Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Saint's Day - One of my favorite holidays!

The Church has always honored those early witnesses to the Christian faith who have died in the Lord. (The Greek word for "witness" is martyr.) During the first three hundred years Christians were severely persecuted, often suffering torture and bloody deaths -- because they were faithful . They refused to deny Christ, even when this denial might have saved their own lives, or the lives of their children and families.

The early history of the Church is filled with stories of the heroic faith of these of witnesses to Christ's truth. The stories of these saints -- these baptized Christians of all ages and all states in life, whose fidelity and courage led to their sanctity or holiness -- have provided models for every other Christian throughout history.

Many of those especially holy people whose names and stories were known, the Church later canonized (that is, the Church formally recognized that the life of that person was without any doubt holy, or sanctified -- a "saint" who is an example for us.) The Church's calendar contains many saint's days, which Catholics observe at Mass -- some with special festivities.

But there were thousands and thousands of early Christian martyrs, the majority of whose names are known only to God -- and throughout the history of the Church there have been countless others who really are saints, who are with God in heaven, even if their names are not on the list of canonized saints.

In order to honor the memory -- and our own debt -- to these unnamed saints, and to recall their example, the Church dedicated a special feast day -- a sort of "memorial day" -- so that all living Christians would celebrate at a special remembrance for the lives and witness of those "who have died and gone before us into the presence of the Lord"...

To read more click All Saint's Day.

May we never forget and have a great All Saint's Day! - Don

Monday, October 29, 2012

Established in.......



"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude." Colossians 2:6-7


Have you ever witnessed the sign over a business or restaurant that states, "Established in ___." You fill in the date. What is the purpose of those signs? The date for the establishment of an organization, business, or even a family is a time for celebration and a means of honoring the beginning of something special.

As in Colossians 2, there is a need to be established in our faith. Our faith becomes the sign for the rest of the world to see. We celebrate in that which we believe while honoring the One in which we have faith. Now, what does it mean for God to establish us in our faith? In this verse that phrase means that we are not simply established, we are confirmed in our faith; our faith is a sure thing. It’s not just a sure thing for today, but it will remain true into eternity (1 Cor. 1:8).

Great! Now we can just close the Bible on that one and live free knowing we are established in our faith, right? Not really! If I know that I’m established in my faith . . . why do I still struggle with doubt and fear? Why is it I do not love others as He has loved me?

Seeing a sign on the side of a building that says “Established 1992,” I certainly don’t doubt their word for it. I don’t look up the record of the building to make sure it’s true. If I’ve done business there and know firsthand what they’ve been doing since 1992, I would be silly to doubt that they were established. Isn’t this what God is saying about our faith too? I can see God has built faith into my life . . . I can see the business He’s been doing in and through me. He is established in me. My actions and responses become that sign for the rest of the world to see.

Learning to demonstrate my "establishing" is not always as easy as hanging out a sign. We work at the example in practicing our dedication and commitment to God and each other. We have a short life time to be a witness and to give testimony to the work in our lives. Personally, I am striving to make every effort to increase the ease in seeing my "established in" sign.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Set free to serve

 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law." - Matthew 7:24-29

Jesus' words are refreshing...It takes work to build your house on the rock. It takes commitment to God, to each other and to life. Over the last few weeks, I have strategically been blogging about orthopraxy...this is the belief that right action is as important as religious faith. In other words, it is to live a full life being putting into action things that are right.

A
Christ-follower is set free by exercising prayer & fasting, exercising meditation, exercising worship, exercising right living, and exercising faith.The truth does not set you free for fleshly desires, but in contrast the truth sets you from fleshly desires and the truth makes you a servant.

     What is holding you in bondage today?

           What sin in your life is keeping you a prisoner?

                    How can you renew your commitment to Jesus and His purposes in your life?

The parole board has come to you. It is time for renewal in your life...let the truth set you free through prayer, fasting, meditation, worship, and faith...be set free...become a servant.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, October 22, 2012

God's Love... a Member of the Redeemed!

 
God's Love...God's love is His strong affection He has for us as His creation. God's love is like the father welcoming back the lost son while at the same time putting his arm around the older brother and demonstrating graciousness and sincere love for His older son. It is God's unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern that He grants us.

We were able to go home 42 days after Matthew birth. We went home with an antibiotic pump and an Nasal Feeding tube. It was October 31st of 2003 and in that year it was a Friday. On Monday, we received the hospital bill for over $473,000. We had no idea how we were going to pay that bill. On Tuesday we received a letter from our insurance company informing us that we had an clause in our insurance that if we were transferred from a participating provider to an non participating provider, the company would cover everything as if it were the original hospital.

