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A Wise and Purposeful Walk

Jan 22 2019 Dr. Carl Hargrove 

A great deal can happen in a second. A hummingbird’s wings flap two hundred times, light travels 186,282 miles, 10.4 million liters of water flow from Victoria Falls, we send 3.4 million emails, and Facebook users create forty-one thousand posts. But, if we increase that time slightly to 1.8 seconds, something exponentially more significant takes place.

Every 1.8 seconds someone dies and enters their eternal destination. By the time you’re done reading this article, over four hundred people will have died. And most will spend an eternity separated from God’s glory and instead experience eternal suffering (Matt 7:13-14).

This gives even a short amount of time, like 1.8 seconds, great significance in our daily lives and decisions. May we all, as Paul says, make the “best use of the time” by walking wisely in the world as lights in the midst of darkness. Let’s see how the apostle describes the life of wisdom in Colossians 4:5-6:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. – Colossians 4:5-6

Wisdom in the World

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders…”

Balanced Wisdom

Scripture is very clear concerning our relationship to the world. We are not to be like it, love it, or find satisfaction with its offerings. We must prepare for the world to hate us while living in such a way that our lives give testimony to our faith. This spiritual balance calls us to avoid and even hate the world system while at the same time loving the lost souls who are bound by their sinful nature and the evil influence in society. Paul calls believers to walk in wisdom toward outsiders because f inding this spiritual balance requires a great deal of wisdom. And if we don’t discover it, we may fall into the trappings of the world we are to speak against and fail at rescuing sinners from them. Our influence is a spiritual one as we proclaim the gospel as the only means of hope and purpose worth achieving.

Motivated Wisdom

The context of our passage directs us to this purpose. Colossians 3:1-17 acts as the motivating instruction to fulfill the relationships in 3:18 and following. Christ is the supreme example and motivation (vv.1-4), the past habits are to be put to death (vv.5-11), the virtues of the new life must be prominent (vv.12-17), the family codes offer practical direction (3:18-4:1), and the prayers for grace and focus are needed for Paul’s final statement in 4:5-6 (4:2-4). His statement is the ultimate expression of a life motivated by Christ’s example, work, and our transforming salvation.

Purposed Wisdom

The New Testament definition of wisdom is consistent with the Old Testament. It is to live or walk through life with skill. The word carries the idea of having a particular skill and wisdom for life (Ex 28:3; 31:3; 35:31; Dan 5:11). So, to walk in wisdom means that we are called to walk skillfully for the glory of God and our benefit. The theme of wisdom is consistent in Colossians (1:9; 2:3, 8; 3:16) and the New Testament provides a comprehensive view of walking with God (Newness Rom 6:4; Faith 2 Cor 5:7; Governed Gal 6:16; Ro 8:4; Eph 5:8; 2 John 6; Predetermined Eph 2:10; Forsaking Eph 4:17; Loving Eph 5:2; Honoring Col 1:10; Col 2:6; Growing 1 Thes 4:1; Emulating Phil 3:17; 1 John 2:6). These nine features are descriptive of our spiritual journey which lead us to an ultimate objective—to glorify God by living with wisdom toward outsiders.

Ordered Wisdom

After instructing the Colossians in family life, he helps them understand their relationship to those in the world. It is essential that you appreciate the order. The qualifications of an elder illustrate this. He must be qualified spiritually, and a testing ground is his home; so, the church must be spiritually qualified, and its body and family life must be in order before it is truly prepared to reach those on the outside. When you look in the mirror of your life, what wisdom do you speak to your heart? Do you have a sincere and affectionate vision of Christ that motivates you to walk with wisdom in this world?


There is an obvious implication in this call to walk in wisdom—the need for the command because, we, like the Colossians, may choose to live in a manner opposite of wisdom. Or worse yet, we may choose to embrace a pseudo-wisdom. The false teachers were communicating that adherence to their doctrine and regulations was wisdom (skill) for living a religious life (Col 2:4, 8, 16, 18-23). However, Paul makes it evident that this wisdom has no spiritual value whatsoever.

As all religious instruction apart from biblical truth and God’s grace is condemning, so was the error presented at Colossae two thousand years ago, and sadly, many are presented with some form of this delusion today. It is important to understand that Paul’s call to wisdom is not disconnected from the purpose of the letter—to present Christ as the sufficient means of hope and warn against the false teachers’ claims of spirituality and wisdom. If Paul doesn’t distinguish between the wisdom of the world and that of Christ, then the Colossians’ influence in the world would have its basis in a system as verse twenty-three states, that is of no value.

Genuine wisdom desires to seize evangelistic opportunities

“Making the best use of the time…”

There is a redemptive nature in a wise walk. The basis is in a pregnant word which is not the easiest to grasp in this context. Making the most of the opportunity means to live in such a way that occasions to witness for Christ don’t escape our grasp. It is a focus not on time, but on opportunities that arise in life moments. We are to redeem them for Kingdom progress.

It has been said, “Yesterday is a canceled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is the only cash you have—spend it wisely.” We must understand and prepare for evangelistic opportunities (καιρὸν) in life. Be active and ready to respond. Look for doors of evangelism opening before you, and walk through. Avoid always waiting for someone to open those doors for you.

The Gracious Nature of a Wise Walk

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt…”

How does one have gracious speech? This expressive appositional clause helps us understand that gracious speech is needed to take advantage of opportunities presented us. This “salted” speech is engaging and wise and reflects an ability to speak in the moment with a proper tone because of a temperament of grace.

Consider what the Scripture says concerning our relationship to the world with an emphasis on our spiritual influence:

  • Do all things without grumbling or disputing…you appear as lights in the world. (Phil 2:14-15)
  • Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands…so that you will behave properly toward outsiders. (1 Thess 4:11, 12 11)
  • Have a good reputation with those outside the church so that you will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:7)
  • Be sound in speech which is beyond reproach so that an opponent may have nothing bad to say about us. (Tit 2:8)
  • By doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Pet 2:15)
  • Give no offense, seek to please everyone, not for your advantage, but that many might be saved. (1 Cor 10:28-33)

Right before our verses, there is a flow of thought that is also relevant to our speech. Colossians 4:3-4 says, “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Success in our speech with those outside the faith begins with our speech to God in prayer.

Our Ultimate Objective

“So that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Our ultimate objective is to witness for the cause of the gospel as a fulfillment of the Great Commission—to go and make disciples of the nations. And this must be done corporately and personally.

