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

 

 

 

Love – What it is ,and what it isn’t .

Hate

“Love is love”.

I would be willing to bet you (if I were a betting man) that if I have heard that phrase once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.

” Love is love and you can’t help who you love”. However saying something over and over, no matter the volume, no matter the repetition, no matter what century it is  – DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE…  And NO, time doesn’t change it either. For every time I have heard “It’s the 21 century, get with the times”  , I can only think to myself that if something is pure, if something is eternal and everlasting as true love is supposed to be by definition – then it is unchangeable by culture no matter what century it is . Right and wrong, as well as truth and fiction, are principles that are built upon unchanging standards. It has never been right to murder someone (Genesis 4) nor has a lie ever become truth (Romans 1:25) and love is no different.

I believe without fail that the bible is the ultimate standard because it is the infallible word of God and because God can not lie due to his nature, every single word of it is true. The further culture moves from this standard, the more things like truth, right and wrong and love become subject to human standards. As humans, a creation of God, God gave us the ability to reason and to choose as we were created in his image (Genesis 1:26). Given the ability to choose and not making us as unthinking robots,that means we also have the capacity to not choose him – but our own way.

Proverbs 14:12 deals with this in saying “ There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”

Just as children need the guidance of their parents to grow up well and to  make good decisions – we too are like children that need guidance  and that guidance is given by a perfect source and is absolute, so that it can be trusted . It is everlasting and most importantly – UNCHANGING.  A changing standard is unsure, unsafe and ultimately flawed because it can not be trusted. IF one day something is acceptable and the next day it’s not – How can someone stay true or on the right path.  I mean  2+2 still = 4 correct? OF course!Because it is based on an unchanging truth that can be tested and still be trusted when proven true.

So how is it that love is any different?

ITs not. 

First we must define love by its source. 

1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

1 John 4:16 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

So love, is from God because God IS love, and the fact that we are able to love, is because God first loved us and so we are commanded to love one another because love is from God and when we love  , then we abide with him and know him.

So then , If in fact I am not the standard of love and where it comes from and God is , can I love just any way I choose to and it still be love? Let me put it like this – can I drive as fast as I choose to and still claim to be driving safetly? Well, despite my opinion of how well I drive, my opinion doesn’t override the law in place that regulates my speed . In fact , driving the way I choose  with no regard to boundaries set by an authority or standard  will  have consequences.  You see – we don’t get to rewrite the speed laws or change the meaning of speeding  – nor do we get to rewrite the meaning of love.

Now that we know the source of love and the author of it (notice the title author inherently carries with it the concept of authority)  , lets look at its definition.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing.

What this first section takes note that no matter what I do,no matter how well I may do it without love it is worthless and in a word  – noise…

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

This is the section that Hallmark makes their living on. But ,notice a few things here  –

It is patient and kind. I can say for sure ,that many of the people I have engaged with over the legality of same-sex marriage who scream vehemently that “Love is love” and neither been patient nor kind to me…Lets continue –

It doesn’t envy or boast.Also untrue concerning my experiences this year.

It is not arrogant or rude. This has been a big one. In almost every occasion , I have been talked to like a lesser human being who is considered to be “less than intelligent” according to the opposing views standard of intelligence. I have been insulted and derided and in some cases threatened . Again – I’m failing to see the love here that you are screaming into my face about.

It doesn’t insist on its own way and it is not irritable nor resentful. See the earlier comments.

It does not rejoice at wrong doing ,but rejoices with the truth.

Ok – this is the big one.

If love by definition doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing but the truth – then you can not call what you are doing love. Repeat  – If love by definition doesnt rejoice in wrongdoing but the truth – then you can not call what you are doing love. The same standard that defines love also defines right and wrong ,  truth and lies and ultimately sin what it is and what it isnt … Just like love. To rejoice in something that is opposed to God whether it be ANY type of sexual immorality , murdering , or lying or stealing ,cheating etc – is NOT rejoicing in what God has called good or true  – but evil or sinful.

But  – notice the last section –

Love bears ,believes,hopes and endures all things. This section is what solidifies love as sacrificial ! It bears the struggles of others when they need help , It believes the best about others when doubts arise , it hopes because without hope we have nothing to live for and it ENDURES with those who I may be at odds with because if I love the way I say I do – then I want the same salvation for you that God has extended ALL people

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Love is eternal and as other things pass away  , it wont .. So grow up and be mature. Face what you know is right and make the right decision. Stop being selfish and be selfless.. 

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The greatest is love because is gives and doesn’t take.  ITs the greatest because it is not selfish , but selfless. It is the greatest because it is from God  , and it is GOD.

You can’t redefine what is not yours to redefine . Nor can you change what is eternal . It is what it is , no matter how loud you scream at me , no matter how much you repeat it and now matter how much you hate me for my stance about it – I will still love you.

