Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hope and Faith

Hope: to feel that something desired may happen.

Faith: confidence or trust in a person or thing.

Hope and faith are such interesting concepts. The whole of Christianity seem to rest upon their shoulders. I believe that sometimes we get the definition of these two words confused. For instance, if one has a disease and has the confidence that God CAN heal them, they are exercising faith. The feeling that the healing will occur is hope. To simply say, "I don't have the disease for I am healed," is a lie to both yourself and others. To say, "I am sick but I have the faith that God can heal me and the hope that He will," is truth.

My entire life I have been taught that the Bible, all 66 canonized Old and New Testament books, is..."verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct" (Assemblies of God). And, to validate that point, Scripture contained within the Bible is used as proof. That is a very interesting fact when you take the time to think about it. You pick up the book, read it, the book says itself is the authority and, by faith, you build your hope around it with no supporting collaboration. That is called circular thinking. If it is verbally inspired by God, infallible and authoritative, it will stand up to external scrutiny.

When I was a child, my Mom's relatives were mainly Pentecostal Democrats while my Dad's family were primarily Baptist Republicans. I remember VERY heated debates at both of my grandparent's home over religion and politics. It made me a nervous wreck as a child. I learned early on that most Pentecostals tend to look at the rest of the religious world as though they are living in an existence without total revelation of the Scriptures; there is more to God than what they have had "revealed" to them. Conversely, many of those who are not "Pentecostal" look at the Pentecostals as though they are loony tunes and are trying to recreate something from the past that is not meant for the present. There are many classic debates between religious entities which include eternal security, backsliding, speaking in tongues, word formulation used at baptism, mode of dress, women in the pulpit, and the list goes on.

How can such a vehement division exist in the Body of Christ amongst Believers? These are questions I have been trying to reconcile in my brain over the past couple of years. One of the things I have attempted to do is separate myself from "what I have been taught" and research the Bible, from not only inside itself, but also from outside itself. I have had a very rude awakening. I was always taught that the Bible was perfect and there were no inconsistencies. How can this be when we have so many doctrines? One can be 100% scripturally correct to say that women should be silent in church yet speak in church. One can be 100% scripturally correct to say that speaking in tongues is permitted in public worship yet it should not be done. One can be 100% scripturally correct to say that salvation is free and eternal yet say one can lose it. One can deduct that Judas hung himself to death or that he died by his guts being spilled to the ground. One can follow the separate genealogies of the Gospels leading up to Jesus' birth in the New Testament and see that they clearly do not match. One has to reconcile the fact that it is nearly impossible that the Disciples who walked with Christ actually penned the Gospels; they were penned generations after the events occurred. These are facts I was not taught in church. Yet, it helps me understand why there is such diversity within the global church. It does contain differences.

Does the recognition that the Word is not as cohesive as I once thought make me an unbeliever? Absolutely not! I know my Lord. I know His Spirit. I walk with Him. I talk with Him. He is very, very real and moving in my life! What does this latest revelation do for me? It increases awareness that I must err on the side of grace, not law.  It reinforces that God truly is Spirit and we who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in TRUTH (the whole truth and nothing but the truth). I can no longer condemn others for what I do not understand. That is God's job. I can no longer pass judgment on which doctrines are right or wrong when the Bible clearly teaches both sides of certain fences. What I can do is live my life for Him in peace and through humility of service. I can be a man of integrity, love and acceptance. If God so loved the world, I believe then so should I. It is His job to sift the chaff from the wheat. He is the judge, not me.

I want to extend my apologies to those whom may have been offended as I have very openly processed through my hurt, disappointment and disenchantment. I have certainly pushed the envelope through my quest for truth. Regardless of where you stand on the Spiritual spectrum, it is my desire to extend my love and grace. I thank you for taking the time to read what I write. And, I pray that God richly bless your life through His abundant greatness!


Sunday, April 24, 2011


Let me wish everyone a very blessed and happy Easter! Jesus is certainly my King. So, this is a very special day for me. It is also a day for family. This is where I get a little bluesy. Over the past several years I have lost my mother, father, only sibling, mother-in-law and step-father-in-law. I am the only person left from my natural family. When my wife and I married, we had a goal of having four children. However, through seven pregnancies we only had one live birth, our only child. He is a wonderful son and within the past year we added a daughter-in-law, whom we adore, to the family. They live in a different city and have work schedules that sometimes prevent us from spending holidays together. 

So, holidays are now bitter-sweet. I remember the old days where we had seven sets of living parents, grandparents and great-grandparents to try to visit on special days and holidays. It used to get rather frustrating. Everyone seemed to want us at their house at the same time. I used to grumble and get frustrated at the whole mess because it seemed like nobody was ever happy with the time we were able to spend with them. I now look back on those days with fond memories: all of those people, family who loved us, who wanted to be with us. What a blessing it was!

So, love your family. Even though they frustrate you, let it roll off of your back. Enjoy being in demand. Unfortunately, it does not last forever. Treasure every day because it is truly a gift!


Friday, April 22, 2011


This past week I spent three days in a required work intern conference. The conference theme was "Leadership." I will be graduating on May 14, with my Masters in Leadership. So, I spent most of the three days internally rolling my eyes while thinking, "How many times do I have to hear this 'stuff' repeated?" I am old enough to realize you cannot stay in that mindset or you will miss out on the occasional "nugget" that will be tossed for the open mind.

The most enjoyable segments of the conference were the key note speakers. Every morning, an SES greeted the crowd. For those of you who are not familiar with civil service, an SES is the civilian equivalent of a general or admiral. Yesterday, Mr. Jonathan Witter, SES, DFAS-Columbus Site Director, spoke. He discussed the fact that early in a career, one has great control over their environment. You are basically only responsible for yourself. As your career grows, you become responsible for things outside of your direct control. For instance, you may become a supervisor. You have limited control over your staff's performance. However, you have influence.

The example he used was reporting. Our site is responsible for producing high-level reports that float all the way up to the Pentagon. Many other sites and military service branches provide the data that is required for our site to produce the reports. Our site has very little control over other sites and even less over the military service branches. However, we have total control and responsibility for producing accurate and timely reports. Some branches were habitually late sending in their data which was creating lateness in reporting. This was totally outside of our site's control. However, as a leader, Mr. Witter had to influence the branches to get their data in both accurately and on time. So, he commissioned the development of a balanced score card. It showed the accuracy and timeliness of data submission. Amazingly, things became more accurate and timely once the indicator report was available and they saw their name in "red." A good example of having little control over others however, utilizing great leadership influence to get the job done.

As a result of that 30-45 minute session, I am determined to no longer let things outside of my "control" hinder me. I must be creative and "influence" the circumstances to accomplish my mission: personally or professionally. How about you?