Walking with this purpose must be done with personal awareness. Paul tells us that we are to have what I will call a consummating purpose. Every truth written to the Colossians culminates in this purpose. The message of the gospel is sufficient because it originates from God, is a message about God, and will only be successful through the grace of God. Yet, it must be directed to individuals. We must learn how to take the unwavering, unadulterated, and sufficient truth of the gospel and address it to the needs and objections of people from diverse backgrounds (religiously lost, agnostic, homosexual, liberal, moralist, etc.). Learn to respond to “each person” with the hope of the gospel.

Time Waits for No Man

Moses challenged us to live with purpose in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” When your life is over, what you present to God will be determined by how you chose to walk in wisdom before a dying and needy world. One would think that applying this would be easy because it is straight forward and we are a people who love God and His truth. But it won’t always be easy. There is a pull from the world that can be resisted if you look above (Col 3:1-4) for the motivation to live a wise and purposeful walk.

AUDIO What To Remember When You’re Having A Bad Hair Day

By Rev Bill Woods

Romans 8:26-29 esp. 28

26  In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;

27  and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

29  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

A man hiking a mountain road saw an Indian lying in the road — ear pressed to the ground.

    – The Indian was talking.

He mumbled:  “Truck, Chevy truck, Chevy pick-up truck, large tires, man driving, German Shepherd in front seat, loaded with firewood, California license plate — UBH123.

    – The hiker was astounded:  “That’s unbelievable!  You know all that just by listening to the ground?” 

      – The Indian said, “No!  Truck ran over me 30 minutes ago.”

Life’s like that.

    – We don’t always see what’s coming — when it does, it runs over us.

Worse, no matter how you try, you can’t keep from having a bad hair day.

    – You can plan, prepare, do all you know to avoid those days, but they come anyway.

A train was going through a town — it wasn’t scheduled to stop.

    – A very short passenger wanted off — He’d have to pay $100 to taxi back.

The man next to him said, “The train slows down to pick up a mailbag.  When it slows I’ll hold you out the window.  I’ll drop you and you start running so you won’t fall on your face — simply run to a stop.”

The train slowed — the man dropped his friend out the window.

    – The little man was running along the platform waving, thanks for his help.

A man in the next car saw the little man running and waving. 

    – He reached out — grabbed him, pulled him through the window, and said, “This is your lucky day, you almost missed the train!”

1.  Life’s filled with bad hair days, even bad hair months, or bad hair years.

Remember Romans 8:28:                                                                                              

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

    – God’s given us 3 truths for a bad hair day.

      – They’re promise, providence, and purpose.


    – 3 words are important to understand.

1st is “We.”

Paul said, “And WE know that God causes all things work together for good.”                          

    – Who is “WE?”

    – “We’re the ones who ‘love God’ and are ‘called.’”

2 kinds of people — those who love God, and those who don’t.

    – Not everyone claiming to love God, loves God. — John 14:21 — “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

But, “We” are the ones who are “called.”

    – God calls those who love Him to be part of His family — those who surrender to Jesus  become children of God.

God’s Promises are for His children.

    – Not everybody can say, “Don’t worry, everything will work out.”

      – Everything doesn’t work out for everybody.

        – Everything only works out for God’s children.

Some think, “I’m not a child of God, and everything’s working out for me.”

    – If you die, and spend eternity without God, things didn’t work out for you.

2nd word is, “Know.”

    – Paul said, “and we know that all things work together for good.”

      – There are a lot of things about God, the Bible and life, we don’t know.

Romans 8:26 — In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;

We don’t always know how to pray.

    – What Jesus looks like.

      – When He’s coming back.

        – What’s going to happen in the next 5 minutes.

It’s dishonest to claim you don’t know what you do know.

    – It’s foolish to claim you do know what you don’t know.

      – No one should hesitate claiming to know what they do know — this you can know.

You might not like or understand what God’s doing.

    – But you can KNOW God’s making things work together for your good.

3rd word “ALL.” — We know that ALL things work together for good.”

If Paul had said, “few,” or “some,” or “most” we’d not argue.

    – He said, “ALL things work together for good……..”

He didn’t say, God works all things out for our good most of the time, nor most things out for good all of the time.

    – He said, “God works all things out together for our good ALL of the time.”

It doesn’t say “we see all things work together for good.”

    – You can know — whether you see it or not!

      – Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean God can’t see it.

How could the plane crash on May 18, killing 10 pastors and wives in Cuba work out for good?

    – Jim Elliot and 4 other missionaries martyred in 1956…………..

        – Never doubt in the dark what God’s told you in the light.


    – Behind every promise is the providence of God.

      – The oldest manuscripts say:  “God works all things together for good.”

        — IT’S TRUE!

Do you understand what providence means?

    – It’s from 2 words:  pro meaning “before,” and video meaning “to see.”

      – Providence means, “To see beforehand and to provide for what’s seen.”

“Provide” is in “providence.”

    – The providence of God means God sees everything before it happens, and provides for it  and sees that it fits His Plan for your life.

There are no accidents in a Christian’s life — just appointments?

    – Disappointments are really “His appointments.”

      – Often what we think is a rock of disappointment, turns to be a boulder of blessing.

A man was shipwrecked on an uninhabited island.

    – He gathered his few belongings that washed ashore and built a hut to shelter himself and  his things.

For weeks all he had was hot sun, cold rain, and dark nights.

    – He prayed a ship would come — nothing came.

      – One evening he went looking for food, and saw smoke rising from his hut.

        – He ran back — his hut was engulfed in flames!

His campfire had set the hut on fire and burned everything he had.

    – He went to sleep crying to God, “Why has this happened to me?  Why’d you let my hut burn? – Why’d you cause me to lose everything?”

Next morning he woke to find a ship anchored off the island, the rescue he’d prayed for was there.

    – He heard footsteps and turned — men from that ship had come to rescue him.

He asked, “How’d you find me?”

    – “We were passing by, saw your signal fire and came to rescue you.”

God can take a fire and turn it into a light that delivers you from darkness.

    – He can take a flood and turn it to a river of blessing.

The Greek for “work together” gives the English word “synergy.”

    – Synergy is what happens when individual parts of something come together into a whole,  making a greater and a better effect than each individual part could’ve on its own.

Think about it:  Every moment of every day is one individual piece of the puzzle of God’s Plan for your life.

    – God can reach into a bag of circumstances any given day, pull out any piece, fit it perfectly

       in the puzzle of His Plan for you.

That doesn’t mean everything that happens to us is good.

Everything isn’t good, but everything will ultimately work together for your good.

I’ve watched Marty bake cakes.

    – Eat any of those individual ingredients and they’re not too tasty.

      – Do you enjoy eating flour?

        – Would you like a meal of baking powder?

          – How about a cup of Crisco?

            – Or a glass of raw eggs?

Those things by themselves taste awful and are harmful.