Yes, I will.

I will still love you , because God still loves you – and thats the difference.

Love doesnt always suit me ,nor should anyone expect it to. When we adopt a human standard as greater than God’s , what is to keep me from hating you rather than love you? Whats to keep me from stretching out my fist to hurt you rather than offer my hand to help you?

When we replace God’s standard for ours , we accept a flawed and moving target rather than trusted and solid one. If the truth depends on me – we are doomed to fail .

And yes – I know all to  well that there are plenty of people who call themselves Christians who have been equally or even moreso hateful on the other side of this issue. They wrong for the same reasons I have listed from the definition of love as the ones who have hated me.

Simply calling themselves Christians and doing things “in the name of” doesnt  make any of what they say true nor them a representative of the God they claim they serve.

After all words are words and they mean what they mean and none of us can change that – Out actions however , are another story all together.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins -1 Peter 4:8

Why I don’t preach

I get asked a lot of questions. I do my best to give answers … Appropriate, correct, to the best of my knowledge etc… The truth is, I don’t have ALL of the answers. Yet, the questions will continue to  come, and I will continue  do my best to answer.

I suppose if I could answer one question to the best of my ability and to the best of my knowledge, then I could answer any question the same way , albeit – sometimes that answer would be “I don’t know “.

You see, my job demands me to question everything, to look for the truth in every situation and to examine it to the ultimate standard of truth and then compare and share it as it is proper to.

This often gets me into trouble with people.

It gets me into trouble because many of the societal and cultural push for the acceptance of immorality have inherently a built-in  biblical truth that is completely opposed to it. When the answer is given to the best of my ability and from the standard of truth  I have used to arrive at this conclusion, it is most often not received with the warmest of welcomes. Following quickly behind my answer are responses that are usually sharp and often used as a weapon would be to insult me, deride and berate me and to ultimately hurt me.

Now a new line of questioning begins as a means to divert me away from the original topic and turn the focus on me and my motives. These questions are filled not only with spite and maliciousness, but they are also loaded  with suppositions and assumptions. The problem with  the suppositions and assumptions is that others incorrectly place motives about why I do what I do  , rather than work from an informed opinion or even better – to allow me to answer their question without jumping to conclusions.

“Why do you preach? – to steal people’s money? To spread your hatred for people who aren’t like you? Because you think you’re better than everyone else?

“No” is all I can usually get out before I’m cut off , but in fact there are many reasons, some more important that others, but all are deciding factors  that played out when I considered choosing this  life.

The first thought that comes to mind is “why would I choose a life that will bring me such hatred and uncomfortable moments  such as these if not for an incredibly good reason?  I mean, after all – where is the tolerance FOR me,  that everyone is demanding FROM me?

That being said, It might be easier to tell you why I don’t do what I do.

1. I don’t preach for money.

2.I don’t preach to be self-righteous.

3. I don’t preach because I want to prove others wrong.

4. I don’t preach because I hate anyone.

5. I don’t preach to make you feel bad about yourself.

6. I don’t preach to make you feel good about yourself.

7.I don’t preach pretending that I am a Psychologist.

8. I don’t preach for popularity.

9.I don’t preach for praise.

10. I don’t preach pretending to have all the answers.

il_340x270.735632362_ngu5

I preach because God is real. And just as he is real, so is his love, his grace, and his mercy – and ALL of these things have been extended to ALL people. This is completely visible in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, taking the death that we deserve, so we don’t have to…

It’s just that simple.

Because man chose to sin (Genesis 3) , he separated himself with God because God is Holy and cannot have fellowship with sin.It is completely contrary to everything he is. So  from the before the beginning of time, the part of God that is Jesus said, ” I’ll go, I’ll die, and I’ll make a connection possible again.

Why?

Love… True love. REAL love – not the selfish gratification of our desires we often attribute to love – but sacrificial love  as described in 1 Corinthians 13.

While his love knows no limits – his acceptance, however -DOES. This is probably the primary reason that I preach. I preach to share the love mercy and grace of God through his son, but not so we can continue on in sin – but so we can turn from it in repentance.

2 Corinthians 5:9-11 says “ So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.”

Knowing that the judgment day will come and that it is as real as today is, then knowing the Gospel of Christ and keeping it to myself is not an option. I MUST persuade others as Paul so eloquently states and to not do so will condemn me for being hateful.

Hateful? Yes… IF the Gospel of Christ is in fact  “The power of salvation to all who believe” (Romans 1:16) and to die without it means to be eternally lost – THEN HOW COULD IT NOT BE HATEFUL? 

