Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 19, 2018

God loves a grateful heart.

“Expressions” by Adele Bower ©

Jeff Wells is the Senior Pastor of Woodsedge Community Church and publishes a devotional to which I subscribe. This came in my email last week and I felt it was a beautiful expression of faith in our Heavenly Father and his unfailing love for his children.

“Overflow
March 15, 2018
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Psalm 23:5b

God loves a grateful heart.

David had such a heart. He could look at his life and smile at God’s goodness to him, God’s blessing to him. Yes, life had been hard. At times life had been excruciating. But God had been good to him. So good. God had filled his cup to the brim and it was overflowing.

David had a grateful heart.

What about you? Has your life been hard and at times excruciating? Probably it has. It’s the way life is this side of heaven. But God has been good to you. So good. Your cup overflows.

Could you not pray this prayer?

Lord, you have been a Shepherd to me.

You have cared for me and provided for me.

You have loved me even when I ignored you.

Your eye has always been upon me.

You have offered me unlimited grace.

You have sent your own Son to die for me.

You have freely given your Spirit to live in me.

You give me access to you at any time.

You have given me life and breath.

You have brought wonderful people in my life who care about me.

You freely forgive me when I fail you.

You strengthen me when I am weak and needy.

You hear my prayers.

You delight in my love.

You have given me a secure and eternal future with you.

You have rescued me from the pit of hell.

You have chosen me. You have gifted me.

You have called me to a meaningful place in the great cosmic battle against the enemy.

You have protected me.

You want me.

You have given me food and shelter.

You have been so good to me.

My cup overflows.”

© 2018 WoodsEdge Community Church. All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced for any non-commercial use.

I found this to be a delightful statement of faith; I hope it blesses you too!

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 12, 2018

Your Biggest and Best Opportunity

The Opportunity Given to Every Christian!

“Silhouette” by Adele Bower ©

Daily I get letters from all over the world and read of the challenges and problems our Christian brothers and sisters live with every day. The problems are always similar and most often based on one dangerous mistake; living one’s life based on circumstances and not on faith in God.

By nature, I am a meticulous planner but life often deals out the unexpected; which, for a meticulous planner, is rather annoying. I have commented to my family how the most significant, life changing events for our family have been those that were unexpected and unplanned.

I have been guilty of trying to arrange circumstances in a logical and orderly manner therefore living the Christian life by believing and not by seeing has been difficult for me at times.

The Apostle Paul summarizes this in one short verse; “For we live by believing and not by seeing.” How many of you are struggling with the application of that verse to your life; I know I do. I want to believe it and apply it to my life every moment of every day but that seems to be an almost insurmountable obstacle for me.

A Place of Refuge

I take refuge in the words of Paul when he observes in Romans 7:14-25

“14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart.23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 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.”

I can really relate to Paul’s struggle, can you?

God’s Solution to Man’s Problem

By the grace of God that is not the end, Romans 7 is followed by Romans 8; whereas mankind’s problem is described in chapters 1 – 7, God’s solution is provided in the 8th chapter which begins with the glorious truths of verses 1-4 which tell us:

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”

I rejoice in that thought many times each day; when sin attempts to immobilize me by reminding me of my unworthiness I look to God’s answer to my sin problem, the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at his First Advent. When our Lord said “It is finished!” it really and truly was finished!

“28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:28-30

In 1 John 2:1-2 we read:

“2 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

I love that summary of Christ’s work at the First Advent; he has atoned for the sins of all the world! I wrote of this in “Is There One Unforgivable Sin?” Sin is no longer the barrier between God and man it once was; there is now only one command from God in this age of grace: believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from the second death.

The Wonderful Opportunity God has for You

As Christians we have not been left in the dark about what we should do and how we should do it; the New Testament has been provided to help us with the assembly process we call living. All of us are works in progress as long as we inhabit our mortal bodies; by God’s grace we are being conformed to the image of His Son and have been given the opportunity to embrace the changes God has provided for us.

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29

There is one key to the whole thing, however, and that key is simply the faithful application of Bible teaching to personal experience. It is not enough to know a doctrine of scripture; change comes when that knowledge is applied to living one’s life each day. Let your life be a tangible expression of Bible doctrine, live your life by believing and not by seeing; don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to live a life of rejoicing! Live your life by believing and not by seeing!

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Philippians 4:4

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | March 5, 2018

Once Upon a Time We Made a Life-Changing Discovery

Bible Study at Berachah

R. B. Thieme Jr. (Bob) – Born April 1, 1918; Died August 16, 2009

“12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Open the Word of God to ………”

When Bob Thieme got up to teach he opened every Bible study with the verse above and would then add, open the Word of God to, whichever book and verse would start the study on that occasion.

