I Disagree with you – So Does that mean I’m a Racist Biggot Now?

confusedAs a conservative Christian who believes and teaches that the bible means what it says (of course this will start its own debate – mostly from people who will fall into the categories we are about to discuss below. Sadly, many of them “Christians” themselves…), I never find a shortage of news items, opinions,  theories or “science” that I disagree with. This is also true as a conservative free -thinker – one who does not buy-in to the latest trends, environmental disasters or new-found social norms of the enlightened secular humanists. Scientifically, theologically, or sociologically – all have to align with the truth of God’s word.

My problem is not that I disagree with some piece news or a particular opinion of yours or anyone else, my problem is, now that you know I disagree with your opinion or that news story you shared, you feel as though I must therefore be a bigoted racist homophobe. You then go on (because of your much ‘higher’ enlightened thought) to belittle me,  and distance yourself from me. Also, in a closing act of obtuse victory you first “un-Freind” me on Facebook, and THEN proceed to post a remark about how small, or narrow minded I am, describing in detail how horrible a person I was to you for expressing my opinion, making sure you confirm the way I acted or the things I said are simply not “Christian”  – all the while taking every personal shot at me known to man. Of course, you end your rant by stating that I, and people like me, do not deserve to live, let alone call themselves a Christian. THAT is what I have a problem with.

Since when does disagreeing with someone have to lead to such treatment? Are we not able to have civil discussions anymore without resorting to name-calling and labeling people as “haters” bigots, homophobes or uneducated? Well, the short answer is apparently no.

But why?  Why can’t we as adults have civil debates and discussions over subjects that we disagree on? Have we lost our civility? Have we lost the one ability that sets us apart from the animal kingdom; the ability to reason? Well, maybe we have, and to some degree I’m sure that assessment is at least partially true. But I think there are other things that are really at the root of our inability to politely disagree. I wanted to address that, so I’ve created a short list of reasons why we cannot simply have a debate or disagreeing discussion with each other without flying off the deep-end below.  I challenge you to ponder if perhaps any of these apply to you.

 

1. You have no idea what you are talking about.

We’ll let’s just get the big one out in the open right away. Do you seriously have any idea what you are tallkng about?

Far too many people enter into discussions literally knowing nothing of which they speak. It would seem that more time is spent training our students and kids by example, or training ourselves on how to muddle your way through a conversation to make it look like you know what you are talking about, rather than actually spending some time to research the topic so that actually DO know what you were talking about.

If you have aver watched Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” episodes or any Jimmy Kimmel street interviews, you know what I’m talking about. The best example I can think of is that poor young Miss Teen South Carolina trying to respond to a question from the judges as to why she feel that 1/5th of Americans polled could not find the U.S on a world map. While, I’ll grant you, this is an extreme case, but the writing is on the wall. Our educational system is failing in this nation. Currently ranked 36th in the world in education, the U.S. now ranks below nations like, Latvia, Indonesia, Thailand, Tunisia and Mexico in reading, writing and math skills.

Repeating the mantra of some special interest group without checking the facts to see if their claims or statistics are accurate, or joining in the conversation by adding pictures of ‘Motivational Posters’ or internet ‘memes’ does not add to the substance of the conversion. It simple shows that you do not have the ability to address the topic professionally and politely. It reflects poorly on you, and it makes you look ignorant of the topic being discussed. Just don’t do it.

That said, let’s face it, most people these days get their news from an application on one of their many electronic devices. In other words, the news most people get is traveling fast. Fast news for fast people. The problem is that news traveling this fast is typically loose, often misleading and frequently factually inaccurate. Since it has had no time to be fact checked, fast and loose news reigns supreme among this fast paced generation. But what does the media care? They don’t. Media bias is true, and if news is not reported fast and loose, it is sent through an ever left-leaning organism packed full of agenda-driven filters (that like to be referred to as Editors,  Publishers and Network Executives), before any story is published or aired. Yet, these fast-paced electronic devise ‘dings’, ‘chimes’ and alerts are how people get their news. And that’s all the news they get.

When entering into a discussion, make an honest examination of your knowledge base before you start making points or counterpoints. If you do not have a factual foundational understanding of the topic – don’t comment. If you do not have a factual foundational understanding of the topic, don’t share that poster or meme. If you do not have  factual foundational understanding of the topic – GET ONE. Unless one is arguing quantum physics or speaking in a language you do not understand, take a few moments to educate yourself. Before you hit “enter”, check your facts.

