Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas! Do You See What I See? Do You Hear What I Hear? - Purity 923

Merry Christmas! Do You See What I See? Do You Hear What I Hear?   -   Purity 923

Purity 923 12/24/2022  Purity 923 Podcast

Purity 923 on YouTube: 

Good morning,

Today’s photo of Pastor Jaron Halsted, Pastor Tom Mollo and his son, Tommy Jr, taking in the amazing view of elephants on shoreline of the African plains while atop a riverboat gliding down the Chobe River comes to us from yours truly as I captured this photo of what I later described as an “African Snow Globe” while on a vacation two week mission trip to Zambia and Zimbabwe back in February of 2016. With our mission of construction projects and preaching at various churches and schools accomplished, our team treated ourselves to two days of rest, one spent at Victoria Falls and another on Safari at the Chobe National Park in Botswana. 

I’m sharing the video of my testimony that I gave at church describing this scene on the blog today. If you want to see what I looked like then and hear what I had to say. I didn’t rewatch the video but I’m pretty sure I said something to encourage others to seek the Lord and to follow His call on our lives.  

A lot has changed since that trip to Africa, Tommy Jr, for instance has grown taller that all of us, graduated high school, and just this summer returned to Zambia to do building dormitories for a Bible college. I’m sharing a video of the work he did there on the blog today to celebrate this young man’s adventurous and faithful heart.

And that’s not all, this amazing young man of God will be going back as he has made the decision to answer the Lord’s call on his life and enter the mission field full time in February. I’m including a link on the blog today if the Lord moves you to support him:

A lot can change in a relatively short time and the Lord may direct our paths to places we never would have expected.

Before coming to Christ I never imagined I would go to Africa or on a mission trip anywhere, but in Christ I did that and so much more.  

After finding a church home at Rock Solid Church in Hudson, where Pastor Halsted and Pastor Mollo still faithfully serve, I never imagined I would ever leave. After finding a church community in which I could, worship, serve, and grow, I never thought I would go anywhere else and at various times imagined how the church would grow as I remained serving there. But just like Tommy Mollo Jr was called to the African Mission field, the Lord arranged the events in my life to bring me to lead an online discipleship course for Freedom in Christ Ministries, to blog and podcast my walk of faith, which just happened to lead me to the Christian wife I prayed for, and a new church home, Starpoint Church in Clifton Park, where I will be serving today as a member of the prayer team!

Well, it’s Christmas Eve, so Merry Christmas! The Christmas song, “Do You Hear what I hear is running through my mind this morning because it’s Christmas Time and because I want to wish all who hear or see this message a merry Christmas, I want to share it’s lyrics:


"Do You Hear What I Hear"

Said the night wind to the little lamb

"Do you see what I see?

Way up in the sky, little lamb

Do you see what I see?


A star, a star

Dancing in the night

With a tail as big as a kite

With a tail as big as a kite."


Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy

"Do you hear what I hear?

Do you hear what I hear?

Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy

Do you hear what I hear?

Do you hear what I hear?


A song, a song

High above the trees

With a voice as big as the sea

With a voice as big as the sea."


Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king

"Do you know what I know?

Do you know what I know?

In your palace warm, mighty king

Do you know what I know?

Do you know what I know?


A child, a child

Shivers in the cold

Let us bring him silver and gold

Let us bring him silver and gold."


Said the king to the people everywhere

"Listen to what I say

Listen to what I say

Pray for peace, people, everywhere

Listen to what I say

Listen to what I say


The child, the child

Sleeping in the night

He will bring us goodness and light

He will bring us goodness and light."


He will bring us goodness and light”

This song not only highlights the events of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but it also highlights His call – the star, the voice, the invitation to know what I know) and His promise to bring, peace, goodness, and light. 

I’m not sure if you “see what I see” or if “you hear what I hear” in this song but let me tell you what I know:  It’s ALL TRUE – ITS ALL REAL – for like – FOR REALLY REAL. 

GOD is Real, Jesus is Real. The Holy Spirit is Real.  They – He – God  is alive and well and is calling us to experience His peace, His goodness, and His light.

The shepherd’s trusted the angels and followed their directions and found Jesus. 

