The Best 25!

RobI’m writing this prior to leaving on and my annual anniversary trip to the beach with Denise.  For several years, we have been blessed to head south to a beach that we love to spend time on.  It’s supposed to be Florida’s best kept secret, but I’m afraid the secret has gotten out.  The beach for us is a place of calm renewal, rest, and relaxation.  If you’re a beach person you understand that, and if you’re not, then you may have another place where you like to go to experience the same rest.  Our beach time is also a time to celebrate our anniversary - when we consider God’s blessings to us in sand, salt water and salt air.

This year, though, it’s even more special because it's our 25th anniversary.  It’s been the best 28 years of my life!  Why 28?  Because Denise and I dated for 3 years prior to getting married May 14th, 1993.  Family is God’s best gift to us though, even better than the beach.  He began with a husband and wife and said, “Here’s what I have given you.  Take good care of it,” (paraphrased with my emphasis).  He was not just talking about the earth and its care, He was also talking about the relationship between husband and wife, and then children.  I’ve heard that to be the best mother or father you can be requires that you be the best wife or husband for your spouse.  Family is at the core of what shapes our society.  As the family goes, so goes the culture.

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Keep Learning

Jim Warner, the author of Cold Case Christianity, and a cold case detective said, “The more I thought I knew, the less teachable I became.  My educational self-confidence led to a form of self-reliance in many aspects of my life, including the foundational world view I constructed along the way.”  He was an argumentative atheist determined to pick apart anyone who would claim Christianity as the Way to Christ and the way to live as a world view.  He has now realized the truth after investigating the facts, as he would do in any case he is trying to solve.  He is now one of the top apologetics speakers because of his methods and transformational story.  He argues that when students enter college, most have not done the hard work of knowing and growing in their faith enough to defend it when they come against the opposition often found in college.  Jim came to this conclusion after his conversion and after having become a youth pastor.  He realized that the majority of his students had abandoned their faith before graduating college.  Why?  Because they had not been taught how to voice their doubts and to find the answers to those doubts.  Check out his books and his website at http://coldcasechristianity.com/.

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Resurrection

I’m writing this on the day that Stephen Hawking passed away.  At the age of 76, he was considered in the same category as Albert Einstein.  The intellect of a person such as Hawking is to be respected and admired, but I wonder if his intellect forced him to conclude that everything was created through natural effects.  I wonder, too, how many Christians shared the truth of the Gospel with him.

Paul wrote to a community of believers in the church at Corinth about how some looked for worth in what they knew, or human wisdom.  He encouraged the people not to fret that they were being accused of foolishness for following and believing that Jesus was who He claimed to be, and that He had risen from the grave.  Let’s just look. 

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Lent 2018 - Notice Jesus

I’d like to share a short article from the Fuller Youth Institute about Lent and how we view it.

“Lent: A 40 Day Journey of Noticing God”

“If you’ve heard of Lent before, chances are one of the first things that comes to mind is “giving something up,” as in “I’m giving up chocolate for Lent.”  That’s sort of right.  But not quite.  When you stop doing something you’re used to doing (like eating dessert), you notice different things.  Lent is like that.  It’s a season—40 days to be exact (not counting Sundays)—when the Church throughout the ages has chosen to pause and notice something.  That “something” is the journey of Jesus to the cross.

Alongside his journey, we’re also called to notice our own journeys toward death and resurrection.  In many traditions, Lent starts out with “Ash Wednesday,” when many Christians choose to wear a cross or smudge of ashes on their foreheads or hands.  This is a symbol that represents our death, or “mortality.”  It’s a reminder of the pain, suffering, and loss that are part of life.  It’s a reminder to turn away from sin and toward God.  Sounds kind of morbid, doesn’t it?

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New Year's Resolutions

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.  Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”  Galatians 5:16

It’s a New Year's tradition to put a resolution goal out there.  For some it’s exercise, with January being the month when the most gym memberships and exercise equipment are sold.  For others it’s just eating better after all the Halloween, Thanksgiving, & Christmas treats have overwhelmed our will power and our waist lines.  And for some it’s a time to get rid of bad habits.  You can fill in the blank there.  As I’m writing this though, many who have started out well may have already ended their attempts.  Two weeks is the average for those who make resolutions and then stop before succeeding.  I could make a list of mine over the years, but I’m limited on how much space I can take up here.  I’ll just say it’s easier to start strong than to stay for the long haul.  Endurance and motivation can easily succumb to fatigue and discouragement.

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Strive Forward and Enjoy the Journey

The end of one year and the beginning of another is a time of reflection and anticipation.  In our own family, we celebrated the birth of our granddaughter Finlee in August.  On the other hand, we have seen many from our church go on to to their final reward.  From beginning to end we see the ups and downs of life.  In Philippians 3, Paul tells us that he is looking forward and forgetting the past.  He is encouraging a group of believers to strive toward their goal.  Good advice, but we must look at the whole picture.  As we go into a new year, we must learn from the past but not live there.  Furthermore, we look forward to that final reward, but we should enjoy the journey nearly as much as the final destination.  Each new day is a gift from God.  And we have been reminded, especially this past year, that we don’t know the number of our days here.  Only God knows, but He has called us to be a light while we are here.

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A Baby and His Family

We are just past mid-November as I write this, but we’re already anticipating Christmas.  The season is filled with so much isn’t it?  We are blessed to have the luxury of celebrating the generosity of God in giving His one and only Son for us!

This year we get to experience the wonder of a new baby in our family -  Finlee who was born in August.  She will be just over 4 months old when Christmas arrives.  She won’t remember a thing, but we will.  I wonder if it was like that for Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.  Babies have an amazing ability to make us focus on them without them doing a thing.  We sit and stare.  We talk.  We coo.  We hold them, change them, feed them, and then we sit and stare some more.  I can’t believe that Lexi, our older granddaughter is almost 8.  I still remember her as a baby and the connection that I had the privilege to experience.  I got to hold her soon after she entered this world.  I don’t hold babies as a rule, but I couldn’t wait to hold her.  She was, and is, special just like her new little sister Finlee.  And though neither one will remember their Papa holding them, I always will.  It’s a precious privilege that God has given us!

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