Instantly, I recollected my original prayer 45 days earlier... “God, just let us take him home” and God said, “no.” If we had left the hospital...the insurance would not have paid anything. The right answer was, “no.” God's love was willing to say, “no” so that God's love could draw us in to His story of the redeemed.

The insurance paid everything but our co-pays. We had a ten dollar copay for every doctor we saw and that bill was over $3000 in co-pays. The insurance paid the bills while church members and friends raised the funds to make up the co-pays. Every medical bill had been paid and cleared by the end of the month of November. We never asked for financial help...God just does what he does best and demonstrated the truth “everything belongs to the ones that are redeemed.”

Matthew is now nine years old and since his birth, God has continued to draw us into his story with four more children. Another biological child in our six year old girl that does not have down syndrome, but is very special in every typical way. We adopted Nicholas Mark, who had down syndrome and who died in our arms at two months old from complications from heart surgery. Nicholas is our treasure waiting for us in heaven. We have adopted Kendyll Andrey who has down syndrome and he is three years old. We have also adopted Nathan Israel who is a year old and he also has down syndrome.

I started these blog post last Monday with the following question in mind, “How can a person become a character in the story of the redeemed?” The answer is, “By spending time with Jesus and he will give you a story...not because of you, but because of who He is! And when you have been with Jesus and you have experienced God's intimacy, God's Concern, and God's Love, you can't help but tell your story as a member of the redeemed.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

God's Concern


The Merriam-Webster dictionary define concern as, “have an emotional feeling so as to relate to.”

The morning of September 17, 2003. Hurricane Isabel was headed for Richmond,VA. Karen was nine months pregnant and was due any day. She had experienced a great pregnancy. All the test came back and the baby looked fine. The hurricane was coming so the doctor decided it would be good to induce labor so that we would be safe in the hospital as the hurricane hit the city. The medicine was started at 7:00 AM and at 9:00 AM Karen had her first pain. Everything changed from that moment on. We started to loose the babies heart beat. At 2:00 PM we hit critical mass and an emergency C-section would have to be performed. At 2:43 PM, we were in the operating room and the doctor announced, “She has beautiful blond hair, but it's a boy!”Our oldest son, Matthew Hinz had entered our lives.

Less than an hour later we were told, “He has Down syndrome and a heart defect and we are not sure what else to say at this point.” These words were not even in the discussion just 12 hours earlier. Hurricane Isabel arrived and there was bad news on all fronts.

Around 11:00 PM, I was called to the nursery to meet with the cardiologist. The neonatologist, the cardiologist, and nurse Marie were standing over Matthew as I stood on the opposite side. Matthew had an A.S.D. and a V.S.D. - holes in his heart. They proceeded to tell me how bad he was and how things were very grim. At some point, I recall saying, “OK. I am the biggest guy here and no one leaves until I hear something positive about my son.” The Neonatologist looked right at me and said, “I can't do that for you.” I respond with, “You're fired” and looked over to the cardiologist and said “you're next.” She looked at me and said, “I see this everyday. You have a journey ahead, but we will get him through.” I said, “OK.” 

As we we began to leave … Nurse Marie leaned over and said, “I am going to give him his first bath around 3 AM, why don't you come back and we can do it together.” Nurse Marie was listening...All I wanted to do was be a dad.God's was demonstrating his concern.

Just after midnight...only 18 hours earlier everything was so different. The Hurricane passed and power was out and there was a great deal of scary moments of watching flying trees and lightning glowing in sky. I remember sobbing and praying, “God, where did you go?”

On my way out of the nursery from giving Matthew His first bath at 4 AM, I went to the chapel and got on my knees and prayed “Lord, just let us take him home, even for a little while.” I did not hear an audible voice but in my spirit it became clear... "no, you cannot take him home." Needless to say, I was not happy with God's response. I went everyday for four days to the hospital chapel and I prayed and each time God made clear His response, “no.”

God was quiet. He was making us a part of His story and reminding me, “everything He has is mine.” God was teaching me His concern. He was making me a member of the redeemed.

At ten days old, Matthew went into congestive heart failure. He would need heart surgery soon. We were transferred to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. It was 70 miles away from our home and church. When we arrived the billing department called me in told me that they were not a participant in our health insurance. One of the reasons we had chosen the original hospital was that it was a high quality hospital that was a participant in our insurance. Now, we were at the best university hospitals in the United States and they were not a participant in our insurance. I asked the woman, does this mean you will not do the surgery? She informed me that they would do the surgery and that it would be very expensive and that we would have to pay it.