The wise men followed a star and found Jesus.  

God’s gift to mankind and God’s gift to you is not lying under a Christmas tree. God’s gift to you is Jesus and the new abundant life that is available to you when you:

A.    Put Your Faith in Christ as Lord and Savior

B.    Follow Him – through His word and His call on your life, every day.  

While we won’t get anywhere without taking that first step of faith, we really need to take that second instruction seriously and enjoy the gift we have received, continuously.

Jesus and our life of faith isn’t something we are only supposed to drag out and enjoy a few times a year or weekly at church. Our new life in Christ is the gift that keeps on giving and should be ‘played” with daily.  

The promises of peace, goodness, and light come from walking in the Spirit, living continuously according to God’s wisdoms and ways and spending time in His presence.

So rejoice that the new born king has come and given us the gift of a new eternal life through his exemplary, sinless life, death, and resurrection.  And follow that star, answer that call, and seek God’s will for your life so you can “see what He wants you to see”, “hear what He wants you to hear” and “to know what He wants you to know.”  

Simply put keep walking and talking with God and have yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Enjoy the Gift of the Wonderful Life we have in Christ Alone!

God bless us, everyone!


I’m taking a vacation from sharing the “Bible Verse of the Day from the “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”, again. But I would invite you to read  the “20 Christmas Bible Verses” that was compiled by Concordia University’s Adriana Thompson last year, by clicking on the link you will find on today’s blog.  (



As always, I invite all to go to where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Church of Jesus Christ and Discipleship

Chapter Twelve

The Saints, continues


What is the meaning of fruit? The “works” of the flesh are many, but there is only one “fruit” of the Spirit. Works are accomplished by human hands, but the fruit sprouts and grows without the tree knowing it. Works are dead, but fruit is alive and the bearer of seeds which themselves produce new fruit. Works can exist on their own, but fruit cannot exist without a tree. Fruit is always something full of wonder, something that has been created. It is not something willed into being, but something that has grown organically. The fruit of the Spirit is a gift of which God is the sole source. Those bearing this fruit are as unaware of it as a tree is of its fruit. The only thing they are aware of is the power of the one from whom they receive their life. There is no room for praise here, but only the ever more intimate union with the source, with Christ. The saints themselves are unaware of the fruit of sanctification they bear. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. If they become curious to know something in this matter, if they decide to engage in self-contemplation, then they would have already torn themselves away from the root and their time of bearing fruit would have passed. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22). It is this passage that sheds the clearest light on the sanctification of the individual, as well as on the holiness of the church-community. The source of both of them is one and the same, namely, community with Christ, community in one and the same body. Just as the separation from the world is visibly accomplished only in an ongoing struggle, so personal sanctification also consists in the struggle of the Spirit against the flesh. In their own lives, only the saints see strife, hardship, weakness, and sin. And the more maturity they gain in the state of sanctification, the more they recognize themselves as being overcome, as those who are dying according to the flesh. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24). They still live in the flesh. But because of this very fact, their whole life must now be an act of faith in the Son of God who has begun his own life in them (Gal. 2:20). Christians die daily (1 Cor. 15:31). Even if their flesh is suffering and passing away, their inner being will be restored day by day (2 Cor. 4:6). The dying of the saints according to their flesh is grounded solely in the fact that through the Holy Spirit Christ has begun his own life in them. The saints die in Christ and in his life. Now they no longer need to seek their own self-chosen sufferings with which once again simply to reassure themselves in their flesh. Christ is their daily death and their daily life.

