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Apr 24, 2014

Master and Captain

“Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him Hebrews 7:25
“’As captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant.’ Joshua 5:14 (KJV)


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and yet shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
(William Earnest Henley, Invictus)
Many an English teacher have had their pupils memorize this famous poem, perhaps for its notoriety, but more perhaps to embolden their spirit toward self-confidence and the courage to prevail in life’s storms with one’s own erroneously perceived strength. Yet human captains have proven to be perilously flawed, most particularly me, myself, and I. St. Augustine, one of the great self-analytics of his own soul, said in conclusion, “What am I to myself but a guide to my own self-destruction. We have many a recent example of those who have unwittingly entrusted their lives to human captains who have served them poorly, even disastrously. The South Korean ferry boat captain for over 300 high school students, by error and negligence sent most of those teenagers to an early, watery grave. An Italian cruise ship captain for thousands capsized his vessel on a jagged rock, all to impress his young mistress. The captain of a Malaysian jet airliner was unable to save the lives of his 238 passengers; the plane is now thought to lie somewhere on the very deep seafloor of the southern Indian Ocean. Or is it a “hero in the music world or a Hollywood star or a Washington politician you look to captain your direction in life?  As the alleged captain of our own soul, we often choose to entrust ourselves to many a flawed human captain who proves unable to pilot you and yours to a successful end. They will always disappoint!
The Scriptures reveal an extraordinary Captain who “is able to save to the uttermost those who entrust their soul to God through Him. Just last Sunday we celebrated the truth that this Captain burst the bands of death, which have always had the victory over every human captain who ever lived; and which promises in experience and observation a physical death will in future days be victorious over you as well. The poem Invictus describes a world view of most humanity, that each individual is truly the master of his fate and captain of his soul; but to those who have a radically different world-view, a world-view which believes Jesus Christ is their true Captain, upon closer observation find it is not always true in daily practice. All too often you may say you believe Jesus is the Captain of your soul, but you live as though in practice it is YOUR job and responsibility.
If you claim Jesus is Captain of your soul, what would such look like in practice? It is more often the case you are in a daily wrestling match with who in fact is going to be captain; and self often wins out! (See what Paul says about this in Romans 7:14-25) A true captain is one to whom you pledge allegiance and obedience come hell or high water. You acquaint yourself regularly with his marching orders prior to moving out in the day. You consult with him and his word often to insure you are on his trajectory and haven’t succumbed to a rabbit trail of your own making. You recognize you are incapable of blazing your own trail, or have the strength to maintain his. You experience daily the motivation of the Apostle Paul, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10) You may entrust your life to an airline pilot, to a cruise ship captain, to a taxi cab driver, or even your spouse behind the wheel, when you have given over your whole day to your true Captain; you have prayed for and then followed his guidance in laying out the parameters and priorities of your day; parameters and priorities which will bring him glory and you obedience. In his will your fulfillment is his pleasure. If it is to remain until he comes, so be it; if it is to go to his side, so be it. Like his mother Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. Be it unto me according to your word…. My soul magnifies the Lord. (Luke 1:38 and 46) So even if you end up at the bottom of the ocean because of a flawed human captain you are very much in His hands, who knows the path you take, as you purposefully entrust your way and life into your Captain’s control.
He IS the Master of my fate, the Captain of my soul; consequently, I will not be ashamed.


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Apr 23, 2014

Porn and Playstations

Every year technology seems to embed itself deeper into our homes and lives. Many electronic gadgets we never even dreamed about have now become essential devices we use every day. While the benefits of technology are readily seen and experienced by people everywhere, the dangers of new technological devices are frequently overlooked. A telling article posted by ConsumerReports.org sheds light on a very real epidemic facing today’s young generation of gamers.
By December of 2013, Sony sold more than 4.2 million PlayStation 4 units featuring an interactive, augmented reality gaming experience known as the “Playroom.” While the name appears harmless enough, this PlayStation 4 feature has exposed many children to inappropriate adult content.
In her Consumer Reports article, Carol Mangis explains: “Playroom uses the PS4 Eye camera accessory to superimpose virtual objects on video that you capture of your own living room. Users had been using Playroom to capture some pretty racy content (including nudity and foul language), then distributing it via Sony’s PS4 Live app, which is meant to let gamers broadcast their own gameplay…”  In the article, she also noted that even at the maximum level of parental controls, where even the web browser was blocked, they could still view the live streams.  The only way the techies at Consumer Report could block those streams was “by creating a sub account (watch the video here on how to block live-streamed adult content).  Not only can anyone use the PS4 camera to upload inappropriate home videos to be shared with other PS4 users, but an online article posted by the gaming website “Kotaku” notes a growing trend that consumers of the PS4 use their gaming consoles to watch more pornography than consumers of any other gaming system.
Many gaming systems have parental control settings that can be used to protect children from inappropriate content, but sometimes these controls are not enough. To ensure your child’s safety from exposure to mature or adult content, here are some helpful tips:

  • Consider observing or participating with your child as they engage with interactive gaming systems
  • Go online and research the games your child is playing to see if they are age appropriate
  • Discuss limiting the amount of time your child spends using gaming devices and suggest fun alternatives
  • Take advantage of helpful instructional videos of how to more effectively monitor your child’s gaming device

Interactive gaming systems can provide a creative and fun outlet for children and teens, but it is essential for parents to know how to effectively guard their children from inappropriate content.
To read the full article on the dangers of the PlayStation 4’s weak parental controls and to learn how to successfully block disturbing content, follow this link: www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/01/parental-controls-for-ps4-live-are-terrible/index.htm


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Apr 23, 2014

The Importance of Completion

The season of spring fever is in full bloom and if you have children at home, you know what I mean. Their energy, which already seems boundless, is somehow increasing. Clothing attire is changing and shorts are coming out. Additional sunshine leads to them not being as sleepy. We all seem happier. Unless of course our allergies are in full bloom and then we might simply be sneezy. Excitement is building as the end of the school year is coming. They have completed another year and for some, they are graduating and moving on to the next stage of life.
Graduating from a grade, high school, or college is an incredibly meaningful experience. It is an achievement and it doesn’t come without being earned. Graduation is the result of achieving a goal. That is really what completing anything is; the achievement of a goal. It could be running a marathon, losing weight, getting a promotion, cleaning the closet or painting a room. It is important for all of us as people to complete things.
What do we complete?
We complete the things that we are most focused on. For those who are graduating high school or college next month, regardless of the reason they finished, it took willpower, patience, discipline, and focus. Now, like anything we are trying to complete, there are times when our interests wane, we lose focus, and we just feel like quitting. Who didn’t feel like tapping out in the middle of chemistry?!
Finishing something that we have set out to do is extremely satisfying and enjoyable. It also becomes a source of confidence that we can build upon. Anytime your child finishes anything, it is creating a habit. Finishing a homework assignment is a small picture of passing a class, which is a part of the completing a grade, which leads to graduating. We stack successes all the time.
There are numerous examples besides just school. For those of us who set exercise goals like running a marathon, you cannot begin to run 26.2 miles if you cannot run 1 mile. Improvement comes from a belief, confidence, that you can achieve something. The point is, success comes from a completion. When we stack successes, we gain confidence that we can improve, do better next time, and we begin to realize that part of our satisfaction in life comes from growth. But growth does not come without effort.
It’s not always easy    
Seeing things through to the end is not always easy. There are obstacles, hurdles, and depending on our age, a lot of balls that we seem to think we always have to juggle or balance. Your children feel the same way as you do, they just have different balls or areas of their life to balance. When they are in kindergarten, the numbers of things they have to worry about are few. As they are in high school and nearing graduation, they might be worried about what college they are going to attend or what job they are going to do. In one way or another, they are moving on with their life, shaping their own identity, and the truth of it is that the unknown can be frightening. It is not always easy.
As parents, one of our roles is to teach our children that completing things builds habits in their lives, that larger success cannot come without smaller wins. If you have ever dieted, you know this to be true. You cannot lose ten pounds without first stepping on the scale, identifying the goal, and taking action. You gain confidence when you see your effort changing the number that you read. The more change you see, the more determined you are to achieve the goal. Sometimes it feels simply easier to quit. Seeing things to the end, or as the Apostle Paul wrote; “yet one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
As we attend graduations, know of those graduating, or anyone completing something, it is important that we celebrate the wins along the way. Victory comes from looking ahead and reaching forward. With goals come growth and the ultimate prize is completion. When Jesus cried on the cross, “it is finished, the ultimate completion was gained. It was not easy, it came at a great cost, but oh the prize!