We were never to forget that Bible study was the way God spoke to us and was the tool God used to shape our lives for His service. At that time Berachah had a practice of giving a small hardback copy of the King James Version of the Bible with the Scofield Study Notes to each family that joined the church.

One of my memories of Bible study at Berachah was the rustling sound of many hundreds of pages being turned all over the church as Bob would read from the Bible, we all had the same version of the Bible; I’ve never heard that sound again since those days, it was a precious sound.

A Bit More History

While I was working as a paid soloist at St. Paul’s Methodist Church my wife was attending Berachah Church and getting some intense Bible teachings. On Sundays, after church, my wife would tell me about the two Bible studies that morning and I longed to share in that experience with her.

Fortunately, Bob Thieme was absolutely devoted to teaching the Bible and taught every night of the week except for Saturday and Sunday nights. As I recall, he taught at Rice University on Monday night, the University of Houston on Tuesday night and the remaining nights of the work week he taught at Berachah.

The challenge for the congregation was Bob’s practice of teaching a different book of the Bible each of those nights at Berachah. If you regularly missed one of those nights you were missing an entire book of the Bible and that was an intolerable thought.

Bob was a tireless workhorse of a teacher and inspired us to try and attend every Bible class he taught. By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit had filled us with a deep desire to learn the word so we were both willing to pay the price required.

The Big Step of Faith

Remember, at this time I was still a full time student at the University of Houston and working almost full time to support my family. My wife was raising our son and was expecting our second child and now, in addition, we had chosen to immerse ourselves in the study of the Bible and had little time for anything else.

As with most students our finances were always in a precarious balance but the Lord had blessed us and by His grace we were making ends meet. The money I earned as a paid soloist was an important part of our family’s income although only a part as my major job was as an audio high fidelity salesman at Audio Center on Westheimer in Houston.

Going to Berachah was a thrill as we were learning so much about what the Bible had to offer. Before Berachah neither of us had a clue about the riches to be found in the pages of the Bible; going to Berachah and listening to Bob open the word of God was like going from darkness to light, what an amazing and life-changing experience that truly changed us forever.

Our desire to study together on Sundays was getting greater and greater the more we learned; it finally reached a point where we felt we had to step out in faith. I was to quit my job at St. Paul’s and we would go together to Berachah on Sunday mornings and it would free up my Wednesday nights as well for Bible class.

The money from my soloist job appeared to be vital to keeping our budget intact but we grew to believe the word of God was more important than our budget so I resigned as soloist at St. Paul’s.

I still don’t know how God worked out the details but our budget did not fall apart and we didn’t have to declare bankruptcy. Finally we were both able to attend Berachah together on Sunday mornings as well as most weeknights.

What followed was an amazing time of growth in the Lord, our experience at Berachah Church shaped the balance of our lives.

A Plea for Angelic Assistance

Being as enthusiastic as we were about Bible study we always sat on the second or third row right in front of Bob; we didn’t want to miss a thing!

At this particular service Bob was teaching on the doctrine of the guardian angel and by this time our second son, Keith had been born and we were on occasion carrying two boys along with the diaper bag, two Bibles and two notebooks, and my wife had her purse as usual.

Now remember, we were on the second or third row right in front of Bob when my wife leaned over to me and said, “I wish one of our guardian angels would carry the diaper bag.” Maybe it was the general state of our exhaustion but for some reason her comment caused us both to laugh, fortunately we were able to muffle our laughter but our bodies were shaking as we struggled to retain some semblance of composure.

While Bob was used to seeing us in that general location he did glance down as he noticed our struggles. After the class we apologized to Bob and tried to explain what had happened but if he saw the humor in the situation he didn’t let on. Needless to say neither of us has forgotten that episode and it is a rather pleasant reminder of a wonderful time in our lives.

Having been so greatly blessed by that journey of Biblical discovery I still long to share that wonder with others and hope others may discover the joys of Bible study.

Bob was a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and inspired me to attend; unfortunately financial reverses stopped my early efforts to attend but by God’s grace I was able to go back after I retired from the home building business and finally graduated in 2009.

God’s way is a wonderful adventure and I invite all to share in it. For more on Bible study I encourage you to visit “God’s Second Greatest Gift.

This brings the series on my life to a close for now; any series that starts with “Once Upon a Time” can only end one way:

“And They Lived Happily Ever After!”

“Higher Ground” – Art by Adele Bower ©

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 26, 2018

Once Upon a Time we Moved Back to Texas

More Big Changes

During my last year of active service in the United States Navy I was transferred to what was called, “floating land duty.” This simply meant that although I was assigned to a ship we came back to port every day and on most evenings I could leave the ship if I wanted to except when I had duty and had to remain on the ship.