The Bible tells us to seek the counsel of many. Proverbs 15:232 states,Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.” And so this is true. Regardless of which side of the argument you are on (and what matters to most is not whether or not you are on the right side, but whether or not you are on the popular side…), make use of wise counsel of those with similar opinions. It is also wise to seek the counsel of those with divergent opinions, which is after-all, why we have these discussions.

Growing up not far from the world famous Pittsburgh Steel mills, the works of Andrew Carnegie were virtually required reading, and rightfully so. Carnegie once said,

“People who are unable to motivate themselves, must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.”

Truth should motivate you. We should be desiring truth. If you do not have the motivation to go get it, stay out of the conversation until you do. Debate is a game of wits. Don’t come unarmed. You should know the truth, be able to support your assertions with fact – this is your responsibility.

2.  Believe it or not, this is not personal.

When someone disagrees with you, it is not a personal affront. Simply disagreeing with someone is a day-to-day event that quite frankly, we should be quite used to. Example: two of you go to get a cup of coffee. One of you purchases a mocha, and the other orders an Americana. Afterwards you sit down to discuss the pros and cons of your preferences and in the end, everyone’s still happy. Here, two people have disagreed on what they prefer, but this disagreement does not typically lead to name calling, belittling, fist-fights, or workplace shootings or bombings. [Editor’s Note: Ordering a double tall, non-fat, two-pump flavor, two-pump sweetener, extra hot, extra foam, ‘with room’ in the line at Starbucks with 6 people behind you in line, just might start a fight- think before you order people…] I realize that a cup of coffee preference does not equate in levels of importance or implication with other topics often disagreed upon like religion, abortion, gay marriage etc, but there is no reason to not treat every disagreement with equal civility.

I’ve seen a quote floating around the internet typically attributed to Christian pastor and author Rick Warren. He is reported to have said,

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

Just because someone does not agree with you – whether it is a simple opinion, lifestyle choice, political point of view, etc, does not mean that they do not like you personally. The disagreement has nothing to do with you as an individual. It is possible to disagree with someone, and still love them. If we disagree about something serious, like a religious world view – something that is displayed in our every act as a person and has eternal consequences, I may not want want to marry you, but it does mean that we cannot be friends, or even best of friends. As a matter of fact, I want to get to know you better. I want to know the how’s and why’s behind your choices and why you make them. Having an understanding of “why” you make the choices you do, truly helps me understand you better. Understanding you better, helps our relationship grow.

3. Being Offended is a CHOICE – Don’t make that choice

So it is serious. We disagree about something that has consequences in our lives. Let’s say the discussion is about gay marriage.  You are in favor, and I’m not. If I say I’m opposed for religious and social reasons (which I would), and you happen to be living a gay lifestyle – so what. Honestly, so what. Because I would not choose to live that way does not mean that I hate you, or that I’m discriminating against you. It does not mean that I am a racist, sexist, bigot or homophobe. It just means we disagree.

To be offended by someone’s opinion, or values is a choice. The word offense is defined by Webster’s as: “annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles.” As you can see being offended is an emotional response. You are annoyed. You have resentment. These are emotions brought about by a “perceived” intent of the author. You make an assumption that what was spoken, was delivered with the intent of insult. So, being offended is an emotional response based on an unsupported perception of the intent to insult.

First of all, that’s a big stretch to make. Taking the stand to be offended on emotion and assumptions that is. Secondly, each step of the way are choices you are making based what is speculation on your part. I’ll go one step further. Offense is an emotional reaction based on ego, pride and fear (See #5). You don’t want to be wrong, you do not want to appear to be weak. You fear that you will not be loved or will be persecuted for your thoughts or opinions and so you lash out. There is no need. Take a deep breath, and let’s move on as friends.

4. GRACE: Be Gracious whether you are of the majority opinion or not

Discussion turned to name calling and unkind words is no longer a discussion, it’s an expression of frustration that has no place in a civil debate. That being the case, always present your facts  seasoned with grace. As an example, if a comment expressed is found to be factually inaccurate, express that in simple terms, and move on. No need to dwell on it, or escalate your disagreement with senseless arguing. 2 Timothy  2:23, and I Peter 2:15 deal with this.

