My random, sometimes insightful thoughts on life, God, family, and everything else

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God’s gift for the working man!

Exodus 35:31-35 CEB
The Lord has filled him with the divine spirit that will give him skill, ability, and knowledge for every kind of work. He will be able to create designs, do metalwork in gold, silver, and copper, cut stones for setting, carve wood, do every kind of creative work, and have the ability to teach others. Both he and Oholiab, Ahisamach’s son from the tribe of Dan, have been given the skill to do every kind of work done by a gem cutter or a designer or a needleworker in blue, purple, and deep red yarns and in fine linen or a weaver or anyone else doing work or creating designs.

Sometimes we get the idea that God only gives gifts that are spiritual in nature. Such as teaching, preaching, singing, etc… However, this is far from truth, in fact, some of the gifts that God first gave to mankind had ‘real world’ applications well beyond church.

The passage of Scripture just above refers to two men and the group that they led. The one speaking is Moses and he is addressing the entire nation of Israel. They are on the cusp of building God’s Tabernacle and everyone is taking account as to what items have been donated, the gold, silver, and jewelry, and also who has certain capabilities. These two men are called out by Moses because they had special abilities in woodworking, metalwork, sculpting, stone cutting, gem work, and practically anything else you could do with your hands. These men were the renaissance men of their day, they could do it all, and they could teach others as well.

What’s interesting about this is that this passage doesn’t say that God ‘just now’ gave them these gifts, but that he had (past tense) given them these gifts. Which means that for years they had been honing and practicing their craft and now God was giving them an opportunity to use their skill in the building of his holy Tabernacle. This was an honor that no one else in all of Israel shared except these two men.

This teaches us a couple of things: First, God has given all sorts of working gifts, and they are far from limited to a ‘spiritual’ setting. Don’t ever say, ‘I’m just a welder…carpenter…electrician…plumber’ God gave you those skills, use them, expand them, and teach them to others. God is honored by this!

Second, God gives each of us special opportunities when we are willing to use our gifts diligently and sometimes in obscurity. He loves to take the faithful workers and bring them to the forefront for everyone to celebrate. So, prepare for your moment, watch for it, and when God calls, jump on it!

Join me this Sunday as I talk about the benefits of working hard!

Dave

Why we need a MANifesto!

manifestoThis post is directed to all the guys out there. Not that it isn’t for women, or that women won’t get anything out of this, but this will be directed and worded for us men.

Guys, we need a cause to rally around. In our world today finding a real cause can be hard to come by. In ‘yesteryear’ causes were a dime a dozen. As a man, your biggest cause was to get food on the table so your family wouldn’t starve. This drove men to do and attempt all sorts of things because the cause was so great. Today, in our world of convenience stores, microwaves, fast-food, and food stamps the fear that your family will die of starvation is all but eliminated. Often the biggest ‘fear’ when times are REALLY bad is…do we have to cut cable. I just don’t see that as a rallying cry!

Think back to all of the guy movies or books you’ve ever read. Each and everyone of them (including the Bible) has a point where someone lays out a clear and compelling reason WHY they need to do this or that, and ends with all the men around them either cheering, gritting their teeth, or growling in stone faced agreement. So, what is our cause today, what is the reason why we should become the men God created us to be?

As a father and a husband that answer to me is crystal clear. The Bible tells me that as the head of my home I am to be the provider, the protector, and the priest of my home. My job is to make sure that all of my wife and my girls needs are provided for, that they lack for nothing. It doesn’t mean that they have to wear designer clothes and eat filet mignon every meal, but it means they have all they need physically to become all God’s called them to be. As protector my role is to watch over them. Not just from outside attacks, but from internal bad decisions. My job is to be able to see, think, and process ahead and do all I can to protect them from others and from themselves. As their priest, I have the enormous obligation of making sure that my family knows God, loves God, and lives for God. As the priest of my home I will one day stand before God and give an account for them before the Father. No, the physical starvation of my family is not imminent, but I wonder how many of our families are starving for us?