This kind of duty meant my beloved wife could join me so we rented a very small apartment, which had once been part of a front porch, and we set up housekeeping there in Norfolk, Virginia on Sturgis Street just off of E. Ocean View Avenue on the coast of Chesapeake Bay.

Adele on Porch on SturgisOur apartment is the enclosed area on the corner.

The owners of the house and front porch, which included our tiny apartment, were named Paul and Eunice Blanchard, a precious couple who attended Bayview Baptist Church.

For a short time after my wife joined me in Norfolk we did not have a car so the Blanchard’s agreed to take us to church in their car provided we attended Bayview Baptist Church. Considering the circumstances that was an easy decision. The pastor there was Brother Burkes and he was a good Baptist preacher who taught the eternal security of the believer with conviction and clarity.

My wife had been raised in the Christian church and found eternal security hard to believe so a new friend loaned her a rather surprising book which really captured her imagination, “Revelation, 35 Simple Studies in the Major Themes in Revelation” by M. R. DeHaan.

It was while she was reading this book she was born again into the family of God; while she had been a faithful church girl she was now a child of God; things had eternally changed for her! Although I had been born again as a child I had never started to grow in my faith and had almost no knowledge of the truth’s of Bible doctrine; it was at Bayview Baptist Church that we both started to learn and grow in our faith.

The Short Timer

In the Navy, a sailor who is reaching the end of his enlistment is referred to as a short timer, meaning he has only a short time left to serve. As a short timer my wife and I were already thinking about going home to Texas.

It did not take long for us to develop a sincere appreciation for the ministry at Bayview Baptist Church, the pastor, Brother Burkes, was a powerful preacher who taught the Bible.

While there we met a young man who asked us, when he learned we were from  Houston, if we knew of Berachah Church and we answered in the negative. He told us when we got back to Houston we should be sure to visit there as it was a remarkable church.

Before too long we had purchased our first car, a 1954 Volkswagen which cost us $1,800.00 and change (around $16,500.00 in today’s dollars). This was a new car and was beginning to develop a good reputation as reliable transportation.

Texas License Plates Rev.Texas License Plates at Last!

GTT (Gone to Texas)

Since I had been a student at Texas Christian University before entering Naval service; we returned to Fort Worth and lived there a little over a year before deciding to return to Houston. While in Fort Worth our first son was born.

For some unknown reason we developed a conviction we needed to move back to Houston. I now had the benefits of the G. I. Bill and had the financial assistance for schooling and that made a big difference. On our return I entered the University of Houston to finish up my college and worked part time to help pay the bills at a High Fidelity store in Houston. The G. I. Bill and my two jobs meant my wife could stay home and take care of our son.

The other of my two jobs was bass soloist with a paid quartet at St. Paul’s Methodist Church on South Main. From a musical perspective the job was a lot of fun; we would rehearse with the choir on Wednesday nights and serve as section leaders for our respective sections of the choir. The choir would sing at the second service and the quartet would sing at the first service; the challenge came in because the quartet would not even see the music they were to sing until the Sunday morning it was to be performed; we would go over the music once for interpretation and then perform it in the service. That required a pretty good sight reading ability which was an entertaining challenge at the time.

Berachah Enters the Scene

We had never forgotten the subject of Berachah church which had come up in Norfolk so when I started my job as soloist at St. Paul’s my wife started attending Berachah Church.

Since I had to be at St. Paul’s very early on Sunday mornings and we only had one car, I would drop my wife, who was expecting our second son, off at a drugstore about a block away from Berachah. At that time Berachah was meeting in a large WWII Quonset hut in downtown Houston.

I would leave her there with our son, Kevan so she would have Kevan, his diaper bag, her Bible and her notebook plus her purse to carry while she waited for Berachah to unlock the doors to the church.

It so happened the pastor of Berachah, Colonel Bob Thieme, popularly known as Bob, also visited that same drugstore for coffee on Sunday mornings; when he would leave for the church, my wife would follow.

After the Sunday services were over I would come back by Berachah and pick up my family and listen to the glowing reports of the teaching at Berachah all the way home. It sounded wonderful and exciting to me as the Lord had given us both a hunger for His Word. (to be continued)

(Updated and expanded from an earlier blog.)

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 21, 2018

Home at Last

Well done, thou good and faithful servant

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 19, 2018

Once Upon a Time I was in the Navy

Coping with the Draft Board

Although I was in college, a member of the United States Naval Reserve, an active candidate for a reserve officer commission and married, I still had gotten my draft notice from the draft board. When it came in I could hardly believe this had happened; I was more than willing to serve as an officer in the Navy after graduation and was even planning on that as a part of my commitment to the USNR.

