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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Finding the Common Ground

It is plainly evident that our country is not headed towards, but already engaged in Culture War. Many will use the words “Liberal vs. Conservative” or “Tolerant vs. Intolerant” and even “Loving vs. Hateful”…. But none of these are correct… Not really.

Can we just call it what it is?

Good vs. Evil? No …

Right vs. Wrong? No…

It’s Human vs.Human… Here is why.

With  the onslaught of so-called “Human Rights Issues” at the center of this war, one view or belief opposed to another  are the grounds for battle and words are the weapons of choice (for the time being anyway). One group believes one doctrine or philosophy, while the other believes differently and by and large the conflict, no matter how large an convoluted it has become really boils down to one single point of focus –

Conform to my way or you are  “_____________________”

Agree with me or you are “__________________”

If you believe “_________________” then it means “____________________”

You fill in these blanks with whatever misdefined words you’d like, they all fit – Bigot , Intolerant , Hateful or my personal all time fave is when you take the beginning of any word to indicate behavior of a person and then just add “phobic ” to the end of it to imply that in some way I am terrified of this person or the implications of what accepting this behavior would mean.

(I began to type “childish” next, but I don’t want to insult innocent children.)

Ridiculous. This term is more fitting. It is absolutely ridiculous that we reduce human beings down to a label by using a word  targeted to  affect them and essentially  provoke the reaction. A ridiculous part of that formula is that fact that in almost every case these words are used incorrectly when doing so!

Example – “Bigot”

big·ot
ˈbiɡət/
noun  –   a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions
So, if logic is applied  – wouldn’t a person labeling another this for having a different view or belief than his own also be guilty? 
 
Example – “Intolerant”
in·tol·er·ant
ˌinˈtäl(ə)rənt/
adjective  –   not tolerant of views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own.
So again, if logic is applied  – wouldn’t a person labeling another this for having a different view or belief than his own also be guilty?
One more..
Example – “_________phobic”
phobic – See phobia
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational.
Again, apply logic…. Would one who vehemently names some as phobic not also be guilty of being phobic to the view of the other?
Surely, you see my point.
For every misuse of these misdefined words(and so many others not listed) , we perpetuate war that will ONLY PUSH US FARTHER from the “so-called ” goal that is touted by both sides in this-
UNITY will NEVER be reached.
PEACE will NEVER be attained.
HUMANITY will be LOST and NOT GAINED.
 
You see, we are failing to see the common-ground we all share, and prefer to use it for a battle-ground – We are all human.
Each of us are human and whether you are like me , a believer in God as creator and lover of the creation or a devout Atheist that believes the opposite  – the one thing neither of us can escape is the common ground we both possess – We are BOTH human and both valuable.
The point of this article is not to try to convert you to my beliefs. While that is what I will always do for someone who is searching  , I can also recognize that  many are NOT searching and no matter how much my heart may ache for you, I can not and should not force MY faith on YOU. Doing so negates free will and the very premise on which I act and believe.
However, believing something differently than me doesn’t require me to hate you.
 
No, truthfully  – If I really care like my beliefs teach that I should , hating you would be counter productive.
However  – not approving of your actions is completely acceptable and by fair contrast – also acceptable for you to not approve of mine! The mind-blowing part of it all, is that neither of us has to hate each other for it!
Whoa – what a concept!
The freedom that this country grants us in part is the freedom to believe what we choose. For me  – my standard is the Bible because I believe it is God’s word and therefore, I want to follow it through and through.
You may not.
So rather than label you, provoke you, or malign you  – I will recognize that you are human and prone to error – just as I am and maybe someday, some way – we can meet in the common ground of humanity and have an intelligent conversation about our differences and behave like … Well, HUMANs.
I’ll be praying for us all.2015-06-05-bigot6
Photo credit – Adam4d.com

 

 

 

42

It’s been a long time since I have posted  on this blog, and time is something I seemingly have borrowed when I consider my life in reflection. Realizing there is much work to do, time is something I can no longer afford to waste or take for granted.

Growing up I never pictured myself over 30. I’m not entirely sure if it was because all of my childhood heroes were dead before 30, or if I just couldn’t picture myself a mature, responsible grown man. My parents divorced when I was 14 and the model my dad left for me was not that of a mature, responsible grown man, and definitely not that of a Godly man – yet , here I am, one day past my 42nd year of  life .