She takes those ingredients, mixes them together, puts them in the oven and out comes a cake.

    – It isn’t what goes into the bowl that matters; it’s what comes out of the oven that counts.

You won’t always enjoy the ingredients God puts into your life.

    – But when He’s finished baking it, you’ll have “Romans 8:28 cake,” — the taste will be  unbelievable!

Every day we eat 2 deadly poisons — sodium and chloride.

    – Either taken alone can kill you — together they form sodium chloride — salt!

      – Either one without the other can poison you — both together can bless you.

If we take 2 things that are bad and make something good, surely God can take everything that’s bad and make it into good.

3.  Remember God’s PURPOSE. — God’s purpose for you is “good.”

That doesn’t mean things will turn out like you think they should — certain things that are bad at the time really are good.

–           Lyle fell and sprained his ankle at Pastor’s Retreat.  It was painful and curtailed some of his activities he wanted to do.

–           When he went to the doctor he found his blood pressure was so high that he was about to have a stroke. 

–           What seemed bad at the time turned out to be good because it probably saved his life.


Normally, thanking God for a sprained ankle or a flat tire seems crazy, but we give thanks “in all things.”

    – Good doesn’t necessarily mean health — not all Christians are healthy.

      – It doesn’t necessarily mean wealth — not all Christians are wealthy.

        – God’s purpose for you isn’t to be healthy, happy, rich or famous.

His purpose is found in Romans 8:29 — For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

– Paul said, we’ve been “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.”

– The word, “predestined,” scares a lot of Christians.  We were all chosen (predestined) to go to Heaven (John 3:16), but we have the power of choice to choose back…………….

      – God’s purpose is that you be like Jesus.

The best thing that can happen isn’t to be a millionaire, or be famous, to live in a mansion, or drive a Mercedes.

    – The best thing that can happen is to us is to become like Jesus.

Only God knows what’s good for you.

    – What’s good isn’t necessarily what you think is best.

      – God’s “good” always is better than your “best.”

In 1971, Ravi Zacharias, ministered in Vietnam.

    – His interpreter was Hein Pham, a young Christian who was a translator with the American Military and with missionaries.

Zacharias left Vietnam — within 4 years Vietnam fell and Zacharias didn’t hear about Hein Pham’s fate.

    – 17 years later in 1988, Hein Pham called Ravi Zacharias to say he was in the US.

   – The story can only be explained by the promise, providence, and purpose of  God.

After Vietnam fell to the Communists, Hein was arrested for aiding the American cause.

    – He was in and out of prison for several years.

During one long jail term, the sole purpose was to turn him against Democratic ideals and his Christian faith.

    – He couldn’t read anything in English, only Communist propaganda in French or Vietnamese.

        – Every day he was forced to read Marx, Engels, and other Communist philosophers.

He began to buckle under the pressure.

    – “Maybe,” he thought, “I’ve been lied to — maybe God doesn’t exist.  Maybe God is a farce.”

He decided he’d never again pray or think of his Christian faith.

    – Next day he was assigned to clean the latrines in the prison.

      – No one wanted that job — distressed, he began cleaning toilets.

As he cleaned a tin can filled to overflowing with toilet paper, he saw something in English printed on a piece of paper.

    – He washed it off and slipped it into his pocket.

      – That night he pulled out a flashlight and shined it on the paper.

        – He read at the top corner, “Romans chapter 8.”

        – Trembling, he read — Romans 8:28

Hein began to weep.  He knew his Bible.

    – There wasn’t a more relevant passage of conviction, encouragement and strength for

       someone in his position.

      – He cried for God’s forgiveness saying he’d never again turn his back on Christ.

Hein asked the Commander if he could clean the latrine again.

    – An unusual request, but they let him do it — every day he cleaned the latrines.

Some official was using the Bible as toilet paper.

    – Every day Hein found a Scripture, cleaned it, and read it in his devotions.

The day finally came for his release.

    – He began making plans to escape from the country.

After several unsuccessful attempts he began building a boat in secret.

    – 53 people planned to escape with him.

Everything was fine until 4 Viet Cong knocked on Hein’s door.

    – When he opened it, they said they’d heard he was trying to escape.  “Is it true?”

      – Hein denied it, and made up a story about what he was doing.

They turned and left — Hein was relieved, but disappointed in himself.

He said, “Here I go again, Lord, trying to manipulate my own destiny, rather than letting You work all things out together for my good.”

He made a promise he hoped God wouldn’t make him keep — if the Viet Cong came back, he’d tell the truth.

    – Hours before they were to leave, there was another knock.

      – He opened the door and found the same 4 Viet Cong.

They said, “We have our sources, we know you’re trying to escape.  Is it true?”

    – He said, “Yes, I’m with 53 others.  Are you going to imprison me?”

They said, “No, we want to go with you!”

    – In an incredible escape plan, all 58 found themselves on the high seas engulfed by a violent storm.

Hein cried to God, “Did You bring us here to die?”

    – Then he said, “Brother Ravi, those 4 Viet Cong said, ‘didn’t you know we were sailors?’”

     – He said, “If it hadn’t been for their sailing ability we’d never have made it.”

When Peter Marshall was Chaplain of the U. S. Senate, he prayed some of the greatest prayers recorded.

    – On June 6, 1947, he prayed before the United States Senate:

Oh God, our Heavenly Father, restore our faith in the ultimate triumph of Thy plan for the world Thou hast made.  In spite of present difficulties, reassure us that Thou art still in control.  When we become frustrated and give up, remind us that Thou art holding things together waiting, and working, and watching.  When we make mistakes, help us to remember that Thou dost not give up on us.  Forbid it, Lord that we should give up on Thee, and forget that all things work together for them that love Thee.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

David MacKenzie said: To act out the principle of turning prayers over to God, we took a paper bag, wrote “God” on it, and taped it up high on the back of our kitchen door. As I prayed about matters such as my career, my role as a father, my abilities to be a good husband, I would write down each concern on a piece of paper. Then those pieces of paper would go in the bag. The rule was that if you start worrying about a matter of prayer that you’ve turned over to God, you have to climb up on a chair and fish it out of the bag. I don’t want to admit how much time I spent sifting through those scraps of paper.

I read how you can tell when it’s going to be a rotten day:

You wake up face down on the pavement.

You call Suicide Prevention and they put you on hold.

You see a “60 Minutes” news team waiting in your office.

Your birthday cake collapses from the weight of the candles. 

You turn on the news and they’re showing emergency routes out of the city.                                     

Your twin sister forgot your birthday.

Your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a group of Hell’s Angels on the freeway.

Your boss tells you not to bother to take off your coat.

The bird singing outside your window is a buzzard.   

You wake up and your braces are locked together.  

