Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Remaining Focused in an out of focus world!

Randy Kilgore writes:
I met a man who was absolutely convinced that God couldn’t forgive him for the things he’d done. An older man took him under his wing, and a year later, I was delighted that the younger man had not only accepted Jesus as his Savior but was also consuming Scripture ravenously. Three years later, though, when I talked with him, I noticed that his enthusiasm had been replaced by grumbling: “I just don’t understand how God can let evil people prosper while so many of His children (including himself, he might have added) are struggling to make ends meet.” The grumbling ate at the joy of his faith.

Like so many of us, he had forgotten how much he had needed Christ’s grace. The gratitude he had felt when he first received the Lord was now lost. This reminds us of the vineyard workers in Jesus’ parable (Matt. 20:1-16). Their focus shifted to what was happening to and for other people (vv.10-12).

While God owes us nothing, He freely gives us the salvation He promises when we accept Christ. He then adds to His generosity by sending His Spirit to help us in this life as we prepare for the joy of eternity with Him. The seeming unfairness of life demands that we keep our eyes on Him and His Word—not on others.

Lord, I admit that my focus at times gets drawn
to others and what they have. Forgive me and
help me to stop grumbling. You are good to me
and provide what I need. Thank You. Amen.
 
This time of year it becomes exceedingly easy to exchange our focus for other things. Join me in remaining focused on the Jesus and His grace that sustains us through each and every day. 
 
You know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hearing the Word for the Word!

Bill Crowder writes:
Recently I was reading about how easy it is to mishandle the message of the Bible. We may try to make it support what we already believe is true instead of allowing it to speak to us with God’s intended message. Some people use the Bible to defend one side of an issue, while others use the Bible to attack that same issue. Both quote Scripture to support their views, but both can’t be right.

It is important as we use God’s Word that we are committed to saying no more and no less than the Scriptures actually say. If we mishandle the Word, we misrepresent it, which ultimately misrepresents God’s character. This is why Paul challenged Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). A key priority for unashamed, approved workers for Christ is to accurately interpret (“rightly divide”) God’s Word. As we study, we can depend on the Spirit, who inspired it, to give us understanding and wisdom.

Through our words and actions, we have opportunity to represent God’s Word in ways that genuinely reflect God’s heart. That is one of the greatest privileges of the Christian life.

Father, thank You for giving us Your Word to guide
our lives. May we give it the serious care and
handling it so richly deserves, and may we live it
out daily through our actions and attitudes. Amen.
Join me in being committed to truly following Christ and dedicating our hearts, minds and strength to learning and hearing from God's Word!

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. 
 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods. 
- Psalm 95:1-3 -

"Thanksgiving" is an American holiday. Yes, other countries have a day of "Thanksgiving." Some countries celebrate much like the United States, but there are some countries that take thanksgiving and apply it to holidays or festivals such as the Chinese New Year or in many European Countries there are "Victory Day" celebrations that celebrate and give thanks for the victory over Nazism. Many British countries celebrate, "Boxing Day." Boxing day is celebrated the day after Christmas and is much like the American Thanksgiving. Therefore, most, if not all cultures have a nationally recognized holiday to give thanks.

As I read Psalm 95:1-3, it becomes apparent that giving thanks is a Judeo/Christian concept that spread through all religions over time. God wants His people to give thanks. From the very beginning, God and Adam walked to together and Adam gave thanks to Yahweh. Giving thanks was also a lifestyle for every major God fearing character is the Old and New Testament. I have also lived it with examples of Christ-followers all my life.

My lesson for the day is that I need to have thanksgiving as a way of life. I am not talking about the food, the festivities, and the football...I am talking about....giving thanks. The point of Thanksgiving is to remember the things we have to be grateful for. It's our special time to look to God and say, "Thank You"... not just for the obvious, like food, but for the thousands of fortunate moments, the multitude of blessings that we receive each year.

You are on my list of giving thanks this year. I entered the world of blogging this year and I am thankful there are people like you that are willing to read and study with me on this journey towards heaven. Thank you and I will keep writing as long as you keep reading.

You know I love ya - Don

Monday, November 19, 2012

What!!! You want me to do what with who?

"Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night." - Psalm 1:1-2

The early Christians do not condemn the other religions, yet they do not allow the other religions to distract them from their purpose and mission to connect people to Jesus. Paul is willing to accept the others, in order to connect with the person. These attitudes of acceptance grant open opportunities and Luke repeatedly records them encounters as a positive means for bringing people to Jesus. Yet, I can't help but wonder if the American Church has taken it to far. Why can't the message of Jesus Christ still be the central theme?

