. This might be our immediate or extended family, our neighbors, co-workers, or those we meet on the street or next to us on the plane. How am I, how are you doing reaching these people for Christ? Do we shy away because we may be viewed as a kook or a religious fanatic? Are we willing to take some verbal abuse as we share the Gospel in Christian love? I think of those in other parts of the world that are bold Christians that are willing to proclaim the Good News to others even in the face of physical abuse, torture or even death.
In the past, the Gospel was not directed specifically at the Gentiles but now, through revelation from God, the Gospel was opened publically to all men. Paul counts his ministry as a gift of grace. Praise God that He is no respecter of persons and that we, Gentiles, have free access to the unsearchable riches of the Gospel.

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His ways are not our ways…

This past weekend we took a trip to the Sight and Sound Theater near Lancaster PA. ( to see Joseph, about a 6 hour drive. Because of all my traveling this year I earned Marriott points that I was able to use for our 2 hotel rooms. The catch was that when I went to redeem some of the points for our hotel stay, the closest hotel was about 45 minutes away from the theater. This of course did not make me real happy but we were able to save the cost of the two hotel rooms.

Well we arrive in the area early afternoon and went to the hotel to freshen up. We left our hotel room early enough to meet my niece and her family for dinner prior to the show that evening. On the way, the oil pressure would drop real low when we would slow down and we began hearing some “ticking” coming from the engine. Although I had recently had the oil changed about 2 month prior, I knew immediately that I was getting dangerously low on oil.

We were able to stop at a nearby convenience store and check the oil levels which of course I couldn’t even see it on the ten foot dip stick. Well actually it was only about 3.5 feet but it seemed like 10 feet. While I was filling up the oil, a young man named Mike came along and asked if we needed any assistance. I told him my problem and he said that he works on cars for living and would be glad to help us.

He looked under the van and said the oil filter was loose and that it appeared that the old gasket was not removed so I wasn’t getting a good seal and that is why I lost my oil. We finished filling the oil and followed him to his home. In short time he had the van fixed and us back on the road again.

While we were driving away we were commenting on how the Lord provided just the right person to be at just the right spot at just the right time to help us. For this we were all very grateful. It took one of our boys to remind us that we would not have been at the little store at the right time and the right place if God had not planned for us to stay at the hotel 45 minutes away.

You know, God knows what we need and what the future has in store for us. If God had allowed us to have a hotel closer to the theater we would have missed out on His miraculous working. If He had allowed us to have our way and not His will, we could have been stranded for hours by the wayside and could have paid hundreds of dollars for repairs or even thousands for a new engine.

Thank you Lord for supplying our needs and not always our wants! Far too often I get discouraged or even upset when I don’t get my way. Let me not forget your grace and mercy in our lives and how you care for our every needs. Let me be ever grateful for your provision. You truly are my Jehovah-Jireh!
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Phil 4:19
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy acknowledge him and he shall direct thy path.”. – Prov 3:5-6

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The Duggar family and God’s Will

Yesterday I was on the SHRM bulletin board, an online forum for HR professionals. On the off topic section a discussion was going on about the Duggar family. A homeschool family that has a “reality” show on the TLC channel the chronicles the life of an extremely large family. Recently the Duggars brought home their 19th child from the hospital and the discussion on the bb was about the largeness of the family. Some believe that since this family supports itself and doesn’t take government funding – good for them. Others could care less one way or the other. Others supported the Duggars as they appeared to be rearing their children in a caring and loving home. There was another groups of people that felt how could they have so many children, it was irresponsible of them, there was no way the parents could provide enough attention to all those kids, how could you force the older children to care for the younger children, and on and on it went.

After a short while, several people brought up the issue of the Duggar’s faith and that they thought the Duggars had so many children because they believed it was God’s will. Some said that it was not faith but selfishness, and that it wasn’t God’s will for a woman to give birth to so many children. “They had mistake their lack of restraint with God’s will.” Well it was an interesting conversation to say the least.

One individual brought up the issue that they took this to their spiritual advisor, and elderly priest and he apparently said, “How would they (the Duggars) know God’s will?” And he was “appalled at the Duggars having 19 children and contemplating another.” Another agreed that you can’t know God’s will.

Well the discussion went on and on, to last count, 134 posted. When I got home from work last night I noticed a little book that my daughter Ashley had recently read called, Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur. It was a short read so I read it last night. It is amazing how God places in front of you just the right things you need, when you need them. After reading the short 60 page booklet, I posted the following on the forum bulletin board:

“I support the Duggars 100%. Is having 19 children for our family? No. God has only given us 5 and we are blessed above measure. Close friends have 14 children. With 4 of their children married, at this time all 13 (1 died of cancer at age 17) seem well adjusted and contribute to society. I say all that to say large families can be very successful.

