Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | June 18, 2018

Making Peace with Who You are; God’s Plan for You

 What now, where do you go from here?

In the first article I mentioned how much of who you are was beyond your control; your genealogy was instrumental in the creation of most of your physical characteristics. There are, however, many significant areas where you can make a difference in your life on this troubled world. A great deal has to do with how you perceive yourself and your situation which is largely dependent on your worldview; how do you see the world and your place in it?

I delight in seeing the world as God’s creation and seeing myself as a small part of his creation; it is a cause for great joy to know my very existence is dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ and I exist as an expression of his will. Starting the day with that thought helps keep the events of the day in a proper perspective; adding to that my favorite life verse, Galatians 2:20, completes my daily mindset package:

    “20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Your Journey Through Life

As we live our lives on this world it is vital we recognize only one decision on our part has intrinsic, eternal value; believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!

I concluded my article on “What is Reality” with this statement:

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will have effectually and successfully responded to true reality; your life will have been a success regardless of whatever else may happen.”

Once a commitment to Christ has been made we begin the process of being conformed to the image of his son, Jesus Christ; that process is unique for each of us and can lead us over many diverse paths. As we traverse those paths we are given many gracious and loving promises on which we can depend; I have come to depend on several which are given to God’s children in the Bible, I’m sure you have yours.

It is important to realize that this process of being conformed is a journey and there are things we must learn as we travel our journey. I frequently think on Paul’s statement in Philippians 4:11-14 where it is written:

11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Note particularly how Paul writes, “I have learned;” no one is born with the knowledge needed and it must be learned if we are ever to successfully put it into practice in our lives. What is critical is we learn this from a source on which we can depend, the Bible.

Evaluating our Lives from a Biblical Perspective

If our lives are to be a true success we must evaluate our priorities in the light of eternal values, not temporal ones; while the world attempts to convince us of the beauties and values it can offer it is vital we look beyond what is perishing to what has eternal values. We read in Mark 8:36-37:

36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul?”

The world and all it contains is destined for the fires of judgment; it is truly foolish to place one’s hopes and expectations in something which will not last.

In Micah 6:6-8 we are given a glimpse of how God sees us and our lives:

“6 What can we bring to the Lord?
Should we bring him burnt offerings?
Should we bow before God Most High
with offerings of yearling calves?
7 Should we offer him thousands of rams
and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children
to pay for our sins?

8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.”

I think we can all agree that is simple and straightforward enough; to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God! Perhaps all beyond this simple declaration is of the world and not of God.

Receiving and Believing True Reality

I have found the best choice in life is to trust God and fully believe and act on what he has written in his holy word, the Bible; when I am told he loves me and is working all things together for my good I choose to embrace such a wonderful truth as a basic reality of life. When I am told he works all things after the counsel of his own will I am compelled to add that to the list of what I believe about reality.

When I am told his love for me will never fail and I am his forever, I rejoice in that truth and let it dominate my thinking; I am his and he is mine, is enormous and simply must provide the foundation for everything else in my life!

Two of my favorite verses are found in Proverbs 3:5-6 where it is written:

“5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.”

Those verses have provided a secure anchor in some very serious times of testing; praise God for his loving mercy and grace! May our Lord bless and guide you as you seek to honor and glorify him with your life!

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | June 12, 2018

Making Peace with Who You are

How Does who you are and What you are Doing fit in with your Dreams, Hopes, and Aspirations?

Living today exposes all of us to many pressures to conform to the wishes of others concerning our lives and how we live them; we are inundated with advertising that tells us how wonderful our lives would be if only we should do what we’re being told. Most of us learn very quickly the promises of amazing transformations are hollow and false and should we follow those instructions we are left without all of the vast improvements to our lives that were promised.

We are all products of a variety of influences which have helped shape us over the course of our lives. Some of the most influential factors were completely beyond our control; we had nothing to say about who our parents would be or the fact that we would be born into a fallen race whose members are born spiritually dead. It is helpful to reflect on the fact our parents and their parents and all previous generations of parents have been faced with this same dilemma.

Factors beyond our control would determine whether we were born male or female; the general configuration of our bodies was genetically determined by our DNA and we had no input into key physical properties that would influence the balance of our lives. We had no say in our general body types, hair color, bone structure and simply had to play the hand we were dealt by our parents.

As we grow up we begin to sort things out; we start to identify those things that really matter to us and start building a life that we think, and hope, will be our very best choice. We are under a tremendous amount of pressure during those early formative years, in addition to pressures from without we must deal with pressures within which can all too easily exert a disproportionate influence on our decision-making process.

Finding Help

The mere fact of living in a modern society means we are surrounded by the things of this world; we are constantly barraged by a world view which is totally opposite from the view described in the Bible. The world seeks to convince us of what is real and what is not and, in this process, can present us with choices that are ultimately very destructive.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of discovering and practicing a Biblical perspective on reality and life. I have written on these many times and stress the importance of a realistic worldview as the basis for all other decisions. I’ve written on this in “What is Reality”,The Painted Veil That Hides Reality” and a seven part series that starts with “It’s All True, All of It! Part 1“.

