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Archive for February, 2010

Greetings Friends,
So you want to be a Christian, and you want to know the process and what is expected of us. Well, how about this, to be a successful Christian, you must devote yourself to worship for one hour per week. If you do this, you should be “Good with God”, right? Oh yes, the financial part, don’t forget to tithe, leave your 10% of the net, or is that gross income. If we go to church every week, and give our tithes, we are walking the walk, talking the talk, and setting a great example to those around us, right?
These are good and honorable things of course, and all of the Christians I know are at a different level in their spiritual journey, and it is a growth process. Consider this if you will. You find a woman or man that you love and want to be married to. You court them, get married, and set out on your life of wedded bliss together. You look to people you admire and trust for an example of how you should treat your spouse, and determine to follow this path based on what you see. Let’s look at it from the husband’s viewpoint (cause I’m a guy). As a good husband, you will lay your paycheck on the kitchen counter every week, and you promise to spend one hour per week with her, on Saturday night between eight and nine. During that hour, you lift her up in praise and receive a weeks worth of praise from her. Then you go on your way, occasionally thinking fondly of her during the week, and looking forward to your one hour with her next week. Is this not what we do with Christ? The scenario I just laid out when placed on a follower of Christ would inspire others, would it not. He never misses church, he seems to truly worship and love God, and he gives a tenth of his income to the Lord, what an honorable man! But is it enough?
Ephesians 5 :22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Ephesians compares the relationship we have with our wives with the relationship Christ has with the church, so should we not also use this example in reverse, since the Bible compares the two. If we drop off a check and give an hour a week to our marriage, will it flourish and grow? This will not make a good marriage to your spouse, and it will also not make our relationship with our Lord grow either. We need to do more!

 Besides showing love and kindness to my wife, I also need to help out around the house, mow the lawn, trim the trees, clean out the garage (argh) and do all the other little honey do’s that keep the place up. Likewise, we need to do the little honey do’s for Christ also, so that my relationship with him will also flourish. Show kindness to someone who is in need, share the Gospel whenever an opportunity presents itself, help in a ministry at the congregation (the church is the people). Doing the minimum never inspires others, it would not inspire your spouse, and it doesn’t inspire Christ. Do more than he requires of you, and do it with a happy heart, and you will find the more you do, the more you want to do, and your servitude and happiness will spread to others.

God be with you and yours!
JFT

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Hello Friends,

Being a Christ follower, most of the time it is not hard to see the good things and people in life. We walk in grace and know that our eternities are just the beginning. When you see life like that, what I like to refer to as the big picture, it makes this life easier most of the time. This is not always the case, many times, as we walk with God, we have a big target on our back because we are the enemy of the dark one. He will generally attack us in our most vulnerable of times and situations. Recently I have had to overcome feelings of sadness and despair because of hard feelings of a family member who I love dearly.
When we accept Christ we don’t automatically get a free pass from all of the challenges life places before us, but rather we can be targeted more severely because we are a threat to satan and what he represents. Recently because of the problem with the loved one, I found myself so depressed I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to stay up when I did get up, I wanted to be alone to hurt by myself. But, then I thought about the comfort God offers to us. I prayed fervently, read his word, and was able to stop focusing on myself and allow God to work things out. I must admit, I did have to force myself to stay busy, but it worked. The realization that I don’t have the power to solve these complex problems on my own and that God can do anything brought me comfort. Matthew 11:28 (New International Version)28″Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
When you find yourselves in times of trouble, heartache and pain, look upward, not inward for your answers and you will find the Good Shepherd is more than able and willing to ease your burden as he has mine. It doesn’t mean all of your problems will vanish in the blink of an eye, but God will give you the proper perspective to deal with them and the patience needed to get through it. God bless and keep you!

JFT

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Hello Friend,
As a follower of Christ, and an American, and a guy who ponders on a regular basis, I have begun to question things I have never really thought of, but taken for granted. So here goes, hang on.
God calls us to be less than what we want to be, paraphrased, the “greatest among you shall be the least in my kingdom, and the least among you shall be the greatest in my kingdom”. Humility is something God values, putting Him and others before ourselves is important to Him, and He emphasizes it over and over.

