Easter - 2018

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our hearts go to Newtown, CT...our rescue is needed

I received this email from a friend after Friday's terrible shooting in Newtown, CT.
A thought to ponder.
My wife said to me last night as we were watching the news about the horrific shootings of innocent children in Newtown, Connecticut that while this is certainly horrible apparently we think nothing of the large number of abortions that occur every day in this country.  So what is the difference?
I have to agree with her.  In the name of "choice", "its my body" and "inconvenience" we are permitting the same thing to innocents that cannot  be led to safety.  And the really sad part is, it is "legal" within our nations law.
How grieved our Heavenly Father must be. 

My response was: Last night I was at the Community Christmas Celebration with all the different musical groups and one on the ladies asked me, "How could so much evil exist? How could someone be so intentional in going and slaughtering children?" I comforted her...while I was having the same thought.

Yesterday's events cause us to cry and want to hug our children and grandchildren. I certainly did...these children were loved and wanted while their lives were snuffed out by a crazy man. It is also a real part of our world that children are terminated everyday in this country because they are not wanted. Children with special needs are top on the list. Evil exists because we live in a fallen world that needs to be rescued.

It is terribly hard for these families and they will never truly recover...only scar over and learn to cope. Their Christmas' will never be the same from this point on. The truth is that we need a Savior and God chose to send himself in the form of a baby to rescue us...the message is even more appropriate this year.....what else can be said other than, "Jesus the Christ Child, God with us to rescue us from our sin."

We do not need armed teachers or armed guards at schools....what we need is the restoration of hope that comes from a nation that trust God, prays, and relies on Him for security and hope. We gave that away in our taking him out of schools, society, and culture.

You know I love ya, cry with you over Newtown, CT, and seeking the baby in the manger for our future. Don

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Major Weapon against fear....

 Good teaching will take you beyond your fear. Good teaching looks at your situation and says, “I never realized how small this place is.” It examines the limitations fear brings to any and every situation. Good teaching and a dedication to God's word changes your fear. 

When God transforms your mind, you look at your comfortable place, you look at your laziness, you look at that which used to please you and you realize how ugly, binding, and hindering your fear is...it is the insecurities, the desperation, the fear that is melted away when a person is willing to study God's word and plant the seeds of the word in the heart.

Consider these Scriptures on Fear:
Isaiah 41:13
For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Proverbs 1:33
"But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.

Psalm 27:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalms 46:1
GOD is our refuge and strength, and ever present help in trouble.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Romans 8:15
For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Philippians 1:12-14
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

The Word of God reveals to us that the circumstance is not beyond God's control and the circumstance is not about me. The circumstance is about how is God going to be glorified in it.

You know I love ya and together we will use this major weapon against fear,  Don

Monday, December 10, 2012

Facing your fears....even Camel Back Crickets!!!

Laird Hamilton wrote, “Do not be afraid of death. Be afraid of the half-lived life.” This is so true for the Christian life. Yet, we seem to live in non action because of fear. Have you ever been in a situation that never seems to change? You pray about it and there is only silence...nothing. Phobia's and doubts kill life.

I have a major phobia of Camel Back Crickets or Japanese Crickets. I had just moved from California, I was single, and young. I was lying on the coach one late evening with only the TV on the this huge bug crawled out over the carpet...

Yes, it was a camel back cricket. Now I usually don't get too excited about bugs or snakes or rodents. California is a fairly dry climate and these crickets cannot survive in that climate. I stood up and turned on a light and you guessed it...the thing jumped at me and I jumped back and it was gone...the rest of the night I never found the cricket...I was mortified. The night stood still and very silent!

I did some investigating the next day and one of our church elders said, “Oh yeah, we have those everywhere and they are perfectly harmless.” I did not care...it and all its friends had to go and I treated the perimeter of the apartment that day!

Well a few years later after Karen and I were married, we took a position at the Gethsemane Church of Christ. It is a beautiful big building with the Sanctuary on top of an English Basement. 10 Large Sunday School Classrooms and the restrooms were located in the Basement. Well...the basement of the church was invested with Camel Back Crickets. I took action and It was war...I was not going to let the crickets get the best of me. So, I became very good at tossing hymnals...I would toss a hymnal (these are big books) and often it would not kill one of these creatures. I have seen hymnals bounce with a cricket underneath it. To this day, there are hymnals at the Gethsemane Church of Christ with dead bug stains on the back of the cover from my tossing hymnals at Camel Back Crickets.

But, you know what? They don't bother me nearly as much as they used to. With good treatment of pesticides and my facing the crickets in the basement wars, I got to know my fear and learned to see it for what it was, just a fear. Don't get me wrong, I still cringe at the sight of one of those pests, but it is not as paralyzing as it once was.

You see, when we act on our fear, we demonstrate the quality of acting against fear, God is able to work and building within us the strength and courage to address the fear. Zachariah and Elizabeth were faithful to their calling and addressed their fear and disappointment by remaining faithful to God's righteousness. 

Facing ours fears...grants us strength. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Qualities of fighting fear parts 1

Christmas is a time Christians celebrate the divine miracle of the incarnation. This is God’s way of stepping into life on this planet to fulfill his plan to restore our world. We live in a world that is broken and messed-up and because we live in a broken world there are so many things that we become afraid of. There are so many things that speak to us and WE CHOOSE TO LISTEN! When we are up against something we fear, we need to be rescued and stop listening to those things. Christmas tells the story of how God came to our world and how he alone has rescued us from our greatest fears. He has done this through revealing to us that our fears come from within us!

Whatever your fear, we have a comfort in knowing that we have been rescued this Christmas. Throughout all history from Adam to Abraham to Queen Esther to Zechariah to Peter to Paul to the early believers down through the ages of the church to you today...God has revealed himself to us so that we might not be afraid....and to know that He is with us. Question is...Do we trust Him?

In the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth we learn of faithful believers of God that put their trust in Him.

God chooses to rescue them and us by granting us the opportunity to trust in God's Son, Jesus Christ....this baby in a manger that lived and died for us.... A believer in God is rescued by the same qualities that Zechariah and Elizabeth possessed....Our fears are subdued by the qualities of prayer to God, acting against fear, trusting in God's Word, and living faith in God's ability

Will you join me and reject fear by allowing God to subdue our fear and rescue us this Christmas?

You know I love ya,

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

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.

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