Fear, Doubt and Pain

As I am getting older, I am looking at things like fear, doubt and pain just a bit differently.

I actually consider them...dare I say...blessings. Let me explain.

When I say fear is a blessing it is because I am not talking about heart palpitating, terror of the unknown. I am talking about the kind of fear found in Proverbs 9:10 which says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."

I want to develop this kind of fear (reverence) of the Lord.

When i say doubt, I am talking about the kind of doubt that drives me to the Son of God. The doubt expressed in Mark 9:24 where a boys father says to Jesus Christ, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

I feel doubt is a blessing when it causes me to draw near to God. When I cling to Him, reach for His Word, well it causes me to trust Him more.

Pain...ok call me silly but lately I look at pain as a blessing. Not that I wish it on myself or anyone else. Pain is a blessing WHEN it reminds me that I am alive. It also is God's warning system that something is wrong. In the end, it causes me to PRAY more.

Fear, Doubt and Pain are 3 things I used to avoid. 20 years ago I would have told a Christian to avoid these things like the plague. Now, I recognize the value WHEN they bring me closer to God.


5 Questions with Dr. C. Everett Koop

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Dr. C. Everett Koop.

Dr. C. Everett Koop is an American pediatric surgeon and public health administrator. He was a Vice Admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and served as the thirteenth Surgeon General of the United States under President Ronald Reagan from 1982 to 1989. Dr. Koop continues to endorse Life Alert bracelets for the elderly. He is currently the holder of three professorships at Dartmouth Medical School as well as the senior scholar at DMS's C. Everett Koop Institute.

Now, without further delay, my interview with Dr. C. Everett Koop:

Hello Dr. Koop,

1. Reflecting back on your time as Surgeon General, what are you most proud of?

My activity during the AIDS epidemic from the first case until I left office 8 years later.

2. How did your faith shape the decisions you made?

My faith kept me on an acceptable ethical path for the various obligations of the Surgeon General.

3. Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

My goal was to miss no opportunities for the betterment of the health of the nation and although one can always do better, I am quite satisfied with what my colleagues and I accomplished.

What concerns do you have about the current state of health care in America?

That the future of health care is being guided by economists, environmentalists, and people who put politics above patriotism instead of by the medical profession itself.

What should the average citizen be focusing on health wise right now?

As always, the combined effort of patient and physician should lean toward prevention rather than seeking a magic pill for everything.

C. Everett Koop, M.D. Sc.D.
Surgeon General of the U.S. 1981-1989

Thank You Dr. Koop!

Please check out the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth for further resources and information.

To see past 5 Questions guests see 5 questions page under the tab above.


Generations of Faith

Observations on the generations.

The passion of the children: I had the pleasure of sharing a devotional with a local AWANA group recently and was blown away by their passion. I shared a story about playing hide and seek (with my bobcat) and tied it into hiding God's Word in your heart. I then asked these kids if they had been memorizing Bible verses. Over the next 10-15 minutes child after child raised their hand and shared verses they had been memorizing. I never had to call on a child. They all wanted to share a verse or tell me their favorite book. Their passion spoke to me, challenged me.

The working out of the youth: Today's Christian teens want to work! They want to be given a task and let loose. The teens I know all have an amazing work ethic and want to DO something for God. They don't just want to talk about God, they want to work out their faith with hands and feet! Give them a task, not some cheesy set out the chairs task, but real vibrant tasks that can challenge them and give them the opportunity to "BE" believers in action.

The willingness of the young adults: We had a YWAM team in town recently and one thing I noticed was their willingness to step out of their comfort zones. These young adults led worship, performed skits and shared testimonies and sermons, most for the first time. Sure they had a deer-in-the-headlight look when I asked them to perform a never before practiced skit in front of a youth group and they expressed nervousness at leading worship for the first time. Yet, they did it...willingly. Without hesitation they stepped in, stepped up and lives were changed.

The wisdom of the elders: I have noticed, the older I get, that I am hearing more wisdom from the elders around me. I know now that they always had this wisdom, but I am of an age where I am actually paying attention. I want to glean from those who traveled this road of faith before me. I want to learn from their mistakes and pay attention to the lessons learned.

Passion, working out, willingness and wisdom...if I could combine these things with the faith of a child...well I'd be set. I love the child like faith I see in young children. They believe, I mean REALLY BELIEVE, that God can move mountains and do the impossible.

In the end that is what we all need. A child like faith. (Mark 10:16)


A Blessing and a Miracle

If you are a parent, you probably have a nickname or a way of looking at your kids. I know I do.

A Blessing and a Miracle.

That's how I refer to my 2 children.