But here’s is what Grace is not: Grace is not allowing people to speak falsities and misinformation, unsupported statistics or data without being questioned. Grace is not saying ignoring an assertion presented as fact, when it is not. That’s called incompetence, and only serves to further the spread of misinformation. In such cases, saying nothing in the name of grace, makes you an enabler of problem at hand – unquestioned assertions that  continually get passed off to the masses as truth. More on this in #7. Grace does not willfully permit the propagation of false teachings, false doctrine or heresy (yes, there is a difference). We as followers of Christ have a responsibility, even a duty to comment and correct. While he may not be counted among great Christian figures of our history, Napoleon Bonaparte once said,

“The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.”

All too often, the modern Christian responds to conflict and disagreement with the phrase, “My God is a God of love, He wouldn’t…..”  (if I had a nickle for each time I’ve had someone respond to me with that phrase…). This is a way for those who disagree to not have to respond. It’s the coward’s way out, and it’s not biblical. It is true, scripture does tell us that God is love (I John 4:8), but God is not JUST a God of love. God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5 and more), God is a just God (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9), God grieves (Ephesians 4:30-31), and displays a great many other emotions. But what so many modern/millennial  Christians forget, is that God also corrects the ones He loves (Proverbs 3:12). Yes, God will correct us, and this often involves painful lessons, lessons that those who propose “God is love” are left unable to explain.
Lastly as it applies to this section, as Christians, if we have an offense, we have an obligation to respond. Jesus dedicated an entire teaching to this in Matthew 18: 15-20. Read it. Know it. Abide by it. If you cannot, take this to the Lord in prayer – as it is a teaching of Jesus Himself.

5. Check Your Emotions at the Keyboard

Life is full of tests, trials and situations that may make us uncomfortable. The fact that they happen to us is not an indication of anything. How we deal with them is an indication of everything.

In today’s society, too much emphasis is put on self-esteem. It’s healthy to think of yourself as valuable, because you are. God sees each and everyone of us as valuable. But we must understand where this value comes from. We are not valuable because we handle debates well. We are not valuable because we tithe well. We are not valuable because of the service we do for our friends,neighbors, loved ones and church. It has been said that God does not love us because we are valuable. We are valuable because God loves us (Matthew 10:29-30).

We just spoke about how emotional God is. He created us in His image, and we have the same emotions. Being emotional therefore is not a sin in and of itself. Using these emotions sinfully, is a sin. Keep them in check. Respond as Jesus responded and defended His lifestyle and faith – with scripture.  Anything less, is opinion.

If you are a Christian, I have to add one more item:

6. I Peter 3:15 – Be Prepared to Offer a Defense

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

This is instruction from the Word of God. Always be ready to give answer for the hope that is in you. Playing in concert with item #1, it is not enough just to know what you believe, you must also be able to defend what you believe, which means you have to know WHY you believe what you believe.

Why do you have hope? Is that hope real? If it is real, and you rely on Jesus for your strength and guidance, why would a simple disagreement cause you to break fellowship, or turn your back on another? Sometimes, disagreements arise from one Christian brother or sister seeing a pattern of behavior in another brother or sister that is not consistent with a scriptural teaching of a Christian lifestyle. As an example; if you are a self-identifying Christian, do not be surprised if after having posted a Facebook meme in favor of abortion masked as “a woman’s right to choose”, that another Christian questions you, or calls upon you top explain yourself. If you are a self-identifying Christian, and share things about “spiritualism”, occultism, or share quotes from outspoken people known for their hatred of Christianity or from authors like Oprah who do not have a sound understanding of what Christianity is – do not be surprised if other Christians don’t start inquiring as to what you current line of thinking is. This is all perfectly natural from people who love you and do not want to see you lead astray.

Additionally, WHEN people begin to ask questions, and they will, do not get angry! It is their responsibility as Christians to go to other Christian when they see signs or portents of them beginning to walk away from their faith – this is what good brothers and sisters in the Lord do. We are taught these very things in scripture. Paul went to the Corinthians in chapter 5 of 2 Corinthians for just this reason. ?This of course after having written the first letter of Corinthians covering the same sort of thing. We are also shown in Matthew 18:15 similar patterns of offenses, if one was taken,  and making them right.