The elders came and prayed with us. They also told me to stay with my family. They told me there would be a job for me when I returned, but I needed to stay with my family and they would take care of things at home. Including a regular pay check. God was showing us his concern.

Matthew had his heart surgery and endured a staph infection. Matthew's little month old body would suffer bouts of lung issues and collapse. This little month old would come close to death several times. Yet, God's people would shower us with cards, emails, and regular prayers. A fellow Minister at the Cherry Avenue Christian Church would visit us everyday we were at the hospital. That sister church had a pitch-in dinner and they brought us meals from their gathering. We were receiving mail at the hospital and the nurse would walk in with a pile of cards, notes, and gifts and proclaim...”Mail Call.” There were believers in 38 states and 6 countries praying for us. We were being humbled as only God can do....He was teaching us His concern.  

God's concern is part of the story of the redeemed.

Does God's concern materialize in your daily living?
  
 The story of the redeemed always gives light to God's concern.

You know I love ya because of God's concern, Don

Monday, October 15, 2012

God's Intimacy


Intimate is defined as, “marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity...marked by a warm friendship developing through long association”

It was in July of 2003 and ... Having a “testimony” became a buzz phrase at Gethsemane Church of Christ where we were serving as Music and Worship Minister. I recall a young man that had given his testimony with drugs, alcohol, and sex gone wild. Yet, he had found Jesus, quit his police job and now was going to do great things for the Kingdom by going to Bible College. Everyone was impressed and celebrated his new found faith. Our Senior Minister ask me to coach him and help him prepare a sermon to preach on a Sunday Morning. What? It was my job to preach for the senior minister when he was on vacation. Needless to say, my ego was a little bruised.

The young Christian chose the text of the Prodigal Son. He had a good, solid text and sermon. Yet, I was uneasy and feeling “moody” about it. God was doing something in me, that I was not even aware needed to be dealt with.

As the young Christian developed his sermon, I began to have feelings of being scorned. I had thoughts such as, I have never done the “bad” things he has done and I have never left God or the church. I do not have a testimony that people would even care to listen to.  A spiritual reality check was needed.

I found time and took a day in solitude and prayer to seek God's guidance. I discovered the text known as the prodigal son is truly about the Father. I did not have a wow-factor testimony. I am the older brother working and laboring for the father and striving to please my Father-God so that His Kingdom would grow and expand as He saw fit. I was also feeling left out because the crowds I served and loved was cheering a young man that had squandered all the years of labor in his early life.

God used this experience to love on me and demonstrate to me a new awareness of God's intimacy that truly amazed me then and still amazes me today. In Luke 15:31, God reveals His intimacy for those who do not wander away from the fold. The father tells his older son, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” I heard the love in God's voice as I read the text over and over. Everything God has is mine for the asking. It is not a “maybe if” question, but a statement of intimacy.

The Father says, “You have always been with me and I love you my son, everything you can see is yours.” As the tensions melts between father and son, God looks into the eyes of His creation and says “how can we not celebrate, your brother has come home?” I was changed and I was being prepared for one of the hardest events I would ever be asked to face.

1st John 3:16 states: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Having an intimacy with God is not about having a testimony, but having a relationship. Intimacy with God is about loving the father and allowing the Father to return that love.

Do you know God's intimacy?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Set Free By Excercising Faith!!!

  
Faith is Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Faith is facing the facts without being discouraged by them. It's NOT denying a diagnosis but defying a verdict. Faith is not hoping God will, but KNOW He will.


Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”

Living a life that is committed and dedicated to spiritual formation is NOT EASY....in fact, God's eye twinkles in the struggle because in the struggle we develop a reliance on God. In the struggle, our faith in God grows and our courage is realized by the ones around us. When the world grasps the benefits of what God is working in the believer, the world is amazed. The benefit is that God loves the journey and He never leaves us nor forsakes us, but walks with us on the path of righteousness and his name receives all the glory. It is God's presence in the Holy Spirit that brings a comfort and ease to being a Christian.

It is in our prayer, fasting, meditation, worship, righteousness, and our faith that we are bound as servants. It is also the means by which God transforms us into beautiful things.

Living in faith...you know I love ya, Don

Monday, October 8, 2012

Learning from our personal history lesson!

Acts 7:51-53
“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

Stephen's speech is a history lesson as a persuasive presentation against the sinful nature of a fallen man toward a restored relationship with his creator. We can review it and see key points to the presupposition above.

