Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Ode to Bailey

As many know, we have had to let go of our pet/family member Bailey today, 8/20/2014, at the ripe old age of eight and a half years old.  He would have been nine around Thanksgiving.  He was a beautiful Blue Merle Australian Shepherd.  He was a faithful, loving dog who never stopped worrying over our boys until the day we had to lay him to rest.  He developed cancer and endured tumors growing in his neck and jaw for the last couple of months.  The diagnoses came in early July with a prognosis of 3-6 months.  But the reality of the true nature of things came much faster than we thought and way too soon for any of our liking.

My wife and children are heart broken.  I am definitely sad.  I loved him but for some reason I always kept that at a distance.  But, there is no denying that he was a wonderful dog and everyone who met him loved him.  Many have expressed their condolences and respect for Bailey as a dog and pet and for that we are very thankful.  I would ask everyone to continue to remember us in prayer for the next little bit as we learn to live without his presence and love.

I am sometimes better at expressing thoughts and feelings regarding the deeper emotions via the written word verses the spoken word.  So, I have written a poem to honor Bailey and express our love and appreciation for him.  For anyone curious about whether I think animals end up in heaven, I am honestly a little up in the air on that, but I chose to take a risk in the name of poetic license, allowing for the possibility at this time.  So if anyone feels the need to speak to that subject please refrain from doing it here.  Thank you.  I hope you enjoy it.

An Ode To Bailey

It's a sad, sad day when the puppy's go play, in the big field in the sky
For though old becomes new, from a different view, a family has said goodbye.

And so it is told, only nine years old, was our Aussie known as Bailey Boo
When he was young he was playful and spry, when old he was faithful and true.

He loved his boys and his squeaky chicken toy, hide and seek was his favorite game
He was always close by, but if far he did fly you could call, for he knew his name

Though it breaks our hearts, still we knew from the start, that this day was destined to call
No more suffering or pain will be yours now to claim, still many tears will now fall

Oh Bailey we love you, we'll miss you so much, a better dog we will never find
Never doubting your love, we hope to see you above, in that big field in the sky.

Our journey with Bailey has been filled with fond memories and growing boys that he has herded all along the way as any good Australian Shepherd should.  He did love us and we loved him back....very much.  Here are few pics of that journey together.  Enjoy!  We love you Bailey!

Bailey at around 2 months old.  We were at Pet Smart for training.

Little Ryan and little Bailey playing together
I  think this was Baby Alex's first Christmas which would have made Bailey about 3 yrs old
This is probably around the same time as the previous picture.
Ryan and Bailey 
Momma Angie, little Alex, and Bailey at a family photo shoot.  

Bailey's best and last winter.
The winter storm of 2014.

Bailey and his best friend Butterball

July 2014
Bailey, Angie, Ryan, and Alex.
I'm behind the camera
Our last pics together

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

2 Questions on Divorce (Part 8) Am I going to Hell? Conclusion of series.

It's Finished
So, for anyone who wondered if I would ever stop talking about divorce, this is it.  I have finished.  There is always more that could be said but I am satisfied that I have spoken to most of the primary concerns that surround divorce.

I don't know who it has helped or who it has made angry, except for one person.  One person that has followed this series approached me with both encouragements and questions.  It was blessing to know it had spoken to at least one person and I am thrilled to be able to discuss anything with anyone so I was happy to answer their questions.  They even gave me a little testimony of a past trial relating to the issue.  So I wanted to acknowledge that and say thank you.

I entitled this series "2 Questions on Divorce" because of a couple of questions that I had been asked recently.  Obviously it spawned thoughts much more in depth than just those two.  One of those questions however, I have not directly answered and I want to make sure that I do.  That question is "Am I going to Hell for my divorce?"  So let's address it.

Does Divorce Send You To Hell?
The answer is NO!  John 3:17 tells us that we are condemned already which is why Christ had to come and die.  We are all guilty of sin from the first because we inherit the guilt of Adam's sin from the moment we are conceived(Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, Psalm 51:5).  Neither divorce nor any other sin is particular to spiritual death.  It is simply our spiritual state from the beginning.  That is the beauty of Romans 3:24 which states that we are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  Nothing is able to keep you from attaining, nor separate you from, the grace that is available in Christ Jesus if you truly trust in the cross, repent and believe(Romans 8:38-39).

I speak quite a bit about what the life of a professing believer in Jesus should look like. This is because if you already profess to be a believer then the initial work of "getting you into heaven" should be done.  After that it is time to begin dealing with sanctification.  That is simply a fancy theological word that refers to growing in Christ with the goal of becoming more like him every day.  I speak to that process a lot, not based on the success of actions but because of the attitude of the heart.