I took the notice to my commanding officer but was told once the draft notice had come in there was nothing they could do; the die had been cast and I would be going into the armed forces in some capacity somewhere. I took the required testing and was given the option of signing up for the USAF or the Army but there was one other thing I could do; I could volunteer for active duty in the Navy. Since the Navy was more familiar territory and I was already a non-commissioned officer I did not have to spend much time deciding on the Navy option.

By volunteering for active duty in the Navy I satisfied the draft board that I would be serving in a branch of the military so that made them happy. My life had now taken a dramatic, and totally unexpected turn; for the next two years my life belonged to the United States Navy.

I must confess that I was not a happy camper; I knew the draft was in operation but I somehow thought my Naval Reserve status as an officer candidate, being married and in college would give me some protection from the draft. I had really expected to serve after graduation as an officer but to have this happen was most unsettling. I resigned myself to serving my time and then turning my back on the military and trying to get on with my life; God made it clear He had different plans for my life.

While this was unsettling for me it was even worse for my wife; she was sending me off and neither of us had the slightest clue where I would be going. I checked out of TCU and we moved back to Houston so she could stay with her parents while I was serving. My orders came and I was told to report to the Receiving Station in Charleston, South Carolina; from there I would be transferred to my first duty assignment.

Anchors Aweigh My Boy

Although this was near the end of the Korean war my first duty assignment was far removed from Korea; I was assigned to the Fifth Naval District and sent to a WWII Destroyer Escort, the USS Hemminger DE 746 to report for duty.The DE class destroyer was diesel powered and intended for convoy protection; of course, the jazzy paint job had been replaced with solid Navy gray by the time I was assigned to her. Because of its diesel engines it could cross the Atlantic without needing to refuel; while not so speedy as a Fleet Destroyer, which was powered by steam, it was much faster and more maneuverable than the cargo ships it was escorting across the Atlantic and faster than the German submarines sent to sink Allied shipping.

The Fifth Naval District was using her as a training ship for Naval Reservists from all over the Eastern half of the United States. We would pick up a group of reservists and take them on a two weeks training cruise and treat them to a liberty port at midpoint in the training. One of our favorite stops was Havana, Cuba, this was pre-Castro and Havana was a very happy place.

Later, when I heard Castro had taken over, it was really hard for me to imagine the happy people I had seen in Havana under the rule of a Communist dictator.

The time came when I was to be transferred to another ship; this time I was being assigned to a small coastal minehunter that had been adapted for special testing of a new harbor defense system, the USS Gillis, GS 13. This was considered floating land duty so my wife decided to join me in the Norfolk area. It was during this phase we finally got our first car, a 1954 Volkswagen sedan. We had a small apartment in Bay View, Virginia; when I say small I really mean small; it was part of a front porch that had been enclosed and turned into a tiny apartment. While it was small, we were together again.

The appearance of the Gillis failed to convey its important mission for the Fifth Naval District; there was a great concern over the safety of the waters of Chesapeake Bay and the Gillis was spearheading the development of a system of harbor defense that would protect shipping in the bay from enemy mines that could be secretly deployed.

We had very advanced sonar and radar gear on board and specially designed equipment that was being tested. Once when a test plane crashed in the Potomac, just outside Washington, D.C. we were called upon to try and help locate all the wreckage we could find with our superior sonar; all the test planes of that class were grounded until it was determined what caused the crash. That lasted several weeks then we returned to Chesapeake Bay.

Top Heavy with Brass

We would often have a large number of high ranking Naval officers on board who would be checking our progress. I’m talking admirals, captains, and the like. After the tests we would return to port and all that brass would be on the flying bridge, the top bridge on the ship. My duty station was the pilot house and the signal bridge just below where they would be standing.

We entertained ourselves as we returned to port by watching the large cruisers and aircraft carriers we would pass on our way back to port. Some alert seaman would just happen to look down on our tiny vessel and notice all the high-ranking officers and pass the word to everyone on watch; we could see the crowd develop as they looked down on us and doubtlessly wondered what in the world all the high-ranking brass could be doing on that tiny vessel. I suspect they never figured out that one.

My Last Assignment

In the Navy, when the ship is ordered to transfer personnel, they look for those with the shortest time left to serve, they are called a “short timer.” By that time I was a short timer so I got transferred again. This time it was to a large ocean-going tug boat called the USS Samoset ATA 190.

The Samoset was also attached to the Fifth Naval District and got all sorts of weird jobs; surprisingly I was the ranking non-commissioned office in my category so I was in charge of navigation and visual communication. In a way that was very interesting, it was my job to make sure all of our navigational charts were up to date and to plot our courses when we were sent somewhere.