To many times, we settle for the easy by diluting our beliefs in order to maintain a friend, a network, or a business relationship. We even see these boundaries crossed in our current political structure. For example, during a major funeral of a head of state, we see Christian ministers, Muslim Priests, Catholic Priest, and Jewish Leaders sitting on stage or presiding over widely publicized funeral or memorial services. I often ask, "Would the early Christians support such a view of cooperation?" I think the most notable of the last USA Presidential Campaign is Billy Graham supporting Mitt Romney as a fellow believer. As a Mormon, Mitt Romney does not worship the same God as we do, yet Billy Graham is viewed as such a public figure for the Christian / Protestant faith. Again, "Would the early Church supported such a view?"

For me it comes to Paul speaking to the crowd while seeking common ground and discovering a statue of worship to the unknown God. Obviously, Jesus was an unknown God and Paul grabbed the opportunity to make a connection. The early Christians began as a sect of the Jewish faith and were working to draw in others to this new found trust in Jesus. It is through faith and total enveloping of the life of Jesus that salvation and freedom from sin was achieved. Thus, there seems to be a tolerance of other faiths as a means to preach the message of Jesus to the other faiths. In other words, they would maintain the relationship only to preach and live the relationship of Jesus with the other person. They do not declare that other religions are a means of salvation. In fact, Paul and his companions so often condemn such faith in false gods. Yet, they do not deny the relationship, but seem to embrace them so as to preach to the relationship.

The early believers demonstrate a willingness to share the stage at major funerals so as to present the Gospel Message to the crowd at the funeral, including those of other faiths. To refrain from sharing the message only goes to deny Jesus' relationship with in your own life. Paul states that we are all things to all people so as to present the message of righteousness in Jesus Christ. Thus, it is our goal to proselytize in all things.

I do not know if Mitt Romney is a Christ-Follower...he certainly presented himself as one on the campaign trail and His relationship with God is between he and God. This does not change the fact that we are to be ones that present the living Jesus in all that we do by the actions we demonstrate in our lives.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Who do you trust???


A pastor had been on a long flight between church conferences. The first warning of the approaching problems came when the sign on the airplane flashed on: Fasten Your Seat Belts.
 
Then, after a while, a calm voice said, "We shall not be serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence. Please be sure your seat belt is fastened."
 
As the pastor looked around the aircraft, it became obvious that many of the passengers were becoming apprehensive. Later, the voice on the intercom said, "We are so sorry that we are unable to serve the meal at this time. The turbulence is still ahead of us."

And then the storm broke . . .The ominous cracks of thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightning lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean. One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if were about to crash.
 


The pastor confessed that he shared the discomfort and fear of those around him. He said, "As I looked around the plane, I could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying. The future seemed ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm.
 
"Then, I suddenly saw a little girl. Apparently the storm meant nothing to her. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat; she was reading a book and everything within her small world was calm and orderly.
 
"Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world. 

When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid." The minister could hardly believe his eyes.
 

It was not surprising that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, our pastor lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time. Having commented about the storm and the behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid.
 
The child replied, "Cause my Daddy's the pilot, and he's taking me home."

There are many kinds of storms that buffet us. Physical, mental, financial, domestic, and many other storms can easily and quickly darken our skies and throw our plane into uncontrollable movement. We have all known such times, and let us be honest and confess, it is much easier to be at rest when our feet are on the ground than when we are being tossed about a darkened sky.
 
Let us remember: Our Father is the Pilot... He is in control and taking us home. 

I choose to trust in the Lord, My God. You know I love ya - Don

Monday, November 12, 2012

Are you devoted or demoted?

What am I truly devoted to...?"

Devote: To give over or direct (as time, money, or effort) to a person or cause, or activity (transitive verb).
I find it interested to learn that a transitive verb has two characteristics. First, it is an action verb, expressing a doable activity like kick, want, paint, write, eat, clean, etc. Second, it must have a direct object, something or someone who receives the action of the verb. Therefore, to devote oneself needs a person or object to receive the gift.

Devoted: Characterized by loyalty and devotion (adjective).
I find this interesting because it describes me as the one being devoted.

Devotion: The fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal devotion to the cause (noun).
I find this interesting because it is the gift that is handed to the other person or object.

Thus...it takes two to have "Devote, Devoted, Devotion." That may seem obvious to many of you...but lets look what we are truly devoted to...our stuff, our food, our home, and the list goes on. It seems to me that we devote ourselves to "ourselves." What about being a Christ-Follower...what should I be devoting myself too?
Psalm 86:2, "Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you."

Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

Paul wrote in Romans 12:10, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." And in Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
I need to work on and watch what I devote myself to. That which I am devoted to defines the character I posses. In other words, my character is defined in my devotion. My devotion reveals that true nature of my heart and loyalty to those around me.

"Dear God, help me be more devoted to You, my wife, my children, my church, my family, my friends, and even those that do not know you. Bring your characteristics of devotion in my life and may I be as passionate about it as you were, even if it means being crucified for your sake. You know I love you and humbly ask this in Jesus Name. Amen."