To ignore the Bible is a sure invitation to failure as there is no other source where eternal truths are clearly presented! I wrote in “What is Reality;”

“All of us have heard the expression “get real” which usually means to deal with life as it really is and stop dreaming. That is good advice as reality is the ultimate judge of the value of all of our actions and decisions.”

If we are to make decisions of real value then it is critical we use the best information available and I promise you that information is only found in the Bible!

Lessons we Must Learn

The Bible is very clear as it pinpoints the situation each one of us faces; the fact of our spiritual death in Adam is a case in point; we are told that we died in Adam in the Garden of Eden and at the time of our physical birth we were spiritually dead. We are also told of the necessity of our new birth as we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior; if we are not born again we can have no part in God’s kingdom.

Once we have been born again, by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we are eternally indwelt by the Holy Spirit as a down payment on the inheritance God has planned for all of his children. We then begin the journey of a lifetime as God continues to conform us to the image of his son, Jesus Christ.

We must learn, as Christians, we exist on two planes, a spiritual one and a temporal one. Spiritually we have been given the perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ, seated in Christ at the right hand of the Father, and are totally free of all condemnation; temporally we occupy a fallen, unredeemed body, and still have a sin nature within us which seeks to sabotage our lives as we endeavor to grow in our faith as children of God.

It has pleased God to leave us on this world with many responsibilities; we are not only children in God’s family and joint heirs with Christ, but soldiers in the Lord’s army, royal priests, and ambassadors for the Lord to a fallen world which is truly no longer our home. We are told that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

In this same context we are told: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” It is important that we recognize and accept the reality of our situation; we’ll live out our entire mortal lives as soldiers fighting a spiritual battle on a spiritual battlefield. I have written on this in a three-part series, “To the Soldiers in the Spiritual War“.

Next time we’ll cover where you go from here.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | June 5, 2018

An Adventure Trapping Wild Animals

Abby Cat as Ninja Kitten

How it all Began

People who know me probably don’t realize I’ve actually been involved in trapping wild animals. While this is not one of my ordinary pastimes there was one occasion when duty demanded I engage in the trapping of wild animals. While the animals were truly wild they were not really dangerous, in fact the wild animals were five very active kittens who needed rescuing.

This is how that all came about; my company had transferred me back to Houston after a few years in Austin, Texas and we found the house in which we now live. We were the first occupants of this house which was one of several new houses on the block, some of which were still under construction. One house across the street was being framed and, as a builder, I watched its progress with interest.

After a few weeks the house was close to being completed when it came to the attention of the builder and the neighbors that a mother cat had given birth to a litter of kittens in the attic of the house. The builder was growing increasingly annoyed by the situation and didn’t want the kittens to delay closing of the house to the new owners.

Over a few days observation by both neighbors and builder it had been fairly well confirmed there were five kittens in the attic. The attic situation made it virtually impossible to catch the kittens for all the obvious reasons and the builder made it known that he would have to dispose of the mother and her kittens if they could not be removed quickly.

Our entire family loves animals and the thought of such a horrible fate was totally unacceptable to us but we were just as perplexed as everyone else as to how we might affect a rescue of those kittens.

The mother cat was friendly and could be approached and petted but the kittens scattered all over the attic when anyone came up to visit. I decided to accept responsibility for the rescue and told the builder to give me a couple of days and I would figure something out.

The Plan

Being by nature a meticulous planner I knew I needed a plan that would work the first time without fail. The challenge would be rescuing all five kittens as any time someone approached they would all run in different directions for inaccessible locations in the attic. By that time the walls and doors had been installed and it would be theoretically possible to trap the kittens in one room if they could somehow be lured into that room from the attic. I inspected the second floor and found a room with attic access that seemed a good choice for my plan.

Since the mother was friendly I decided to use that to our advantage; I would take the mother and put her into a cat carrier and take her home and leave the kittens by themselves in the attic to get hungry and thirsty. Then the next day I would take some cat food and water over to the house and use that to try and lure them into the room.

The room I selected to use as a trap was on the second floor and had an attic access door on the back wall. My plan would be to close the door to the hall and stuff a towel under the door as the gap was large enough for a kitten to slip under it. There was a boxed-out window on one side of the room and my plan called for me to sit very quietly in that window until all the kittens were in the room then jump up with a towel, close the door to the attic and stuff the towel under the door.

The success of my plan depended on getting all five kittens into the room at the same time; I didn’t want to lose any of those precious lives.

Putting the Plan into Action

As time was getting short I decided to put the plan into action immediately; I took a bowl of cat food over to the house and the mother cat smelled it and immediately came out of the attic to eat. I shut the door to the attic and let her eat then gave her a good pet and put her into the cat carrier and took her home. I knew the kittens would need some time to get hungry so I waited over night to put the rest of the plan into action.

The following morning, I got our other cat carrier, cat food and water, some leather gloves and two towels and went across the street to put the rest of my plan into action. The kittens weren’t making a sound but I was very confident they were hiding in the attic. I went into the room, closed the door to the hall and stuffed a towel under the door.

