Saturday, August 29, 2015

In Memory of Clarence McCall (1918-2015):

A Man of Christian Character

The moment I heard of Clarence McCall’s death, it brought me to the 5th Commandment. But I soon realized his life was much more than living long from obeying this Commandment. He was a holy man dedicated to living in God’s will through his acceptance of Christ. And when I read other people’s memories of him it confirmed the way he served God and others.

I met Mr. McCall 40 years ago when his son Phillip (Phil) married my sister Elizabeth (Liz). I remember noticing the joy Clarence displayed from being the best man at his son’s wedding. The smile he expressed lit up the room.

Sixty-six years earlier Clarence married Dorothy (Dot). The same faithfulness he had with Christ showed up in his long marriage to Dot. His unselfish services to his wife testifies. The Lord used his marriage so we could bear witness to a man of God. Here God shows divorce isn’t a choice for those who are an earnest follower of Christ.

Mr. McCall’s wife Dot has the same spiritual values. Dot always spoke fondly of her husband. The love they expressed made it impossible not to see God’s hand working in their lives. Watching the loving ways they treated each other extends God’s unconditional love and an inspiration of a godly marriage. I’m glad the Lord added both of them to my life.

My brother-in-law Phil is the only child of Clarence and Dot. I’ve left no doubt in my mind the spiritual impact Clarence made in his life. The godliness in Phil’s heart is the direct result of the Christian standards Mr. McCall taught his son. Phillip’s addition to my family is a gift from Christ. Clarence’s love, selflessness, kindness and forgiveness are extended in Phil’s life. I can’t say enough about what Phillip has meant to me and my family. Mr. McCall did a fine job in raising Phil.

The greatest example of Mr. McCall’s devotion to God was his dedication to the church. He was a long-time member of the Lake Shore Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida and spent many years as a deacon and church leader. Clarence puts into action the essence of the Lord’s First Commandment by providing his time, resources and love for God. The way he lived outside the church exemplified the relationship he built with Christ through his attendance. His unshakable trust and uncompromising loyalty to Christ were the result from keeping the Sabbath day holy.

Clarence was a veteran of the Second World War, serving in the Army Air Force. After returning home he worked in the Jacksonville area for many years as an aircraft technician. We can see God’s protection working in his life was long and prosperous. The Lord had plans for Clarence and living to the age of 97 provides the facts of God’s truth.

My family’s Thanksgivings and Christmases won’t be the same. Clarence spent many of those holidays with my family. His love, kindness, godliness and humor will be absent. I will miss Mr. McCall presence at those gatherings, but his spirit will stay with me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

7 Christian Principles to Grow Your Faith:

Building a Stronger Trust Series

Part 8 The Fruits of a Stronger Faith:

Our journey through Disciple Peter’s message of faith (2 Peter 1: 5-7 NKJV) enhances our bond with God. This proven set of Christian actions embraces God with vigorous faith. Those principles have worked for centuries and at our disposal. The result of our labor is a maturing faith and an unwavering trust in God.

So, what can you expect from following Peter’s lesson?

Peter extended his message by saying this:

“For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," (2 Peter 1:8).

Every one of those spiritual attributes embraces Christ’s wisdom. The essence of salvation is understanding the truth of Jesus. Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension promise us eternal life.

To be neither barren nor unfruitful means Christ will deliver us God’s values. Alone we don’t have the mindset, heart or spirit to live according to God’s will. By walking with Christ our lives align with His guidance, and we prosper in spiritual matters. Reliance on God’s wisdom provides a strength beyond our own, and we stay faithful.

Peter warns us the penalty of not growing our faith.

He explains it this way:

“For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins," (2 Peter 1:9).

Here a perfect picture emerges of a barren and unfruitful life. The lack of virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love spells disaster. Never-ceasing sin is a persistent spiritual suffering filled with damaging results. And we see this happening around us daily.

I have personal experience living outside the kingdom. My life uses to be full of deception. Skepticism and coincidences were my outlooks on life events. Resentments, sexual immorality, and pride dominated my actions. I always expected something in return for my services since I was a self-seeker. My suffering from an unsaved soul was relentless. I wasn’t holy.

Blasphemy, terrorism, adultery, greed and other sins occur in the secular world. They are bonded to pride and blinded from God’s word. Their darkness blocks the truth of the Lord, and they indulge in the flesh. Self-deception prevents the Light of Christ from entering their hearts. They lack the foresight of eternal life because their focus is shallow and worldly.

Old sin brings the same results our ancient ancestors encountered. They continued losing favor with God’s mercy and grace. The Old Testament attests to God’s patience with His people on sin. Captivity and wise prophets weren’t enough to convince them to repent.

So, the Lord implemented a New Covenant through His Son Christ Jesus. It’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Salvation comes from Jesus and growing our faith through Peter’s inspiration leads to a faith strong enough to overcome temptations. Without this, we are doomed.

Peter’s testimony to God’s faithfulness is incredible. His next two verses promises God’s grace.