I bunked in the chartroom just behind the pilot house and had the responsibility to make sure we got where we were supposed to be going. It got to the point I would wake up any time there was a change in speed or direction; I would glance at the clock and see the change was authorized by the course I had set then go back to sleep. I rather enjoyed the responsibility.

One of our longest assignments involved testing a torpedo protection device; this took us to Key West, Florida where we stayed for several weeks. We would tow the target behind us while torpedoes were fired at the target; fortunately, there were no accidents.

It was not too much later that I was discharged from the Navy and free to return to the life I had known. Next, we were going to try and pick up where we had left off, but that was easier said than done; more on that next time.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 12, 2018

Once Upon a Time I was a Teenage Boy

The Later Years of My Childhood

Finding my Forever Home

In March of 2015 I wrote a three-part series on some of my experiences as a little boy, “Once Upon a Time I was a Little Boy” was part 1 in the series. Part 3 concluded with the victory over Japan and the end of World War II; I was 12 years old and my life was about to experience another big change.

My parents divorced when I was two and my mother and I had lived with my grandfather and grandmother Kennerly until I was seven at which point my mother married again and we moved into a rental house with my step-father.

I continued to live with my mother, step-father and their daughter until I was nearly 15 years old and had just graduated from junior high school. A few weeks before my 15th birthday I was told I could no longer live there and had to move out.

Time to Find a New Place to Live

Fortunately, my father and step-mother had a room which had been built for me by my grandfather Bower so I was permitted to live there as I started high school. This was a rather significant change for an almost 15-year-old boy so I had some mental adjustments that needed to be made. Life with my step-father had not been easy but it was the only life I had known since I was seven.

I had accidentally discovered classical music when I was 8 and was convinced a life in classical music was what I wanted for myself. No one else in my family had any interest in classical music so I sort of stumbled around trying to figure out a way to make it work for me.

For the record it didn’t work out as a career, too little, too late I’m afraid. It has, however, become a wonderful hobby which I enjoy to this day and it did something else for me as a teenager; it gave me a focus for my energies and hopes which helped me through a very difficult period of my life.

Life with my father and step-mother would continue to present challenges as my step-mother was very annoyed at having to have me live with them. After about 1 year my step-mother divorced my father and my father and I lived in the house by ourselves for some time.

My father’s mother invited us to come live with her so we moved across town to live with her for several months. By that time, I was in my senior year at high school and by God’s grace had met the girl I would eventually marry.

Time to Once Again Find a New Place to Live

It seems my father and step-mother had been communicating and she agreed to return to my father on the condition that I was removed. I had graduated from high school and had started college on funds given to me over the years by my grandfather Bower. I do not recall the exact timing but I was once again told I had to leave the house and find somewhere else to live.

Briefly Homeless at Eighteen

Since I was fresh out of parents that would take me in I was faced with some new choices. I had no money as the funds given to me by my grandfather Bower had been used by my father for his own purposes; that meant I had to find a job and a place to live as living on the street as a homeless street person never even occurred to me. My future wife was probably suffering more over my situation than I was and helped me find a furnished room to rent with a family that attended their church.

I don’t remember the details but I somehow found an interesting job as a counter salesman for a machine tool supply company; the Oliver H. Van Horn Machine Tool Supply Co. gave me a job. I remember the excitement I felt as I busily discovered a whole new way of life; the store was filled with big machines and an almost endless assortment of parts which sparked my imagination. I reported to a man who knew the business very well, Mr. Weaver, and could answer any question I might ask about any part in the store.

Fortunately, the rented room I had was close enough to town that I could walk to work and back to the room in the evenings. There was a small neighborhood store nearby and I would frequently have cheese and crackers for supper; I still love cheese and crackers by the way. My future wife and her mom and dad helped me by seeing that my clothing was laundered each week.

Finding My Forever Home

You have probably heard some form of the expression, “home is not a place, it’s a person.” That was certainly soon to prove true for me; my forever home, my beloved future wife, had found me and my years of wandering and uncertainty were soon to close forever.

It was during this time we decided to go ahead and get married, we had known each other for almost two years at this point; she was 17 and I was 19 so her dad and my mother agreed to get the marriage license for us to get married.

The lovely wedding dress in the photos was made by her mother while I had on an old suit and a pair of well-worn shoes in serious need of repair with a hole in the bottom of the right shoe (I had carefully polished them so they looked better when I was standing up).

I’m still amazed that her dad would even let her marry a young man with such an unstable background who wanted to be a musician. Some, including my mother, questioned how the marriage could last more than a few months but time has proven the naysayers to be so wrong; over 65 years and counting to date.