Then I placed the food and water in the far corner of the room, as far away from the attic door as I could and took my position in the boxed-out window; the waiting game began. For several minutes I sat quietly in the window, hardly daring to breath but no kittens appeared. Then after several more minutes one kitten appeared and walked over to the food and water; then another and another until four were there but no sign of number five.

At that point I began to worry that one of them might go back into the attic before the fifth one made its appearance; but just as I was beginning to wonder if my plan would work, number five made its appearance and walked over to the food and water.

I instantly jumped up, ran to the attic door, slammed it shut and shoved the towel under the door. Those five kittens went crazy with fear and started running around the room looking for a way out but there was no way out. I had them all trapped where I could eventually catch them all. Needless to say, my next step was to put on those heavy leather gloves as I really wanted to avoid being scratched and bitten by angry kittens.

It took some time, as trying to catch five kittens even in a closed room is not an easy task but eventually I had them all in our second cat carrier and closed and locked the door to the carrier. Now I had five very upset kittens in a cat carrier and the mother in another cat carrier at home.

I carried it to our house and decided I would reunite mother and kittens; I stood the cat carrier with the mother on its end and rather unceremoniously dumped the five kittens on top of their mother. I don’t recall how the kittens reacted to seeing their mother again but it must have had some sort of calming effect on them.

Safe at Last

The following day we took the mother and her kittens to the animal shelter where I was told the kittens were young enough they could probably adapt to people and be adopted. Needless to say, after all that, I truly wished them the very best!

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 29, 2018

Why do People become Killers?

9/11

There are only three reasons — Here they are

I recently read an “Opinion” in Fox News By J. Warner Wallace, Fox News; Why do people become killers?   In the article Mr. Wallace lists three reasons: “Human misbehavior is motivated by: financial greed, sexual – or relational – lust, and the pursuit of power.” The article was interesting and in the last paragraphs of the article Mr. Wallace wrote:

“Unless we, as a nation, are willing to embrace and promote a worldview that helps us understand the proper role of money and financial stewardship, promotes sexual purity and restraint, and helps us place the needs of others ahead of our own desires, we can expect more of the same.

Those restorative values may sound familiar to you; they used to be part of our collective heritage and our common worldview. They are also our last and greatest hope if we ever expect to minimize and contain the only three reasons anyone commits a crime.”

I was particularly interested in Mr. Wallace’s conclusions regarding the importance of a worldview as I share that belief wholeheartedly! I would even venture to say that the qualities identified might accurately be classified as a partial list of the essential components of a Biblical worldview! (I later discovered that J. Warner Wallace is a Christian apologist and author.)

In November of 2015 I published an essay which I’ve updated and attached below on the subject of the importance of a realistic worldview of everything. While Mr. Wallace lists a number of very important factors there is one factor that I do not see in his list and that is the spiritual factor and the proper role of mankind in relationship to God.

“Your Worldview Shapes Your Perception of Everything!

In my last essay we considered the negative impact of disobedience to God on the quality of our lives. We reviewed Solomon’s failure to effectively deal with the basic realities of life when he placed more emphasis on the creation rather than the creator.

At some point in our lives we too may start asking questions about who we are, why we are here, and what is our purpose in life; life itself does not provide easy answers to those questions leaving them open to speculation and theorizing.

I suspect a tremendous amount of time has been devoted to discussion and debate on these basic questions of life since they become increasingly important the older we get.

As young people we likely had dreams of what we would like to be and what we would like to do someday. My dream was to be a world-famous conductor of music and lead great music ensembles in the performance of classical music. The closest I ever came to realizing that dream was the opportunity I was given as a teenage boy to conduct the Houston Symphony Orchestra in concert.

As I grew older the realities of my life began to dramatically change my goals and dreams and I realized I had to reshape my thinking to conform to my actual life situation; I had to face reality, my youthful dreams were no longer viable.

Face Which Reality?

The dictionary defines reality as “the quality or state of being real: something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily.” Could it be that reality is vastly different from what is generally believed and if so then what is it like?

All of us have heard the expression “get real” which usually means to deal with life as it really is and stop dreaming. That is good advice as reality is the ultimate judge of the value of all of our actions and decisions.

The idea to “get real” would most often refer to the reality as expressed by the world in which we live but the so-called reality of our world is, I believe, both derivative and dependent. I suggest to you that this is not true reality at all but little more than a facade, more similar to a stage setting one would find on a movie set.

It is admittedly a complex and involved stage setting and has the appearance of permanence; permanence, however, from a finite point of view. The tragedy is that most people devote their entire lives to responding to the stage setting and ignore the true realities of life; this appears to be the mistake Solomon made.

If the world and all we see is nothing more than a stage setting then what is reality? The answer is both simple and yet complex beyond our ability to understand; as always, the only source of truth about anything ultimate is the Bible.

The Creator Revealed

Although the beauty, intricacy and harmony of creation demands a Creator, it is only in the Bible we discover the existence of the Triune God; an eternal, unchanging God that is one in essence yet composed of three persons. That basic revelation already moves us to a point beyond our understanding.

Ultimate reality then is the Trinity; everything else is both derivative and dependent!