We will spend the rest of our lives working hard, by God's grace and power, to attain progressive success in Christian living.  However, the attitude of our hearts upon being saved should very quickly, if not immediately become one of a desire to please God, to pursue repentance from sinful ways and to achieve obedience to God's commands.

If we find these attitudes lacking, it is likely and indicator that more prayer, time in the word, and Christian accountability is needed.  It is a warning sign that we need to evaluate our relationship with our heavenly Father.  If we find that the desired attitude is lacking all together and we really don't care or want to know what God has to say about the way we live this life that He has given us, that may be a frightening indication that we do not have any relationship at all and the profession of faith was false.  I am afraid there is a lot more of that going on than meets the eye.

Mistakes will be made, sometimes big ones.  And sometimes they can happen over a period of time.  King David is a prime example of this.  He lusted after Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers.  He got her pregnant and then tried to cover it up by having her husband killed.  But God knew and sent Nathan the prophet to confront him about it.

David was repentant.  He realized that He had sinned against God and was sorrowful in heart about it.
(2 Samuel 11:1-12:15).  However, as you read on in this book of the bible you learn that, though God forgives David, there are still consequences for his actions in this life.

The big difference in someone who has real saving faith verses someone who does not is that when confronted with sin, the true Christian will realize their mistake, begin fighting against that sin and turning back toward God.  The false convert will not.

Salvation is Simple!
Everything that I have described in this post describes battles with sin within the Christian life.  So how do you become a Christian?  What "get's you into heaven?"  What is the gospel? The answer is simple, faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Several scriptures speak to this.
  •  There is the quintessential scripture that everyone learns when they are small as John 3:16.  It states, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  This comes after the well known conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus regarding what it means to be born again(John 3:1-15).  
  • In 1 Corinthians 15:3, the Apostle Paul states that "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas(Peter), then to the twelve."

  • In Romans 10:9-13, the Apostle Paul tells us that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. He makes no distinction between gender, color, creed, or race, as He defines them in His word.  We know this because God's word in Revelation 7:9 tells us that there will be a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language in heaven singing praises to God upon Christ's return.   All who believe with their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord will be saved. 
I believe it is important to emphasize that Jesus is not truly your Savior if He is not truly your Lord.  The fact is according to Philippians 2:9-11, JESUS IS LORD and at the end everyone will bow the knee and confess this truth.  The question is, will it happen on this side of eternity or the next?  If he is not Lord over your eternal life now, He will be Lord over your eternal death later.  Christ died so that you would have an option.  Repent and believe.  Surrender your life to His will.  Choose life! 

Trust and Obey
There used to be an old hymn in which the chorus read, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey."   If you have made a previous profession of faith but you have struggled with repentance from sin and you feel out of touch with God, know this.  No matter what you've done and no matter how far off the path of obedience you have strayed, all you have to do is return to your first love.  A perfect, happy life is not guaranteed in this life, but hope for the future is. Trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross.  His grace is big enough to welcome you back.

If you have never put your trust in Jesus, scripture says that "today is the day of salvation"(2 Corinthians 6:2).  Do it now.   Don't wait another minute.  Don't wait another day.  Place your faith and trust in Jesus atoning work of the cross.  There at the cross, He paid for every sin you ever committed or ever will commit. There at the cross, His blood removed the guilt and condemnation of your sin sick soul.  There at the cross, Jesus set us free from the curse of sin and death.  Your eternal future can be sure.



In Jesus Name I pray that it would be so,



Sunday, August 3, 2014

2 Questions on Divorce (Part 7) What About Remarriage?

Oh boy, now we get into the really sticky stuff.  If anyone actually reads this one, I'm bound to make someone mad.  So let me apologize in advance.  To be clear, my goal is not to make anyone mad, feel judged, or anything else that might be disagreeable.  I know people personally whom have been through divorce.  Some biblically, some unbiblicaly.  Regardless, I know some carry pain from it to this day.

The challenge is, I have found that people tend to see and hear what they want to see and hear from a blog, article, or sermon.  Not saying that to mean accusatory or judgmental. It is simply human nature to filter what we see and hear through our life experiences and emotional baggage.  It very difficult to be objective sometimes when you come across subject matter that hits you on a personal level.  So please know that I understand this truth and my heart is not to offend anyone unnecessarily.

I simply want to take a look at what the bible says about remarriage for anyone who is interested.  In order to strive for some semblance of brevity, I will reference other posts to some degree because they speak to this as well.   I hope it helps.

Is Remarriage Ok?
Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:3-9, Mark 10:1-12, 1 Corinthians 7:10-16

In light of these scriptures, we have established that there are specific instances in which divorce is permitted in such a way as to release the spouse for remarriage.  So if you were the victim of marital infidelity or your unbelieving spouse left you, then you are free and clear to marry again.  For more on that, please refer to the previous posts regarding those instances.