In October of 1952 we got married at her church with her brother officiating for his first wedding, we were all nervous. We had a short, low-budget, honeymoon in New Braunfels, TX and came back to a small second floor apartment in an old house in the Montrose area of Houston. A marriage which has now lasted over 65 years had begun very modestly to be sure.

We had no car, we had been loaned a car for our honeymoon, so we both rode the bus when we needed to go anywhere. Our apartment was much farther from town so I now had to ride the bus to get to work; we lived just off Westheimer and there was very good bus service in that area.

The Blinding Glare of Hindsight

This is a very condensed “executive summary” of those growing up years but it gives an overall impression of what happened to me. As I look back, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see the hand of the Lord so clearly present in my life. I had received Christ as my Savior as a child and been blessed with a strong Christian environment until I was 7 years old. That was to provide a protection for me over those troubled years that helped me to maintain a balanced outlook that would not have otherwise been likely or perhaps even possible.

I have deliberately refrained from detailing the difficulties I encountered from age 8 – 18; let me assure you they were many. I see the Lord’s hand of mercy reaching out to me when other hands seemed to so often turn against me. I had an inner strength and determination which helped me through those trying times and I’m convinced this was of the Lord through the presence of the Holy Spirit; there is no other logical explanation. Somewhere during those years, I picked up a phrase which has become a part of my life; “If it’s going to be it’s up to me!”

My discovery of classical music, although it would not result in a music career, provided a target for my youthful dreams that kept me focused on music and not on things that might have proven destructive. I am still rather amazed at the singular devotion I felt to classical music and my determination to make it my life’s work.

Not too long after we were married we decided I would try to finish school; we moved to Ft. Worth, TX and I started attending TCU. This was during the Korean War and much to my surprise I received my draft notice. Having been an active reservist in the USNR and a USNR officer candidate I was given the option of volunteering for active duty as a non-commissioned officer in the USN and chose that option. I was able to resume my education after my release from active duty two years later but that’s another story.

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 5, 2018

Your Duty to the Family!

Castles and Such

The Implications and Ramifications of a Royal Birth

The Bible is clear, as Christians we have been born again into the family of God; we have become children of the creator and ruler of the entire universe, he has become our father, our daddy.

Would not our membership in God’s own royal family suggest certain obligations to the family to represent our family honorably to those we meet; would there not exist a certain noblesse oblige for which we would become responsible?

I suspect we have all heard the expression, noblesse oblige but how exactly would it be defined? One finds many definitions of the expression on the web; this is one example:

Noun 1. noblesse oblige – the obligation of those of high rank to be honorable and generous (often used ironically) duty, obligation, responsibility – the social force that binds you to the courses of action demanded by that force; “we must instill a sense of duty in our children”; “every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty”- John D.Rockefeller Jr (The Free Dictionary.com.

Having been born (the first time) and raised in Texas, in modest circumstances, the very notion of nobility and privilege had always seemed to be very remote and irrelevant to my life; when I was born-again, by the power of God, the Holy Spirit, and began to grow in my Christian faith I began to realize I was more involved than I had guessed.

Do You Belong to the Nobility?

In some parts of the United States a class system based on money and power has developed over the years but that is probably true to some degree of all human gatherings of any size; a pecking order develops and some see themselves as superior to others for an assortment of reasons.

The benchmark for exclusivity can take many forms; the most obvious are wealth and power over others. In other cases, the benchmark can be simply the length of time one’s family has participated in some sort of social gathering, it may be a community or even an organization; anyone who has not lived/participated in the gathering for the prerequisite amount of time is considered an outsider, a stranger to the group and therefore inferior to those who have met that particular requirement.

Regardless of the arbitrary points of reference used to define the nature of one’s imagined exclusivity, the fact of the matter is we are all sinners before God and must be born-again, born the second time by the power of God, the Holy Spirit, if we are to escape the judgement which is inevitably coming. By receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we not only escape the coming judgement but find ourselves elevated to the ultimate royal family, the family of God.

Noblesse Oblige for God’s Family

Noblesse oblige is a French phrase literally meaning “nobility obligates”. It denotes the concept that nobility extends beyond mere entitlements and requires the person who holds such a status to fulfill social responsibilities. For example, a primary obligation of a nobleman could include generosity towards those around him. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

As members of God’s royal family, we too have many responsibilities to both the Lord and our fellow man. God desires his children to live their lives in a manner that reflects well on the family.

We do not have to wonder what our attitude should be and how we should behave ourselves; the Bible makes it quite clear in several places. One of my favorites is Galatians 5:22-26 where it is written:

“22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”

The Bible also makes it clear we cannot do this in our own power; we must have God, the Holy Spirit empowering us if we are to consistently express the Christian’s “noblesse oblige” in our lives.

