Category Archives: Faith

Life Preserver

Life Preserver

After a lapse of several years, I’ve finally started swimming again over the past few weeks. I’m getting up at 5:30 AM, heading to the YMCA and then swimming a mile, 3 or 4 times a week. The exercise is very good and I’m starting to feel a lot more energetic. Unfortunately, as you probably know, when first starting an exercise program after a long hiatus, it is very difficult. Starting out, I paced myself. My first day back, I only swam 10 laps. Getting out of the pool, I was tired but encouraged. The second day, I decided to increase my swim to 16 laps. I found that second day to be brutally difficult. After swimming just a few laps, I was exhausted. My arms were tired, my goggles were leaking, and I got a cramp in my foot. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I coughed and wound up swallowing some water. For the first time I could remember, I almost panicked. As dread set in, all kinds of thoughts swirled around inside my head. I wondered how I was going to be able to keep going. I wondered what drowning would feel like. I wondered how in the world the tiny lifeguard was going to be able to haul my considerable bulk out of the pool. As I felt myself begin to panic, I looked up and as I looked up, I saw the most amazing sight. Built into the tile of the pool, designed to help swimmers stay on target, was a cross.

Cross in Pool

Suddenly, I was reminded that I wasn’t alone in that pool. I had no reason to panic. Even if I was going to drown, and it became obvious at that moment that I wasn’t, I had no reason to fear.

Joshua 1
9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

In a moments of difficulty, it is all too easy to focus on the problem and forget that God is there. If we can focus on the cross, we can stay on target and avoid the panic and dismay.


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Wind-up, Walk Into Walls

V6AM65Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Breakaway retreat with our youth group. All together, there were about 250 people at the camp and we had a fantastic time of enjoying the activities, praising God, singing, and worshiping together. We also had multiple opportunities for our particular youth group to gather as a small group and discuss the things that we were learning. I mention this because the timing of the retreat was a real blessing to me, as I had just received some disheartening news about a job that I had interviewed for, and in one of our discussions, we talked about how God guides us and protects us. Sometimes it seems as though His plans get in the way of what we want to do. As I was talking with the teens, an image came to my mind that I shared with them and they suggested that I share it with others.

Have you ever seen one of those old walking wind-up toys? You wind it up, put it down, and aim it in the direction that you want it to go. It seems simple, except that those things never go where you point them. They stumble and fall down, or start going in the wrong direction, fall off the table, or just run into the wall repeatedly until they run out of energy. They then need to be wound up again and pointed in the proper direction only to run right back into that wall. Sometimes I feel like a wind-up toy. I get all wound up, I’m focused, and I am marching in the right direction. It isn’t long though before I crash into the wall and run out of energy. The thing that I need to remember is that I can no more function effectively apart from God’s power and guidance than that wind-up toy can get from point A to point B without someone winding it up and directing it. I also need to remember that sometimes, God puts a wall in my way to prevent me from falling off the table.

Romans 8
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

If we continue to read through Romans 8, we see that God’s plan for us included much more than winding us up, directing us, and protecting us from the occasional calamity. God’s plan, which demonstrates the depths of His love for us, included the sacrifice of His Son so that we might be justified. Christ was tortured, crucified, killed, and overcame death in order that we, His enemy, might experience a personal and eternal relationship with our Creator.

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Praise God for his direction, correction, mercy, and love!

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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Christianity, Faith, Humor



Life’s Report Card

report-card-failMy kids received their report cards this past week and getting report cards can be either a pleasant experience or an unpleasant one, depending on your standing at school and the expectations of your parents. As I was looking at my kids report cards, I had the thought that it might be nice if God sent me a report card of my own… something black and white that left no doubt as to my progress and standing. I had that thought for about 15 seconds, and then I wised up. I am certain that if that report card was delivered, it would be pretty ugly. While we don’t get report cards, we have been given a training manual and a standard  to live up to. The Bible serves both purposes and reminds us that we must also pray and confess our failings to God as well as be accountable to and pray for one another.

James 5
15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

One of the problems with trying to earn passing grade in the classroom of life is that the class itself is pass/fail. If your every thought, every word, and every deed are perfect, you pass. If not, you fail. I must say, even graded on an extremely generous curve, my own report card would be stamped with a giant, red F.

However, God in his mercy doesn’t look at the grades on our report cards. If we recognize and confess our inability to earn a passing grade and, instead, put our faith in Jesus Christ, God uses Christ’s perfect report card in place of our own. We are saved solely through the work and sacrifice of the Son of God and not by anything we have done.

Titus 3
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Christianity, Faith, Works


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Best Laid Plans…

funny-to-do-listTime and again, I find myself making plans and then getting frustrated when they don’t work out. I wake up each day with a to-do list that looks almost exactly like the to-do list from thee previous day, because – more often than not, something or someone gets in the way and I don’t get to do what I want to do. In the moment, it is very easy to forget that I am not my own – but if I take a step back and look at my past, I can see that my life is filled with pivotal moments that weren’t of my own planning. These moments are like God’s signposts on my life’s journey.