As followers of Christ, we have citizenship in a worldwide family that spans every border and continent in the world. This is God’s Church, his children, and we are expected to love each other, and meet one anothers needs, regardless of where we call home.

Now the rub, as an American, our country does a lot of good around the world and tries to lead. Americans have been raised and indoctrinated to feel a cut above the rest because of their citizenship, and we are always quick to quote our rights the first time we feel as though we are being treated unfairly. My question is this, what rights, if any are we given in the Bible? We have the right to free will. Do we have the God given right to worship freely? Do we have the right to be treated fairly and equally? The right to vote? Were these rights not invented by man?
My thinking is that sometimes we get so caught up in “our rights” that we feel they are bestowed by God. Our country is so flush with wealth even in this bad economy, but we don’t stop to be thankful for it, we take it as an entitlement, and I don’t beleive our brothers and sisters in other countries do the same. They have never lived with freedom, so they don’t take rights for granted as we do.

I define a “right” as a get out of jail free card whenever persecution comes knocking. Inalienable rights are something we are taught as a birthright in America. We have a “Bill of Rights” and a Constitution to justify our rights, but are these rights God given, or man given.

My thinking, is that we should try not to get too caught up in our rights. Our citizenship is in God’s kingdom, and to be a citizen of God’s Kingdom, we are called to suffer sometimes.We are treated unfairly sometimes, and if we squeal every time life gets uncomfortable God will not be pleased. I am not saying we should do away with every “right” that man has come up with, but merely that we should put it in context. Do not be afraid to suffer, for out of suffering comes Strength, Appreciation,and  Inspiration to others through example, which are great tools when spreading the good news of Christ. Consider this Story;

Darkness and Spanish Steel

There was a time in my life where I was surrounded by darkness, enveloped in it, and I saw no way out. Life as I knew it was ended, and I couldn’t do anything to revive it or restore it.  At first, I prayed fervently to get me out of my jam, I knew God loved me, and therefore wanted my happiness, so he would rescue me and restore my life if I prayed hard enough and had Faith. The time went by, and it became apparent that this was a life change, and it was time to begin rebuilding and moving on. The following years were filled with triumph and heartache, but some of the happiest times I had were intermingled with some of the saddest times also. I questioned why God would not answer my prayers, and restore things, after all, I prayed so hard. But sometimes we need to go through some very hard times because God has plans for us that we have no way of seeing.

During the middle ages, there were many great battles across Europe, as men continued to try to find new ways to kill each other. One such group were the Spaniards, they were well known for having the best in weaponry. They would come into battle, and strike swords, battleaxes, and lances with the enemy time and time again, and their weapons would stay sharp. Their opponents became curious as to how this was possible, “they fight like us, but our weapons become dull and useless after a few strikes of the blade, yet their weapons appear un-phased by battle”. So they chose a man who appeared to have Spanish characteristics to infiltrate the Spaniards, and learn their secret to weaponry. Months went by, and then the spy returned, with quite a remarkable story.

First off, they pour steel the same as us, but then after it has cooled, they heat it up until it glows white hot, and pound it on the anvil until it goes black again, then they cool it in oil, and heat it up again. They beat the steel again, cool in oil, and keep repeating the process over and over. Then, when it looks like nothing usable, bent, misshapen and very ugly, they wipe it off, and put it to the stone. When the black is ground off, the most beautiful hardened steel appears. When the smith shapes it, and puts a sharp blade on, it is the most beautiful sword imaginable, but not only is it beautiful, it cannot be dulled or broken, and it can withstand any battle.

This process is called tempering, and sometimes God tempers us or allows us to be tempered because he has a greater task in the plans for us, and we need the strength that only tempering can give. God allowed me to be tempered through the hard times, but I am stronger today than I ever was before, and I cannot be broken, because I was tempered with love, and God had a special plan for me. He saw me through the hard times and guided me into much happier times. Sometimes we cannot see through the gloom, but trust in God, and he will see you through, and sometimes, on the other end, you will be like Spanish Steel. 