You call your answering service and they tell you it’s none of your business.   

Your income tax check bounces.    

You put both contact lenses in the same eye.

Your wife says, “Good morning, Sam”, and your name is George.

We can joke about bad days, but when I’m having a bad day I want to rely on the fact that Jesus is there to help me through it.

And that He promises it will work out for my good. 

He’s promised the same thing to you.   

 –    Do you know Him as your Lord and Savior?


28  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.


Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Two historic women, one old and one young, were the first to welcome and praise the Savior of the world. And two glorious paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events.

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Dec 23, 2019

If quizzed “Who was the first person to welcome Jesus and announce his lordship?” how would you answer? It’s an important question when we consider that this man from the nowhere town of Nazareth is the most consequential individual ever.

His teaching and followers across the globe radically transformed world culture, toppled great powers without ever firing a shot, established the world of humanitarianism and accessible medical care for commoners, inspired the scientific method, and enlivened the world movements for justice, human dignity, and individual freedom. He literally divides history and is responsible for the founding of the largest, most diverse collection of people around some basic ideals.

This all started with two women no one had ever heard of, whose life-altering experiences are now illustrated in two exquisite works of art. Mary, a humble, young virgin, by tradition about 14 years old at the time, is told by an angel she will give birth to the very Son of God. At this striking news, she “arose and went with haste” to see her cherished relative, Elizabeth, some 90 miles away.

Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her own miraculous pregnancy, for she was well past child-bearing years. Of course, her baby was Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.

The beauty of this part of the Christmas story is the miracle that happens the moment Mary enters Elizabeth’s home. Christ is recognized, received, proclaimed, and worshiped, and Mary and Elizabeth are not the only two involved in the divine drama here. We read in Luke 1:41-44:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

This is a major event in Jesus’ story and thus the Christian church, but we seldom appreciate it as such. It is the first time Jesus is both proclaimed and worshiped as God! This was done, we are told, “in a loud voice.” And Christ the Lord is worshiped by two people at the same time — one very old, one super young.

The First to Proclaim Jesus’ Lordship

Elizabeth proclaims the blessedness of Jesus and his mother. The simple but world-changing confession, “Jesus is Lord,” was the first and most basic way Christians began to proclaim their faith and greet one another in the church’s early years. It was the first Christian creed, and Elizabeth was the first to proclaim it, long before Christmas morning. Think on that for a moment.

The second greeting is even more incredible and speaks to an intimate relationship in the Savior’s life. Baby John leaps for joy, literally, at the coming of the Savior. He does so as a child in the darkness of his mother’s womb. (Yes, Christianity has profoundly strong words for the humanity and dignity of the unborn child in John and Jesus’ remarkable in utero contribution to the good news.)

John did not start serving as the forerunner of Christ when preaching about his coming in the desert. It was here, in the womb. And it was two very common mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, who experienced this remarkable, history-changing event. It happened in distinctly womanly interiors of their hearts and wombs, and in the humbleness of Elizabeth’s home. Humble motherhood and the intimate bond only mothers can share is the human font of the Christian story.

To be sure, the Christian church, which is often incorrectly charged with being sexist by people who know little of its actual story, is founded upon two women being the first to welcome and praise the Savior. (Remember as well, it was a small group of women who announced the “second birth” of the Savior, if you will, at his resurrection.) What other major faith or philosophy has women playing such a significant role in its founding? I cannot think of one.

Two famous paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events, “The Annunciation” and “The Visitation.” The first African-American painter to achieve significant critical acclaim, Henry Ossawa Tanner, created both. He is a remarkable man and one of my favorite artists.

Christmas paintings by Henry O. Tanner

‘The Annunciation’

One of the things I like best in Tanner’s two works here is that he shows us the simple humanness of Mary and Elizabeth. They are not supernatural, other-worldly, saintly subjects in the typical sense. Tanner’s images show us the regular, everyday women they were.

Christmas Painting The Annunciation

He will not allow us to miss the youth, innocence, and commonness of our Mary. Tanner doesn’t give her a facial expression communicating anything obvious. Is she scared? Stunned? Joyful? Solemn? His Mary is more complex than many artists’ as is undoubtably true of the actual event. Tanner has her communicating all these feelings and struggles at once.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with this most startling news, he found a teenage girl living a typical teenage girl’s life. The greatest royal announcement in the history of the universe takes place in this teen girl’s humble bedroom, illuminated by the majesty of God’s oracle. That is precisely what Tanner gives us, and it’s just stunning. Also, his technique in presenting the folds and flow of her gown and bed coverings is nothing short of magnificent.

‘The Visitation’

As wonderful as Tanner’s “Annunciation” is, his “Visitation” is even more striking.

Just look at it and consider what’s happening here.

When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Christmas painting The Visitation

Tanner allows us personally to witness this event. Elizabeth most likely did not have any notice that Mary was coming or the grand news that prompted the visit. She sits at the table on an ordinary day, when she hears Mary possibly utter what any of us likely would as she comes to the door, “Liz, you home?”

Elizabeth’s divine surprise and wonder is dramatically communicated simply in her uplifted hands. It’s a glorious device. Are they hands of praise or surprise? Certainly both at the same time.

This simple scene of a surprise family visitation and domesticity is the first scene of Jesus being worshiped. Reflect on this a moment. The event we are witnessing right here in this kitchen is the initiation of what the rest of history and eternity will be about, the worship of the second person of the divine Trinity: Jesus, the Father’s beloved Son.

The interchange between these two women in this domestic setting is unspeakably profound. We typically move over it far too easily, wanting to get onto what we see as the center of the Christmas story, the manger.

This exchange is also vitally important because it is the first revelation of Christ beyond Mary’s heart and womb. It is the precise second and scene that commenced the worship of the Son of the God that will continue without end into eternity, the story that encapsulates a Christian’s whole reality.

P.S. Tanner Lived in Philadelphia

I knew Tanner lived in Philadelphia for some time, so on a business trip there some years ago, I wanted to see if his house was discoverable. It was, and I found it, right around the corner from John Coltrane’s home. How cool is that?

Henry O. Tanner house

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at

Practical Life’s Lessons From The Nativity

by Pastor Ray Patrick

1. Spend Quiet Time with Yahweh

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

The baby was soon to come and Mary had so much to do. In spite of all her preparations in the physical, she had to spend spiritual one on one time with God. Spending time alone with God is an important part of spiritual development. This week, amidst hectic holiday preparations, make time for quiet meditation. Stop the talking, working and rushing long enough to be still. God is waiting for you. Begin now!

