I am_____________.

This is not a not my usual article. I’m not attempting to provide commentary on a current social or theological issue, nor expose an untruth or false teaching, nor shed light on a biblical principle.

This is a simple list of what I support.

Why? … I’ll get to that shortly.

I am Pro-God.

I am Pro – Christian Faith

I am Pro – Biblical truth

I am Pro – Traditional and Biblical Marriage

I am Pro – Life (in every way )

I am Pro – America

I am Pro – Liberty

I am Pro – Separation of church and State

I am Pro – Small Government

I am Pro – Constitution

I am Pro – Gun

I am Pro – Freedom

I am Pro – Family

I am Pro – Faith

I am Pro – Prayer

I am Pro – Truth

This is a short list of things that matter to me and things that I believe in. What one can reason from this list, is that if I am “pro” something, then I am ” anti” whatever opposes it.

The reason for this short list is for the morally ambiguous who may wonder where my allegiance lies. You see, I don’t typically broadcast my views on every issue nor do I publicly promote the propaganda of any political nature. I believe politics is dangerous and divisive, but unfortunately in some ways, necessary and fulfill a purpose.

IF you know me – you know where I stand … But if you didn’t, read this list and KNOW that I am not afraid to STAND ALONE. I would much rather stand alone and go down swinging, knowing I stood for truth and righteousness than blend  with the crowd of the unrighteous and worldly, and be a coward.

We live in a God-less era, where God has been removed fromevery possible place he can be, it’s no wonder why the events that are unfolding  around us are unfolding  –  why are we shocked?

But do not be deceived – We do not live in a God-less world. Choosing to ignore him, his teachings and laws do NOT remove him from existence. Understand that this is HIS world and we are merely living in it.He has allowed us to make a mess of it and one day he will back to clean it up – WRITE IT DOWN.

…And when that day comes, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess – and who then will want our meaningless platitudes to be shared?

Check yourself.

This list was for you, the reader, and your question-mark-man (1)information. Do with it, and me, what you will. IF you feel that you and I can no longer associate via social media – then  do what you must, but do so knowing it was your choice and not mine. I believe what I believe to be true and if what I believe to be true is, in fact, true, then with every breath in my body I will try to help you see the truth also…So if leaving is to be done, it won’t be done by me. Your soul is too valuable a thing for me to walk away from.

I am Keith Stonehart, and I am dead  – because Christ now lives in me.

Galatians 2:20

” I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.”

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Lessons From My Son – “Value and Cost – I wanna be like you Daddy!”

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I think it is probably safe to say that every boy at some point in his life has wanted to do what his dad does for a living. If you think about it , it’s almost expected –  the father son dynamic is such that the son’s main influence in his life , will be his father… Or at least it should be.  I pray that will always be the case with my son … It’s a sobering thought that continues to encourage me to give strict diligence to strive to be the man who my son “thinks”I  am… One day , he will figure out that I too am human ,not invincible ,bulletproof or immune to everything scary and dangerous ,but in fact  – a fragile vulnerable and flawed man – insecure about his image and struggles with his weight , scared at times and not nearly as cool as he thinks he is… Until that day comes however , I AM THE MAN… in my son’s eyes anyway…

That being said , the most important thing I can do for my son  – either for a living or other  – is to recognize the times when he needs me , and fulfill the need . Biblically speaking , we see this time and time again between Jesus and God  , but probably the most visible is in the Garden.. I have heard it said many times that Jesus was sorrowful the most- not because of the cross -but because of the fact that he would face it alone. – In the Garden where Jesus prayed he needed his father and wanted desperately to please him   – no matter the COST …Be cause God deemed us VALUABLE.(Matthew 26:36-42)

… Which finally will bring me to the lesson about “Cost” and “Value” that my son taught me..