The Trinity is the absolute uncaused cause and present before time was created by the Trinity. It is impossible for us to imagine what the Trinity’s existence was like before the decision was made to create; it is equally impossible for us to imagine a timeless eternity that has no beginning and no end.

We know from the Bible a decision was made to create therefore the heavens and the earth came into being. The Bible also reveals that the Second Person of the Trinity was the instrument of creation and actually continues to sustain the existence of creation by the exercise of His power.

All creation therefore derives from and is dependent upon the Creator.

In other words, all of creation, most specifically including you and I are sustained from moment to moment by an exercise of the will and power of the Second Person of the Trinity; the Bible identifies the Second Person of the Trinity in His incarnate humanity as the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Triune God, in His grace, uses terms that have some familiarity to mankind to identify the three Persons, Father, Son, and Spirit. I doubt that these terms even begin to describe the complex relationship that has always existed between the three persons of the Triune God.

The World as a Testing Ground

Considering the true nature of our being it should be obvious that the focus of our attention had better be on the Triune God, not the creation as altered by man into the stage setting in which we now live. To only respond to the stage setting and not to the Creator is most seriously delusional and potentially catastrophic!

I’m reminded of a science fiction series written by Arthur C. Clarke referred to as the Rama series in which a gigantic spacecraft is sent to earth to provide a galactic civilization an opportunity to evaluate earth people for inclusion in a galactic empire. A cross-section of humanity moves to an earth-like environment in the spacecraft and immediately reverts to type, completely forgetting or ignoring the fact they are being judged for membership in the galactic empire.

We too are being individually judged by God for inclusion in His eternal family. The only truly significant decision with intrinsic value we can make in life is our membership in God’s family; all other decisions are insanely trivial by comparison.

God has made that decision as easy for us as He can; just believe on His Son, the Second Person of the Trinity as one’s personal savior and membership in God’s eternal family is secured.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will have effectually and successfully responded to true reality; your life will have been a success regardless of whatever else may happen.”

I encourage you to adopt a Biblical worldview!

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 22, 2018

The Santa Fe High School Tragedy

Dimitrios Pagourtzis

Why?

A question that is in the minds of many who have heard of the shootings at Santa Fe High School by a young student there is why. What made that young man think the answer to whatever problems he felt he had was the shooting of high school students. Such rage and anger toward his classmates is difficult, if not impossible, for many of us to even imagine; what had gone on in his life that resulted in such a twisted solution in his mind?

We may or may not ever know the full answer to that question but the sad results of his tragic decisions have taken ten lives, left others with injuries and many lives in tatters.

Now we hear the loud cries for more gun control, as if the problems could more effectively be resolved if only there were more laws restricting the distribution and ownership of guns; the idea being to protect young people like Dimitrios by more stringent control over their access to guns; to put things they might use to harm themselves or others out of their reach.

Is Gun Control Another Effort to Childproof the Room?

The recent mass murders in Sante Fe, Texas  have once again provided an occasion to beat the drums for gun control. The mantra being if only we had better gun control something like this would not have happened. The fact of the matter is guns are inanimate tools and have no agenda whatsoever; killing is instigated by people, not guns.

Inanimate tools are nothing more than that, just tools; whether you pick up a gun, a knife, an axe, a stick, a hammer, or a chainsaw it is nothing more than an inanimate tool that can be used according to the will of the user. It can be used for either good or evil but that is a decision made exclusively by the user, not the tool. I have written more on this in “Money, Guns, Tire Tools, and Christianity.

While the death of 10 people in Sante Fe is a terrible thing, it is a small number by comparison with the 762 killings in Chicago in 2016. Chicago just happens to have some of the most extensive gun control laws in the United States but this seems to do little good for those people who got killed anyway. The Associated Press distributed a press release on January 1, 2017 with this headline: “Chicago Ends Year With 762 Killings, the Most in 2 Decades”

Whether a gun, or any tool, is legal or illegal it can be equally deadly in the hands of a killer!

A Monumental Effort in Misguided Good Intentions

Our three children were born between 1957 and 1961 and were close enough in age to essentially grow up together. By the time our first boy was born we were enthusiastic students of the Bible and spent a lot of time rejoicing in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As Christians who believed the Bible was the inerrant word of God we had already decided it was “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Based on that conviction we decided to raise our children in the ways of the Lord and proceeded to follow Biblical teachings in their upbringing. We believed the child should be taught how to behave and exercise the self-discipline needed to refrain from doing that which was unacceptable.

We had also come to believe in certain principles of life and living that would help our children establish a solid foundation for their lives; the first was an unconditional love on which they knew they could always depend.

The second was a principle I had picked up from Scouting Magazine; this had to do with the importance of establishing parameters of acceptable behavior. The children had to understand where the limits were on their behavior; in effect they had a fence around their lives beyond which they were not allowed to cross. Any crossing over the fence would result in discipline which brings up the third principle.

The controlling thought behind the third principle, discipline, was not severity, but certainty; the discipline didn’t have to be severe, just certain. This was a principle I had picked up during my short but intense period of service in the United States Navy. The axiom was “It is not the severity of punishment that counts but the certainty of it.”