Your fellow devotee - Don

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Submission to President Barak H. Obama...Pt. 2

I wrote the following back in January of 2009.... apparently it will apply for the next four years as well. Congratulations, Mr. President.  Please try to work together and make a true difference for the country we all love....

 Submission to President Barak H. Obama

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." - Romans 13:1-7


My disclaimer....I have no problem with people of any color. Race and I do not have an issue. I don't have a problem with gender. Too many woman have had profound influence on my life to have an issue with gender and leadership.

I am a conservative. I am conservative in my religion and in my politics. If I believed Government had the ability to change people's lives for all eternity, I would have been a politician. I do not believe that. In fact, I know that only Jesus has the ability to change a persons life completely and gives a new meaning to life that can only come from him. Thus, my issue with Mr. Obama is that I do not think bigger government is our answer. I also do not think it is fair to tax people that have more....sharing the wealth should not be forced, but a choice. I also have some moral issues that I disagree with the Democratic party.

In addition, I believe the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War and the 9/11/2001 are all religious wars against the United States and its citizens. We have treated them like political wars, but the reality is there are people in those countries (not all, but some) that HATE me and my family and will do anything to destroy us to honor their god. So, I am proud of the hard choices that President Bush has had to make over the last eight years to protect my family and I. Yes, there have been mistakes, but we are safe.

I tell you this so that you can see my philosophical difference with the President Barak H. Obama and Joe Biden. I also quote the above scripture and teaching of the Apostle Paul to publicly write that I believe in the United States of America, the office of President and will follow God's directive to support the rulers over me. I can do this because all authority is subject to God's authority. God also carries my journey in His heart. Therefore, I do not have to worry or fret, but express my thoughts, opinions, and service upward to heaven and God's throne.

Enjoy the pomp and circumstance...it only happens once every four years....

You know I love ya - Don

Monday, November 5, 2012

Growing our Nest Article



Indy's Child November 2012

You know the story: A couple thinks they are done having children, then surprise! It's a boy. In the case of Karen and Donald Crane, make that three boys.

Meet the Cranes

In 2010 the Cranes were a content family of four living in Greenfield. Donald a minister at Park Chapel Christian Church. Karen a stay at home mom. Their oldest child, Matthew, was born with Down syndrome. Alice was born a typically developing girl. Life was moving along at a comfortable pace.

Then they hear about a baby in Chicago in need of a home. Hmmm. Like their oldest, the child was born with Down syndrome. While the couple had talked loosely about adoption, it was not something they were actively pursuing. No matter. They went for it. In the back of their minds they knew if they were to adopt, they wanted a baby boy with Down syndrome. "We felt that is what God was calling us to do," said Donald.






As anyone who has gone through an adoption will tell you, there's a lot of preparation and paperwork that goes into the process. The Cranes didn't have the necessary documents done in time, so they lost the child to another family. Three months later they had fallen in love with another baby boy, and once again the child went to another family. Then it happened a third time. Their hearts were broken but not their spirits.

"We prayed about it. We felt like God put this on our hearts. It was like having an empty seat at the dinner table," Karen said.

A week after the third boy's case fell through the Cranes got a call from New York. An infant named Nicholas needed a home. The Cranes were thrilled. At five days old, he joined their family.

Like others with Down syndrome, Nicholas had a weak heart that required surgery. He underwent surgery in January 2011. The 2 1/2 hour operation turned into seven hours. Two hours later he died in the Cranes' arms. "That was Nicholas. He's a treasure waiting for us in heaven," said Donald.

They had been through so much to finally meet and adopt Nicholas and then to have him taken away so soon was heart wrenching. The couple wondered if they should continue their search for a child to adopt.

"Lord, if you want us to do this make it very clear," Karen remembers thinking. Sometimes you get what you ask for.

A Stork at the Door

Later that year a stork of sorts arrived. The Villages adoption services called with news of a Ukrainian toddler who had been with his adoptive family for two weeks and it was not working out. Would the Cranes would like to meet him?

"We met him knowing we'd fall in love but thought the parents just needed some help. So we met with the parents first. We were trying to give them help. We thought we could give them the encouragement to keep him home," said Karen.

They tried talking to the adoptive parents about different resources and ways to help, but it became apparent they weren't willing to look at ways to make it work. Soon thereafter, The Villages called and could bring the child to their front door within the week.

On Oct. 28, 2011, the child, Kendyll, arrived at his new and permanent home with the Cranes.

Of course when it rains, it pours. A month prior to adopting Kendyll, the Cranes received a phone call from another adoption agency about a boy born on Nicholas' first birthday. Perhaps it was a sign. Eight days after Kendyll's adoption, Nathan joined the family.


Te read more click - Indy Child Special Needs

You know we love ya, Don and Karen