I had grown to hate the Holidays… 2 years ago , I wasn’t preaching fulltime yet and had been out of work for several months. We managed to get by with what money I could make doing side work and odd jobs for cash for people. The winter was about to set in and I knew the slow season would be upon us. You see , not only does the work slow down for the winter in the construction industry – the people who do have money are not going to spend it on an out of work construction guy ,but rather family and friends for the Holidays… Unexpectedly , an opportunity to paint the inside of a woman’s home  came up. I hate to paint more than just about everything else ,but I couldn’t turn down the work – Remember , the Holidays were upon us and I needed to do my best to provide some sense of normalcy for my family – if not gifts , having the power on during the Holidays would be nice , and if possible – a gift or two for my kids…

The job was torture – it was a painters nightmare.

All of the furniture had to be moved around , covered  , protected etc.. To add insult to injury , the paint the homeowner selected was the worst quality ever and went on the walls with the consistency of water.To get done in a timely manner and to make sure that the job was profitable – I decided I would work long hours to shorten the amount of days…So ,long,long hours were worked. I was up and gone before either of my kids were awake and not home until well after they had gone to bed…But I kept focused ,telling myself that this was “for them”.. After 2 weeks of this , the inevitable happened – I being completely exhausted – overslept…

In my frantic hurry to get out the door , I nearly tripped over Kole as he excitedly came to greet me from his bedroom door ..”DADDY!” he exclaimed… “Hey bud“I sleepily responded as I was quickly headed to the living room to put on my shoes. Kole followed close behind and in usual form hitting me  with barrage of questions. As I tried to answer them the best I could  , it was clear that I was distracted  and only half way paying attention when he  then stop right in front of me and asked  of  me  this – “daddy, don’t go to work today“… Still tying my shoes I responded ” I have to bud..” .. “Why” he replied… becoming more frustrated with the situation I responded sharply with “ because I HAVE to  – we need money”... He then turned ,  and ran back to his room. I sat there wondering if I had responded rashly and hoped I hadn’t hurt his feelings … I hadn’t seen him at all in the better part of 2 weeks so I knew I needed to apologize.

As I got up from the couch and began to head down the hall ,he greeted me in the hallway , holding his piggy bank in his little hands and looking directly at me with his big brown eyes and smiling so proud. “Here daddy – you can have my money…Stay with me ?”

My knees buckled , and I hit the floor… I wrapped my arms around him and  held him , then began to cry.

My son taught me a most valuable lesson that late fall morning. He taught me that the most important things in this life are not what most of us think they are.  As I was working my self to death , I was neglecting my family for a job that only required that much of my time because  I deemed it necessary  …My son offered to buy  MY time with him because that’s what  he thought it “Cost”..In those two weeks and probably more preceding it , I taught him that – and I was wrong. My son needed me and sought to pay the price to have me , because to him – I was “Valuable” and in doing so exposed a part of myself that once I recognized ,needed to change.

Once again he was the teacher ,and I was the student. His Lions Heart ,in true form ,exposed me and ripped me to shreds… And I am thankful for that  , and him. He taught me the true meaning of “Value” and “Cost”…

Needless to say , I took that day off and gave myself fully to him.. We played  , we watched movies and of course – we took a much-needed nap  ,but we took it together 😉

Since then , Kole and I have had many conversations about my job and the differences between what I used to do , and what I am privileged to do now.. “SO you don’t , fix people’s houses anymore” ..”No Bud , I don’t” … “Do you still help people though?”…”I hope so , I certainly try! “… 

“Daddy , I want to do what you do when I grow up… I wanna be like you!”

… “Yea Bud ? , Well – I wanna be more like you KOLE …  😉 “

The value of the time with my son (and daughter) is most precious and God appointed by scripture – NO MATTER THE COST.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5, ESV)

What about YOU?

Confusion and uncertainty, not to mention anger and bitterness, filled media reports in the days after the death of Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. It seemed that no one wanted to bury the slain terrorist. Every request for a burial plot was flatly rejected. Then a mental health counselor from Virginia decided to take matters into her own hands.

Martha Mullen said she was at a Starbucks when she heard a radio news report about the difficulty finding a burial spot for Tsarnaev.