I’m happy to report that this system produced excellent results; the children learned at an early age that self-discipline was a much better alternative and chose to exercise the self control needed to avoid parental discipline. The fact of the matter is their teenage years were rather fun for the entire family; at least most of the time.

By Way of Contrast

I mentioned above the concept of childproofing which is the real subject of the essay. When our children were very young we observed what appeared to us as a strange and unworkable phenomena.  Young parents of our acquaintance were embracing a new concept which included never saying no to their children and never disciplining them for their misdeeds. The idea seemed to be that such negative actions would harm their young psyches and hamper their development into productive adults.

In order to avoid creating situations that might cause the children to do something bad the parents were childproofing their houses so the little children couldn’t reach those things that might break or cause them to harm themselves or others. Anything thought of as breakable or dangerous was put out of reach of the children. Such a room was childproofed as far as the parents could make it.

I can recall speculating with my wife on the potential difficulties these children might face when they moved out into society and lacked the self-control to discipline themselves.

I had overlooked one significant and unexpected development; the same parents that would try to childproof the room would later try to childproof society as well. That is pretty much where we seem to be today; we see efforts all around us to remove the dangerous things, like guns, out of reach of the adult/child that has never learned how to exercise self-control.

I think on occasion of the verse in Proverbs 22:15 where it is written:

“15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

It would appear this foolishness is now bound in the heart of many adult/children and is being nurtured by society as it continues to futilely attempt to establish a childproof environment free of dangerous things. The problem is not environmental, it is internal and can only be successfully dealt with at the spiritual level.

The Real Problem

One of the questions being addressed by the media today is why did Dimitrios Pagourtzis go on a killing rampage; what happened to cause him to carefully plan and then murder all those people. Out of all the discussions appearing on the major news shows there has not been one reference to a spiritual problem that I’ve heard about.

The Bible makes it clear that Dimitrios Pagourtzis, just like every other human being, was born spiritually dead and from all appearances was spiritually dead at the time of the shootings; his fallen sin nature was always in control of his life and guided him in all his decisions. Fortunately the fallen sin nature does not guide everyone who is under its control to commit mass murder but it does inevitably result in eternal separation from God.

The only deliverance from this curse is the new birth which comes with salvation by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is why Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3

3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Even if, by some stretch of the imagination, society was able to perfect the environment and successfully make all of society childproof that would in no wise solve the problem of sin and lawlessness; the basic problem is internal, not external. This is clearly demonstrated by the experience in the Garden of Eden and the coming experience during the Millennial Reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Perfect environment is not and never will be the answer to man’s sin problem; the only answer is the new birth, you must be born again!

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be Saved!

Updated and revised from an earlier essay.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 18, 2018

Christian Marriage, Part 2

Marriage as a Mission Field

I met my future wife when she was 16 and I was 18 years old; we were both at a performance of the opera Faust presented by the Metropolitan Opera on tour in Houston, Texas on May 1, 1951. We were instantly attracted to each other and started developing a relationship that resulted in our marriage eighteen months later.  At the time I had not attended church for years due to complications in my family life but I was a born-again Christian who did love the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.

Having been initially raised in a Southern Baptist Church, I had found the Lord as my Savior as a young boy and been baptized when I was 12 years old. Two years later my childhood was to hit some rough patches which resulted in my not darkening the doors of a church for several years leading up to my discovery of my wife-to-be.

While I knew Jesus as my Savior and a few Bible stories, I knew almost nothing about serious Bible doctrine and was definitely a babe in Christ! My future wife was a good church girl and after I met her we would sometimes go to her church where I got to know some of the people she knew. It never even occurred to me to think about her salvation or whether or not she was born-again.

It was only after we were married that she came to know the Lord as her personal Savior; I have described this event in Once Upon a Time We Moved Back to Texas. God’s hand of grace had moved in her life and she turned to the Lord for her deliverance from sin. What is rather sad for me is that during this whole process I didn’t have a clue what was happening to her; I was little more than an ignorant bystander watching it all happen; I was just a babe in Christ starting to grow up just a little bit.

What Does the Bible Say on This?

Suppose a born-again Christian is married to one who is not; then what? The Bible does not leave us in doubt about that point; in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 it is written:

10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

There is nothing I can add to that, the Bible is clear on what God expects.

Letting This all Play out in Life

Any marriage is the joining together of two unique individuals; each with their own dreams, agenda’s, aspirations and priorities. A dangerous pitfall in marriage is to think of the other person as an instrument by which your dreams and fantasies will be fulfilled. I wrote briefly on this in “The Painted Veil that Hides Reality.”

“The heart of the movie can possibly be reduced to one line spoken by Dr. Walter Fane to his wife Kitty, “It was silly of us to look for qualities in each other that we never had.” To some degree, each had come into their marriage with preconceived notions of how it would be and how the other would respond. This, of course, is the never ending challenge to young couples entering into marriage; separating fantasy from reality.”

