10 Years Ago Today…

Ten years ago today, on October 7, 2007, Terri and I stepped out in faith and rededicated our lives to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We made our renewed profession of faith in a public baptism at a small, local church we had started attending several weeks before. A couple of months earlier we had taken a horseback ride up a mountainside near Taos, New Mexico. Neither of us are exactly sure what happened up on that mountain, but a spiritual transformation took root. Perhaps our spirits were overwhelmed by soaking in the majestic grandeur of God’s creation. Our souls were certainly hungry for God, even though we didn’t know it at the time we’d planned our trip. Yet, while we were yet sinners, God was faithful in His pursuit of us.

The decade since we set out on our faith journey has been a rollercoaster ride of high highs and low lows. There have been incredible, inexplicable highs–like Terri and I getting married, my being ordained as a minister, and the joy of performing several weddings. But to be sure, it hasn’t been all wine and roses. No, there have been dark moments like getting the left foot of fellowship, burying a good friend’s wife and 13-year-old daughter and our 24-year old niece in the course of a few months, and having to say goodbye too soon to another great friend and co-laborer in Christ earlier this year. Yes, there have been difficult valleys to traverse and hard mountains to climb. But through it all, God has remained faithful in seeing us through the difficult times. His comfort has been immeasurable; His love beyond amazing.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (ESV)

Terri and I have both marveled at how God has used us to share the Gospel all throughout the DFW metroplex as well as in different parts of the World. Through our involvement with the ministries of Operation Christmas Child, Terri had the joy of sharing the love of Jesus in Tanzania and through our home church she also had the opportunity to minister to the people of Barranquilla, Colombia.  We even had the opportunity to take a Bible study tour in Israel in 2012. God has left us speechless and breathless numerous times throughout the past decade.

Through our stewardship in leading our church’s outreach to Union Gospel Mission, we’ve had the privilege of sharing God’s Word and praying with a multitude of men and women to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior.

And to top it all off, most Sunday mornings I have the honor of helping lead our congregation in worship.

While taking up our cross and following Jesus hasn’t been the easiest road, it has been indescribably thrilling. For that, Terri and I are truly thankful. We look forward to the next ten years unless of course our Lord returns beforehand. Then we’ll celebrate singing His praises in Heaven.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!

‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark 12:30 (ESV)

 

 

Papa Hemingway, Me, and The Old Man and the Sea

The past week I have been catching up with my old friend Ernest “Papa” Hemingway through reading his classic “The Old Man and the Sea”. Written in 1951 and first published in 1952, it is his final major work released during Hemingway’s lifetime. In this short novel, Papa Hemingway tells the story of an aging Cuban fisherman named Santiago who, down on his luck, finds himself entangled in an unyielding, excruciating battle with a massive marlin in the Gulf Stream, a current stretching from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up the East Coast and beyond. The elderly fisherman demonstrates a great deal of tenacity to supplement the knowledge and skills he has acquired over the course of his lifetime on the Sea.

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I first read Hemingway ages ago as a youth enthralled by the places and events relayed through his economical, understated prose. It was easy to lose myself in the pages of  “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Sun Also Rises”, and stories like “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. Along with Steinbeck and Twain,  Ernest Hemingway stoked my desires to pursue becoming a writer. It continues to be a dream that I chase and to date has yielded a stack of folders and notebooks filled with stories, plays, and unresolved ambition. Naturally, there have been detours along the way. But like all of us, I press on. 

All anyone is required to do to become a writer is write. But rest assured, writing is hard work. Putting a few words on paper is the simple part. Weaving a story that keeps readers tuned in and turning pages demands skill and a good combination of head and heart knowledge. Being a writer calls for unwavering persistence and the willingness to type on through the hills and valleys life brings our way. 

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The story of “The Old Man and the Sea” is one of courage and dogged determination as well as a tale about an elderly man coming to terms with his life drawing to an end. Perhaps that is the story’s appeal. Our lives call us to muster courage and remain persistent, all the while marching toward our date with death. For me, I think I always appreciated Hemingway writing about matters of the soul. Much of Papa’s writing is rife with spiritual overtones. “The Old Man and the Sea” is no exception. Santiago—“the Old Man”—is a character fighting an epic battle with a  beast of Biblical proportions. He will either overcome it or it will overtake him. Who wins in the end? You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out. 

As Scripture teaches us, in our difficulties we come to realize our sufferings produce perseverance and that perseverance builds character, and character yields hope (Romans 5:3-4, NIV).

To God be the Glory~”TDG”

P.S. Praying for all our family, friends and the folks down South living along the Texas Coast as you weather the onslaught of Harvey. May the Lord keep you and bless you one and all.

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Romans 5:3-4 (NIV):

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

 

Photo(s):

Original photos by Rainer Bantau Photography ©2017 

Other Photos courtesy of Pixabay 

All Photos edited with Pixlr.