“My first thought was Jesus said love your enemies,” she said.

Then she made an incredibly difficult and unpopular decision…

“I thought someone ought to do something about this – and I AM SOMEONE ,” Mullen said. …

Martha Mullen said she was motivated by her  faith ,her love and trust in Jesus Christ and his words recorded by Mathew in his Gospel account .

So what did she do? The WASHINGTON POST reports that Mullen took initiative to find a place that would accept Mr. Tsarnaev for burial. She was put in touch with Islāmic Funeral Services of Virginia, which runs the cemetery in Doswell, VA, and brokered an arrangement to have him buried there.

Some local residents and officials were angered by Mullen’s intervention on Tsarnaev’s behalf. While Mullen says the backlash has been unpleasant, she still has no regrets.

“I can’t pretend it’s not difficult to be reviled and maligned,” she told The Associated Press. “But any time you can reach across the divide and work with people who are not like you, that’s what God calls us to do.”

Shocking? Unnerving ? … It shouldn’t be if you are one who claims to be “Of Christ”  –  Here is the Application…

How amazing that the whole world should be aware of this problem, but no one take decisive steps to resolve it. That is, no one except Martha Mullen, who was prompted to act in response to the words of Jesus.

When the rest of the world is paralyzed in HATRED and UNFORGIVENESS , that’s when the followers of Jesus are called upon to demonstrate a love and a forgiveness that is uniquely Christian. So, the next time you think to yourself, someone ought to do something,” remember, so far as Jesus is concerned, YOU ARE SOMEONE .

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).

I know many will disagree with me ,but if you  claim to have the love of Christ –  how can you disagree with him?  1 Peter 3:18 says “For Christ also suffered once for sins, for ALL – the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit”

Who exactly does ALL leave out ? ….Tamerlan Tsarnaev ???

Tsarnaev ,as far as I can tell died without Christ – but his lack of response can never diminish the power and reality that  Christ also died for him and IF he had come to Christ on CHRIST’s terms , he too could have been forgiven…but for him  , it’s too late.

What about YOU?love-fire

Do YOU love God enough , to also love your enemies and those who persecute YOU? I wanted so badly to “YES” quickly ,but it has taken me the better part of a month to finally say it since I first had the thought to write this… Though in good conscience as I write this , faced with the same situation as Martha Mullen  – could I do the same? Could I be the “someone” the Lord COMMANDS me ?

…I hope and pray…

Lessons from My Son … “Seeing though his Eyes”

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J. Oswald Sander was quoted saying “Eyes that look are common… Eyes that see are rare.” … Rare indeed , except through the eyes of a 6-year-old boy…

As I have before mentioned , since he was born, I have preached many sermons inspired by my son. His honesty and innocence have helped me to remember how to see the world that I have forgotten how to see and quite often , I am completely humbled by the most simple of gestures… This particular example involves Carlos. Carlos (pictured with both my kids on the infamous “Werewolf trip ) is  related to me by blood – the blood of Christ. A few months after being baptized into Christ and becoming a Christian after a teen even at our house in Atlanta  , he came to live with us ..It was about  a year and a half ago during a time when I wasn’t preaching full-time  ,but running a construction company.. He had previously lived with my sister-in-law and was friends with all my nephews so technically, he was already family… But Kole made that official .

One night as I was reading to Kole , he stopped me   – as he usually will  , to ask me the most random questions …  Most of the time it’s stuff like ” Daddy , what does lava feel like on your skin?” or “Daddy ,  how do other cats warn other cats that dogs are coming?… Because they can’t talk!…. or can they?” I don’t mind him stopping me to ask these questions , I actually look forward to it !… I love how his little mind is at work and usually leave the room pondering to myself ” Man…. what DOES lava feel like on your skin?“…At any rate , I try my best to answer his questions the best I can and then we move on… I asked him one night where he comes up with these questions..his reply was “I dunno , I just SEE this stuff “… This monumental statement was immediately followed by the question” Daddy – Can YOU see what I see?” …

After a pause I humbly whispered back through a tear ” I wish “..