About knowing God’s will.
1. God wants us to know his will.
2. God’s will is not elusive.
3. Knowing God’s will is not as difficult as many would believe.

The problem is most people don’t know God’s will or can’t “see” God’s will because they don’t know God any more than at a very superficial level. I highly suspect the Duggars have a deeper relationship with God than just a head knowledge.

All this can be found by reading the Scriptures. It is there in black and white.”

To which an individual replied late last night (in full):

“The Duggars believe in having as many children as possible. That’s their religious belief. It is what they want to do. Donn, you and I have discussed this in the past. Certainty is not faith.
The idea that God speaks to people directly is an interesting one, but NOT believing that doesn’t indicate one “doesn’t know God.” It is equally possible that being willing to accept the mystery of God requires a stronger faith than decreeing you can discern His will from “the scriptures.”

The scriptures are not — for many people — literal. For the vast majority of theologians, they are not.
I recognize the Duggars can do whatever they want. I just don’t consider it God’s will. They are doing what they want, and I think it is irresponsible. If you think I’m arrogant, you should read what you’ve posted from a perspective other than your own.”

Now it is getting interesting and I see a huge open door that as a Christian I felt I must walk through. The following is my response in full:

“To say that this is not faith is to say one knows the Duggars’ thoughts, their heart and their relationship with God. Neither you nor I (nor your priest) can truly know these things otherwise we would be equal to God.

While I do not believe God uses an audible voice to speak with us, He does speak to His children primarily through His Word. He doesn’t leave His children guessing at His will. The Bible is clear that if someone does not “hear” and do the will of God than their relationship with God should be in question. As a parent it is my job to instruct and teach and even discipline my children. If someone is not “hearing” the instruction, teaching and even being disciplined when needed from the Lord, then they must question whether they are truly a child of God. God chastises His children.

Ephesians is one of a number of books in the Bible to read regarding God’s will. Ephesians 5:17 says, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” In essence, we are being told we are UNWISE not to understand the will of the Lord. So no, it doesn’t take more faith to not know the will of the Lord.

Does God come down and say, “Go thou to that school.” No, but there are ways Christians can know if going to “that school” is God’s will.

I will agree that someone just stating that they know the will of the Lord doesn’t mean that they always do, although there are some very easy things to know about God’s will that are very cut and dry in the Scriptures. There is a progression of our Christian life to get to know the deeper things in God’s will. The more we know God, the more we know His will and the more OUR will will be His will.

Regarding whether the Scriptures are literal or not, knowledge of the Scriptures will help someone determine what is literal and what is not it truly is not rocket science. Unfortunately, many “theologians” don’t want to believe certain things to be true so they try to explain away portions that may be convicting or what they just don’t understand. God reveals Himself to those who seek after Him. For others, they won’t understand because the Bible says their eyes are blinded.

Some may call all of this arrogance, I’m sorry that you feel way. What better way to know God’s will then to use God’s Word.

I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

BTW, I have great little book that is 60 pages long and can be read in less than an hour that takes someone through the Scriptures on knowing God’s will. If interested, send me an email.”

After posting this response, I have had two so far request the book which I will gladly send out to them tomorrow.
I posted all this, not to try boast about myself or to imply how great of a Christian I am as I am the least of all men, but I share this with you today as an example of how depraved and how messed up our world is today. As a society, as a nation, we go about our lives not having a clue about what God’s will is or means. Even as Christians, we “seek and seek” God’s will but we seem lost.

Can I say that I know God’s will all the time? No. But I am reminded through this discussion that to know God’s will, I have to know God. And each day that I fail to build my relationship with Him, I move further from knowing His will.

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My Dad and his desire to learn

As I was reading Proverbs chapter one on the plane last night and when I got to verse five it reminded me of my dad. The verse reads: “ A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:”