This is why they can fully rejoice in the fact that those who are born of God are no longer able to sin, that sin no longer rules over them, that they have died to sin and now live in the Spirit.[18] “There is therefore nothing to condemn in those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). God is pleased with God’s saints. For it is none other than God who is at work in their struggle and their dying. In so doing, God brings their sanctification to fruition. The saints should be completely confident that there is fruit, even though it remains deeply hidden from them. However, this does not mean—under the umbrella of the message of forgiveness—that fornication, greed, and hatred of human kindred could once again take hold within the Christian community. It is also wrong to think that the fruit of sanctification could remain invisible. But even where it does become widely visible, where the world, when looking at the Christian community, is compelled to say, as in the earliest days of Christianity, “See how they love one another,”[57] it is especially there that the saints will look exclusively and constantly to the one to whom they belong. And, unaware of their goodness, they will ask for the forgiveness of their sins. These very same Christians, who embrace the truth that sin no longer rules over them and that the believer no longer sins, will also confess that “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just in forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and God’s word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who is the righteous one” (1 John 1:8–2:1). “Forgive us our sins” is what the Lord himself has taught them to pray. And he instructed them to forgive one another without ceasing (Eph. 4:32; Matt. 18:21ff.). By forgiving one another in brotherly and sisterly love, Christians make room for forgiveness by Jesus within their community. They no longer see the other as the one who has harmed them, but as the one for whom Christ has interceded on the cross pleading for forgiveness. They encounter one another as those who have been sanctified by the cross of Christ. Through dying daily under this cross, their thinking, speaking, and their bodies are being sanctified. It is under this cross that the fruit of sanctification grows.

The community of saints is not the ‘ideal’ church-community of the sinless and the perfect. It is not the church-community of those without blemish, which no longer provides room for the sinner to repent. Rather it is the church-community that shows itself worthy of the gospel of the forgiveness of sins by truly proclaiming God’s forgiveness, which has nothing to do with forgiving oneself. It is the community of those who have truly experienced God’s costly grace, and who thereby live a life worthy of the gospel which they neither squander nor discard.

This implies that forgiveness can only be preached within the church-community of saints, where repentance also is being preached; where the gospel is not separated from the proclamation of the law; and where sins are not only and unconditionally forgiven, but where they also are retained. For it is the will of our Lord himself not to give what is holy, the gospel, to dogs, but to preach it only under the safeguard of the call for repentance. A church-community which does not call sin sin will likewise be unable to find faith when it wants to grant forgiveness of sin. It commits a sin against what is holy; it leads a life unworthy of the gospel. It is an unholy church-community because it squanders the Lord’s costly forgiveness. It is not enough to lament the general sinfulness of human beings, even within their good works; that is not preaching of repentance. Rather, specific sins have to be named, punished, and sentenced. That is the proper use of the power of the keys (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; John 20:23) which the Lord entrusted to his church, and about which the reformers still spoke so emphatically. The key that binds and retains sins must be employed within the church-community, too, not only for the sake of what is holy, but also for the sake of the sinners, and for the sake of the church-community itself. For the church-community to live a life worthy of the gospel, it must maintain the practice of church discipline. Just as sanctification brings about the separation of the church-community from the world, so it must also bring about the separation of the world from the church-community. One without the other will remain spurious and false. Being separated from the world, the church-community must exercise internal church discipline.

The aim of church discipline is not to create a community of those who are perfect. Its sole aim is to build up a community of those who truly live under God’s forgiving mercy. Sinners within the church-community must be warned and disciplined, so that they not forfeit their salvation and thereby misuse the gospel. The baptismal grace can be received only by those who repent and profess their faith in Jesus Christ. The grace of the Lord’s Supper can be received only by those who are “able to distinguish” (1 Cor. 11:29) between the true body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and some other meal which may have a symbolic meaning or some other kind of character. This, in turn, implies one’s being able to give evidence of one’s understanding of the faith. It implies that we either “examine” ourselves or submit to an examination by another Christian to determine whether we truly desire Christ’s body and blood, and his forgiveness. This faith examination [Glaubensverhör] is coupled with confession [Beichte], in which Christians seek and receive the assurance that their sins are forgiven. Here God provides the sinner with the help to avoid the danger of self-deception and self-forgiveness. In the confession of sin before another Christian, the flesh dies together with its pride. It is surrendered into shame and death with Christ, and through the word of forgiveness a new human being who is confident of God’s mercy comes into being. The use of confession thus needs to be part of the life of the saints. It is a gift of God’s grace whose misuse cannot go unpunished. In confession, we receive God’s costly grace. Here Christians become like Christ in his death. “Therefore, when I urge you to go to confession, I am simply urging you to be a Christian” (Luther, Larger Catechism).