If a person is not self-identified as a Christian, here’s a couple quality secular opinions;

You should protest about the views of people you disagree with over major moral issues, and argue them down, but you should not try to silence them, however repugnant you find them. That is the bitter pill free speech requires us to swallow. Julian Baggini

Honest discussions – even and perhaps especially on topics about which we disagree – can help us resist hypocrisy and arrogance. They can also help us live up to the basic ideals, such as liberty and justice for all, on which our country was founded. David Price

In Closing

Christians need to do a better of job staying true to the gospel and standing up for the faith that is in them, and non-Christians need to do a better job of being able to stay focuses on the facts, produce supporting evidence for their case, and stop pulling the race/hater/bigot/homophobe cards when they feel like they have been offended.

Debate is sadly a topic we do not spend much training in in schools these days. And it certainly shows.

 

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140620200646-17850276-6-toxic-behaviors-that-push-people-away-how-to-recognize-them-in-yourself-and-change-them?_mSplash=1

 

Assessing “Strange Fire” – by Jusin Alfred

justin-alfred

Mr. Justin Alfred

I personally addressed John MacArthur and some his teachings earlier on this site in THIS POST. Focusing on the Reformed Theology teaching, I share my concerns with what dangers these teachings reveal in the real life expression of faith. Recently however, John MacArthur and his ministries hosted a conference titled, “Strange Fire”. During this conference, in the eyes of many Christians, MacArthur’s teachings went far beyond the pale of not only Christian orthodoxy, but decency as well. Below is a reasoned look at these events.

Full credit for this articvle is given to Justin Alfred of Word In Life Ministries for the authorship, and CalvaryChapel.com for its original posting.

For the complete article as it was originally published, please clock THIS LINK: Or you may keep reading below.

 

A Guest Column from Justin Alfred linked from Calvary Chapel.com

On October 16-18, 2013, Pastor John MacArthur held a three-day conference at his Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA, entitled, “Strange Fire.” The conference was focused on a critical assessment of the Charismatic Movement and its espousal of the present day ministry of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  There were ten different speakers, dealing with various topics concerning the Charismatic Movement.

As I begin this assessment, let me first of all say that all of the men who spoke at this Conference are our brothers in Christ, and that being the case, we should pray for them and walk in Philippians 2:1-8 toward them, as we are all in the process of being “conformed to the image” of Christ by our Heavenly Father (Romans 8:28-30).

The Work of the Spirit or Satanic Deception?

MacArthur opened up the Conference with an introduction to the subject matter and focus of the Conference, which is an overall biblical and theological critique of the Charismatic Movement. MacArthur sees much of the charismatic movement as being in the grip of Satanic deception as the following quote indicates:

“When I was talking about this some months ago to our church, I said it’s this severe. Jesus said to the Jewish leaders, “You have attributed the works of the Holy Spirit that I have done to Satan.”  In other words, they said Jesus did what He did by the power of Satan, Matthew 12, and He said you’ve attributed the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan. It’s fair to say that the reverse has happening in many places in the Charismatic Movement. They are attributing to the Holy Spirit the works of Satan. Once they had attributed to Satan the works of the Holy Spirit, now it’s reversed.  God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the Triune God is not to be trifled with.  It is dangerous to all who offer strange fire.” 

MacArthur does admit there are those within the Charismatic Movement who are true believers that hold to biblical orthodoxy concerning the Gospel. But he still contends they are in serious error concerning the work of the Holy Spirit:

johnnymac

John MacArthur

“Do some in the Charismatic Movement believe the truth?  They do.  They do.  Do some in the Charismatic Movement hold a sound theology on some issues?  They do.  But none of those true understandings have come to them through that Movement.  The true understandings have always been there in the long line of godly preachers and teachers that God has used to keep the truth and to keep the church on track.  The Movement adds nothing to that.  It detracts and it confuses.  It is not a source for any advancement of our understanding of Scripture or sound doctrine.”

Nothing coming from the Charismatic Movement has provided recovery or strengthening of the biblical gospel. Nothing coming from the Charismatic Movement has preserved truth and sound doctrine. It has only produced distortion, confusion, and error.