I recall a word I felt the Lord had given me shortly after my daughter H____ was born. We were standing at a bus stop in Croatia and I felt the Lord saying to me that H____ would be a blessing not only to us but to people around the world.

Well...12 years later and she HAS been a blessing to us. Our life is richer having H____ in it. She brings us immense joy and we love her dearly. In addition, people around the world love and have been blessed by H____. She has been used of God to touch lives on 3 continents.

Now we have C____. He was a miracle. We did not think we could have children after H____ was born. Sarah had massive complications, was in and out of the hospital and at one point we weren't sure if she would ever recover.

C____ came at a time when we gave up on the idea of more children. Then, low and behold, God showed us through this miracle that He had other plans.

So we now have a Blessing and a Miracle in our life.

Psalms 127:3-5


Book Review: Slave by John MacArthur

Slave, written by John MacArthur, is a book about our identity in Christ. The basic premise is that we have a choice to either be servants or slaves to Christ. The idea is that slavery, as talked about in reference to Jesus Christ, is not really a bad thing, but rather something to be sought. If I could summarize the message it would be that our Identity is found in slavery to the King of Kings. However, this slavery is one where we have a just and fair master who has adopted us as Sons and given us true freedom in Him.

I really wanted to like this book. I have never read anything by John MacArthur before. It was really well written and obviously well researched. There were some awesome Biblical truths found in this book. Despite all of that, I found I did not enjoy this book very much at all. Maybe it was because it started off with such promise but then got derailed by other theological issues.

There were areas of challenge. We go down trails such as eternal salvation (Once saved always saved), pre-destination, and the like but it really seems to detract from the area of slavery and identity in Christ.

A book with such promise, tackling an issue in and of itself very controversial, stopped being of interest half-way through and just didn't seem to finish well. Maybe because it did tackle other issues I was not looking for when I read the cover.

If you are a MacArthur fan you will probably really enjoy this book. If you want to have your faith challenged you might want to grab this book as well. I just couldn’t recommend it to those seeking clarification on their identity in Christ. It was the one promise I felt was not fulfilled.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


He STILL Moves Mountains

"For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says." Mark 11:23

God just moved a big mountain in my wife's life this week and we are all praising Him right now.

My wife has suffered from a gluten-intolerance for over 3 years now. Considering how gluten is in so much of what we eat, you can well imagine the time and energy my wife has spent trying to make sure she eats the proper foods, reading ingredients and looking for anything tasty!

So we had a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) team in town this past week. The team has just completed the lecture phase of their Discipleship Training School (DTS) and before heading overseas, decided to spend a week in northern, BC.

We had an amazing time with them being here. They were able to share in 3 churches, the Christian high school and also run a soup kitchen for a few days.

The Lord was moving as they also prayed for a few individuals and 2 of them received physical healing...including my wife, Sarah.

One of the students was sharing how she had a serious milk allergy and the Lord had touched her. Sarah went for prayer and later that day had a piece of bread...which was enough to land her in bed in the past. This time...nothing. The next day she had butter tarts and date squares filled with white flour.

She has been completely and 100% healed.

Today we are rejoicing. God still moves mountains!


Grandma, Babysitting and a Lesson in Faith

I was thinking about my Grandma recently and how she used to be my favorite babysitter.

My Grandma was a hard worker. She worked at a dry cleaners, putting in long hours and would go home exhausted from working in a virtual sauna. My parents didn't go out much but living in the same town, on the rare occasion when they did go out, they would call on my Grandma to watch my 2 siblings and I.

We loved these babysitting times. My Grandmother would come over and after my parents left, she would settle into my Dad's recliner and say, "You kids behave I am just going to rest a moment." Her moments grew longer and we waited patiently and quietly for our signal. Then she would start to snore. Off we went committing acts of unsupervised chaos.

When it was near time for our parents to return we would straighten up our mess and wake our Grandma as our parent pulled into the drive. She would proudly tell my parents we were perfect angels.

To her we were exactly that. We appeared to be good. Nothing was amiss and she was unaware of our earlier behavior.

For years I found I acted the same way with my faith and how I "displayed" it to others. When I became a Christian I showed up at church faithfully, studied the memory verses, asked the "right" questions and appeared to all concerned to be a "good" kid. As I hit my teen years, I expressed an interest in missions and found this opened an entirely new door of respect from other believers. Surely if I wanted to be a missionary, I was a good fellow.

I played the role well. I even tried to play it with God. My choice wasn't really a conscious one but I began to assume God was kind of like my Grandma. If I showed up in church, said and did the right things, well surely He thought I was ok. I was all about the appearance.

