Three Heartwarming Stories on Father’s Day

IMG_4643THE MAN WHO INSPIRED FATHER’S DAY

“This Civil War veteran fathered six children. Sadly, his wife passed away in childbirth with the last child, leaving Smart to raise the whole brood on his own—and he obviously did it well. When his daughter, Sonora Smart Dodd, grew up, she heard a sermon for the newly created Mother’s Day holiday, and pressed the Spokane Ministerial Alliance for a similar holiday in honor of fathers, suggesting her own father’s birthday, June 5th, as the date for the holiday. The Alliance agreed, but designated the holiday for the third Sunday of June, when it’s been celebrated ever since.”[i]

 FIRST IN FLIGHT

by Kay Lockridge, Santa Fe, New Mexico

“The little Cessna had just cleared the pattern in its climb to 1,500 feet when my father said, ‘OK, we can land now.’ With my newly minted private pilot’s license in hand, I had wanted him to be my first non-instructor passenger. I’d planned to circle the Michigan State University campus and come back to the university‑owned airport. I reminded him of this, and I’ll never forget what Dad said, more than 40 years ago: ‘I’m not fond of small planes. I just wanted you to know that I have confidence in you.’”[ii]

“TALKING IS LIKE KETCHUP”

by Carmen Mariano, Braintree, Massachusetts

“I sat in my dad’s living room reading one night while he watched television. An hour passed before I realized it, and I felt bad for not speaking during that time. I asked if he was OK, and he said yes. Then I apologized for not talking more. ‘Carmen,’ Dad replied. ‘Talking is like ketchup. If you like the meat enough, you don’t need the ketchup—and if you like the company enough, you don’t need the conversation.’ My dad never earned a college degree, but he was the smartest person I ever knew.”[iii]

[i] http://bit.ly/1PzTsj6

[ii] http://bit.ly/1RevFHg

[iii] Ibid.

Photo is property of George Ro Photography

Advice for the Introverted Christian

Being shy and belonging to a community of Christians can sometimes cause an awkward internal strain for introverted Christians. Social life and relationships are a massive portion of what church is all about. Living with and loving others in a family-type setting has a positive impact on the body of Christ, but it isn’t effortless for everyone.

Here are three things I would suggest introverted churchgoers do:

  1. Know and be comfortable with the way God made you. God had your best interest in mind when he made you introverted. Better yet, your introversion has a specific purpose! I am introverted. God has used my shyness at times to bond with other reserved folks or maybe even balance out my more extraverted friends.
  2. Know your limits. Being a part of every small group and every “get together” probably isn’t going to be what’s best for you. Too much social interaction can drain introverts, leaving them vulnerable to irrational behavior. Find your groups and times to hangout that work for you, commit to them, and allow them to satisfy your spiritual and social needs.
  3. Achieve balance. As stated above, stretching yourself can have adverse affects, but so can becoming a hermit. Staying away from church except on Sunday leaves you vulnerable to spiritual struggles that would be less of a temptation if you were engaged in community. Find your groups, commit to them, and be okay with saying “no” sometimes.

There is a lot more I could write about when it comes to social dynamics at church. If there is a social topic relating to church that you would like me to write about, please leave it in the comments. Have a blessed day.

Photo is property of George Ro Photography

 

 

 

Real Enough to Be a Friend

Clink…clink…clink. The ring of his hammer pierces the Galilean air with every strike. Silence returns to the small town of Nazareth as the Carpenter tosses his hammer to the sandy ground. The scorching heat of the Middle Eastern afternoon tans his round, ripped shoulders. Sweat drips from his brow down to his beard as he vigorously saws at another piece of Achaia wood. This branch will be the final leg of his family’s new table. He feels the rush of energy as he nears the end of a hard day of work.

Jesus runs His hands along the rugged branch and feels the immediate “prick” of a splinter. Just enough discomfort to irritate, not enough to injure. His chatty coworker rambles on about something unrelated to the table. Jesus smiles and ask more questions, realizing it’s important to his friend.

The table is eventually completed. Jesus returns home, gives kisses, hugs, and shares joyous laughs with his loved ones. Another day done, another one coming.

Why write about the everyday life of Jesus? Because I need to be reminded of his humanity. It makes him real enough to be my friend. He is the kind of friend who would rather listen than talk and doesn’t judge you when you ramble.  He can make you laugh. Who knows, He might even teach you a thing or two. Give it a try. Say a prayer. Read a verse. He wants to be with you.

Photo is property of George Ro Photography

How to Search for a New Church Home

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42 & 47

Looking for a new church family can be confusing. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what exactly you are looking for in a new church. Furthermore, some regions of the country don’t have a very good selection. Here are some biblical guidelines from Acts that will help you find a church that glorifies Christ.

  1. “The apostle’s teaching” – A biblical church is going to teach and preach biblically. You can identify this trait by observing if the pastor uses the Bible to back up his ideas or if his sermon comes from what he has read during his study time. If you rarely read your Bible during the sermon or leave the service feeling confused and struggling to remember the passage discussed, you might want to look elsewhere. Additionally, if something feels “off” about what the pastor said, do your own research and check if his sermon was biblical. The sermon will often times tell if the church’s doctrine is correct (something I also suggest looking at online, if it is available).
  2. “Fellowship” – We are made for community. Look for a body of believers who are passionate about fellowship and loving one another. Churches talk a lot about loving those who aren’t Christians, but loving your brother or sister in Christ is just as important.
  3. “Breaking of bread” – Find a place where you feel you fit in and can make connections naturally. The big church just isn’t right for everyone and a small church setting can make some people feel like they are being watched all the time. Going to a church that has the right dynamics for you will help you find like minded Christians and give you great friendships in the process.
  4. “Prayers” – If the church and its leaders stress the importance of prayer, and do it without using clichés, you have found a gem. Prayer is the lifeline of the believer. Being a part of a church body that stresses prayer will do wonders for your walk with Christ.