He shared this:

“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; (2 Peter 1:10).

Faith without works can’t sustain trials and tribulations. It takes persistent Christian actions to withstand the hidden problems life doles out. God has called us to partake in salvation. And Peter encourages us to stand firm on the Lord’s truth. Christ makes salvation desirable and faith holds us accountable to live holy.

Applying those 7 Christian principles to faith anchors an unshakable spiritual foundation. They give a solid footing on the eternal road. They complement each other and keep us balanced in our walk with Christ. We don’t stumble since we find Jesus’s courage to live according to God’s commandments. This doesn’t mean we won’t struggle for staying on the narrow way isn’t easy. Steadfast devotion is the key to spiritual discipline.

God used Peter to sum it up by leaving us this Scripture:

for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," (2 Peter 1:11).

The Lord is faithful and follows through with His promises. God loves us unconditionally and provides a way to be with Him forever. Here our Father rewards our efforts with an endless partnership with His Son Jesus Christ.

God’s selfless giving is undeniable, and this scripture points it out. Our willingness to follow Peter’s message shows our faith in God, and He opens the door of eternity. Wow! Isn’t the Lord amazing? Now if this doesn’t excite you, then I’m sadden because I know you can have what I’ve found.

Well, this series ends, but growing our faith through Peter’s message is ongoing. Together we can radiate God’s truth to the world by living those 7 Christian principles.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

7 Christian Principles to Grow Your Faith:

Building a Stronger Trust Series

Part 7 Love:
Love is the 7th, and last Christian principle Peter (2 Peter 1: 5-7 NKJV) brought to our attention to building a solid faith. God created us out of love and wanted us to share it with our neighbors. And Peter included it as a reminder to live in God’s will.

Why does God insist we love each other?

Jesus answered this when He told the Pharisee God’s greatest commandments. After Christ had placed loving God as the number one commandment, then He made it known the second greatest is loving others (Matthew 22: 37-39).

Love is a desirable yet an elusive life experience. Everybody wants to be loved.

It takes faith to love others. Expectations often prevent us from unconditional love. By placing unrealistic demands on love we become disappointed for we want a reward for doing God’s commands.

The Lord graced us with His free love, and we should follow our Father’s perfect lead. Even though we fall short doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying.

Remember your eternal life is at stake.

To show affection to others consistently requires a life centered in Christ. Untreated sin prevents love from radiating from our hearts. Sin destroys godliness and ruins everything worthwhile in life. A lost or unsaved soul is in constant conflict with others and God Himself. Love can’t grow under those terms.

It isn’t hard to love those we cherish. We understand their imperfections and will forgive. Our acceptance of their shortcomings is at its peak, and we can move beyond the conflict. Christ stated rewards in loving those who love us isn’t available (Matthew 5: 46)

The challenge of loving difficult people is tough. None of us chooses to be around them, yet we can’t ignore their existence. We find them in our families, at work, social gatherings and sometimes in church. They are everywhere, and we are commanded to love them.

So how can we move past their sins and show them compassion?

Your answer is building a stronger bond with Christ.   

The courage Christ provides overcomes weakness. Self-reliance is a setup for disaster. A life run on self-will can’t love disturbed people. We do not remove the hurt caused by others, mend the heart and love our enemies. Only God can overtake the obstacles stopping us from loving. Everything is possible with Christ, and the sacrifices we make in obedience is fruitful.     

Experiencing God’s love leaves no excuses not to love others.

Either we are with God or not. We have to put faith into action and stand firm on God’s word. Fence straddling isn’t wise since Christ doesn’t favor lukewarm believers (Revelations 3: 16).

God is the judge. We are followers. The Lord works in mysterious ways, and part of His plan is hidden. You may question why loving ungodly people is necessary. But continuous reliance on Christ removes doubt and allows the Holy Spirit to direct our lives. We enjoy loving others since the Spirit is our Guiding Light. Then we are blessed as a peacemaker spreading God’s love with a pure heart.

Humility plays an essential role in living as Christians. By humbling ourselves before Christ, we find unconditional love. Jesus holds the key to God’s wisdom and without this compassion is elusive. When we are humble, pride flees, and we hand over the injustices of others to God. The result humility brings is experiencing a spiritual love without boundaries.  

Love has nothing to do with someone else’s soul. It purifies our heart and conditions our spirit for eternal life. Our love of others here on earth is proportionate to judgment day. Don’t be mistaken God will judge us (Romans 14: 10-12).

Salvation has nothing to do with our personal preferences. Eternal life is for faithful servants granted by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8). Our part is adhering to God’s word. Faith loves others, regardless of their behavior. Christ notices our efforts and is pleased with our actions of loving troubled souls.

In my walk with Christ, a whole new pair of eyes has emerged. The blinders Christ removed from my vision exposed the way I loved the people. It wasn’t pleasant. God awakened me to my wrongful way of loving others. My selective choices in whom I loved wasn’t right, and resentments hardened my heart.