2. Yahweh Source of All Hope

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

Isaiah 40:31

For 9 months Mary and Joseph lived with great hope and expectations. Hope is a powerful thing, but the real strength comes from the source of hope. When you place your desires and dreams into the hands of God, nothing is impossible. Hope for all mankind came through Christ, born as a lowly child in a stable.

Are you feeling run down, dealing with worry or frustration?

Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ today, say a prayer and stand in hope…

3.  Make Faith In Yahweh a Habit

So exercise yourself spiritually and practice being a better Christian.

1 Timothy 4:8

Mary had to make faith a daily habit. She had to trust God moment by moment, day by day. Through loneliness, ridicule and the pain of pregnancy she had to exercise faith and make it a habit. Someone once said that practice does not make perfect; practice makes habit. This advent season, dedicate time to your spiritual exercises–prayer, Bible reading, meditation and make deepening your relationship with God a daily exercise. So like Mary, you can stay on track on your spiritual journey.

4. Focus on Yahweh’s Gift

Be very careful, then, how you live…making the most of every opportunity.

Ephesians 5:15-16

This time of year was a busy time in the Jewish calendar. Mary and Joseph would have had lots to do. But they had to stay focused on the gift God had blessed them with. December is a busy month for most of us. Filled with opportunities—parties to attend, special worship experiences to have and chances to reconnect with family and old friends. Make sure to focus your heart on the true reason for every Season. Focus on God the man, Christ Jesus and the tremendous difference He makes in your life. Pray for the wisdom to keep the holidays blessed rather than stressed.

Pray With Me
Yahweh, our Creator, we offer this humble prayer today. Father, we worship you with a song of thanks in our hearts—a song of redemption, a song of hope and renewal. We pray for joy, hope, love, forgiveness and peace upon the Earth. God, we ask for the salvation of all our family members and friends, and we pray your blessings on all people. May there be bread for the hungry, love for the unlovable, healing for the sick, protection for our children, and wisdom for our youth. We pray for the forgiveness of sinners and abundant life in Christ. Holy Spirit, be with us in love and power. In Christ’ name. Amen.

She’s Interested and He’s Not Pursuing

What’s up with all the godly Christian men not making a move?

by Godinterest

Houston, we have a problem. It’s a problem that will require all of our effort, courage, confidence and creativity to solve.

Christianity is the largest religion in the world, claiming 2.2 billion of the world’s 6.9 billion people, as of last year and dating is a big deal for most young Christians. However, ask any young woman what the Christian dating scene is like these days.

“Christian men … ugh.”  Grim. Impossible. Slim pickings they’ll  say.

Young Christian men simply won’t commit, they’ll  say and if you’re lucky they’ll  call once — never to be heard from again.

And the churchgoing men who are available? Well, there’s a reason they’re single.

“Usually, he respects or admires the godly young woman (or, other people in his Church think he should admire her more), and yet he’s not physically attracted to her. She’s not his “type,” he says.”

So why are all the single Christian ladies having trouble finding single Christian guys for companionship and romance?  A plethora of Christian dating websites, books, blogs, advice columns, and magazine articles have surfaced in the last few years, attempting to give Christian young women some helpful tips for snagging a godly man and achieving that much-desired state of wedded bliss.

  • Date for at least a year.
  • Don’t kiss before you’re married.
  • Be careful how much time you spend together.
  • Date a bunch of people before getting serious.
  • Don’t unless you are ready to move in the direction of marriage.

It’s not terrible advice– waiting until marriage takes work. But here’s the thing: Relationships take work.  However, while most Chrisitan ladies have internal regulations in the form of our Spirit inspired convictions and knowledge of the Bible, it does not seem to be enough?

Could it be that we screened all the godly young men out of church as boys?  

Probably not entirely, as according to Mark Regenerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas, young single women in the church outnumber young single men by a three-to-two ratio.

That’s right ladies, you’re not imagining it: there’s a severe shortage of single men in the church. Not just here in the U.S., but also around the world.

“There are almost no men in my country who are following Christ. And French men will not marry a woman whose faith in Jesus is so strong. She is a leper in their eyes.” –  Christian woman from France

A young godly man knows he’s a catch — particularly if he’s dedicated to his faith, good looking and works out and there are hardly any other man is his Church. With each week that passes, he’s presented with a congregation full of single women. Most haven’t been on a date in a while. He has his pick of the bunch.

There’s even a joke about the gender imbalance. It goes like this:

“Men in the church are like parking spaces. All the good ones are either already taken, or they’re handicapped.”

Furthermore, it has been confirmed that the supply of young women grows with each passing year.

So whats the solution?

God Will Orchestrate the Love Story

Do you find yourself becoming resentful that God is withholding something from you?

  • Still waiting to find the man of your dreams
  • Your greatest desire is to have a baby
  • You want to experience the joy of being “equally yoked” with a godly husband

Desperation is dangerous because it focuses on self: What I want. What I must have. What I cannot live without. Firstly,  if and when the time comes for you to be married, God will orchestrate the love story. But in the meantime, your focus is to be on serving God and pouring your life out for God, not on getting serious about getting married. The timing is up to God, not you.

Singled Out in Church

Secondly, research shows that single men are more likely to attend churches that fit the following profile:

  • Large
  • Headed by a male pastor who’s bold and outspoken
  • Offers intentional male discipleship
  • Worship service is done in under 90 minutes

Apart from salvation, there is perhaps a way that the concept “God helps those who help themselves” is correct. We’re not suggesting you switch churches over this issue. It probably wouldn’t hurt to visit another church once in awhile — especially if your church offers nothing for singles.

Also remember that there are actually some Christ-men out there who are praying and hoping for a set-apart young woman — one who is not following after the trends of the culture, or who are not wallowing around in discontentment or on the constant prowl for a guy.

Any pastors who are reading, have you ever stopped to listen, really listen, to the women in your church about how they feel they are treated or perceived?

People Series: David, man after God’s own heart

January 15, 2020 by Nehemiah Zion

David, the greatest King Israel ever had. A shepherd, warrior, worshipper and a lot more. What did I find when I mapped his life onto the seven point framework? Similar to the previous article on Cornelius. If you enjoyed it, please leave a comment or share your thoughts as you are moved by the Spirit.

David knew his Identity

“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” Psalms 139:17 

Full marks to David for knowing the heart of God concerning him aka His children. He had no doubt that God loved him greatly, he was so filled in the love of God himself. He knew his joy and peace came from the salvation of God alone. His gratitude and adoration is revealed in his words of praise to God. What a life of hope!

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24 

David knew the state of man. He knew his true place as a human being on earth. Even though he was King, he knew he was nothing before the King of kings. He was eager to please God every day. His only desire was to be with God forever.