My dad has always been a learner. I can remember way back even as a little boy my dad always trying something new. If he didn’t know the answer, he sought out the answer. If he couldn’t find the answer on his own he would find someone who knew the answer or he got a book and read until he found the answer. I remember him tell us when we were young kids about how he used to work with a friend by the name of Ken Gull during the summers of his college days. Dad said that they used to do odd jobs and home repairs for people. He said that even if they didn’t know how to do the work they would accept the job. He said one time they were asked if they could repair a slate roof. Of course they didn’t have a clue but accepted the job anyhow. Once the deal was made they sought out some old-timers who knew about slate roofs and they asked them how it needed to be done. I don’t recall ever hearing if the customer was pleased with the finished job or not but Dad always did it right so I’m sure it got done to the customer’s satisfaction. Over the years dad could do about anything, hang wallpaper, paint inside and out on a house, build churches, and do electrical and plumbing work. He learned how to be successful as a door to door sales man selling encyclopedias and he learned how to start a church with just his family. He learned how work with computer, how to make the world’s largest milkshake, burger and popcorn bags, he learned all the facets of the Jewish Seder and how it all points to Christ. Dad has always been a constant reader and pursuer of information and knowledge. Even over the past number of months as he struggles with stage four cancer, he has been getting books and reading about gardening. He continues to gets books out on CDs from the library and learns more about American history and great men of the past.

This is one of the many things that I have learned from my dad but don’t do very well. Continued learning is something that I continue daily to struggle with in my life. Oh if I would learn to be a better learner, to broaden my knowledge, to learn more about the things of God and His love for me, to have a broader knowledge of His Creation, to have a real hunger rather than a passing interest in learning.

I am thankful for the opportunity we have to homeschool our children and see their growing desire to read and learn. I’m thankful for the tender hearts that my children have for God and how they are faithful to have their own quiet time with God each day. It’s my heart’s desire that my kids would grow even deeper and in their desire to know God and then to have a desire for learning all that God wants then to know for the future He has prepared for them. My desire is that each one of them could talk with a king but also with the beggar. Not to be a stuck up know it all but a person diverse in the wisdom of God.

Thanks Dad for teaching me the importance of always learning. You truly are a man that exemplifies what it means to hear, and will increase in learning.

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Patience, Grace and Hope

Sorry for the delay in posting. Life had been busy and I just have failed to keep this up. I have been working on a project for work that had been taking me out of town up until about the last month. Since then I have been trying to keep up with my regular work as a Human Resources Manager. Additionally, we have had lot of sickness in the immediate family was well as with my parents. Through all this I can say that God’s strength is sufficient.
I was reading in Hebrews today and in 10:36 it says, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” What an awesome verse. We all have struggles and difficulties in our lives. Some more than others, but we have them. I think of my parents and the struggles they are experiencing right now. Dad has stage 4 cancer and the prognosis is not good. When one has patience, they have hope. We as Christians can have the patience Hebrews speaks of because we have hope in Christ. This hope is not a wishful thinking type of hope, but a knowing hope, and expectation of what has been promised to come. And oh what a promise. A promise of an eternity with Christ our Savior. A place where there is no more pain, no more suffering, a place where continued worship of the Almighty God who has granted us both mercy and grace. Only as Christians can we have the patience as we go through today’s difficulties realizing that His grace is truly sufficient and as we look ahead, having the hope or expectation of His promise of what is to come, we can have complete rest in Him.
Each day as I pray privately and with my children, I pray for wisdom for my parents that they would be able to have the wisdom in the decisions that they need to make for treatment. I also pray each day that they would have God’s grace as they walk through this trial. After today’s reading, I will begin to pray also for patience as well in their lives (in ours too).

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Ephesians 2:19-22

As we continue to read in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 19-22, Paul is telling the Christians in Ephesus that as gentile Christians, they were fellowcitizens with the Jewish Christians and they were “family” in the house of God. I am reminded that just as I would reach out and extend help to a family member (by blood) in need, so to should I reach out and help (spiritual) family members in need.
In Matthew 25:31-40 Jesus tells how because some gave strangers food, drink, clothing and a place to lay their head, they did it unto Christ. While it is only a small amount and we should do more, I am glad that our family, in various ways, supports fellow Christians around the world on a monthly basis. It is, in a small way helping family that we have never met and we are doing it as unto Christ. One day, when we get to heaven, we will find out how our small gifts blessed and encouraged others around the world.
In verses 20-22, Paul tells us that the household of God is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and that Christ is the cornerstone. The apostles and prophets were used by God to deliver His doctrines which is critical to our faith, but Christ is the cornerstone, the anchor-point, the reference and standard that all of Christianity is based on. Just as the cornerstone is this reference point, everything we say and do as believers should always be referenced back to Christ to ensure that the church, that all believers in Christ fit and work together in the right manner.
With Christ being the cornerstone, it amazes me that so many people and churches can name the name of Christ yet there foundation is built on a religious figure or a doctrine contrary to Christ and His word. Their foundation is built on sinking sand. In the end their entire building will fall and become rubble. This is why I believe it to be so important that we teach our children God’s Word and that it is the first and final authority for everyday life.

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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.