The whole life of the church-community is permeated by discipline. There is an order of gradual levels, the reason for which is that discipline is to be exercised in the service of mercy. The proclamation of the word with regard to both keys remains the sole basis for exercising church discipline. This proclamation is not confined to congregational worship services. Rather, the bearer of church office is never relieved of this commission. “Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; exercise discipline, warn, and exhort[66] with the utmost patience in teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). That is the first level of church discipline. It ought to be immediately obvious that only such sins can be punished here that have become public. “The sins of some people are conspicuous so that they can be judged beforehand, while the sin of others will only become apparent later” (1 Tim. 5:24). Church discipline thus spares the sinner from the punishment of the last judgment.

However, if church discipline already falters on this first level, namely, the office bearer’s daily pastoral ministry, then everything that follows is thereby open to question. For the second level is for members of the church-community mutually to admonish one another as brothers and sisters: “teach and admonish one another” (Col. 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:11, 14). Admonition also includes comforting the fainthearted, supporting the weak, and being patient with all people (1 Thess. 5:14). For this is obviously the only way to struggle against daily temptation in the church-community and against falling away from it altogether.

Where such mutual brotherly and sisterly service is no longer alive in the church-community, it will also be hardly possible to reach the third level in the right way. For if a member of the community nevertheless commits a sin of word or deed which becomes known, then the community must have the strength to initiate the process of real church discipline against this member. That process also is a long journey. First, the church-community has to muster the courage to separate itself from the sinner. “Have nothing to do with that person” (2 Thess. 3:14); “part company with them” (Rom. 16:17); “do not even eat with such a one” (Lord’s Supper?) (1 Cor. 5:11); “avoid them” (2 Tim. 3:5; 1 Tim. 6:5). “Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (!), to keep away from believers who lead a disorderly life and not according to the tradition they received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6). This course of action by the church-community is intended to let the sinners “blush with shame” (2 Thess. 3:14) in order to win them back. It certainly also includes their temporary exclusion from the activities of the church-community. However, this avoidance of known sinners is not yet meant to be a complete suspension of any community with them. Rather, the church-community which separates itself from the sinners is called to continue to confront them with the word of admonition. “Do not regard them as enemies, but admonish them as believers” (2 Thess. 3:15). The sinners still remain believers, and for that very reason they receive the discipline and admonition of the church-community. Church discipline flows out of merciful human kinship [Brüderlichkeit]. It is with gentleness that the defiant must be disciplined and the wicked be borne, so that “God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, turn sober again, and escape from the snare of the devil, allowing themselves to be held captive by God to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:25f.). The form of this admonition will have to vary depending on the individual sinner. But the goal of leading the sinner to repentance and reconciliation will always be the same. If a sin can be kept in confidence between you and the sinner, then you shall not make it public. Rather you ought to exercise discipline and ask that person to repent in private, and thereby “you have regained a brother or sister.”[73] But if that person does not listen to you and persists in her or his sin, then you should, again, not make the sin public but try to find one or two other private witnesses (Matt. 18:15f.). Witnesses are first of all necessary to corroborate the fact of a sin having been committed. If the facts cannot be proven, and the person denies them, then the whole case should be left up to God. The witnesses are not inquisitors! The second reason to find additional witnesses is the sinner’s stubborn refusal to repent. The secrecy with which the discipline is exercised is intended to make repentance easier for the sinner. If the person in question still refuses to listen, or if the sin has by now already become public knowledge within the church anyway, then it is up to the whole church-community to admonish and call on the sinner to repent (Matt. 18:17; cf. 2 Thess. 3:14). Those sinners that hold an office within the church ought to be put on trial only if the accusation is brought by two or three witnesses. “As for those who sin,[75] rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear” (1 Tim. 5:20). Now it is the entire church-community, together with the ordained minister, which is called upon to exercise the office of the keys. This public declaration requires that both the church-community itself and its ordained minister be publicly represented. “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I implore you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21), for now God’s own judgment is about to be passed on the sinner. If the sinners repent, and publicly confess their sins, then they are granted the forgiveness of all their sins in the name of God (cf. 2 Cor. 2:6ff.). But if the sinners persist in their sin, the church-community must retain their sin in the name of God. This, however, entails exclusion from all forms of life together with the church-community. “Let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matt. 18:17). “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.… for where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matt. 18:18ff.). The exclusion from the church-community merely confirms an already existing fact, namely, that these are unrepentant sinners who are “self-condemned” (Titus 3:11). It is not the church-community which passes judgment on them; rather, they have passed judgment on themselves. Paul speaks of this complete exclusion from the church as a handing-“over to Satan” (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20). The guilty persons [Schuldige] are being handed back to the world where Satan reigns and causes death. (Here, Paul does not think of capital punishment as in Acts 5, as is evident when comparing 1 Tim. 1:20 with 2 Tim. 2:17 and 4:15.) The offenders have been expelled from the body of Christ because they have separated themselves from it. They no longer possess any rightful claim with regard to the church-community. However, even this ultimate act exclusively serves the goal of salvation for the persons concerned, that their “spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Cor. 5:5), and that through being disciplined “they may learn not to blaspheme anymore” (1 Tim. 1:20) For sinners to be restored to the church-community or to find salvation remains the goal of church discipline. It remains a pedagogical act. The declaration of the church-community will certainly stand for eternity if the sinner does not repent. However, this declaration with which the church-community must take away the sinner’s salvation is just as certainly the final offer of life together with the church-community and of salvation. 19 [1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