Dad’s if you are not around, if you are not providing, protecting, and pastoring your home, your family may be starving in a deeper, more significant, and potentially more devastating way that will cost them the blessing of God and the joy of walking in his will. Men, take back the reigns, be a man, be a father, be a husband. It’s not too late. Today is your day to start living your MANifesto to become the man God has called you to be, so you can be the dad and the husband your family is desperate for you to become!

I will pursue my God recklessly!                                                                                                          I will improve myself continually!                                                                                                      I will love my family unconditionally!                                                                                               I will do my job excellently!

Dave

Is Islam really a religion of peace?

1118islamThis question has been bandied around the internet a lot lately, especially since the shooting in Orlando. Often people are either ill-informed or just being run by their emotions when they comment on this, either for or against, on social media and I’m assuming when talking/discussing it with their friends.

As I pondered this post all of the standard answers began to flood my mind, and I sifted through all of the arguments both pro and con, processing just how I would address this, but none of these seem sufficient to truly answer the question. You see almost all of the posts that I have read deal with the physical death, torture, treatment of women, etc… These things are indeed horrific, but the Scripture tells us this:

Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. – Luke 12:4 NLT

This is an interesting statement by Jesus is it not?! His focus was not on the stuff of earth, because the stuff of earth is temporary. Jesus clarifies his meaning in the very next verse:

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. – Luke 12:5 NLT

He makes it very clear that the after-life or eternity is what we should concern ourselves with. That the temporary difficulties, struggles, pain, and hardship of this life are just that, temporary. He is challenging us to look past this life and ask the question, ‘What then?’

Taking that context let’s look at what Islam teaches about how you get to go to heaven and how you have a relationship with God. According to an official Islamic site, here is how you get to ‘Paradise’:

There are multiple ways to attain the pleasure of Allah SWT and enter His Jannah. Allah SWT has made it easy for us to enter His Jannah but some of us forget this due to an ‘attachment’ to this temporary worldly life!

Following are some hadiths which will show us 25 ways or good deeds to enter the Jannah. Remember, these are not the ‘only’ 25 ways and there should be ‘sincerity’ and ‘consistency’ in these acts to get Jannat-ul-Firdause InshaAllah. – OrbitIslam

So, Islam teaches that there are ‘multiple’ ways to get into Paradise, there is not only one way; that it is dependent upon us to do these deeds; and that paradise can be lost if we fall short.

The Bible teaches that there is only one way to get into Heaven, that it is not dependent on us but what Jesus Christ did, and that once we receive this salvation we can never lose it. The Bible teaches that God has won our salvation and made ‘peace with mankind’ through the death of his son Jesus Christ paying the price for our sin. But, the peace he has won is 0nly effective once we accept Jesus Christ, in essence sign the peace agreement with God.

He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.  Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. – Colossians 1:20-22 NLT

So, if Islam teaches that Jesus Christ is not the way to God, then all those who follow Islam do not have a relationship with God, and are not at peace with God. They have the full weight of the wrath and judgment of God upon their shoulders, and when their life ends they do not enter into his rest, but into his judgement…if Islam rejects the peace of God and leaves it’s followers standing in the way of God’s judgement, how could it possibly be a religion of peace?

Does this mean that God hates them, wants them dead, or that a muslim could never find salvation in Christ, well that’s a big fat NO!

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.- 2 Peter 3:9 NLT

Islam doesn’t teach it’s followers how to make peace with God, but God has not given up hope that some, maybe many, will turn to him, receive his grace, and enjoy his peace!

Dave

 

Should we feel differently because it was in a gay bar???

As news of the shooting in Orlando first began to trickle out, the information was incredibly, and in some ways still is, limited. Initially it was just a night club, no other real specifics came out. As the networks began to get additional information it was released that it was a gay bar, and that the shooter had specifically targeted them because of it. I wonder how many people internally had a change or even just a shift of emotions because of this revelation?