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Apr 17, 2014

Death And Taxes

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14


We have just been reminded of the truth of part of Benjamin Franklin’s famous phrase, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. Tuesday April 15 proved the latter; April 18 and 20 has something powerful to say about the former. There has never been a culture without some form of taxation, and unless you were acquainted with either Enoch or Elijah, you have never met a person who can say with any certainty they will never pass through the “valley of the shadow of death. People die. For some people death is the greatest fear, especially for themselves, but also for loved ones. Death introduces separation; it means communication and interaction is cut off from one whose life and presence is precious to you. Good Friday has much to say to us about death, not only the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on a cross, but the death of those you love who are gone from you today and those in your future where death will arrest your life with them.  Tomorrow ought to be a time to consider not only the death of the Savior, whose death has infinite meaning for you, but a time to consider the death of loved ones whose absence is difficult to bear, whose life meant so much to you and who you are. Good Friday has room to do both; even more, Jesus’ death and the death of your loved ones who are “in him are connected by God. So should be your Good Friday meditation. Remember Him, remember them.
However, there is a “rest of men part of society which St. Paul addresses in the text. They are separated from those “in Christ by this descriptor: an absence of hope. A few years back I was talking with an elderly neighbor whose health was failing. I asked him what he thought death would mean for him. He answered quickly, “Death means all things for me come to an end and then there is nothing. He is not alone in such an assessment. Many believe this with some confidence, and others do not give it any thought and are strangely willing to remain ignorant of it. Of course, their opinion, both those who allegedly “think it through and those who are too lazy to give it any thought, is that what is called “annihilation is their true future. Nothing! One has to presume their “hope (if one can call annihilation “hope) is preferable to punishment which the Bible declares is their actual predicament, never even inferring annihilation as a possible result at death. “It is destined for man once to die and after that to face judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) So they have rested their opinion on a choice which doesn’t exist and are quite content to live under this illusion. Psalm 73 calls such illusion a “dream from which they suddenly “awake with horror at the moment of death. Without reservation the Bible warns that a decision must be made while there is still breath to determine a future beyond the grave, punishment or reward.
Good Friday is a day of hope for those in Christ.  It is “good because the crucifixion brings hope. In Jesus’ death the sins of those in him were atoned for, you bear them no more, and will stand in the judgment hidden in Christ, as will your loved ones “in him. Your meditation can be about them as well as the One who made it possible by his death. Your reunion with them is a certainty; God will bring them with Jesus.  The third day, Easter Sunday, is then a day of great celebration! A vibrant reminder of literal reunion! In our flesh, with our eyes, with real hugs and tears of joy, we will see Jesus, we will see loved ones; separation will be over. The sting of death in all its painful facets will cease forever. Hallelujah!
Taxes on Tuesday, death to self (dying with Christ) on Friday, and celebration of life eternal and the joy of certain reunion on Sunday. What a week! Considering all that, taxes are nothing!


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Apr 16, 2014

Want Some Good News?

Want some good news?  We all could use some.  Well here is ours…you are your child’s biggest influence and it’s easier than you think!  Because when you are engaged in the lives of your children, they are less likely to get involved in behaviors you are hoping that they would avoid.  So be engaged, active, and available.
Did this video encourage you and was it helpful? Then share it on facebook, twitter, or any of your favorite social media platforms and tell parents that being their child’s biggest influence is easier than they think!


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Apr 10, 2014

Really, What Is "A Righteous Man"?

“This is the account of Noah: Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Genesis 6:9


Is the “Noah portrayed by Russell Crowe in the recent big screen movie someone you would consider “a righteous man, the way God describes Noah in His Word? The Bible tells us enough about the biblical Noah, and not just in Genesis, that you can get a good summation of his character, though certainly not a full biography of his life. If you believe the Bible, you are talking about the biography of a man who lived 950 years; that would make one long biography! The Biblical record of Noah is not so sparse that the depiction of a righteous character is impossible to see. Unfortunately, the director of the movie Noah drew from many non-biblical sources as well and extensively from his own imagination. Desiring the movie to sell both to the culture at large and to the “faith community in the culture, and not be boring in his estimation, he came up with some strange variations to the historical biblical account. His two greatest failures, at least as far as the Bible’s revelation is concerned, was, one, not portraying the real reason for God’s judgment of a flood on all mankind (If the environment was truly being abused as the movie portrays, millenniums prior to the development of massive fossil fuel usage, it was only one of numerous symptoms of moral deterioration and separation from God) and, two, showing us why God was pleased with Noah whom He called a righteous man. One of the greatest lessons for you in the Bible’s Noah account is to observe what really constitutes “a righteous man; someone for you to emulate if you love righteousness.
The Bible does not tell us how or when God’s grace enlightened and enlivened Noah’s sinful heart in his first 500 years of life. We only know when he first appears in the Bible narrative that his life and his heart at that point pleased God. He found favor in God’s eyes. The context tells us that Noah was not a conformer to the world (to the behavior and character of the people who lived in Noah’s generation). Neither peer nor culture pressure guided his life. He obviously stood out as different in what he valued. He marched to the beat of a different drummer: God.  And God chose to communicate to Noah in more than a general fashion, i.e. by nature and creation alone; He communicated to him in a special manner, in such a way that Noah knew it was God he was hearing just as Abraham and Jacob and Joseph in dreams knew later in Genesis that God was speaking to them. Today we have what God has specially communicated to us by His Son and His Word; God communicated to Noah by dream, or in some direct manner, and Noah received it as God speaking to him. Consequently, the Bible tells us that “Noah did everything just as God commanded him (Genesis 6:22). God’s Word resulted in specific action.
There is the rub. God told Noah to do something thought completely strange by the culture around him; imagine the scorn and skepticism heaped upon Noah for following God’s commands, like building an ark, an immense ship, with no observable means of getting it to water. St. Paul tells us likewise that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. So the preaching of righteousness by Noah (2 Peter 2:5) was the height of foolishness to all his unwilling neighbors who truly perished. Noah’s righteousness is observed in his perseverance to obey God. The ark took 60 to 75 years to build; as long as my lifetime. People today are not so scornful of someone like Korczak Ziolkowski who from 1947 to when he died in 1982 sculpted a granite mountain in South Dakota into a partial image of the Sioux Indian Chief Crazy Horse. His family continues the now 67 year old project. It is an immense undertaking, but in the end only something upon which to gaze as Mt. Rushmore. The ark, while not beautiful, was an instrument of salvation; the saving of life on earth. But it brought Noah mocking scorn as well as a great sadness in his heart (Like in John 11:35, “Jesus wept.) that his fellow men would drown rather than listen and repent. It is worth noting that God closed the door of the ark Himself, not requiring this of Noah, for those outside the ark clamoring for admittance when the flood was upon them, perished. It was Noah’s obedience to preach righteousness, the results were up to God; today, it is our obedience to preach the gospel, the harvest is the Lord’s.
A righteous man walks in communicable relationship with God. He emphatically trusts His Word even when he does not fully understand it, even while the world laughs and hates. He perseveres in the obedience of God’s commands against all odds and hardships. He loves his neighbors, seeking their salvation, and grieves when they remain unrepentant to God and deaf to the way of salvation. He is still a sinner, but knows true repentance always brings mercy and pardon. He acknowledges and rejoices in the signs of God’s covenant which Noah did for 350 more years every time he saw a rainbow; today we acknowledge and rejoice in the signs of God’s faithful covenant: baptism and the Lord’s Supper (compare 1 Peter 3:20-21), and still are moved with awe and gratitude as we feast our eyes on a magnificent rainbow arcing through the sky after a storm.
If you want to watch a movie of the biblical story of Noah, read God’s Word and let it inform and direct the imagination of your own God created technicolor mind. Trust the truth of God’s Word over the skepticism of the world. A recently released American Bible Society survey reveals that the number of Bible haters is now equal to those who engage the Bible as God’s Word. The righteous man or woman is never swayed by such hatred to turn from loving to do the will of God.