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“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

 Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 266–274.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving! A Year of Blessings to be Thankful for

It's Thanksgiving eve, and once again I will be going out for dinner with my brothers and their wives (And fiancé,  Tommy still is yet to close the deal as the last holdout but like tomorrow's Turkey his goose is cooked!)  We're going for Mexican and a few laughs.  I won't be drinking.  I'm happy to report I've been sober sine 03/22/15 and I ain't going back! I am truly blessed because God has freed me from the prison I created for myself. Alcohol's lies have been exposed and I will remain vigilant to steer clear of the drink that consumes you.  Hey man to each their own I just know how I am and I am happier to leave it behind forever.  

Sobriety is enough to be Thankful for all by itself every single day of my life but God has given me so much more.  

The year in review of thanks! 

January, I was happy and thankful that a transition to a new foreman in the Schenectady line crew went off without any problems.  After some doubt and last minute changes, I ended up in a situation I was content with.

This January had virtually zero snow and I was extremely thankful for that because I work outside and I pay to have my driveway plowed.  I don't ski or snowmobile so I'll take all the snowless winters I can get! 

February- I went on a mission trip to Zimbabwe and Zambia. I also went on a safari in Botswana and saw Victoria Falls.  I honestly felt I was my ideal self on Mission, all my thoughts and actions were directed to the service of my Lord and Savior. 

As fate would have it while I was away. My wife Michele suffered a recurrence of a kidney infection/ stones. She was in a great deal of pain and terrible health.  I am thankful for the doctors and my parents for helping her  in my absence.  And I thank God that she has been healed. 

March - I was thankful that my eldest brother Matthew finally got married at 47 years old!  Kat Flynn is a wonderful person for taking this burden upon herself, welcome to the party Kat! 

April- I'm thankful for Easter where we celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive!  It's no zombie movie,  Jesus was risen to show that He is the Son of God and that through His work on the cross all who put their faith in Him will be forgiven of their sins and live forever with Him in paradise! 

May - Verizon went on strike, so I am thankful for my Union brothers and sisters that took a stand for the middle class by sacrificing income to insure we there could be good jobs in this country.   In the face of corporate greed who make billions in profit there is no reason they can't pay a wage where their employees can prosper.  I pray for other workers to band together to insure good jobs and dignity for all Americans.  

June - Verizon and the union came to an agreement.  It was back to work and I thank God Almighty because I was able to work again and to grab enough overtime to meet all my financial needs after being out of work for six weeks. At times I didn't think I would make it but God was with me.  

When I say that I really mean it.  One Sunday one of the women at my church that I did not even know was led by the Holy Spirit to give me a financial donation at a time when every penny counted.  I hadn't told anybody that I was in need and I didn't know this woman.  She told me that during her morning prayers the Lord directed her to give to me.  The money was appreciated but the thought that God moved this women to give to me, that God was thinking about me, and sending help is a blessing that I will always be thankful for.  He is real. He is alive. Salvation is through Christ alone. Please believe me and put your faith in Him! 