How much do you have to hate someone, NOT to share the gospel with them?ITs not just the GOOD news – It is the BEST news , and like Jeremiah in Chapter 20 verse 9, he said If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,”there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” 

And I will not…

SO – that’s my answer. That is why I preach. And I fully realize that many men do, in fact, preach for the wrong reasons  – maybe even some of the ones I listed above – but I know many more that do it for the same reason as I do.

So , extend to us a little of that tolerance demanded from us , and maybe not be so quick to judge us as you are shouting “judge not”, no matter how poorly you are misusing  that passage. We are human too, we have families and we have feelings, and BOTH get hurt when we are not extended the same courtesies you expect from us.

We are not your enemy . We actually love you more than you know, but would love an opportunity to share with you the love that someone died to give you.

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

A Letter to the Stoneharts..

This will be brief since we are about to leave for vacation – but it HAD to be shared…

Last year I was approached by a young man named Andrew Gass about coming to stay with us for the summer for a Preacher internship of sorts , and excitedly  – I accepted. I had known Andrew from serving as a counselor at a summer camp that promotes the very college where he and so many other young Christians attend. We had developed a strong friendship and so I was very much looking forward to the time that he would spend with our family. About a week before he 296010_10201410510293115_2000112982_nwas to arrive , I received a message from another young man  named Jon West who I had met briefly  at  Lectures hosted by their college and  had spent a few days with during his spring break. He also expressed his interest in staying with us  , so we welcomed him in also… Needless to say , they brought a very well received charge to our congregation that was for lack of a better term -infectious. Not only that , but an incredible example to my son of what I young man should act and look like -humble , faithful , sincere and strong in their character. They both brought an electricity to our home and needless to say , we were blessed… It has truly been a great summer.

Andrew left a week ago to serve at yet another camp and then head back to college and as my family prepares to head to the beach for a few days , Jon also heads back home to Florida to also prepare for Grad school… This was waiting on me in my inbox –

August 5, 2013 

 

Dear Keith & Kelly, 

 

They say all good things must come to an end, and now such is the case with this summer. It seemed like a strange situation: a young man you knew only slightly coming and living in your house, eating out of your fridge, playing with your kids and tagging along everywhere with you, for nearly three months; and my mom reminded me frequently of this strangeness before I made the drive up. She couldn’t believe that anyone could be so kind, so hospitable, so patient, so loving, but if ever there was a couple who meets these marks, it’s you.  

 

At a time when I needed a break, a getaway from stressors that were weighing me down, a change of scenery to help me refocus, you came to my aid and gave me a place to go. You introduced me to a whole new group of Christians, and so many of your friends have become my friends. You showed me  a city I had hardly been to, and helped me to love it. You fed me, gave me a place to sleep, and invested innumerable assets into ensuring my comfort. Words cannot describe the gratitude I feel, and I could never hope to repay you. All of these things, though, are just a small part of the blessings you’ve given me this summer. 

 

Keith, you showed me a passionate faith, one that shouts the grace of Jesus loud, from the rooftops. You showed me a life that has truly been transformed by Christ, a man who loves his Savior and His God and truly wants to see lost souls saved. You showed me a thankfulness that tears up when we sing about heaven. You showed me a love that is unconditional, that forgives, that acts. The way you work with the kids, whether local or at camp, is incredibly encouraging. Not only has your work helped many of them on their Christian walk, but will continue to help them, and others, in the future. I know this because spending time with you this summer has absolutely helped me to grow closer to God, and to my fellow man, in ways I couldn’t have predicted when I first decided to come up here.  

 

Kelly, you have shown me a wife who loves her husband dearly, one who is impeccably responsible, who cares for her children and husband, house and guests, with skill but more importantly with love. The way you manage the housework with so many people in and out is extraordinary. In you, I see a worthy woman, like Proverbs 31 details, and I know everyone in your house sees what a blessing you are. You have given me an excellent example to consider when I begin to look for a wife. Both of you are doing such an awesome job of raising your kids, too; Kiah and Kole are two of the best kids I know, and I can’t wait to see where the next few years takes them. With your guidance, I know they will do great. 

 

You have a beautiful family, and I am honored to have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of it for this brief window of time. You have given me a home away from home, made me feel welcome in a strange place, and loved me from the minute I walked through the door. Amazing is the only word for it. Although I leave, I will forever carry with me many memories and much joy from my time with you. Thank you for being the people you are, and for showing me true hospitality and the love of Christ. Wherever I may be, I will always be proud to say that I know the Stoneharts. 

 

In Christian love, 

Jonathan West 

Jon  , from all of us  – we love you right back , for all the reasons mentioned above and more. You and Andrew both have meant a great deal to me personally this summer and I cant imagine spending it any other way.. Not only are you my younger brothers in Christ ,but you also are my friends.. You both have a great future ahead of you and with God at the helm – the possibilities are endless. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives!