The ideal would be entering into the marriage relationship with a full understanding of the facts of life regarding the other’s individuality and that will never happen unless there is careful instruction before marriage. The next best alternative would be for the young couple to recognize this fact of life, accept it and make peace with it as quickly as possible. It is critical to any marriage that the “silliness” of fantasy fulfillment be removed from any marriage as quickly as possible.

My wife and I got married when she was 17 and I was 19; we had a lot of growing up left to do and had decided to do it together. By God’s grace, love and mercy we have been able to sort things out and make our marriage work now for over 65 years. The best part about the whole thing for us is the great joy we share just being together; we have 65 years of life together and can share the memories of a lifetime. May God be praised!

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”  KJV

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 11, 2018

Christian Marriage

Separating Fact from Fiction

Today we live in an age where marriage seems to be more of an afterthought and, in some circles, an unnecessary obstacle to companionship; the driving force can frequently be more physical than spiritual. The focus is more on the satisfaction of an immediate need rather than a long-term commitment to another human being. While everyone has needs, marriage was established for the long haul; a lifetime commitment to the other person, “till death do us part!”

Over my 50 plus years of Bible teaching I have worked with groups of single adults in a broad spectrum of ages, many of whom have been divorced. There seems to be a greater effort being made by the church today to help the divorced than to help young people who are looking to get married. I’m of the opinion that helping young people better understand what true Biblical marriage is all about would be an excellent use of church resources but I know of no such programs being offered on any significant scale.

The Gift of Marriage

While the Biblical standard for marriage, one man and one woman for life, is under attack for a variety of reasons including divorce, and same-sex marriage; marriage, as an institution, was established by God while Adam was still in the Garden of Eden; God had determined that it was not good for a man to be alone. In Genesis 2:21-24 it is written:

“21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.

“This one is bone from my bone,
    and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
    because she was taken from ‘man.’”

24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

Eve was God’s gift to Adam to provide the help he needed in almost all aspects of Adam’s life; most importantly the generation of descendants. God instructed Adam and Eve to have children as this was God’s plan to populate the world; we are all descendants of the first married couple, Adam and Eve.

I think it is important to see God’s perspective on the union of Adam and Eve, “the two are united into one.” This is a lifetime joining of two people into one flesh and not to be broken. I will testify with total conviction and complete sincerity that raising up descendants is a full-time job for both a husband and a wife!

What Does the New Testament Say?

The essential starting point for any Christian who is looking to get married is to understand how vitally important it is to only marry another born again Christian! Christian marriage is addressed in several places in the New Testament. My favorite is found in Ephesians 5:21-33 where it is written:

“21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.30 And we are members of his body.

31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

I have noted, with interest, the Bible instructs me to love my wife whereas she is to respect me; while I know she loves me, the Bible does not specifically state that; perhaps the wife’s love must be earned by the husband.

As husband I am the spiritual leader and told I must make my wife holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. How many young men who marry their brides are consciously aware of their spiritual responsibility to their future wife; how many of them are thinking of their leadership role in spiritual matters; I, for one, did not. They certainly will not if they have never been taught!

Next time, “Marriage as a Mission Field.”

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | May 4, 2018

85 and Counting, a Work in Progress

 Global Media Outreach

A New Phase Begins

Oh, happy day, after 46 years I finally graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary. I had not even dared to dream such a thing was possible and now, by God’s grace, I had finally completed what I had started in the early 60’s, I completed my studies at DTS and graduated!

Global Media Outreach

It was to be almost three more years before the second major event of my retirement unfolded; one Sunday in January of 2012 there was an announcement at church of a new program called Global Media Outreach; a call went out for volunteers and I decided that sounded like something I could do so I volunteered for the program.

I took the training required and was admitted to the program a few weeks later as an online missionary; since then I have worked continuously in the program and GMO reports I have reached over 3,400 people and received over 12,200 replies. I have the joy and privilege of working with people all over the world as they seek to know Jesus Christ and grow in their faith; it has been a remarkable experience!

What has been a particular joy has been the small group of people who have shown a strong interest in Bible study; there are some I’ve been working with now for several years who have shown remarkable spiritual growth. This is a rich opportunity to have an impact for the Lord in spite of my age.

Life from a Christian Perspective

Another area where I invest a substantial amount of time is my weblog, “Life from a Christian Perspective.”  I started writing my weblog in July of 2011 and have, to date, published 338 essays which cover a broad range of topics all generally related to either my life or the Christian life.

By 2011 I was feeling a certain sense of loss as I realized that I had never had a deep spiritual conversation with anyone in my family as a child growing up. I had no clear confidence that my father was even a Christian and while I had some confidence that one of my grandfathers was I had questions about the other.

I decided to make sure that everyone in my family knew exactly where I stood on the deeper spiritual issues of life and decided to write it all down as a legacy for my family. While I knew that our children had all received Christ as their personal Savior I felt I was remiss in not having had those same deeper spiritual discussions with them that I was missing in my own childhood.

My wife had suggested I write a blog but my immediate response was to deny that I was a writer; it did however spark my curiosity about writing a blog and within two hours I had written and published my first one, “A Starting Point“. Since then I have published one on a regular basis and have even come to enjoy the whole writing process, especially with a word processor on a computer!