July - I took my family on a vacation to Niagara Falls Canada.  It was fun, even with the two angsty teens although it may be their last trip! Lol.   So In retrospect in 2016, I beheld the glory of God's creation by seeing 2 of the most magnificent waterfalls on the planet, Victoria & Niagara Falls! God is awesome. 

August- Michele and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary by going to the Rhode Island ocean and had all you can eat lobster at the world famous Nordic Lodge. The weather was sunny but not too hot. It was a nice weekend away. Recalling this I am reminded that through all my insanity and the wrong I've done, life's tragedies, the good times and the bad, Michele has continued to love me.  We've lived together since 96, so I am truly thankful for the 20 years of Michele's love and life that she has given me. She hosting my family for Thanksgiving so that proves she loves me! 

September - This was the month my Son Brennan,who had been a slacker for the past two years by not doing his homework and getting in trouble at school, decided to change his life.  He decided that a life of irresponsibility and the chaos that came with it wasn't the way he wanted to live anymore.  He started doing his work unprompted and has a real desire to succeed.  

My daughter, Haley, who had made that decision a few years ago after being a slacker, continues to do her work.  

So both my kids are staying out of trouble, they do their school work, they don't fight one another and they do whatever is asked of them.  They may be a little obsessed with video games and watching you tube but they haven't bugged me for cellphones...yet.  They talk to me and we are endlessly joking around. I am so proud and thankful because I honestly couldn't be happier with them. 

October - Autumn in upstate New York is a sight to behold.  Fall Foliage!  Also I got assigned to the double wood crew in Albany,  right where I wanted to be at the beginning of the year. It's a shorter commute and it's just in time before winter starts roaring.  

The kids both decided to sign up for drama, both getting small parts in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.   Like I said before, very proud.   

The kids had a Halloween party with their at the house to end the month! 

November- The election happened and the world didn't end.  I don't comment on politics, other than to declare that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

I took the kids to see Julius Caesar in Chatham and it was really good. The kids of course sat with there theater friends but I'm cool like that.  
A day later I had the pleasure of seeing my kids in Romeo and Juliet. They were great and I think they really found what they are good at.  I wonder how they became so dramatic? 

The same weekend, Michele and I had the pleasure of attending Matt & Kats Wendy reception, 8 months later? It was a great venue and it was good time for all (even with Matt's tribute to all things Heavy Metal).  

And tomorrow is the big feast! 

All through the year I have had the honor of attending rock solid church, I am so thankful Pastors Jaron Halsted, Chris Romano, Mike Lambert, and Ethan Thomlinson, who has taken the reigns  as youth pastor this year.  I am thankful for the worship team and all those who serve and attend.  

I am thankful for Celebrate Freedom, my sponsor and mentor Bob Costello and the opportunity to teach. I am thankful for Paula williams, Cheryl Manchuck for leading the women's group. I also extremely thankful to Chris Manchuck for picking up leading worship.  Guitar hero I am not! 

I am thankful for Pastor Bob Engelhardt's preaching that has inspired me to write a book about Spirit-filled Christianity.  It's his work that will be the basis of the book and I pray my efforts will bring more people to the Lord.  The work is rewarding and challenging and I hope to have it completed soon.  That's why there's been no blog entries for months.  I've been working almost ever morning since the strike.  

I am so thankful for all of this and of course God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit who are responsible for it all!  

To all my friends and family, trust in Jesus and Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

It really is a wonderful life! 

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Bloggers blog right? or write? RIGHT!  
I have been gone too long. I need to share to tell you, and to remind myself, of all the wonderful things the Lord has done for me.

Well I made it back alive from my mission trip to Africa.  My life was never really threatened but we are never promised tomorrow and I suppose there were plenty of moments in my trip where my life could have ended:

 plane crashes (6 flights in total),

disease (Ebola screenings!),

street violence (I’m assuming Soldiers/police in downtown Harare and in the Shop Rite in Livingstone carry AK-47s for show),

falling to my death from a fool hardy trip halfway down a 500 foot gorge (I was wise enough to turn back when I realized that Crocs didn’t offer the best footing and that it wasn’t  worth it.  An exhausted companion who did the entire trek later confirmed “It was stupid!” Apparently the river below didn’t offer much more than the view from above, except swarms of mosquitoes and flies. )

However, the Lord watched over me and I am safely back home.