When God rescued me, He showed me my repentance. The Lord commanded me to take a moral inventory, accept my wrongs and make amends to those I hurt. Once I followed His directions my ability to love increased. And as the result of Christ’s direction years of grudges melted away, giving room for God’s grace. Another added quality of acting on God’s instructions is the harmony I have with others.

Today I love people, and I’m not as selective. I still fall short of loving everyone. The way I move past the struggle is looking within myself and see where I’m at fault. Once I discover the sin preventing me from loving, then I humbly ask God to remove it. This opens the door to repentance and the course of action God wants for me to take emerges. Once I know what the Lord commands me to do and act on it, I’m able to love again.

Every day the media reminds us the penalties from a world are lacking unconditional love. Hatred continues to make headlines and exposes the evilness of prejudice. Greed is another sin written on and shows the problems associated with hoarding money. Starvation could be solved, but greed makes sure it will continue. The list is large.

We can’t escape nor deny the wickedness around the globe. Our love for evildoers may not change their ways, but is favorable in God’s kingdom. Love for unrighteous people isn’t accepting their behavior, but a willingness to trust God divine plan.

Maybe you have a different outlook on loving others. We can agree Christ’s command is fruitful, wise and eternal. United under God’s umbrella we can let others know we are Christian by our love.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

7 Christian Principles to Grow Your Faith:

Building a Stronger Trust Series

Part 6 Brotherly Kindness:

We walked through the first 5 Christian principles in this series, our trust in God has grown. And our faith is stronger.  Disciple Peter opened our eyes and shown us a way of interconnecting valuable Christian characteristics into our faithful lives.

The spiritual power they release came from God and manifested through Christ. Our hearts are prepared to spread kindness.

In times of distress, how has receiving kindness changed your life?

God designed plan is incredible. He understood, we needed each other’s kindness. The comfort from a warmhearted act soothes the heart and renews our spirit. This uplifting experience is God’s way of loving us through the kindness of another.

God knows the precise time when we are in the greatest need of human kindness. Faith isn’t just believing, but knowing the Lord is working through others. Compassion helps ease the pains of living. We don’t always know what’s best for us, but Christ does.

Behind the scenes, Christ is guiding others to reach out and impact our lives. The Messiah’s compassion is constant. Jesus inspires others to be kind, and the Holy Spirit ensures we understand this came from God. This blessing is a gift.  Our faith grows by doing the same.

Day in and day out God is commanding His children to bring joy to each other hearts. The Lord is pleased when we go out of our way and show kindness to a suffering person.  

We can’t keep what God has given unless we give it away. Our part is to be ready and willing to pass on kindness since we never know when Christ will call on us to comfort others.

Exchanging pleasant interactions with others illuminates the godliness inside our hearts. The world experiences the reality of Christ, and its action proclaims God’s word. We are commanded to live in God’s will and by being nice to others, we are in unison with our Father.

Kindness goes further than words.  Sincerity is the key to expressing compassion for no one likes phoniness. God fashioned every man, woman and child with the ability to understand earnestness.

The greatest defense from falling into phoniness is humility. Through humility, our hearts are in its purest form. And our spirits are at God’s commands. By humbling ourselves, Christ directs our lives according to God’s divine plan. Integrity ensures we are sincere for acting under God’s guidance.

God places us in positions to be kind, including our worst enemies. A modest existence allows us to stay nice because we are not acting alone. Remember, God rewards humility with wisdom.

It’s easy to agree upon general ways of sharing kindness. Polite words, respecting others, and opening doors when someone needs help to name a few. Those are the obvious ones.
A deeper meaning of Christian kindness lies in your devotion to God.  

Good deeds are kind acts. Salvation directs us to do good, avoid evil and spread the Gospel. Goodness has a calming effect leading to serenity. One of the early fruits of kindness is inner peace.  

In my walk with Christ, a whole new outlook on life has emerged. I enjoy being nice and is a direct result from worshiping God. Watching the smiles on the faces of those receiving kindness rekindles my spirit. This refreshes my soul and inspires me to continue seeking Christ. God’s rewards me with love, and that makes me grateful.

I have changed the most by showing kindness to those I dislike. Forgiveness is the main reason. When I let go of my animosity towards the ones who hurt me the nicer I became of them. Then I’m able to carry the strength from those in other areas of my life.

One of our Christian objectives is to grow in the image of Christ. God understands we won’t be perfect. It’s our efforts in persevering that matters. When it’s tough to be kind, Christ will be there to help. We will discover our greatest challenges in life solved through reliance on Jesus. God has no weakness.

The way kindness strengthens our faith is best illustrated in our attitudes towards our neighbors. Our past gives testimony to the changes Christ has made in our troubled relations with others. Every time we overcome a problem from turning to Christ our trust in God has grown.

Christ has taught us to be like-minded so let’s unite. We can make those around us more comfortable by spreading kindness. Let’s increase our faith by being kind to everyone we can.