David knew he was Unique

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalms 139:14

David believed he was uniquely created. He had a clear vision of his life, knowing that God had created him with purpose. He fed his spirit with Gods will, and not his own.

David only Expected from God 

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Psalms 62:5 

One of the key enablers of all confusion and unrest in life is living on wrong expectations. It’s impossible to satisfy a longing soul. He knew God alone could fulfil the longings of his soul.

He expected only from God. He waited on God for every help he required for battles and life.

David gave his Time to God

“My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Psalms 84:2

When Jesus is your first love, you’ll only want to spend all your time with Him. Are you hungry and thirsty like the OT King? We who have the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, how passionate are we about praying and meditating on Gods word?

David loved fellowship | People

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalms 133:1 

David not only loved God, but also loved fellowship. He believed in a lifestyle of unity. When the families of his army and his own family were captured, his own people turned against him. Yet, he encouraged himself in the Lord. He leaned on God when everything was against him. Not only did he get the families back but the love of his people was greatly restored.

David knew the secret to true success in this World

“What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?” Psalms 34:12 

Everyone wants a good and long life (when things are going well for them), but you cannot have it without walking in the fear of God. David who had it all, personally realised the price one pays when he or she strays away from the Word of God.

David knew his Enemy

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Psalms 23:4-5 

David’s lifestyle, his love for God and people, not only brought him victory over his enemies but also converted enemies into friends. His devotion in worship brought healing to those who were affected by evil spirits of depression, anxiety and other mental and emotional problems. No matter who the enemy was, in the physical or spiritual, He relied on God to overcome them all.

Original here


A Liberal Order That Seeks To Shut Down Christian Charities Doesn’t Deserve To Survive

Christian post-liberals on the right have seen how readily the liberal center-left and the Chamber-of-Commerce right surrender to the extreme and illiberal left. It makes them wonder: Why not us?

A Liberal Order That Seeks To Shut Down Christian Charities Doesn’t Deserve To Survive

Dec 26, 2019

It is a basic Christian teaching that good works are insufficient for spiritual salvation. We should also remember they are unlikely to suffice for cultural and political salvation either.

Chick-fil-A’s abandonment of The Salvation Army is yesterday’s news, but its lessons should be remembered, for they explain our cultural and political trajectory. That the chicken chain capitulated even though everyone was “eating mor chikin” is instructive regarding the power of the LBGT lobby and its allies. That they directed this power against a Christian organization dedicated to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless — including those who identify as LGBT — is even more instructive.

It exemplifies how hard-liners are driving the cultural left. It is not clear that a majority even of those who identity as LGBT hate The Salvation Army. For example, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg volunteered for the organization (albeit for a photo op) a couple of years back. Now he is facing criticism from LGBT activists, as those running the movement want total victory, not coexistence. And they are winning.

The campaign included government officials from Buffalo, New York, to San Antonio, Texas, retaliating against Chick-fil-A for its support of The Salvation Army. Even without full control over the government, the left has been aggressive in its use of government power against Christians who believe traditional teachings on human sexuality. The left seems to target particularly those engaged in charitable work, rather than protecting them on account of their good works.

The left’s legal wing is trying to compel Christian hospitals to perform abortions and sex-change surgeries, Christian schools to affirm same-sex relationships, and Christian charities such as women’s shelters to pretend men can be women. A purportedly serious Democratic presidential candidate wanted to tax dissenting Christian organizations, including churches, into oblivion.

The left won’t even spare elderly nuns. When the Trump administration ended Barack Obama’s legal campaign against the Little Sisters of the Poor, various Democratic attorneys general made a point of continuing that unholy effort.

The Rise of Post-Liberal Christianity

This should not surprise us. Jesus promised that the powers of this world would hate his followers, not that they would love us if we were virtuous. While we Christians should always strive to be more like Christ, we should not succumb to a quasi-Pelagianism that presumes our winsomeness determines how others receive the gospel. Christ himself was crucified, and the grace and charity many martyrs exemplified did not save them from persecution unto death.

But that we should expect trouble in this world does not mean we should be disinterested regarding politics, nor does it excuse governments that oppose the church and oppress its people. That our nation seems to be starting down this path has intensified Christian reconsiderations of liberal political theory. Although our government ostensibly protects the freedoms of religion, association, and speech, procedural liberalism increasingly appears insufficient to protect our rights or to ensure a culture of tolerance and pluralism that includes Christians who maintain the traditional teachings of our faith.

The supposedly neutral principles of the legal left consistently restrict the rights and opportunities of orthodox Christians, and the left always pushes the envelope. Christian litigators should, of course, do their best to defend our rights, and thank God for their efforts, but it should be no surprise that more and more Christians are intrigued by varieties of post-liberal thinking, including previously marginalized ideas such as Catholic integralism. It is understandable that Christians are turning against the system of liberal democratic capitalism as it turns against them.

Post-liberal Christians are unlikely to find their minority status daunting, for they see that minorities can win if they are determined and the institutions they face are weak and full of cowards. After all, a minority of hard-line leftists control cultural, economic, and political pressure points that grant them power far beyond their numbers.

For example, the 2020 Democratic field is so radically pro-abortion that even The New York Times has noticed. The Democratic Party stands for abortion today, abortion tomorrow, and abortion forever, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren illustrated in promising that at her inauguration — angels and ministers of grace defend us! — she will wear swag to rep the nation’s largest abortion chain.

Christian post-liberals on the right have seen how readily the liberal center-left and the Chamber-of-Commerce right surrender to the extreme and illiberal left and wonder: Why not us? A decadent and despairing culture with weak institutions and degraded elites is precisely the sort that a determined minority might govern.

Thus, they see an opportunity as our culture disintegrates despite its wealth and technological prowess. Liberal individualism seems to be devouring itself: Fertility is down, loneliness and depression have increased, and deaths of despair from suicide, drugs, and alcohol are way up.

Should Liberalism Be Preserved?

Perhaps it is time to be bold and reorder society toward the highest good, rather than accepting liberalism’s dishonest promises of “live and let live” neutrality. As some post-liberal thinkers note, we increasingly live in a non-Christian integralist society that mandates belief in sectarian dogmas, such as the mystical belief that a man may become — indeed, may already be — a woman. Therefore, they see the alternative to post-liberal Christian politics not as liberalism, but as some sort of post-Christian illiberal politics.

I am sympathetic to some of the post-liberal thought developing on the right. I see the appeal, especially as liberalism’s promise of legal neutrality is exposed as so much fiction. I share many of the critiques of liberal political theory and find its discourse far more interesting than the stale talking points of neoliberals and neoconservatives.