It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. The fact is dedicating two weeks of my life solely for the Lord’s purposes was one of the greatest things I have ever done.   I felt like I was my ideal self:  all my time could be categorized as working for the Lord or proclaiming the gospel and my personal testimony.   All throughout the trip I felt I was being led by the Holy Spirit. Every devotional or gospel message seemed to lead to the next in a purposeful unfolding that made everything I encounter seem truly momentous: AS IF IT WERE MEANT TO BE!!! 

The mission  team from my church were united in spirit and purpose with no division or conflicts which isn’t always the case with large groups of diverse people (16).  I found a new level of respect for Pastor Jaron Halsted and Pastor Mike Lambert as they ably lead and ministered to the group with great skill. 

The team spent a week in Harare Zimbabwe where we did concrete and tile work that would help support an orphanage that was funded by Pastor Ephiel Mukamuri of Logos Rhema Ministries. Pastor Ephiel welcomed the team into his home and was a most gracious host providing for all the teams needs during our visit.  While in Zimbabwe, I spoke at Pastor Ephiel’s church and two schools that he supports sharing my personal testimony and the Gospel.   We ended our time in Zimbabwe with a picnic with the orphans, dancing, and praising the name of Jesus in song.   

The team then went to Livingstone Zambia where we did brick and mortar work for a school that the Temple of Power church is building.  Pastor Nelly Chibwela opened up her home and heart to the team richly providing for our needs during our visit.   While in Zambia I preached at Temple of Power Church and at Pastor Buster Tembo’s House of Testimony Church.  Near the end of our trip the team crossed the border into Botswana for a day long Safari, where we took a river Safari and then hopped into trucks going into the bush!  The African landscape was graced by spectacular blue skies and sunshine as the team spied, herds of elephants, lions, wart hogs, baboons, crocodiles, hippos, impalas, lynx, and cheetahs.  Our final day in Zambia we went to the awesome splendor that is Victoria Falls. 

My time in Africa was well spent and I don’t regret it but in life sometimes things aren’t always so wonderful. 

The truth is my wife, who doesn’t share my zeal for missions or evangelism, was not happy with my decision to go to Africa.  I had made a determined decision to go regardless of her feelings and she barley communicated with me while I was away. What made matters even worse was that Michele suffers from recurring kidney stones and infections. She was hospitalized just before my trip but she was out when I left, granted with a subsequent appointment to remove a stint while I was to be away.  Things took a turn for the worse and she had to be hospitalized while I was away, another stint had to be put in.  She was extremely angry for what she sees as me abandoning her.  Upon my return , she was cold telling me she had contacted a lawyer in regards to getting a divorce.  She was also very ill. She refused to go to the Hospital that day but after a night of vomiting and not being able to keep anything down we were headed back to Albany Medical Center.    

While I was in Africa, I had left under the strain of a spouse who didn’t fully support me and I could understand why some people leave their families, or some people go into the mission field for good.  The problems of my life back home were gone, geographically distant and removed.   I really felt the urge to leave, find a nice Christian woman, and spend our lives being missionaries.  However, the Holy Spirit was leading me while in Africa. The messages I heard were about forgiveness, hope, and love.  I strained and prayed mightily for guidance but as much as I was taken with the life of a missionary and preacher that I had come to experience everything I heard told me to go back home and minister to my wife, to show her the love of Christ that has changed my life so much.  I sulkily agreed that this was what the Holy Spirit was telling me to do, so I reluctantly agreed to go home, apologize to Michele, and to begin to honor, love and obey her as our wedding vows commanded.  