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Hello Friends,
Wow, nothing for eight months, then twice in one night. Sometimes you just have much to say.
In the early 90’s, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is pretty much the worst cancer you can get. I don’t know of anyone who has actually survived it. She had the surgery, and the outlook was about as good as it gets, which is not saying much. She was said to be in remission, but after a while, it came back and she was given seven months. During that time, she tried to accomplish some things she had always wanted to, but never done. She wrote a book of stories for my oldest daughter, she made sure her relationships were right, and had no unfinished business, and she looked toward heaven. She was a woman of great personal strength, not perfect, but a great source of inspiration to all those who knew her. She was never afraid to stand in the face of adversity and do the right thing, regardless of personal loss. She was my hero, and she moved on november 15th, 1994.
I was there that night when she went on to her reward, she was breathing very heavy, and although she was in a room full of the whole family, she coultn’t have cared less. Yes, thats right, she couldn’t have cared less, because royalty was present. Her eyes were clear as she looked right through all of us and repeated over and over again, “it’s okay, I’m coming, I’m coming”. She was talking to someone, lucidly.
I was holding my mother when she left, and it was one of the most profound experiences I have ever had. When she left, there was no doubt her soul was also gone, and she was walking hand in hand with whoever God had sent to beacon her.
As the years have gone by I have had the time to reflect on those hours, and I know there will be someone there to guide me when my time comes. My mother had the heart of a lion, and she sowed God’s seed wherever she went. When her time came she went out with no fear, because she knew where she was going, where she would be spending her eternity. She died well.
How will you die? Will you go on to eternity in fear, or greet it with open arms. We are all terminal, no matter how full of life we are, it never lasts. Teens are said to have that “I’ll live forever” attitude, and that is why they are so affected when they lose a friend, no-one is death proof. As much as you want to think that 50 is the new 30, 60 the new 40 etc., it doesn’t matter, we are “ALL” short timers. No-one beats death, but we do have free will, and we have a choice about how we will face death. To those who shun Christ, death is truly tragic, the beginning of a long and torturous eternity, but to those who know Christ, it is a promotion. An eternity on holiday in a place where there are no tears. So I say again, how will you die, will there be a warm and bright light at the end of your tunnel?
Live in Peace, Die Well

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Hello Friends,
It has been a long time since I have posted on Blessed Dad, but here goes. I was trimming a tree in my yard this week. It had a huge canopy, and was very thick and full. The tree was having to nourish many leaves and branches, and as a result, each leaf and branch was not getting all it needed. The leaves were green in the middle, but turning brown on the edges. I pruned and pruned, and got to a point where I was afraid to go any further, but the shape was just wrong. My decision was to saw off a rather large branch at a junction of the trunk, and I decided to go ahead and do so to the chagrin of my wife. “It looks bare” she exclaimed. I assured her that in three months or so, she will be happy because it will be much healthier and producing much healthier leaves, because it can now focus on being healthier with less plumage. This is not unlike what God does in our lives. We have had two very prosperous decades. We have begun to idolize material goods and think we cannot do without the things we have come to love so much. This is not a new problem with us, all through the Bible we have lost our focus and turned to idols, and every time we do, God allows our own disobedience to lead to our ruin. When we have lost everything, he knows we will come back to him, we always do. One would think with all of the examples we see we would be smart enough to see the signs and not make the same mistakes, but we don’t.
Like the tree supporting a large canopy, it is hard for us to focus on being spiritually healthy when we are weighed down with all this material wealth, so what is better than being pruned a bit to help us produce a better fruit. If you are feeling the pressure that this economy is feeding, never forget that it is just stuff. If we have God, the people we love, and the peace that only Jesus Christ can provide, we are in fact wealthy. Let go of things on this earth and grasp the hand that longs for you. God loves you, and there is peace that surpasses all understanding in the shelter of his love. Allow him to unclutter your life a bit, you will find your focus coming back.
Live in Peace

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