But one night he asked me a question that changed  our relationship with Carlos – permanently .. As I was reading he stopped me with his usually “Daddy”… not knowing the next for sure what he was going to say , I eagerly awaited the randomness – “Yea Bud” I replied…After a few seconds of pondering he asked –

“Is Carlos my brother?”…

Many things begin to happen inside me , primarily my heart melting.. I ask my self why would he think that? He is old enough to remember when Carlos first came to stay with us , that he hasn’t been here his whole  life , why would he think that? …  After a few seconds of asking ” why” ,these petty questions are quickly squelched when what should have been the obvious answer finally presents itself – He asks me this question because he already looks to Carlos as a brother and loves him like one !–  Why?  – Because Carlos loves HIM that way! Since day one, Carlos has always given time to Kole  – to play with him ,talk to him , read to him and yes –   even answer 30 bazillion of Koles questions. Carlos was ALREADY living as his brother , so why wouldn’t Kole ask me that??

There will always be a place in this family for Carlos – Kole saw to that…  But that is a different blog for a different day.

My son , though he is only 6 ,continues to give me the perspective that I should have on most things. The blog entries that will follow this one will all deal with his observations that helped me realize, that I was seeing wrong… Jesus says plainly in Mathew 18 verse 3 “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I believe in part – this is why..

The morning ritual at our house is pretty simple – we all get up, slowly make our way to the kitchen where coffee can be administered to those who need it , breakfast can be served to those that eat it , and our day can begin with a little conversation(hopefully) from all the kids , yes even Carlos (though he is 23 😉  )…This morning as  Carlos came out for coffee , Kole  – who was diligently eating his cereal jumps down from he bar , runs over to him and threw  his arms around Carlos and said “I love you Carlos ,sometimes for NO REASON”…Carlos hadn’t been anywhere for Kole to miss him so much , so why all the excitement to see Carlos this morning? What reason would he have to excitedly proclaim his love for his brother?..

Then , like most things – the blatantly obvious hits me again..Once more , my son has been the teacher and I have been the student.. DO WE REALLY NEED A REASON TO LOVE EACH OTHER ?

1 John 4 :7-8 says” Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”…

There is no question – my son KNOWS God as he also KNOWS LOVE … And I have been joyfully reminded of how we ALL should be  – once more through the eyes of my son…

Thank you Lord for allowing me to have Kole and for him sharing his Lions heart with the world…. There is no doubt  , I am BLESSED.

I will always try to live so that I am the person my son sees …  😉

Read 1 John 3:11-24

Lessons from my son , “The Werewolf”

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If you know me , then you know it is no secret how much I love my family . I have a beautiful wife who glows inside and out with all that is good about a woman… she is Godly first and for reasons I still can’t see – she chose me , and I am thankful. She also gave two of the most precious gifts that can be given – My kids. My daughter is well on her way to becoming the same kind of woman that my wife is ,but even before now – her very life breathed purpose back into mine when I was but a shell of a man. Between the love of her and her mother , they helped me realize my need for God and gave me the drive necessary to seek him until that drive became my own… I have told her several times that she saved my life , and when she bats her lashes and says” I love you daddy”  – she still does…

My son was a game changer in my life. When we found out we were having a boy , I was terrified… I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to properly raise a boy and teach him to be a man… After all  , my only parenting experience was with a girl and not having much of a father figure growing up ,the word “inadequate” doesn’t even begin to describe my self-image at that time… But  , he was coming none the less and I was just going to just have to figure it out.

A good friend ,who has now passed but was the closest thing to a father to me gave me some great words for my uncertainty – he said “Have Faith , God will do the rest” ..