Perpetual Adultery.  Is It Real?
The scriptures referenced above suggest that if you get divorced for a reason other than the acceptable reasons discussed and then remarry, that you are guilty of adultery.  So, does that mean that everyone who is remarried unbiblically is guilty of perpetual adultery?  That's a tough question.

The only unforgivable sin is blaspheming the Holy Spirit(Mark 3:28-30).  This is a spoken sin specifically relating to to the attributing of works of the Holy Spirit to the works of Satan.  It is understood to be a rejection of clear truth.  It results in a hardening of heart that will cause a lack of desire for repentance.  This is an accusation toward someone that should not to be assumed by any person as only God knows the state of a persons heart.

So, unbiblical remarriage is not unforgivable.   We must not assume that remarriage which is not biblically supported, leads to an endlessly sinful lifestyle that God's grace cannot cover.  I certainly do not believe that God would have anyone pursue a second divorce in order to be remarried to your original spouse.

The issue then becomes one of the heart.  If you did not know the biblical teaching on divorce and are already remarried, you are not guilty of blatantly disobeying those teachings however, you are not off the hook either.  As with any other sin ask yourself, are you recognizing your mistake in the first divorce, repentant and contrite in your heart regarding the rightness of it, and are you committed to not repeat the same mistake again?  If so, then I would say rest in peace and pursue righteousness in your current marriage and if possible, look for an appropriate opportunity to share your convictions with your previous spouse and seek forgiveness.

The one thing I absolutely do not want to convey is that it is better to ask forgiveness than permission, i.e. get remarried and then repent afterward, knowing all the while that it was wrong.  That is not a biblical approach to sin and obedience.  If you have ever approached life with God that way, please repent.  Consider scriptures teachings before you make decisions on anything and then act according to God's word.

What If I Am Divorced and Have Not Remarried?
Even if you are contemplating divorce for an unbiblical reason, this is important for your consideration as well.

Scripture only allows two options for this scenario.  The ideal result would be reconciliation with your spouse and remarriage to that same, initial spouse.  If you do not believe that is possible and there was no marital unfaithfulness or apparent unbelief between the two spouses, i.e. you are both seemingly believers, then singleness is the only option.

Now before I speak to the unnecessary faux pa that is singleness in our day, let me say this.  If  you have struggled in your marriage, and there are those whom have called you both to repentance in relationship to divorce, and you get divorced anyway, then you do have some evaluation of your relationship with God to do.  You have now blatantly ignored God-given biblical counsel and placed your own will over the will of the Father in a very deliberate way.  This is a very dangerous but certainly not unforgivable mistake.  I want to encourage you not to come under condemnation but to come under conviction, repent, and pursue reconciliation.

There is so much to be said about being single in service to the Lord that cannot be said here.  Unfortunately, it is almost considered shameful to be single.  As if our identity and happiness were tied up in whether we are single or not.   Jesus was single.  Paul was single.  Contrary to the culture, our identity nor our happiness should ever be wrapped up in whether we are married, single, or divorced.  There are only two identities, rebellious sinner or repentant sinner saved by grace. Which do you identify with?

If you identify as a sinner saved by grace based on no merit of your own, but on the saving work of Jesus Christ on the Cross and you desire to strive for living a life surrendered to Him, then you are a child of the Most High God and He will see you through.  He may see you through to reconciliation of  your marriage or He may see you through to a satisfying single life.  Either way Jesus must be your all in all and, the one you depend on and look to.  Scripture does not promise you happiness but it does speak to joy.  Joy unspeakable and full of glory can be found in His presence, satisfying needs that no human being could fulfill(1 Peter 1:8).

Are you Angry?
If I have offended anyone and you are angry with me, I am sorry.  As I said, that is not my goal.  The truth is, there are biblical consequences for unbiblical actions and some are more difficult to face than others.  I do not know your varying circumstances and I cannot judge your heart.  All I can do is speak generally to the overarching ideas surrounding marriage and divorce and what God's word says about them.  What you do with it from there is between you and God.

If you have actually read this, it is not by mistake.  God wants to communicate something with someone through what I am writing.  Perhaps someone who has already divorced and remarried will realize an offense against God that they did not realize before and go before him with a repentant heart asking forgiveness.  Maybe that will help them to release some underlying guilt or anger and see more success in that second marriage.  Perhaps someone will reconcile with a spouse.  Perhaps someone else will decide to pursue a single life of service to their Lord and Savior.

I don't know.  I just want you to consider the possibility that there is something in the bible that can draw you closer to Jesus in very difficult circumstances, give you wisdom, and bring Him glory in the process.

No matter the circumstance, Eat God's Word.  Pray Fervently.  Live before the face of God (Coram Deo). He will show you the way.