Agape –

Keith Stonehart

Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

 

Lessons From My Son …. “No Enemies”

robins_of_batman_by_vvvviola-d387yglMy son and  I read a lot together.. I think if you are a dad , the second most important thing you can do for your kids is read to them -(I will address the MOST important thing in a later entry here 😉 … There are many reasons for this  ,but mainly , for me – it’s just something he and I get to do.  = Father/son time… You can’t replace the value of the time you give your kids , trust me I know this first hand … There will never be time for “make up time” in the future ,  if you don’t make the  time now. Being a preacher , I get pulled in a lot of different directions at odd hours  – not only do you work all week on sermons ,class lessons and bibles studies with others , but you are also a counselor to those who need it , a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.. Its’ the most demanding job I have ever have  and I love it  –  but I would never trade being “The Best Preacher in the World”  for “Worst Father Ever”… Balance is key and so reading with him is that balance .It does me good ,and it does him good – Therefore if one plus one equals two – it must be GOOD.

One of the things we really enjoy reading is comic books. For the most part we stick to The Batman story lines , especially The Robin story line.. We love that there are 4 of them who have all become heroes in their own right , trained by  the “Best of  the Best” – which also serves as a great metaphor for fathers training their sons to be men . For this reason ,among others ,   I’m convinced ,boys need heroes.  As a growing boy , your imagination plays a primary role  in developing your own identity . It helps shape your ideals and perspectives – to help the weak and stop the evil of the world.. I realize full well , that this is also what the bible teaches so couple that knowledge with the imagination of  a 6-year-old boy ? What you get  then is an unstoppable force  that will grow with him as he grows  , and becomes his character. Heroism or Altruism is what is at the core of every good hero – it’s selflessness personified .. and it flies in the face of all who promote humanism  and the survival of the fittest. If  survival of the fittest were true , there would be NO HEROES… Think about it.

A world with no heroes would be hard to imagine…but what about a world with no enemies?  That’s actually how life is in the beginning – we aren’t born with enemies.. They are something we create over the course of our lives due to our beliefs , our convictions  and what we are willing to fight for.. To you and I ,this makes sense…This is the world we live in because it is the world we have chosen to allow to exist. We have allowed it to exist because  ultimately , we are SELFISH. This might be a little oversimplified but it goes kind of like  -” We want what we want  …and we want you to want it too.. and if you don’t ,then we are enemies” … So how can we know what want is good or not? How can we know if what we want is right or not? How can we know if we are standing up for the right things? ISN’T THERE A STANDARD SOMEWHERE ,WITH THESE THINGS WRITTEN IN IT?… (Maybe you have picked up on my sarcasm?)

But to a 6-year-old boy , the only enemies he worries about are the ones  he battles in the backyard and the ones we read about our comic books. .. The idea of enemies actually being real was completely foreign to my son until recently..

One night  while we preparing dinner , the news had been left on and while I don’t remember the exact topic of discussion , there was an angry mob burning  The American Flag and screaming “Death to America”. Like most things with Kole , he thought about this for a while before saying anything but  that night at comic time  , he brought it up.  “Why do those people hate us Daddy?”… “What people”?… “You know on the T.V”… After a few moments of thought , I finally remembered.  The fact that it took me that long to remember what he was talking about should speak volumes to us all just how numbed we are to much of the evil in this world ,but not Kole..it clearly bothered him.. “Oh , those people”  I responded , “They think we are wrong about a lot of things”  … “What things” he said…  “Like what we believe about God ,the Bible  and Jesus… and the way people act in America “… after a very short pause for thought he asked the $40,000 dollar question.  With total and complete sincerity he asked me –  “Are they RIGHT?”…  A few seconds pass… “No , son , not about everything. There is no doubt in my mind that the Bible is the Word of God , and I believe everything that is said in it. So no we are not wrong about  what we believe about God”… What about the other thing? you know they way people act in America?”… “They may be right on a few of those point son ,but we don’t live like that”…”but why doesn’t everybody else? – would that mean that we would have fewer enemies”… I don’t know all the “why’s” that people have for not living like the bible teaches us to live son , I just know that they have their excuses and for them that’s enough..” “But doesn’t that mean that they are also God’s enemy?”… ” It does” I replied quietly….

He waited for about a minute and then said “Well that’s not very smart… I don’t ever want enemies..especially not God , cause he could blow up your town  , or something!”…. At this point , all I could do was laugh!!!  “Yes indeed son , he could”…

I love my son’s heart.. I love that it bothers him when something isn’t right , and he wants to fix it… That he doesn’t want anyone to be enemies with each other or God..But  , I know  that very desire within him will create enemies in his life . Standing for the right  always will.. Jesus said in John 15:18 “that if the world hates us , it’s because it hated him first”… I hope these words will comfort my son as he grows into a man…and I hope he will stay true to his roots  – his hero boots – and remember the time of “No Enemies”