But I am neither Catholic nor Calvinist enough to be much of an integralist, and I remain more skeptical of the likelihood of governmental efficacy and rectitude than many post-liberals seem to be. I also remain attached to many liberal practices, such as the right to trial by jury.

I am, in short, still thinking over these matters and am not entirely in either camp. From this in-between, I would recommend post-liberal thinkers reflect on the frailty and fallibility of human institutions. I also suggest that the defenders of liberal democratic capitalism take the critiques of post-liberals seriously. A liberal order that seeks to shut down Christian charities for nonconformist views on human sexuality does not deserve to survive.

Nathanael Blake is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist. He has a PhD in political theory. He lives in Missouri.

Mighty Warrior

by Discerning Dad

Judges 6:12“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

I struggle to know if I am moving in God’s calling in my life.  After all, days turn into months and years and the grind is real.  Who am I that God can use?  My past, my sin, my fear, my doubts are all reasons for why I am not qualified.  God couldn’t possibly use someone like me, look at what other people are doing in God’s name, look at the ministries, the salvations, the miracles… how can I measure up?

Let’s take a look at Gideon, he was a mighty warrior for God and one of the most famous of Israel’s judges. If you look at when God called him, he was not even close to who we think of him today.  God first saw him and called him a “mighty warrior.” Why? Had he won battles yet? Had he defeated Israel’s enemies yet? No… but God saw him for what he could become, he called this out of him before Gideon even believed it. In fact the next verse (13) Gideon answers the angel by saying “Pardon me, my lord, but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about…. But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”  God responds to this by saying “Go in thestrength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand.  Am I not sending you?”  God shut down Gideon’s doubts pretty fast, Gideon is overcome by his circumstances and basically tells God that He abandoned them, he says this directly to God’s angel, talk about being bold!  God responding with “Am I not sending you”, as in- I know what I am doing, I chose you for a reason if you were to but act upon it and believe it.

This should have been enough right?  I mean, if God told you directly that he was sending you, would you obey?  Or would you come up with excuses? Take a look at Gideon’s NEXT response in verse 15 “But how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Gideon still had excuses, he refused to believe God knew who he was calling and tried to correct God by telling him where he came from.  The Lord then responded “I will be with you,” as if to say, none of your past matters, I am calling you into a mighty future.  The rest of the chapter is Gideon asking for signs from God to confirm even more what has already been spoken.

You have to give Gideon credit for his boldness in the face of God, he was worried that he couldn’t be a mighty warrior for God and yet here he is, in front of the creator of the universe, telling Him how He is wrong.  I find it interesting too that God allowed Gideon to express his fears and concerns without giving up on him, he came through on Gideon’s asking for a sign and did not go and choose someoneelse.  God knew what he was doing and God knew why he called Gideon.  Fast-forward some verses and Gideon destroys Israelites enemies and fulfills what God spoke over him as a “mighty warrior.”

It’s been said that God doesn’t call those equipped but equips those he calls…

What does God’s calling look like on your life?  Have you been walking faithfully in it or have you been running away from it because you are not “qualified.” What I have seen in my life is that following through on God’s calling is taking small steps and saying “YES” to God, in whatever that may be, big or small.  God is patient and wants to hear your fears and doubts. He may not always answer a “fleece” (v.39) we put before him, but he will always encourage us and always sees us for who we really are and the“mighty warrior” we can become!

Discerning Reflection: What is the reason I use for why I “can’t” do something God is calling me to do? What have I said YES to that has turned out to be a blessing to me or someone else?

Prayer- God, help me see myself as you see me. Help me walk in the calling you have placed on my life, however big or small it may be.  Help me not use excuses from my past as to why I can’t but give me boldness and guide my steps.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tim Ferrara



TBT- Mighty Warrior

Choosing To Forgive

by Discerning Dad

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which bind them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:13-14 NIV

Most Christians will agree that forgiveness is the right thing to do, after all there are over 100 verses in the Bible that talk about forgives or forgiving others. And yet, forgiving other people can be extremely hard to do. It seems to come easily for children, I know that my children will quickly forgive each other and move on about their day. They never bring up infractions from a week, month, or year ago! Why does this get harder to do as people move into adulthood? As you become adults, the wrongs levied against you become more severe, we build up walls over time, and we can analyze a scenario to judge if someone is deserving of our forgiveness.

A recent Barna study (1) among practicing Christians said that:

76% offered unconditional forgiveness to someone else

55% received unconditional forgiveness

27% identify someone they don’t want to forgive

23% identify someone who they can’t forgive

22% struggle to receive forgiveness for something

We can learn a lot about forgiveness in the Bible. Let’s take a look at the story of Jacob and Esau.

Jacob had God’s favor but he was not a good brother to Esau in the least. He took advantage of Esau when he was weak and traded him some stew for a birthright (although Esau was not very smart to have agreed). Jacob also betrayed his brother by stealing the blessing from his father by dressing up like his brother, with his mother’s help nonetheless! This was a double betrayal for Esau from his brother and mother.

Jacob brought about division against him and his brother and he had to flee for fear of repercussion. The interesting thing is that the brothers meet up again, many years later in Genesis 37. Jacob is justifiably scared of this encounter. He does not know if Esau will attack him and steal everything. Jacob separates out his wives and children into groups so that if one group is attacked, the other can flee safely. Jacob also prepares a generous gift for Esau when he arrives.

Surprisingly to Jacob, Esau embraces his brother and even rejects the gifts that Jacob brings saying, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.” (Gen. 37:9) The brothers are reunited despite the past. God blesses both of them as they grow in livestock and wealth that they eventually have to split up because the land cannot support both groups.

Esau made a decision to forgive his brother. Jacob did not ask for forgiveness before it was offered. Esau had every “right” to stay bitter and even steal from Jacob his possessions. Esau chose the high ground.

Esau was betrayed by his own flesh and blood, how often does family betray their own? This hurt can be harder than others to recover from. If a stranger hurts me, it may make me sad but I can move on. When family hurts you, it sometimes makes the relationship irreparable and can cause devastating psychological damage.

The same can be said for our church family. Too often I hear and have experienced fellow Christians who hurt and betray their own, either through difference of beliefs or petty arguments. This can result in unforgiveness and someone choosing to not go to church or not let another Christian brother or sister close to them again in case of a future hurt. If an effort to control your surroundings, you end up taking extreme measures that hurt you in different ways such as the lack of fellowship and community. We are meant for relationship with fellow believers and to meet together regularly (Heb. 10:25).

Forgiveness does not forget the past. It does allow you to keep the past from controlling your future.

Forgiveness does not excuse or condone previous actions and it does not mean you have to sign up to get hurt again.

Forgiveness should be given even when it is not asked for. The person you forgive does not even need to be present in cases of death or abuse. You can still forgive them before your Heavenly Father.

