David and Bill

Thoughts
Earlier this week, pastor David Wilkerson passed away as the result of a car accident near Tyler, Texas.  He was 79 years old.  David Wilkerson was a pastor in rural Pennsylvania in 1958 when he followed God's call to start a street ministry among drug addicts and gang members in New York City.  He wrote about the experience in The Cross and the Switchblade which was a best seller in the 1960's.  Soon after, Wilkerson founded Teen Challenge, a Christian addiction recovery program which now has centers around the world. In the early 1980's, I had the privilege of meeting several Teen Challenge "participants" at a banquet in Anchorage, Alaska.  I also met Bill.  Bill was an evangelist whose parish was the seedy 4th Avenue section of downtown Anchorage.  Here…
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Being There

Family, Thoughts
You have probably heard it said, "You can accomplish a lot in life by just showing up."  Now this isn't an excuse for mediocrity once you arrive, but it does contain an element of truth.  Especially when it comes to parenting. The number one rule for creating the home that you have always wanted is "being there."  It starts right here and is just that simple.  When that first bundle of joy arrived, you couldn't think of ever not being there.  But life changes.  A temporary busy stretch at work becomes semi-permanent.  Your child's strong will, a natural bent he was born with, feels like a reflection of your parenting quality and you lose confidence.  Selfish ambition begins to compete with your at home responsibilities.  Soon your lofty parenting goals…
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The Happy Dinosaur

Analogies, Family, Thoughts
Several years ago, while attending the Society of Exploration Geophysicists Annual Meeting, I had an opportunity to catch up with an old friend I had worked with in Alaska.  We hadn't made a connection in quite some time, but Dean is the kind of friend you can easily pick up the conversation with no matter how long it's been between visits.  This salt-of-the-earth fellow shocked me when he announced that he was divorced and remarried since we talked last.  As we compared notes about other co-workers from our Alaska days, Dean observed, "I think you are the only one who is still married to his first wife.  How does it feel to be a dinosaur?"  I wasn't sure what to say.  I didn't want to make light of his situation…
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The Power of the Resurrection

Holidays, Thoughts
As much as we celebrate the power of the cross, we mustn't neglect the power of the resurrection.  Many have died on a cross -though only one as the Son of God - but the spectacular coming-back-to-life is the experience of Jesus alone.  God the Father confirmed the power and sufficiency of Christ's death to forgive sin and His identity as God's Son, the sinless One, by raising Jesus from the dead (Rom 1:1-4).  The resurrection sealed the deal and confirmed our salvation won at the cross.  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy had caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Pet 1:3). In Philippians chapter…
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The Power of the Cross

Holidays, Thoughts
It is nice to talk about good communication in marriage, developing your family identity, and "building a cathedral," but without the power to make this part of our daily experience these are just romantic notions.  Each of us carry inside a remnant of the old nature - somehow still active even though it's dead - that seeks to thwart our godly efforts.  The Bible summarizes its manifestation as selfish ambition.  How do we find the power to overcome our nearest enemy:  ourselves? In Luke 9:23, Jesus warns His would-be disciples, "And [Jesus] was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.' "  The concept, taken from this verse, of "bearing one's cross" is a…
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Destroying Walls

Family, Thoughts
The sequence in the following paragraph is meant to be read slowly.  Think about each step and ask yourself, "Has this been my experience?  Have I contributed to taking our marriage in this direction?" Poor communication in marriage leads to a downward spiral of misunderstanding (hurts or offenses left unsettled), which lead to assumptions (private thoughts that are repeated in our minds), which leads to walls (practice in keeping each other at a distance in those tough subjects), which leads to quietness (no longer a desire to find joy in each other's company), which leads to emotional separation ("I don't really need you after all"). How do we break this chain?  By going through the hard conversations that improve our understanding of each other.  Only then will we arrive at the beautiful place…
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“That’s Not What I Heard”