The Challenge Before Us

Christians face a remarkable challenge; we live in two realities, a spiritual and a physical reality at the same time. What makes this so difficult is the only reality we can experience with our senses is the physical; the spiritual reality which is equally real and actually more enduring can only be perceived by faith.

The nature of our spiritual reality can only be seen and understood through the pages of scripture; it is only there we can catch a glimpse of what is true about our spiritual existence. What is really strange to consider is the spiritual reality will far outlast the physical reality in which we find ourselves and is so easily observed with our senses; yet, in the truest sense we must so focus our thoughts and minds on the truths of our spiritual reality that they become more real to us than the world we can see, taste, hear, touch and smell. This is what is meant when Paul writes, “For we live by believing and not by seeing.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

At this point you may be asking yourself what does this have to do with noblesse oblige and there is a simple answer to that in my mind; the more we think of ourselves as children of God the easier it becomes to think in terms of our obligations to the family to properly represent the family’s values to those with whom we come in contact; for those we meet, we are the family’s representative.

You have a responsibility that was conferred upon you when you joined the family of God by your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior; you became a child of God, a child in God’s family and you must now let your duty to the family control your behavior and attitude toward others.

No one ever said this would be easy and quite frankly, without the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit it is impossible. Therefore, (in a Pauline sense) let the power of the Holy Spirit always be in control of your life; be aware of his unfailing presence and take great care to make sure he stays in control and then you can be empowered to manifest your duty to the family. Noblesse Oblige!

19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | January 29, 2018

The Coming Glory, It’s All True, All of it! Concluded

The Coming Eternity

In one way the Bible’s account of eternity reminds me of its account of the antediluvian world; short on details. As we consider the subject of eternity it is easy to start wondering about many things that are simply not revealed. I have always endorsed a principle of Bible interpretation which I shall apply here: any interpretation that honors God is probably correct, any interpretation that honors man is probably incorrect.

The majority of the limited amount that is revealed is given mostly in the Book of Revelation in the last two chapters. There are a few basic things that are revealed there starting with the arrival of the New Jerusalem on earth; we are told of its size and beauty as it descends to the new earth; that description alone is overwhelming in its scope.

I find it impossible to truly imagine something of the size of the New Jerusalem descending from heaven onto the surface of the earth; that is not too surprising as I find it impossible to imagine creation as it now exists; once my mind tries to cope with stellar distances it sort of shuts down; references to light years is really beyond my ability to visualize.

That, I believe, is one reason the Bible is so short on details; they are simply too grand and glorious for us to understand; I have come to love David’s observation in Psalm 139:6 where he exclaims:

“6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!”

I’m particularly fond of the King James translation of that verse:

“6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

I can most assuredly relate to those feelings of inadequacy when it comes to the glories of the eternity that awaits us; it is, however, fun for me to try my best to imagine the wonders the Trinity has prepared for those who love him. In light of this I will acknowledge that some of my efforts will be speculative, but fun, at least to me. I am admittedly a fan of science fiction and have enjoyed the imagined universes of many writers; how much more fun to imagine the real universe that is coming; a universe that is glorious far beyond what the mind of man can even conceive.

That portion the Trinity has chosen to reveal is found in the Bible in both the Old and the New Testaments in terms that are understated and calm; the most incredible events are described in brief statements with none of the embellishments one might expect in modern advertising yet providing descriptions of profound, earth-shaking events.

I will try and take my cue from this example and keep my descriptions toned down but first a brief moment of reflection. Mankind’s creation in the image of God had profound ramifications; remarkable privilege coupled with deeply serious responsibilities. Mankind’s failure to live up to those responsibilities resulted in exceedingly grave consequences which are eternal in scope.

Deliverance from those consequences was provided by God at the First Advent of God, the second person of the Trinity; in his grace and mercy, reception of deliverance was made as easy as possible, simply receive the free gift of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

A Place of Eternal Judgement

First, I will consider the eternity of those whose names were not found in the “Lamb’s Book of Life.” In Revelation 20:10-15 it is written:

10 Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. 11 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. 12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. 14 Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. 15 And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

The Bible gives no indication where, in the new universe, this place of eternal judgement will be located; I suspect it will be far removed from heaven and the joy that will be found there. Mankind has speculated on the existence of parallel dimensions, perhaps the lake of fire will be in one of those. By the way, have you ever smelled burning Sulphur? I assure you it is distinctly unpleasant and once you’ve smelled it you’ll never forget the stench.

A Place of Eternal Joy and Happiness

Those whose names have been recorded in the “Lamb’s Book of Life” can look forward to an eternity that is completely different from those whose names were not recorded there. We have hints in Revelation 21-22 that tell of the wonders yet to come. I shall not repeat those recorded wonders here but will engage in some speculation based on the information that has been revealed to us by the Trinity.