I was a mess on the inside. Doubt, fear and struggles with porn were my big issues.

Hebrews 4:13, "And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

God saw my mess. He slowly and painfully brought these things to the surface and exposed them. Some, like my issues with doubt, were things I had to wrestle and pray through. Others, like my issues with porn, led to a period repentance and confession.

Yet through it all, God showed His love, mercy and grace.

I try to keep short accounts with God and others now. I am not always successful but I try not to let things get covered over. I don't want to appear good, I want to be honest with the the One to whom I must give account.


Looking Death in the Eye - I Blinked

I felt the knife pressed up against my throat. M's last words ringing in my ears, "I don't like the way you look, I am going to slit your throat."

How did I end up in this position? Surely it wasn't because of my perceived lack of fashion sense.

It was the 8th grade and M only showed up occasionally. He was one of those "rough" kids that came to school with dark clothes, a chain from his pants to his wallet, the beginning of a mustache and a bad attitude. I actually got along fairly well with M and never had a run-in with him.

I had just become a Christian a few months before and was at the awkward stage of being a new Christian in a new school in a new state. I was trying to figure out faith, hormones and public school!

So M comes in for the Christmas party, walks up behind me when the teacher leaves the room and now I am back where I started this post, with a knife to my throat.

Various kids tried to talk him into dropping the knife to no avail. I saw my short little life pass before my eyes. "M come on man, you don't want to do this." He assured me he did.

Being a new Christian I felt like I could not die this way. If I was going to die, God would surely think better of me if I died a martyr. So, saying a prayer and reaching tentatively into my desk...I pulled out a Bible tract! "M, I've been meaning to give this to you!"

"Now I really am going to kill you, " M said.

I was now prepared...I really thought God would look more favorably on me now that I had handed out that Bible tract.

Thankfully the teacher walked in, M ran out and never came back to school.

When I looked death in the eye, I blinked. I responded, not out of genuine faith, but out of fear. I was more afraid of dying an "unworthy" death than actually dying. For years I had a "martyr" complex.

I was living a life of fear.

2 Tim. 1:7 says, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

Fear runs deep and it has been a life long battle for me. This verse in 2 Tim is a good reminder for me that you can "do good" out of fear and not faith. I want to make sure my actions are based on faith in the Son of God, not fear of displeasing Him.


A Child’s Dream

I recently wrote a variation of this for a baseball forum where I am in administrator. Even if you aren't a baseball fan, I think you will enjoy the story:

Like many children growing up with a love for baseball in the 1970’s, I ate and slept baseball with a side dish of football. (It was Pennsylvania and the Steelers ruled!)

I remember getting the baseball sticker books and trading the commons with friends, going to the baseball card shop and trying to find that favourite player or baseball legend.

I loved the position of pitcher and would study baseball pitching books endlessly. I was convinced I could throw a curve and a split finger fastball. What I really threw was junk. I found this out on the day of baseball tryouts. Reality and economics meant I could not try out for the Little League but we had the next best thing…Optimist Baseball. The name sounded hopeful and the best thing was that we were all GUARANTEED to play.

During positional tryouts the pitching coaches showed their immense wisdom by moving me to the outfield. Here I knew I could flourish. Who cared if I could not tell where the ball would land and didn’t have the arm strength to make it into the infield, it was at the plate I would show my stuff.

I always wanted a baseball nickname and the one I was given reflected my status at the plate: Golfer. I had the innate ability to imitate Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicholas. This would have been great if I played golf, not so much when trying to hit a baseball. I knew my MLB career would never happen when I dug my feet into the plate near the end of my 1st season. The pitcher tossed the ball in and I swung a mighty golf swing and, to my surprise and amazement, the bat connected with the ball, which then connected with my nose…which bled…profusely. As the coaches gathered around me to check on my health and well-being, and my young team-mates gathered around me to see some blood, I showed my inner strength and tenacity by proudly and painfully taking my base.

I came back for a second season and played through…improving slightly but knowing my career was over by the 6th grade.

I still had my dreams…and a chance at redemption when playing in my early 20’s for a team in Canada. It was sandlot baseball and by then I had improved greatly. I batted over .400 and led the team in hits. Then I broke my thumb.

I am 40 now…the scouts better get their act together…I am nearing the end of my baseball potential…but not my dreams! Now where did I put that glove?


Acts 2:17, "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."

God can use anything. I believe my dreams of baseball have been used by God. Though I never got to play professionally, my love for the game has brought me into contact with numerous baseball fans on internet forums across N. America. It has allowed me the chance to share the Gospel, pray for individuals and chat with baseball fans about the deeper matters of faith.

I think I'd rather hit a Home Run for God anyway!