Some have even come out and expressed their feelings, suggesting that this was just ‘retribution’ or judgement of some kind from God. Others have hypothesized that ‘had they not been in that environment’ they’d still be alive today. Now, I can say with great certainty that I am far from being the most sensitive individual on the planet, but this strikes me as an egregious violation of a clear command from God to love others, and even if you see them as your ‘enemies’ for some reason, the Bible articulates that we are to ‘love our enemies’.

Death, in whatever form, is sorrowful. The link that we have as living being with others is a deep and meaningful thing, that when broken causes deep sadness and an emptiness in the lives of those left behind. But, when death comes so abruptly and violently the pain is sharper, deeper, and more distinct. Today across the United States families are grieving, friends are hurting, and the entire Orlando community is in shock. This was not a judgement from God, but the sin laced choices of a man who’s mind was warped with the hate of a man-made religion bent on world domination. (You may not like that last sentence, but that’s really to bad, because at it’s core that’s exactly what Islam is and it makes no prevention about it.)

More than 50 people entered into eternity the other night, my heart grieves. I pray for their families, I pray that those left behind seek out the truth and hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ, and that those who claim to know him, would act like him!

Dave

Pursuing God Recklessly!

Cliffhanger.jpgThis last week I began a new series entitled MANifesto, you can watch the first message here: Part 1.  I’m really excited about this series because it hits an area that I feel passionate about, and that is calling men to be men, period! Our culture, our world, and even ‘religion’ is doing everything it can to de-men, men. The reason behind all of this is that when men are men it often makes people uncomfortable. As men we like doing difficult things, we like doing things that are dangerous, scary, messy, dirty, and yes reckless.

The definition of reckless is ‘doing something and being unconcerned about the potential outcome or cost’. Part of the reason that men have walked away from church and God is because over the last 5-7 decades the church-world has declawed Christianity. It’s been made safe and predictable, comfortable even. We sit is soft chairs, listen to simple/boring messages that tell us that Jesus loves us and be nice to each other, as we sing wispy songs that talk about loving another man…yeah that’s not something I see guys standing in line for!

It’s way past time that we reclaim the genuine masculinity of the faith. The faith of a mighty leader like Moses, a brilliant general like Joshua, a fiery preacher like Elijah, a rough fisherman like Peter, and a skilled carpenter like Jesus! Men, God has big, brilliant, terrifying, un-safe plans for your life, but unless you pursue him recklessly your faith will be about as dangerous as a declawed kitten…it’s time we become wild lions!

Dave

 

Memorial Day

It has been my privilege to travel to dozens of countries around the world, some of you Happy-Memorial-Day
have traveled less, and others like my father who has been in almost 100 countries, have traveled more. As I’ve chatted over the years with those who extensively travel abroad, especially to third world countries, there is a common refrain that I hear, “I’m so thankful to have been born an American!”

In years past you would hear that far more often than you do today. Unfortunately, for many, the idea of being an American is something that is almost shameful or at best we ‘should’ feel guilty because we’ve enjoyed such freedoms. This thinking lies directly in the attitude that we have more, therefore it must have come at the expense of others. This is an incredibly limited and naive view, and one that has almost zero fact based in real history. The United States of America has never entered a war as an aggressor or for the purpose of colonizing, like many countries did in the 1400’s-1800’s. Every war that we have ever engaged in was because either we were attacked or we were coming to the defense of others. Do I agree with all of them, probably not; neither do I agree with how each of them was conducted, but that is not the point here.

The freedom that was won by our forefathers did not come cheaply nor has it remained without great cost. This day, Memorial Day, is set aside, not for us to hang out with friends, drink beer, and eat brats (not bad just not the point). This day was set aside for each of us as citizens of this great country, to pause and be thankful. To be thankful for every man and woman that gave their life in defense of our country. This is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. This is something to be cherished and honored. Someone else, many someone else’s, gave their all so you could do whatever you are going to do today. Don’t stain their memory or cheapen their sacrifice by apologizing for the country they defended with their very lives. Are we a perfect nation, no…not by a long shot, but after traveling around the world and listening to those who’ve done so far more than I, we’ve got a lot more figured out then about 95% of the rest…and that ain’t bad!