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Holy Spirit

MacArthur went on to delineate what he sees the Scripture teaching regarding what the Holy Spirit does and doesn’t do:

“What is the work of the Holy Spirit?  He convicts, He regenerates, He justifies, He illuminates, He cleanses, He converts, He sanctifies, He adopts, He baptizes…

He indwells, He endows, He empowers, He guides, He delivers, He produces fruit, He secures us.  This is what Scripture says and what it doesn’t say is this, the Holy Spirit knocks us down. The Holy Spirit makes us laugh in a silly way. The Holy Spirit amps up our body heat.  The Holy Spirit gives us the hiccups.  The Holy Spirit gives us convulsions, puts us in a stupor, makes us look drunk, causes us to fall down, speak gibberish, make primal sounds, jump, roll…ridiculous…absolutely ridiculous.

…the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to lead you into the truth, to disclose the things of Christ to you in order that you might be conformed to Christ’s likeness.  Just an amazing simple reality.  The Holy Spirit does in us what He did in the Son, conforming us to the very image of Christ.”

As MacArthur delineates the various aspects of the distortions within the Charismatic Movement under the heading of “what the Holy Spirit does and does not do,” I know that all of those who are part of Calvary Chapel would generally stand solidly with him in the same assessment. Of course we would take issue with the fact that he completely discounts the present day “gift of tongues” that is associated with the Charismatic Movement, classifying it as speaking “gibberish.”  But aside from what he says about tongues, all of us within Calvary Chapel teach exactly what he stated above in his last quote- that is, “The Holy Spirit does in us what He did in the Son, conforming us to the very image of Christ.”

No Place for the Spirit-filled Baptist

As a young man who came to Calvary Chapel thirty-three years ago, I felt like a “square peg in a round hole.” The Southern Baptists didn’t want me based on my belief in the present day ministry of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Yet, I absolutely didn’t fit in with the Word-Faith Movement and its utter distortions and misrepresentations of the truth of God’s Word.  However, when we moved to Southern California for my graduate study, I came and heard Pastor Chuck Smith speak on a Sunday night. When I heard Pastor Chuck teach I felt as though I had found a spiritual oasis in a theological desert, because Chuck taught and believed what I had come to believe! I scheduled a meeting with him at which he invited me to come on staff at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. And thus, I became a part of Calvary Chapel in September of 1980.

A Biblical, Charismatic Church

As a man with a long history with Calvary Chapel, I can tell you that what John MacArthur is describing as the aberrant emphases within the Charismatic Movement are the very things Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel have long been in the forefront of exposing. They confronted such distortions and misrepresentations and preached solid, biblical truth. They saw hundreds of thousands of people come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and begin growing spiritually through the systematic teaching of God’s Word. Converts were continually being filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him to be living witnesses of Jesus’ saving and redeeming power.

Additionally, believers in Calvary Chapel were also ministering in the gifts of the Holy Spirit in a solid, biblical manner. Jesus was being glorified and honored in their exercise of the gifts with the result that true, genuine, biblical evangelism was occurring in all venues of people’s lives.  However, in turn Calvary Chapel’s biblically-framed approach to exercising the gifts actually brought on some serious opposition from the distorted elements present in the Charismatic Movement. But a consistent stand for biblical truth in the face of the aberrant teachings within the wider Charismatic Movement was one major reason for the continuation of effective ministry at Calvary Chapel. And thus, this biblical, charismatic church saw hundreds of thousands of lives changed in and through the Spirit’s ministry through Calvary Chapel.

*View all quotations in their full context here.

The Little Things…

IMG_1642.JPG (2)Sonja and I have a great marriage. I know I’d certainly classify it as great – she gets more beautiful inside and out as each day goes by. But great marriages are not made great by the “big” things. They are made great by doing well at the little things.

I thought I knew my wife when we got married. Boy was I wrong! Noe that i discovered things about her after we got married that I did not like that caused the relationship harm, not at all. just simply that as you live with people, and love on people, you get to know then so much better. And the great news about great marriages, is that this growth never stops! There’s always a sweetness to be found in finding out something new about your wife, or finding something that brings joy into her life that you did not known see, or understand before. These are the precious jewels that keep relationships fresh, and marriages strong. I love that I get to know her more and more all the time.