The rest of the story would go as you may imagine – he is born ,we adjust and begin figuring things out – life resumes.. But one thing is very different. My son , unbeknownst to him obviously ,begins to teach me.. For all the time that I am worrying about guiding him into manhood and teaching him vital lessons for life – he , with his own little life begins to teach me the simple yet powerful lessons that can’t be taught on paper , but shown through ones life – by their heart…

The next few entries in this blog will be about my son and the lessons he continues to teach me. I have Preached many sermons inspired by him , as he inspires me daily.. What I’m about to share with you just happened yesterday  – but began a years and a half ago..

It was the week before Thanksgiving  , and we had planned a family vacation to Gatlinburg Tennessee . On the drive up from Atlanta ,where we lived at the time  , we were discussing the current fad of “Vampires and Werewolves” and if they really existed , which one each of us would be due to the various powers each one possessed. My son Kole , chose to be a werewolf. He liked the idea of being a wolf and roaming about in the night howling at the moon etc..

Later in the drive , he confided in us all that  “He really was a Werewolf”. Intrigued we all replied with “Really?!!”.. You could see his little eyes light up as he could tell we were interested and excited about this. He went on to tell us with his creative little mind of all his adventures as he would climb out of his bedroom window at night and do ,as he put it -” Werewolf Stuff”. We all got a great kick out of the whole thing and it certainly made the ride go by a lot faster..

We spent the rest of the weekend playing into the idea of Kole being a werewolf as he converted all his cousins into his dark secret… other than the occasional mention over time though , the Werewolf bit ,like most childhood things seemed to fade into obscurity. I had all but forgotten about it..until yesterday.

After returning from the gym , I was greeted at my office door by Kole with a quick hug and a “Hey daddy”. I sat down at my desk and began to go through my stuff and I noticed him standing there with his hands clasped together . “Whats up bud”? I said.. He replied”Daddy , I need to tell you something”.. “Ok ,shoot” I replied.. after a second or two , he shook his head and hands and moaned “ugh , this is hard!” with a great  deal frustration and anxiety… Ok , now I’m all in –  this kind of reaction from him usually  only happens when he breaks something of MINE… , So I gently put my hands on his shoulders and quietly tell him “It’s ok son , just tell me” … He takes in a deep breath and then exhaled his confession….

“Daddy , I’m not really a Werewolf”…

Relieved  , he collapses into my arms…

At this moment , many things are going on in my head and heart. My first reaction was to bust out in laughter ,mainly because I had totally forgotten about him even making this claim of him even being one.. but I hold it back  – mainly because I don’t want to make light of what has actually happened here… My 6-year-old son has , in his own mind , felt the sting of CONSCIOUS  From his perspective , he has carried this burden for a year and a half and at some point realized that what he said wasn’t true , that he in fact was not a Werewolf! Although non of us ,his audience  took it for more than it was worth (a then 5-year-old little boy and his imagination) – he took it as he was being dishonest , and needed to come clean.

I just held him.

Now ,not only am I fighting back laughter ,but tears…

As I held him , I let him know that it was ok – that we all knew  he wasn’t really a Werewolf and that I was proud of him – not because he wasn’t a Werewolf ,but because he is well on his way to becoming  a MAN… A Godly MAN.. A man who realizes when he has error in life ,no matter how slight – and MAKES IT RIGHT. A man who teaches with his own life , through the actions of his heart…

The kind of man who I hoped I’d be able to teach him to be..The kind of man I am still trying to be… But today ,like many others before – My son was the teacher and I was the student…

Thank you Kole. Thank you for having the heart of a LION  , and not a Werewolf 😉

Our great and mighty God  shows us himself  often , if we are only willing to look. As I worried about being able to teach my son to be a good man , a friend told me to “Have faith  – God  will do the rest” … With that same faith , not only is my son going to be a good man ,but God has shown me that my son  is going to help me be one too.

Oh God , give us hearts like Lions – Strong to defend and protect ,but tender enough to be pricked by our conscious , knowing you are there with your hands on our shoulders  , whispering to us –  “Just tell me “…

We know you are faithful… Help US to be.

Hebrews 10:22

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”