I suppose in some ways, I have beaten the odds. Statistically speaking, children of divorce don’t typically grow up and stay married due to the broken model set before them, unfortunately they will often follow suit.  Five days from now, however, I will celebrate my 18th year of marriage to the same woman who has also given birth to my two beautiful children.  In addition, statistically I should not have overcome my addiction to drugs and alcohol. Oh, please don’t misunderstand – many overcome and go on with their lives but more than 70% of those go back to some form of abuse, and I can gratefully say that I have not. Finally at 42 , when many my age have given in to poor diet (not that mine is perfect, it is still my biggest struggle) I choose to make the best choices I am able and workout 5 days a week, as well as coach my son’s soccer team and I am stronger physically than I ever have been in my life. I have the best job I could ask for, doing what I love to do and I could go on and on  –  The point is my life, though it is not without conflict or struggle at times, is greater than I ever could have imagined – Especially because I had no expectation of a 42nd year of life.

However, all the things I just said about me, have nothing to do with me, but EVERYTHING to do with CHRIST. I am alive solely because of the grace that he has given me. My marriage is intact solely because of the truth of the gospel and the teaching about marriage in the bible. I have remained sober solely because of the strength I have gained internally from prayer and the knowledge of myself I have acquired through bible study , and the support given to me by my brothers and sisters in Christ. Every single day of life and every single breath is God’s grace for me, and I live for him because of it.  For a guy who has seemingly outlived himself by 12 years – I have absolutely been blessed!

All of this reflection is not without concern, however. I have a great deal of concern for the world my kids are growing up in. Needless to say, it is not the world I grew up in. While I may have beaten the odds getting to 42, my kids have the odds stacked highly against them in regards to living a Christian life. Entertainment is now the driving force that shapes culture, and not God. We now live in a Godless culture where he and his name are deemed offensive and are taken out of everything all in the name of “tolerance” while his people are shown none. The over-sexualization of our children is being forced through every possible outlet including those that used to be considered safe. Television networks are tireless in their efforts to push the boundaries on every level so that we are desensitized to all lasciviousness and immorality while modesty, shamefacedness, and purity are ridiculed and downplayed. Traditional marriage is mocked, and perversion is celebrated. The music industry is even worse.

Nothing is shocking anymore that should be, and everything that once was right, is now shocking and despised.

I hate to sound my age, but I suppose maybe this is what 42 sounds like? Maybe this is what a mature, responsible, grown and Godly man  sounds like? Who knows? Not me – I am surprised as anyone  just to be here – but I am, now what will I do with this time I have been given?

There is much to do, and not that 1 blog as one man’s attempt to change the world can do that, but If can just change one person’s world , and then they can change one other , and so on – revolution just might be possible.

Who knows what 43 may look like this time next year?

I am hopeful 😉 dad

Damage Control

Whether we want to admit it or not , we all damage our kids. From the argument over money right in front of them , or dealing with them sharply for no other reason than you’re not in the mood” to deal with with them – we damage them. Granted , these things wont scar them for life but they certainly have influence over who they become. We all do it , and there is no way to avoid it –  we are human ,  and we are flawed… we too , are damaged.

It’s a hard thing to admit.

I woke up from a sound sleep this morning at 2 a.m with this sobering thought and wrestled with myself for an hour before I could get back to sleep. Have I REALLY done the best I can with my kids? I’m already aware of mistakes I made with my oldest  ,but the truth is  – I couldn’t be happier with who she is right now.. She is confident , smart ,talented and beautiful – not mention armed with a quick wit that allows her to hang with ANY of her older boy cousins and absolutely SLAY them when necessary! She is INCREDIBLE and I love her more than I can express – but do I deserve credit for that? I have given her many reasons to fail because of my own damage and yet she continues to blossom…

But , what about my son? – The day I found out we were having a boy , it literally paralyzed me…. I was scared to death…  How was I supposed to raise this baby boy into a GOOD man  , when I wasn’t even sure myself if I was a good man?.. and then it hit me ,like it always does. I’m usually a little late to the party and this was NO exception –

God has given me EVERYTHING I need to raise my kids right in SPITE of who I am or fail to be …This sobering thought brought me to where I should have already been  –  My knees.

 

As I prayed that afternoon , I asked God to help me help him and my daughter.. To help me become the man I want my son to model after ….and to become the kind of man my daughter will look for in a husband one day.. To help me be the husband I should be to my wife so that we together can be a model of what BOTH of our kids will look to for future relationships and NOT what  the entertainment world says relationships are, but what GOD says they are!!  Help me be the kind of man that despite my own damage and despite my own flaws – raise good children ,who will raise good children that will raise good children!!

To be the kind of man who can say he is sorry when he is wrong ,and forgive himself so he doesn’t drag that baggage into the equation as well… because THAT’S where all the damage we do comes from ANYWAY…

Isn’t it?