So I apologized and started to do things to be there for my wife, reluctantly agreeing to stop going to Bible college to be there for her.   I took her to her doctor appointments and started doing things around the house to get things in order.  I still had fantasies about running off with some Christian woman and being a missionary but I decided to serve my wife regardless of my irrational feelings.  Understand me when I say I was really grieved about this conflict between my desires and what God was telling me to do but I also felt good about being there for Michele and getting the house in order (AS IF IT WERE MEANT TO BE).   

I’m happy to report that after days of speaking words of encouragement and serving my wife I had a revelation about my irrational thoughts.  I discovered that all my thoughts of running out of my marriage were just insane flights of fantasy that I had given power to by dwelling on.  I realized that in my mind leaving my wife and finding love elsewhere was built as an option to consider so I had opened a door to sin.  It’s the tenth commandment : You shall not covet (Exodus 20:17).  I was wanting things that weren’t mine and it was wrong.  As a married man, I was supposed to love my wife like Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25). I haven’t been faithful to my wife like I should have been.   God was calling me to repent.
I am happy to say that Michele has fully recovered from her infection and that she has forgiven me.  I have made it plain to her that I am going to love honor and obey her to the best of my abilities and things are going well. 

I was chasing after God relentlessly to the exclusion of my wife.  I felt the call to the mission field and went in faith.  My visions of a revival sparked by my visit to Africa weren’t realized but the Holy Spirit spoke to me. Apparently, God wanted to get me alone for a while to show me what was important. Galatians  5:22-23 says” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” I have spent two and a half years learning about God and faith but hadn’t put the lessons I had learned into practice in my marriage.  God sent me to Africa to show me that He is awesome and ever present and to tell me to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in my life and marriage.  .

I know I will be challenged and I might fail sometimes. I know that I may never get my wife on board with the Spirit-filled Christian life that I want to live. She may tire of me and leave me but I am going to try to do God’s will for my marriage.

Pastor Mike’s wife, Sue Lambert, had to endure 8 years of marriage to him before he gave himself to the Lord. Now he is a Pastor!

In the Bible, Joseph was in prison for years before he was raised to prominence and saved his family and the entire nation of Egypt.   Moses spent 40 years in the desert serving the Lord and never set foot in the Promised Land.  Paul was rendered blind when Christ was revealed to him with no knowledge that his sight would be restored and he would go on to give his life spreading the gospel. 

The point is serving God isn’t without hardship and it is not about receiving a reward here on earth (Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.). 

I am going to try to do what God would have me do in my life and marriage without the expectation of reward.  I am going to serve, honor and love my wife as an expression of my faith in Jesus Christ.  .    

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Faith on 2 Continents: Off to Africa

Well today is the day! In a few hours I will be on a plane off to Africa.  The last few weeks have been crazy: getting acclimated to a new crew at work, hitting a deer on the Taconic parkway, rushing Michele to the hospital with a kidney infection, doing 4 papers in 2 days for the Bible college, and being in a frantic state of mind preparing myself for the trip.  Many would say to call it off and just stay home but I received a call to go on a mission trip almost 2 years ago now.  I have faith that I Am supposed to do this.  Believe me at times I have doubted it  especially since Michele's medical problems but I still have this sense that I am meant to go.  So I go!  I have to trust and have faith. 

I have to trust that Michele will continue to heal and with the help of her friend, Sandy, get the care she needs. I have faith that my kids will be obedient to their mother and do their school work.  I have to have faith that God will watch over them while I'm away.  

I have to have faith in the plane! I have to have faith I will arrive and leave safely.   I have to have faith that I will do some good work for the Lord while I am in Africa.  I am not sure wheather the purpose I am going has to do with the people I meet, the work we will do on the schools and churches, my walk with the Lord, or all of the above but I have faith that God is with me in this.  

This exercise in faith of mine is no different from yours really. Although I am going an ocean away and things are uncertain for me, those who stay home are trusting that things will be good. They are trusting they and their family will remain healthy, will keep their jobs, will be safe, and they won't hit a deer on the way to work!   I can tell you, though even here in the safe U.S.A., these things are not certain.  

Only one thing is certain. God is good, he came to earth as Jesus Christ and He paid for our sins on the cross.  If you have faith in Christ, you will have eternal life with Him (John 3:16).  

In Matthew 28  18.   Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Christ has given me salvation and a new life. So I go.  God bless you all.