Just a few of these moments:

  • My wife – When I was in college, marriage was the furthest thing from my mind – and then I met Marcia. Her influence has, in many ways, protected me from myself and I am far better with her than I would be without her.
  • My daughter – While she wasn’t unplanned, I had no idea what I was in for when Marilyn was born. She was a strong-willed child who was quite difficult to handle at times. Apparently I had behaved in a similar manner because my father used to chuckle and tell me that “I got the child I deserved.” As difficult as she may have been, God used desire of her little heart to attend Sunday School in order to draw me back to Him.
  • Unemployment – Years ago, I had an excellent job at Laminations in Scranton. I had practically rebuilt the company’s network infrastructure from the ground up in the three years that I was there. Losing that job to outsourcing was devastating to me. As I look back, I can see that my identity and sense of self-worth was too tied to my job. Instead of thinking of myself as a Christian, a husband, or a father – I thought of myself as Laminations’ network engineer. God removed that job to make me more reliant on him, and then led me to a new job at Lamplighter which caused me to grow in other ways.
  • Car Accident – Not long after losing my job at Laminations, our car was totaled when someone ran a red light and hit us. Thankfully, no one was injured. As it turns out, without my job, we wouldn’t have been able to afford the payments on that car. Sometimes, God provides by taking things away.

I am sure that each of us have similar events throughout our lives that, while often unpleasant during the event, turn out to be beneficial in the end. God always has our best interests at heart even when our shortsightedness prevents us from being able to recognize his blessings.

Proverbs 16
1 The plans of the heart belong to man,
  but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
  but the Lord weighs the spirit.
3 Commit your work to the Lord,
  and your plans will be established.

Jeremiah 29
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.


Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Christianity, Faith, Family, Humor, Personal


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Competitive Sinning

gold-medalI enjoy the Olympics and last week marked the close of the 2012 Olympic Games . There is something exciting about watching all those athletes, who are the best in the world in what they do, gather to compete against one another. The Olympics are a display of man’s competitive spirit at its best and, unfortunately, at its worst. Watching the games reminded me of a book I had been studying in fellowship group, Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. One of the sins that Bridges discusses is something that I have a particularly difficult time with. Competitiveness. Anyone who has ever played a game or a sport with me, has probably noticed that I tend to be a bit competitive. This can be a problem. I am not trying to suggest that competition is wrong, that competing is wrong, or that we should not always try do our best. Biblically, we are called to strive for excellence, to do our best. The problem that I have is not in the competition, the problem is in my motivation. Whenever I am playing a game, or driving, or barbecuing, or fixing a computer, or telling a story, or eating, or sleeping, or anything – I want to be the best. I want people to know I’m the best. Part of me really wants to hear people say stuff like, “There goes Kenn – the best computer fixing, best barbecuing, best car driving, smartest guy I ever met. I hear he is awesome at taking naps and eating, too.” I want to bask in that glory, and that is a problem.

Reading and discussing Respectable Sins caused me to evaluate three things:

  1. My Motivation (Why am I competing?): I must not seek glory for myself. Each time the bible speaks about “doing our best”, it is tied to doing it for the glory of God and not for our own.

    Colossians 3

    23Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

    It was refreshing to see that there were those in the Olympics who insisted on giving God the glory for what they were able to accomplish. Gabby Douglas, who won the gold medal in the all-around gymnastics competition said, “I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to him and the blessings fall down on me.”

  2. My Example (What do others see?): If I win—then belittle my competitors (who were also made in the image of God), become haughty and proud, or exhibit any sort of poor sportsmanship during the competition; I set a poor example. It would be far better to lose and set a good example in the process.

    Meghan Vogel, a runner in a state championship track meet, displayed just that type of example. When another runner, Arden McMath, collapsed onto the track in front of her, she didn’t run past her. She reached down, helped Arden to her feet, and then carried her the final 20 meters to cross the finish line. 

  3. God’s Standards (How do I evaluate success?): I need to remember that God does not measure success by medals won, records broken, or by how many people I can impress. God’s standards are clearly laid out for us in the Bible. Rather than looking to “win”, I should be striving to please God. If I win while in pursuit of God’s pleasure, so be it – but let Him be glorified.

    In Chariots of Fire (a true story), Eric Liddell ran and ran faster than anyone else, eventually winning an Olympic gold medal. The medal, however, was not his pursuit. He ran because he felt that to do otherwise would dishonor God. In the movie he says, "I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure."

    Colossians 3
    17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In summary: strive for excellence, compete wholeheartedly and with integrity, win the gold if you have the ability; but do it all for the glory of God and the pursuit of His pleasure.


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