The truth is , God must be part of the equation with parenting – just like he should be with marriage. So on the days when I screw up , and the days when I get it wrong and the days when I have messed it all up – it all stays together IN SPITE of my best efforts to tear it apart…

I still pray that God will help me be that  kind of man.

As we go through life  ,we continue to grow…. We continue to learn.. and with learning comes mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes , you’re not learning – its part of it… But if you continue to make the same mistakes , you have missed the lesson and aren’t  growing at all. As a parent  , my worst fear is that I will do more damage than good to my kids – That as a human being capable of error , I may fail…But this has been my biggest failure by FAR.

Why ?  Because  fear is only an outward sign of distrust and if I trust my God the way I say I do , then I have  NOTHING to fear..

The reality is , I’m a good parent … My kids are proof of this… My kids are proof that my wife and I despite our flaws , we are doing it right… Our kids sleep more sound than anything I can think of because they KNOW they are loved…and they ,with God’s help will turn out not undamaged or unscathed  – but  physically and emotionally and most importantly SPIRITUALLY healthy!! In a single word – GOOD…

It is my hope that yours do too..

In the face of our flaws and mistakes , God forgives us – so forgive yourself also… Trust in him and HIS way and any fear of being a less than perfect parent will leave you. … We may not be perfect  , but HE IS….. And he don’t make no JUNK.

 

As always – the invitation to study the bible is open. We can study anything you like , trust – it’s all in there no matter what it is.

 

Read  – Ephesians 6:4,Proverbs 1:8-9 ,Psalms 127:3-5 ,Deuteronomy 7:14 and Proverbs 22:6

 

Who Prays for the Preacher?

Pray for me Preacher! he shouted as he was walking away…”OK” I shouted back  ,not really knowing what to pray for ,  just knowing  that God could fill in the blanks that  I may have left open as I prayed..

This is the scene all too often in with what I do.. .”Pray for Uncle  So and So  or Pray for Aunt  So and So” , “Pray for my Mom or Pray for my Dad” or  “Pray for this ,pray for that”….pray ,pray , pray…. And so I do.  I pray for people I don’t even know upon the request of someone I do know… I pray for our Leaders ,yes even HIM.

Why? – because if I can pray for people who I know NOTHING about , I can CERTAINLY pray for a man who is under the microscope of the American people especially when so many are unhappy with him and the decisions he has made in the last 4 years. I can’t  IMAGINE the pressure he and his family must be under… SO even though I don’t support his politics , his beliefs or his lackluster performance – I certainly can pray for him as a human being ,a father and a husband. He is human and humans need prayers to a righteous God who can save…. There is no doubt HE NEEDS IT.

So  , this got me thinking –  As and Evangelist , I do ALOT of praying..ALOT of encouraging…ALOT of caring – even for my enemies  ( Mathew 5:44).  I pray because I can’t help myself… I pray because I’m helpless… I pray because the need flows out of me all the time both waking and sleeping…… I pray  NOT because it could ever  change God – but because  it changes ME…

And yet –

I get discouraged. I get frustrated. I struggle with sin…and I fail – Just like everyone else. I am not immune to humanity..If anything I am numbed by it…almost made callous due to over exposure of it…and that’s when I need God to prick my heart again and make me understand why Jesus Wept… to make me understand my need for Christ in my  OWN life … to remind   me that I am NOT bullet proof , but rather frail and fragile as everyone …and to make me see fully , the power of PRAYER.

So who prays for the preacher? Who prays for the one who continually prays for others? Who prays for ME when I need it?

The correct answer should be “Anyone I ask to” … But just because I don’t ask , it doesn’t mean I don’t need them –

All too often we assume because the preacher is solid  and doesn’t need it when in fact ,  he may be the one that needs prayer the most at that moment. Handling rightly the word of God comes with a massive responsibility and accountability ,as it should. James warns us in chapter 3 verse 1 of his letter “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” There is no “almost right”…its right or its wrong when it comes to handling Gods teaching.  This alone is enough to call for the prayers of others on the Preachers behalf..

But even in the small things of life – Money troubles , family stress, keeping up appearances  or possibly –  even moving your family to another state   to serve with a congregation there (yes , this one is about me) – Prayers are not just welcomed  , they are MUCH needed.

There is no sound louder than that of a prayer not heard on your behalf … especially when it has been requested.

So pray. Prayer FOR our leaders AND  about our leaders ,  The Lord knows they need God’s guidance whether they think they do or not.  Pray for the Preachers everywhere fighting the Good fight , we are human bleed just like you do…

And pray for each other. James 5:16 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

They can ….  and they do…

But no prayer at all accomplishes just that – nothing.

I will pray for you… so please – Pray for me.

The invitation to study the bible is still open…..  😉

Read the book of James.. yes, all of it.