Facebook

What may be a possible third opportunity is developing as this is being written. Another avenue for outreach has belatedly come to my attention, called Facebook. I have discovered a huge number of Christians who use Facebook as a means of discussing the gospel of Jesus Christ and have enthusiastically joined in.

Through Facebook I have had the opportunity to meet many brothers and sisters in Christ who regularly visit and correspond with one another. It would please me if I could find myself in a position to help some and what is interesting, being 85, in some societies, is a positive thing as there is a respect for age not generally found in the United States.

While I have a fairly clear picture of what the opportunities with Global Media Outreach are I am still largely in the dark about the opportunities with Facebook. My goal is to help Christians discover and more fully implement in their lives the blessings and joys they can have by faithful obedience to God’s commands; at this point I do not know if Facebook will help in the pursuit of this goal.

There is a tremendous amount of interest from many people in many nations in discussing the Christian life and the challenges the world, the flesh and the devil present to all Christians. Time will tell how, and if, this will all develop into an additional teaching ministry and it appears, once again, I’m in for another journey of discovery.

I just checked and I have 165 friend requests and have been working diligently over the last several days to process as many of them as I can as quickly as I can. I can truly say I have no idea where this is all going but it may be filled with opportunity to have an impact for our Lord which I never dreamed possible; we live in interesting times.

I have discovered that the three opportunities that have helped shape my retirement have a symbiotic relationship; each feed off the others and provides some sort of a mutually beneficial resource for the others. Things are still in a developmental phase but show promise.

My Free Time

While I devote the majority of my day to the three opportunities listed above and my responsibilities as “the man of the house”; I still try to find time to indulge my hobbies; i.e. my interest in computers, reading, and home theater/music.  I’m not only a fan of ballet, opera, and symphonic music I also enjoy action movies and science fiction movies. I have been an audiophile since I discovered high fidelity around 1951 and have enjoyed high quality audio and video for many years.

My music/movie system does an exciting job of recreating music and video and provides hours of pleasurable listening for me. It has been fascinating to watch the development of home audio and video equipment since the mid 1950’s; we’re living in a whole new world now with digital technology creating new possibilities of beauty and performance excellence. I had discovered classical music by accident as a child and it became a part of my life. (Music and Movies at Home)

Mystery Solved!

For many years I wondered what the last of my life would be like; now I know and can confirm with complete sincerity; there’s no place on earth I’d rather be than at home with my beloved wife doing those things the Lord has entrusted to my care!

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be, 

The last of life, for which the first was made:

Our times are in His hand

Who saith ‘A whole I planned,

Youth shows but half; trust God; see all, nor be afraid!

Robert Browning, 1812-1899

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 27, 2018

85 and Counting!

I Find It Hard to Believe I’m That Old!

Every once in a while, the thought will come to me, I’m 85, and I’ll laugh, that certainly sounds old but I don’t seem to feel all that old in the least. I celebrated my 85th birthday in February and I’ll have to admit that my body is sending signals that some things are beginning to wear out or slow down and, as I’ve mentioned in A Surprising Discovery, my perceptions and priorities are continuing to change dramatically.

This has all been a very gradual process and has generally been rather easy to ignore, at least most of the time, but nevertheless the change has been steady and, as we know, inevitable. Both my wife and I have tried to take some steps to live sensible lives and have been fairly careful about what we did and how we did it and as a result have succeeded in maintaining a comparatively good level of health for people our age.

We have long accepted that the seeds we were planting in our lives as young people would begin to bear fruit as we grew older and are now beginning to see what sort of fruit those seeds are producing.

One of the most important seeds we planted as young people was our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We are now reaping a harvest of joy and rejoicing in the Lord that brightens every day of our lives together; we are having a joyous time just being together and sharing our lives.

Keeping Busy at 85

I retired from 36 years in the home building business in 2004, I was 71 years old at the time and had really planned on working until I was 75 but for several reasons decided to cut it short and retired at 71. This September it will be 14 years of retirement and my life has taken some exciting turns.

I had read about others retiring, getting bored and even dying so I wondered where my life would go after I retired. Would I get bored without a job or would I find something new to occupy my time; fortunately, the Lord had made plans for me even if I hadn’t. While there was never a time when there was nothing for me to do, it was going to take some time for a new direction to become clear to me.

I am definitely a “technophile” and enjoy our computers and my home theater; that alone can occupy many hours of the week so I always have that as a fallback position; there was, however, going to be something more the Lord had in store for me and that would involve going back and finishing something that I never once dreamed would even be possible.

As a young man I had attended Dallas Theological Seminary with the goal of full time ministry service for our Lord; those plans were not to be as financial difficulties brought those dreams to an end, or so I thought. We stayed in Dallas for almost 10 years (see An Aerospace Diversion) as I hoped something could be worked out but as time passed it became evident to me the Lord had something else planned.

Back to Houston

We decided to move back to Houston and I found a job in home building where I worked for 36 years and retired which brings us back to 2004. Four years later, in December of 2008, I got an email from Dallas Theological Seminary, (I had enough hours there to get emails from them as an ex-student). That was probably the most exciting email I had ever gotten because it announced a special program for ex-students that would permit them to return, complete their work and actually graduate from DTS.