As an example, my wife Sonja is a stay at home mom. She works as hard or harder then me every day running the household, and does so on a shoe-strong budget. She adds to our income as best she can selling farms fresh eggs that our customers fight over, and manufacturing and selling all natural soaps. She is solely responsible for the homeschooling two of our children (the other is no Phi Betta Kappa at South Puget Sound Community College in large part to her efforts), balances an ever changing budget that has to accommodate increasing taxes and expenses, not to mention three teenagers, and so much more. She is busy to say the least. I have to get up rather early for my job, and I’m out of the house by 6:00 AM. I know how important it is to me to sleep in on the weekends when I need it, and so if I can gift her just a few more minutes of rest I’m happy to do so.

IMG_1554So, I have taken to let the chickens out of the coop each morning before I go to work. It’s a simple task, but a token of my affections for her nonetheless. It’s a small thing – but it is another easy to plug-in piece in a great marriage.

I’ve also learned to keep a small selection of gourmet chocolates in the pantry… 🙂

 

Back in the Saddle

bibletableTime goes so quickly. We say this so often that it becomes as cliche as our responses to the greeting question of “how are you doing?” or “nice weather we’re having today, huh?” But time does travel quickly, and as you get older, we recognize this all the more. My three children are almost out of high school, and my oldest is one year into his AA at the local Community College. I truly do remember the day of my oldest’s birth, and it really doesn’t seem that long ago. I have no been married for over twenty-one years, and while I don’t move as quickly as I used to and have added a few pounds since then, I still enjoy playing catch with the boys, throwing football and frisbee. My son is still using my ball glove from high school! But time truly is flying by. And we all know it.

I was drafting a letter today and I found myself staring at a stark reality that is certainly the root to so many things I have been experiencing lately. In the letter, I was taking myself back to the time when I left a cult religion and found the true Christ. I was smacked in the face of where I found Him. In the Bible. Really? What a surprise. I found Jesus while reading the bible. Yes, all sarcasm aside, that is my point.

Having been a Sr. Pastor for roughly eight years of a small church in Bonney Lake, WA, I spent many,many hours in sermon preparation. Much of this came in the form of reading other pastors and teachers whom I respect to gain their perspectives. Some of it was spent listing to other sermons while driving, or catching a few chapters from an audio book. I’d also spend copious hours on commentaries, most of which I have since passed on to other pastors, and even more time using my Logos Bible Software. The best part was, and still is, that I LOVE digging into the Word! I could easily spend hours dissecting, and as my current pastor likes to say, “unpacking” scripture.

Lately however, I have been in a bit if a spiritual funk I confess. God made it clear in my life that it was time to leave the role of Sr. Pastor behind for a time. Now in a new season, I long for that close relationship with Jesus all the more. Having to perform a memorial service for a good friend and fellow Calvary Chapel Bonney Lake alum just a few weeks ago was an honor, but sobering nonetheless. Seeing my eldest son Wyatt preparing his life for his career choice and taking things so very seriously, seeing my youngest boy leave for a week at high school football camp at a University hundreds of miles away – all point to that fact we opened with – time really is flying.

Because of this fact, I find myself clinging to my wife and daughter, both awesome young ladies that are a “core” I look to for the love and affection that a father and husband so desire. And while they do not know this, their smiles are the fuel to my very peace and joy, and always point me to Jesus. After all, how could young ladies be so beautiful, gentle, loving and kind without Christ? Now don’t get me wrong, I love my sons. I love them both dearly, and at their ages they probably tire of me telling them so. I’m simply banking these affections for their benefit. As a man, father and follower of Christ, I know for a fact there will come a time when they desperately need that to fall back on. A time will come when knowing you are loved will be very important.

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My favorite reading spot.

All that said I’m on a precipice – balancing time. Time that flies however – is also time that is important to redeem. I’m treasuring these moments with my children and wife more than ever before. But to be able to lead them, to be able to be the father I need to be to my children, and the husband I need to be to my wife, I need to allow God to be the Father and Groom that He needs to be for ME. In this area, I found myself wanting.

So, back in the saddle. The Bible saddle. I’m making a conscious effort to just be reading my bible. No commentaries, no outside studies, no other pastoral sermons or writings on the topic – just reading my bible, and allowing God to speak through the Holy Spirit to my life. This is what was missing.

I found Jesus here withing these pages in 1989 or so. I know He’s still there. We still love each other, I just want to get to know Him better. This is not a ‘devotional’ time that can so often become legalistic. This is not a patterned study of a subject. It is just simple reading – page by page – taking in the scenery, getting a chill from time to time from the breeze and being refreshed.

Care to join me?