1. Stephen starts at the beginning of God's revelation to mankind that He will come and establish a restored relationship. That restored relationship will come through the seed of Abraham. (7:5)

2. Stephen moves to the consequences of a sinful heart in the patriarch's jealousy. He reviews and establishes Joseph's commitment to God and how God use Joseph's history and abilities to protect Abraham's restoring seed. (7:10)

3. Stephen points to how the people flourished in Egypt and then became slaves from which Moses was called out as a baby for tremendous living and God used Moses to save the people. (7:20)

4. Stephen reminds the listeners that even though the people were crying for a rescue, as slaves the people listened to their sinful nature and rebelled against God and Moses. (7:25)

5. Stephen describes how Moses remained in the dessert for 40 years and then heard a call from a burning bush. God reveals He has heard the cry of the people and it is time to bring Abraham's seed to a new place in the world. (7:30-34)

6. Stephen establishes that the same Moses who had been rejected, returned and led the people through the Red Sea and into the dessert land. The same Moses established that a prophet would come to save the people from their sinful nature. (7:38)

7. Stephen reminds the listeners in the history lesson that once again the people rely on the sinful nature and rebel. Steven tells the listeners that when the people do not lean on God, God turns away from them. (7:42)

8. Stephen talks about the tabernacle and how the Kingdom flourished when it listened to God and worshiped, but when the people turned their ears away from God, they struggled and their lack of listening to God was the Kingdom's eventual demise. (7:48)

9. Stephen proclaims that God doesn't live in a box made by men, but that the world is only a footstool to God. Steven quotes Old Testament Isaiah as his proof of God's dwelling place. (7:49-50)

10. Stephen concludes his history lesson and persuasive speech by telling, revealing, and declaring that the people of Israel have not changed and are as stubborn as they ever were in listening to the God that has saved them. He reveals and convicts the people of rejecting their history as seed from Abraham, rejecting the One that Moses said would come to save them, and rejecting God by forcing Him into religion instead of relationship. (7:51-53)

I doubt this is the first time this had been said in the first few years of the early Christians. Thus, I also think the Apostles approved of Stephen. They thought enough of him to make him one of those to bring unity to the bady of believers within the group by selecting him to serve the widows. It is more like this is the first recording of it and it is possible that the layout and outline might be the first to be presented, but it seems more plausible that Stephen gave a great evangelistic speech that resonates through out history and Luke is trying to explain why the Jews listening became so irate so quickly. Steven took everything they held dear and pointed to their abuse of it. No one likes to look in the mirror and see that what they have done is reject the very essence of that which we hold dear.

That is why everyone should take a serious look at their history and examine what it says about how badly we rely on our sinful nature verses God's restorative love and power!

Looking, examining, and learning so as to please the god I serve and to work out my salvation in fear and trembling. Won't you join me? You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Now that is right!!!


1 Peter 3:12, 
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer,”

Matthew 5:6, 
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
 
Righteousness is being a person with moral character and justifiable. In other words righteousness is “right-living.” A friend of mine once told this story of her teenage son coming home and asking if she still loved his dad after 24 years of marriage?

She answered, “Most of the time.”

The teenager was startled and asked, “if you only love dad most of the time, why are you still married,.” She looked at him and said, “I am married to your dad because I said I would be.”

This is right-living...to live a life that is justified by Jesus and then to make the right choices that honor that justification. Yes, the truth sets us free, but it does not grant us the freedom to be anything but righteous.

Are you living a righteous life?When you are hungering for more from your walk with God then it is time to examine if you are living right before God and your fellow man?

Won't you join me in doing the right thing...You know I love ya, Don

Monday, October 1, 2012

Valuable....is what I worship!

 Psalm 95:6, “Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
Worship is more than singing...it is to give value to that which has worth. Worship is the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for God. In order to be set free from Sin you must make the effort to be a servant of worship. Worship is so much more than singing...it is the essence of living a life that values God with everything.

To you hear the value in Psalm 95...”Let us kneel before …. the Lord or Maker. The value is not in kneeling or in coming together, but the value is the worth that is bestowed on God as LORD and as MAKER.

Does God have any value in your life?Do you demonstrate how worthy He is in your life?

In this year of elections...it is time for Christ-Followers to stop playing politics and worshiping the Creator. In other words, it is time to stop looking and leaning to the left or to the right, but leaning and looking up for direction and guidance....this is valuing God.

Won't you join me in Worshiping Jehovah God in every part of life? You know I love ya, Don