I was beside myself with excitement, failing to graduate from DTS had been a burr under my saddle since the early 60’s and the opportunity to complete my studies there and graduate was a dream come true! I lost no time in sending in my application and with the help of the Admissions Department was able to enroll in the January, 2009 Spring semester. Later I recall being told mine was the first application they received for the new program. I was ecstatic and took to my studies like a duck takes to water (a favorite expression of mine).

I’ll never forget how difficult it was for me the first time; I was getting around four hours sleep a night and having to study hard and work hard both. We had three children and our daughter who was born at that time came down with double pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. This was a remarkable time of testing for both me and my wife!

This time I was retired and didn’t need to work so I could devote as much time as I wanted to my studies; my heart went out to the young people in my classes as I remembered the stress and strain we experienced the first time around.

By that May I had finished the work DTS required of me and was able to join with my fellow graduates and finally, after 46 years, was able to graduate and get rid of that annoying burr under my saddle! (I’m the one in the white circle on the left)

Next time, more on the new way of life that was developing.

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 20, 2018

God’s Love Never Fails!

Art by Adele Bower ©

Loving the Unlovable

When reading the description of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9:1-2 it is almost impossible to imagine this person as the author of the New Testament’s chapter on love. “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”

In the following verses, however, we read of a miracle, a miracle of God’s love reaching down and loving the unlovely. In verses 3-6 we read, “3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

From that point on, Paul was a changed man, something had happened to him that defies any natural explanation; from a persecutor of Christians Paul became a devoted Christian evangelist and apologist in a turn-around so dramatic the early church had difficulty even believing such a profound change was even possible!

We can all be truly thankful to God that with God all things are possible. Paul had been deeply and completely changed and was now prepared to devote his life to the spread of the good news about Jesus Christ; instead of breathing out murderous threats he was breathing out the good news of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

God’s Love for You

One of the things I have observed about getting older is the sad fact my collection of memories about personal sin is also growing. I can remember what seems to be an almost endless list of failures on my part for which I have been forgiven by God’s unmerited and undeserved grace. I rejoice in the promise of confession and forgiveness we have been given in 1 John 1:8-10, “8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

There are times when I feel particularly unlovely and unworthy of God’s love; how can God love such a wretched man as me? This, of course, is my sin nature talking and is itself sin which needs to be confessed. The Apostle Paul speaks to the in Romans 7 and concludes with this statement: ” 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

The Bible is clear, our basis for operation is faith, not feelings; feelings are treacherous and not to be trusted, we must operate on the basis of what we are told in the Bible, what we know to be God’s truth for His children as revealed in His word; the entire 8th chapter of Romans exults in this marvelous fact!

God is completely aware of all of your sins, even those of which you may not be aware, yet He loves you perfectly and completely and always will. Verses 38 and 39 in Romans 8 are sources of never ending joy for me; they tell us, “38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What beautiful, wonderful words of assurance, Praise God!

The Greatest of These is Love

In 1 Corinthians 13 the one who was Saul of Tarsus, that unlovely persecutor of Christians who became the Apostle Paul, tells us of the beauties and wonders of love. He concludes the chapter with these words, “13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

In verses 8-10 Paul wrote, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”

Why then, of those three, is love the greatest? The Bible explains that in several places; first with regard to faith we are told in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” When we are home with our Lord we will see what we have hoped for all of our lives; faith and hope will have been replaced by sight. We will see and be in the presence of the one we worship as Savior and God. The overwhelming reality will be love, our love for the one who made it all possible, the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore the greatest and most enduring of these is love.

God’s Blessings to His Children

As Christians we are told we will live out our entire lives as soldiers of the Lord on a spiritual battle field; God knows full well the impact of the spiritual war on His children; He knows all too well the impact of Satanic attack on the lives of His children. In His grace and mercy, God has provided the helper needed to make it possible to rejoice in Him always and the way to let the helper provide the needed help at all times. The helper is the Holy Spirit of God who was given to us when we received Christ as Savior and will never ever leave us.

The way we call on the Holy Spirit for help is the confession of sin so the fruit of the Holy Spirit can characterize our lives. In Galatians 5:22-25 it is written, “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Notice the first quality mentioned is love; when our lives are controlled by the Spirit of God we can manifest Godly love to all. Earlier in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Paul had described this kind of love when he wrote, “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Please notice that everything listed in those verses places the emphasis on doing, not feeling. I believe the revered King James Version of the Bible used a word that conveys the thought more accurately, charity, we are told to maintain a charitable attitude toward others. While it is not feasible to try to achieve a warm personal feeling toward everyone it is possible to have a charitable attitude toward everyone; to exhibit those qualities described in verses 4-7.

A Final Thought

One of the joys of loving people and all of God’s creation with a Godly, charitable love is a better understanding of how God can love us. If each of us, with all of the flaws we know we possess, can love each other and God’s creation, it becomes much easier to believe a Holy God, who is free of all of those flaws, loves us as much as the Bible tells us he does.

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