Happy Memorial Day, and thank you to those who gave their all!

Dave

The birth of “Acorn Ridge”

Over the last several weeks I’ve had several people ask me about our property and how things are coming along. If you remember I shared with you all our dream of opening up a retreat center for Pastors, Missionaries, Military and Law Enforcement Chaplains, and other leaders in our post when we were selling our home.  Since moving in on December 23rd…yes you read that correctly two days before Christmas, (oh and we had family staying with us, we just like to do things difficult) we have made a ton of progress!

The most exciting and recent development is that we are now an officially recognized non-profit business in the state of Indiana. I went through the process of writing our Articles of Incorporation (yeah that was fun), jumping through the appropriate hoops, and cutting the necessary red tape, and we received our notification on Monday. So, we now are officially Acorn Ridge Retreats Inc. Now, I get to go through the exciting and exuberayting process of applying for 501 c3 status with the Federal government…anyone want to help with that?

Here are some of the physical things we’ve been up to:

  • There are two houses on the property, one is the main log cabin, and the other is a 2
    IMG_0221

    Daisy looking very despondent because of all the work to do

    IMG_0154

    One bedroom after drywall and primer

    IMG_0289

    The flooring that made me limp for a month!

    bedroom stick-built home that was pretty much trashed. I pretty much gutted the house, and I am still in process of putting it all back together again. Our oldest daughter Kaitlyn, is currently living in the house, but once she moves on from us…a little tear just fell…we will open up that house to our guests.

  • There is a small, 400 sq ft, cabin that the previous owners used as a practice run for the main cabin. It is just an empty shell, but our plan for that is to turn it into a ‘tiny home’ for our guests as well. Unlike the stick built home, I haven’t had a chance to do anything with this yet. But, I’m hoping as I wrap up some of the other projects currently going on around the property I’ll be able to start getting this piece ready for guests as well.

 

  • Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a piece of the property that I hadn’t even thought of before, but after a conversation with a friend, I realized what a cool tool it could be. I took an overgrown, but fairly level piece of the land and tore IMG_0520it all up, I removed trees, shrubs, a few woodland creatures…don’t worry there’s lots of land for them to move to…and created a nice ‘camping’ area where those who travel around the country in RV’s could come and park and enjoy the retreat area as well. Yesterday afternoon I had 12 cubic yards of stone delivered and I began the process of graveling so that they could easily level their traveling homes and enjoy an extended stay. The IMG_4540only thing left to do is to run a 50Amp line for them to plug in and water. Hey, anyone have a trencher or Ditch-Witch just laying around???
  • There is an extensive flower bed and stone bed system on the property. However, all of the beds were badly overgrown. We’ve killed, uprooted, and hacked out about 80% of the vegetation and now are preparing to lay a ton…literally…a ton of mulch.

You may read all of this and be asking yourself, ‘why in the world would they do this, are they just that bored?’ No, I promise you, with everything going on at Friendship and all of the growth, construction, and everything that comes with it, we are FAR from bored. But, several years ago we were blessed beyond belief with our sabbatical, and from that point on we’ve been asking God to allow us to be a blessing like that in the lives of other pastors and leaders who bear such a heavy burden on a regular basis, and who rarely if ever have the luxury of just being a human being. This is not just a dream for us, but a labor of love. Our hope is that through this extension of Friendship Church we will either directly or indirectly save some leaders from burnout, some marriages from failing, and some churches from deep hurt. The verse we’ve chosen as our theme is Hebrews 6:10 NLT, here’s what it says:

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

Believe it or not, our first guest will be coming the weekend of June 17th, which is about 2 years before we planned on it, but hey, God always has better, bigger, and more beautiful plans than we do!

This is Traci and my dream, but it’s an extension of Friendship, and every ministry family served will be served by you! Thank you for your faithfulness, for your love of our family and all of our leadership families, and thank you for allowing me to be your pastor! You guys are awesome!!!

Dave