Notice the result of a church that practices the four qualities above – “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” A church that is healthy internally will always multiply with those who want to be a part of it. Ultimately, a church should want to be a city on hill that attracts others because they are living in right standing with God and each other.[i]

 

 

[i] Matthew 5:14

The Value of Knowing an Encourager

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” Romans 15:5 (NIV) [i]

 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) [ii]

 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24 – 25 (NIV) [iii]

There are times when our strength runs out and we need support. Those days are often consumed with doubt, stress, worry, or anxiety. These hardships can threaten to unravel all that we know to be true about God.

There is one person you want to see when everything falls apart. He or she is what the Bible calls an “encourager.”

The encourager doesn’t show up because he just wants to make you feel better or laugh. Those are benefits of the gifting that an encouraging person provides. However, an encourager reminds you of what you know to be true but struggle to believe. In the midst of the storm, he or she sees the Lighthouse through the fog when we can’t (or don’t want to).

They are the ones that remind us that Jeremiah 29:11 is still as true for us as it was for the Israelites. Encouragers are visible representations of Psalm 91. Read it and let the words of the Psalmist encourage you today.

 “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High

will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

 This I declare about the Lord:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

he is my God, and I trust him.

 For he will rescue you from every trap

and protect you from deadly disease.

 He will cover you with his feathers.

He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,

nor the arrow that flies in the day.

 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,

nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

 Though a thousand fall at your side,

though ten thousand are dying around you,

these evils will not touch you.

 Just open your eyes,

and see how the wicked are punished.

 If you make the Lord your refuge,

if you make the Most High your shelter,

 no evil will conquer you;

no plague will come near your home.

 For he will order his angels

to protect you wherever you go.

 They will hold you up with their hands

so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.

 You will trample upon lions and cobras;

you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.

I will protect those who trust in my name.

 When they call on me, I will answer;

I will be with them in trouble.

I will rescue and honor them.

 I will reward them with a long life

and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91 (NLT) [iv]

 

[i] http://dailyverses.net/encouragement

[ii] http://dailyverses.net/encouragement

[iii] http://dailyverses.net/encouragement

[iv] https://www.bible.com/bible/116/psa.91

Photo is property of George Ro Photography

 

A Case for Liberty

Familiarity breads contempt, and after spending three years at a university, it could be easy to write about any “contempt” I might have for Liberty University. However, I loved my time at Liberty and any negative thoughts I might have are overshadowed by good memories.

Therefore, below are my three favorite aspects about Liberty University:

  1. The friendships. Due to Liberty’s “regulations,” it can be challenging to run in to bad crowds putting you under negative peer pressure. This purity and innocence established by Liberty allows for genuine and pure friendships to develop. The people close to you aren’t simply “drinking buddies.” Instead, they are life partners who care about your well being.
  2. Strong leadership from “Jerry.” For those of you who don’t know, Jerry Falwell Jr. is affectionately called “Jerrrryyy” when we he gets up to speak at any university gathering. This affection comes from a student body that knows their President cares for them and stands up for his convictions. Even though I don’t agree with all of his political opinions, I still love and appreciate that he is a man of God.
  3. Safety. This may sound “lame” or “stupid,” but walking around campus and knowing that you are reasonably safe makes for a more relaxing time at school. Lynchburg is a, let’s just say, “quirky” town. Knowing that we are protected from the sketchier side of Lynchburg allows for a safe and free environment that some campuses may not offer (like urban campuses, international, etc.).

Liberty is a wonderful place blessed by God. For anyone considering attending, I strongly recommend it!

I hope you all enjoy your Friday and have a blessed weekend!

 

Three Byproducts of Learning to Trust God

 

I have written a lot about trusting God because I know it is a struggle for me and others like me. We are the control freaks of the world. It’s our way or the highway. God often times is wrestling with my old nature (and He always wins!), and trying to create in me a deeper trust in Him. Maybe you can relate.

Here are three observations I made about learning to trust the Lord. Trust produces:

  1. Renewed, strengthened faith. You probably remember the game we all used to play as children. It’s a classic church illustration. It’s the “trust – fall.” Although shallow, it is true. Sometimes the best way to reassure that God is still present in your life is to let go and let God. Take a leap of faith, and marvel as He catches, sustains, and supports you.
  2. Encouragement for others in their walk with Christ. When we take risks and trust the Lord, others are watching how we live the process out. If we are faithful, chances are others will follow our example as they learn to trust the Lord.
  3. Reminders for later. Acting in faith allows for God to be faithful, which in turn encourages us for times down the road when we need reminders of the Lord’s faithfulness. Journal or make mental notes of the times when God has led you somewhere or to do something and has accompanied you every step of the way. It will boost your spirit at a later time.

 Trusting the Lord is extremely difficult at times. It takes years and years of walking with the Lord to learn that He knows best. I certainly have not arrived.

Be encouraged! We are on the journey.

God bless, and have a great Tuesday.

Photo is property of George Ro Photography