Forgiveness is more an act of release for YOU than the other person. We hold on to unforgiveness because it gives us power, but it also destroys us in the process and steals our joy. They say power corrupts, I would say that unforgiveness corrupts our spirit.

There’s an old saying that says, “Harboring unforgiveness or bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

But we only forgive those who deserve it right? After all there are some actions that are reprehensible, that cannot be forgiven even if I wanted to? I don’t want to judge but I also can’t forgive because of what this person did to me…

If anyone “deserved” to hold on to unforgiveness it would have been Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. She tells of an amazing story of one of her captors after the war, coming to a camp where she was preaching about Jesus. She chose forgiveness there on the spot when he told her who he was and what he had done.

Corrie ten Boom then told of not being able to forget this incident. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn’t sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest.

“His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor,” Corrie wrote, “to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks.” “Up in the church tower,” he said, nodding out the window, “is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there’s a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness.

When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They’re just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down.” “And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force — which was my willingness in the matter — had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts.”(2)

What unforgiveness in your life do you need to let go of today, like letting go of a helium balloon? Let unforgiveness float away from your life and allow the Holy Spirit to heal broken wounds like only He can.

Discerning Reflection: What areas of my life do I have unforgiveness? Do I forgive as quickly as Jesus commands? Who do I need to pray about forgiving today that God is placing upon my heart?

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your immense gift of forgiveness that you gave us through your Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Help me to not hold on to unforgiveness which can lead to bitterness. Reveal to me today who you would like me to forgive, even if they are not asking for forgiveness.

Tim Ferrara
Discerning Dad

Choosing to Forgive

Where Have All the Fathers Gone?

“You are not a man because you can make a baby. You are a man when you can raise a baby! It is time to man up and defend your child”  

by Godinterest

As soon as Rhys heard the front door open, he jumped up and began shouting for joy, “Mom Daddy’s home, Daddy’s home!”. His heartbeat racing and his brown eyes shining excitedly, anticipating playtime with Daddy. A wide grin spread across Rhys’s face as Daddy acted like a big bear. Daddy quickly dropping down onto one knee so that he’d be at his son’s height to horse around the living room. Sadly this scene is becoming a rear sight to see.

Today let’s talk about the invisible dads, the ones who don’t marry Mummy, don’t support their kids and don’t hang around for the hugs, kisses and nappy changes. There are millions of them around the world, and their numbers are growing.

“Today, more than one in four births is to an unmarried mother, and more than one in 10 births is to a teenager. These numbers portend a future of fragile families. Once considered primarily a racial problem, fatherless homes have increased across a wide range of demographics over the last ten years.”

How have we come to the point where a child with two parents is the exception rather than the norm? It is time that we put the issue of fatherless families front and center on our national agenda.

So who’s the real problem here? And why should we care?

It is time to shift our attention to the issue of male responsibility, and to the indispensable role that fathers play in our society.

Firstly, it would be an oversimplification to assume that two parents are always better than one as there are many courageous and loving single moms and daddy’s who are able to balance the competing demands on their time and attention, to care and provide for their children alone.

However, contrary to the sentiments of our culture and though our society is only beginning to recognize it, the presence of fathers within the home is vital to the moral integrity of a society. The short-term effects are already far too evident as statistics  reveal that the loss of fathers is reverberating throughout the world in the form of social pathologies ranging from teen pregnancy to drug abuse.

Fatherless children are  five times more likely to be poor and twice as likely to drop out of school as children who live with both parents.

Boys, without proper male role models, look to other sources for the male bonding they need. In the inner cities that often entails gangs while in the suburbs it tends to be online.

“According to the latest statistics, the increase in the proportion of single-parent families accounted for about half of the overall increase in child poverty from 1979 through to 1987.”

The Scriptures warn us about the power of fatherhood, as well as the long-lasting impact that fatherhood has on us all. Exodus 20:4-6.” Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” could be both about habits/behavior and also looks. Have you ever thought about that? Do you often find yourself reacting to a situation the way your father did? or scarier yet…do you ever see your mannerisms in your son? The footprint of a father leaves a permanent mark on the soul of a child.

Fatherhood is under assault

We hear a lot about the war on women…but it is the war on Dads that is causing the greatest damage in the world today. It’s not hard to find. If you watch any popular sitcom on television today, you’ll likely notice that fathers are typically portrayed as childish, irresponsible, lazy, incompetent and stupid.

The doofus dad stereotype isn’t new. There’s Fred Flinstone, and even Charlie Brown’s monotone parents. But according to Tierny, the consistency of these new portrayals has slowly created a new norm opposed to what being a father used to mean.

Dads make a difference. Dads can be heroes — if only we give them the chance. We remain optimistic that family still has more influence than media.

We all need another hero

Fathers are representatives of God on earth; as our heavenly father is the giver of life so also are the earthly father’s givers of life.  Malachi 4:6 says “And he will turn, the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

God understands the importance of a father’s love and cares towards their children and He has set the standard by being the first example of a loving father.

“The SARRI report quotes research which  found that “the presence of a father can  contribute to cognitive development,  intellectual functioning, and school  achievement. Children growing up  without fathers are more likely to experience emotional disturbances and  depression.”

“Girls who grow up with  their fathers are more likely to have  higher self-esteem, lower levels of risky  sexual behaviour, and fewer difficulties  in forming and maintaining romantic  relationships later in life. They have less  likelihood of having an early pregnancy,  bearing children outside marriage,  marrying early, or getting divorced.”

A father’s touch

The first thing, therefore, that a father can do for his children is to love their mother. Another part of a father’s task is that of a protector for his family. But, Daddy also has another task in the home, which is to combine tenderness with strength, and to model the combination so consistently that the children regard the combination as natural.

Our kids must come to know naturally both that dad’s standards protect them, and that his love makes them strong.

Where have all the fathers gone?

Our courts do not value fatherhood as much as motherhood. In 2015 it is still the case that mothers and fathers do not have equal rights

And herein lies the problem. Our expectation of the role a separated father should play in his children’s lives is so low, that when half of dads who win “access” to their kids can’t even sleep under the same roof as their offspring, academics declare this to be an overwhelming success. One of the fruits of the feminist movement many claim is the idea that a woman is more responsible as a parent than the father is.

“He is not my Dad…he is just someone you sleep with!” How many mothers have felt the sting of those words? That is why God hates divorce. We should too.

Our culture has put asunder things which God has joined together–things such as tenderness and strength. It is the job of the father to put them back together again.

Fatherhood, like Motherhood has is its own rewards – as most dads have found. Sadly, for the others, the invisible ones, it is a gift foolishly squandered.

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