Family, Thoughts
"Good communication only happens when the listener understands the words of the speaker as the speaker intended them to be understood."  I mentioned last post that my number one goal in communication as a couple is understanding my wife, not proving my point.  Assumptions and having a predisposed opinion of what our spouse is thinking or going to say is a destroyer of good communication.  Sometimes we need to dig for the speaker's intended meaning. Let me tap into an illustration from our short story, The Artist and the Minstrel (also available in Amazon's Kindle store for your smart phone or reading device), to highlight the need to understand as the speaker intended. "It’s Friday evening.  Rhonda and I agree that we should spend our Saturday working on the landscaping.  The…
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Talk It Up

Family, Thoughts
Good communication fills the emotional bank account of those closest to us.  Just as we were created for community, we were also created for communication.  Only through good communication can we hope to "know and be known." Good communication in marriage was a slow learning curve for me.  Early in our marriage my goal in communication with Rhonda was to prove my point.  Only as I began to live into the "love trumps knowledge" message of I Corinthians chapter 13 did I reorient my thinking.  Now my number one goal in communication as a couple is to understand my wife, not prove my opinion.  This change has brought a new sense of freedom to our marriage. I am set free from the need to win, the need to have the…
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Psychology and Natural Revelation

Family, Thoughts
There are two broad ways that God has revealed information about Himself and the world He has created and the inhabitants of the world He has created.  The first, His special revelation, is His words and Word.  "All Scripture is God-breathed..." (II Tim 3:16).  It couldn't be more clear;  God has spoken to us through the Bible.  Scripture is literally "God-breathed" to the point that we believe it is the words of God Himself recorded by His servants.  In a specific Word, God sent Jesus, His Son.  "And the Word [which existed with God from the beginning (Jn 1:1)] became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn 1:14).  The life of Christ…
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Reading the Bible Together

Family, Thoughts
Early in our child training years, we started a habit of regular Bible reading and teaching with our children.  Was it an easy routine to keep?  No.  The routine of teaching children is never convenient, but nothing worth having is.  We had plenty of stops and starts and many opportunities to just chuck the whole thing.  I don't know which was the greater accomplishment:  The facts we taught our kids or the lesson to never give up as we kept coming back to the plan of reading and praying together. One of the practical consequences of a regular Bible reading habit as a family was that the Scriptures became our greatest ally in training our children.  Because we went to God as the "last word" in our actions and attitudes,…
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Family Team in Training

Family, Thoughts
Similar to a sports team, one of the most important aspects in developing our family team is to formulate a training program for the participants.  A power packed verse in the New Testament regarding our family training program is Ephesians chapter 6, verse 4.  Understanding the key Greek words that underlie this verse adds great depth to its meaning.  The English version (NASB) reads like this with the Greek counterpart to the bold words shown in parentheses. “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up (έκτρέφετε) in the discipline (παιδεία) and instruction (νουθεσία) of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:4. EKTREPHO translated "bring up" means "to nourish or feed" PAIDEIA translated "discipline" means "training that regulates character" NOUTHESIA translated "instruction" means "putting in the mind" So an expanded or amplified…
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Building a Cathedral

Analogies, Family, Thoughts
A group of tourists went to visit a marble quarry in western Vermont.  As their tour progressed around the quarry, one of the visitors called out to a jack hammer-wielding worker below, "What are you doing down there?"  The worker snarled back, "I'm cutting this stupid rock into a square!"  Seeing another worker who appeared to be doing the same thing, the visitor called out to him, "What are you doing?"  The second worker, obviously happy in his work, called back, "I'm on a team building a cathedral!" When we view family life through the eyes of the first worker, we are just a group of people living under the same roof.  Your contribution to the effort may go unnoticed in the busyness of day to day activities.  Conversely, you may…
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Living the Message

Family, Thoughts
Yesterday we saw our daughter and son-in-law, Annie and Matthew Dorin, and their girls, Danielle and Lily off at the airport in Houston.  With their stack of boxes, footlockers, and suitcases, you would have thought they were moving overseas; and they were!  Yes, they are off to France for language school in the village of Chambéry on their way to a permanent assignment in West Africa with the mission agency of Wycliffe Associates. It was sad to see them go.  Rhonda and I were getting spoiled with trips to the Houston rodeo, the museum, and the park with the Dorin clan.  And sharing breakfast with those precious girls.  But I have to honestly say there was something almost palpable in the air that lessened the pain of their departure.  Annie and Matthew have heard the…
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