I’m really pleased to think my sin nature will be gone forever; what a blessing to have that ugly phase behind me. The innocence we had before the fall will have been restored; the Bible suggests that even our memories will be cleansed of past sins; so that nothing mars our joy of the presence of the Trinity and the joys of heaven.

I think we’ll have plenty to do; I’m encouraged to believe that we’ll have responsibilities assigned to us which we will be able to perform with joy and skill. We are told we will judge the angels and yet also have governmental responsibilities under the Lordship of King Jesus; I so look forward to a theocratic kingdom which will be ruled forever by King Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords!

We are told of the many mortals who will enter eternity in their mortal bodies but free of the sin nature; I see this as a new beginning, similar to the Garden of Eden but free of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and Satanic interference. Once again God is providing a fresh start for humanity which will be a complete success this time.

I can see mankind spreading among the stars and populating many distant star systems; I can see trade and commerce between star systems all under the umbrella of the rule of the Lord Jesus Christ. I can imagine Christians, as children of the Trinity, given key roles to play all over the universe as mankind expands to the stars. I’m of the opinion we’ll be happy, productive leaders in the world to come!

While there is much more that could be said I’ll close with this thought; I invite you to exercise your imagination and dream of what the Trinity has planned; at a point yet future we shall know but now we can dream.

Pleasant dreams!

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | January 23, 2018

The Final Judgment, It’s All True, All of it! Part 6

The Great White Throne Judgement

The Bible describes a series of resurrections starting with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Broadly speaking there are two classes of resurrection, the resurrection of the justified and the resurrection of the unjust. The resurrection of the justified is in three stages and one last stage for the unjust:

Stage 1, the Lord Jesus Christ

Stage 2, the Church

Stage 3, Israel and the Old Testament saints

Stage 4, all who have rejected salvation by faith in Jesus Christ

The resurrection of the unjust comes last; this is described in Revelation 20:11-15 where it is written:

“11 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. 12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. 14 Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. 15 And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

The scene presented by these verses is fearful beyond our ability to even imagine. Those who have rejected Christ have usually turned to the creation as their support and verse 11 tells us that earth and sky have fled from his presence; all of the things on which the unbeliever has depended is now gone. Imagine a black void with only a great white throne in view and on that throne the judge who will pronounce you guilty and condemn you to an eternity of torment and suffering; nothing is worth that, absolutely nothing!

What About the Earth and Sky?

In verse 11 we are told the earth and sky fled from his presence; in other sections of the Bible we are told of it’s future with varying descriptions. For example, in 2 Peter 3:11-13 we are told:

11 Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. 13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.”

In Romans 8:18-22 we read:

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

For a number of years I was under the impression the present heaven and earth would be destroyed by fire but then the significance of the verses in Romans began to have an impact on my thinking and I began to believe that possibly the fiery destruction of 2 Peter just might be a refiner’s fire, a purifying fire that would destroy the corruption left by sin and restore the original purity of God’s creation, the kind of creation that would cause the Trinity to once again say:

31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! Genesis 1:31

I’m inclined to believe this is what the Trinity has planned but this time it will be even better! I have long observed what I believe to be a respect the Trinity shows to his creation; it would have been so simple to just wipe the slate clean and start all over. Instead of doing this the Trinity sought redemption for his creation even if it meant becoming a part of that creation and dying a painful death.

The loving grace and mercy the Trinity has shown will continue and the creation, which has groaned under the curse, will finally join in with God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. The refiner’s fire which will purifiy all of God’s children from sinful works as described in “The Coming Family Celebration” will also purify all of creation as a new heaven and a new earth, totally free of the corruption of sin.

The Preservation of all Life

In light of my comments about creation and the Trinity’s respect for it I’m compelled to express my opinion on one other matter; a comparable respect for the many animal lives that have been so beautifully and wondrously created. I’m encouraged by several verses including Matthew 10:29 where it is written:

“What is the price of two sparrows–one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.”

To me this suggests an awareness and concern if even a small bird shall fall; if the Trinity holds such a view it becomes very easy for me to believe that those special lives that have been created with such loving care and remarkable individuality will not be ignored but find their place along with a restored creation in the new heaven and the new earth. I’m truly hopeful that “the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay” will include the wonderful, beautiful animals with which we have been blessed by God.

There is no specific Biblical support for this position but to me it would be so like the Trinity to lovingly care for them too. In all too many cases these small treasures have suffered at the hands of man and I can imagine them too, as a beautiful part of creation, looking forward to the day when they will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Next time we will think on eternity and the new heaven and the new earth.

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