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Apr 08, 2014

Change In Your Children

It’s hard being a parent. Isn’t it? There are no handbooks, and sometimes it feels like we’re stumbling through this parenting thing barely sure of how to handle issues or how to respond. Our children certainly don’t help our parenting security when they tell us, “You don’t understand me.” “You don’t know what it’s like to be me or what I’m going through.”
But we do understand. We can identify. Sometimes all too well.
Being a parent is unlike any other relationship. It’s the one relationship where we truly have the other person’s best interest in mind. We see in our children what they can become. We see who they truly are. But most importantly, we see what makes them unique.
Now, we might want to correct their behaviors, the things that we so easily recognize in ourselves, but that’s not who they truly are, because they are different from us.
So, today, what one word best describes your child? That one trait that makes them unique. Are they wise? Are they loving? Are they tender? Are they encouragers? Are they people of integrity? Just come up with one word and then find an opportunity today to praise that trait that you see in your son or daughter, that thing that makes them truly unique.
If you want to see change in your children, encourage the positive.

Change always starts with one.

Make a contribution today that will provide a second chance for a young man.


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Apr 03, 2014

Understanding The "Dead"

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Ephesians 2:1-2


With no plane or pieces of plane, Malaysian authorities declared that jetliner MH370 with 239 lives on board crashed at sea. Based on the few pieces of technical information available, primarily from a satellite, experts made a best-guess estimate that the plane crashed somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors. The result thus far of the massive but unsuccessful search leads to speculation the plane and its passengers may never be located. This news crushed what little hope families and friends held for their loved ones to be found alive, or even dead. There was great wailing and devastation of hearts. Death is an irreversible separator in the here and now, and normally great, great sorrow accompanies it. Lives, families, businesses will most likely be permanently rearranged and redirected because of these deaths. A good friend of mine died this week; many readers of SFTD have had friends or family die recently. Death is a fact of our lives. We cannot escape it; but we can overcome it.
It is a truth the Bible never ignores. Death and instruction about it is abundant throughout the Bible. But unlike many other books, the Bible speaks of two kinds of death, and it describes the “dead” in two emphatic states. The observation of one ought to teach you a lot about the other. Unfortunately, we ignore or belittle what one state of being dead teaches us about the other state of being dead; and the loss is yours if this is what you do. The two states of being dead according to the Bible are physical and spiritual.
Have you ever seen a dead person, one who is physically dead? They do not move, cannot speak or see, the breath of life has left them, their color changes, and their blood no longer carries oxygen and life’s nutrients to all parts of the body. Consequently, the flesh deteriorates as Martha, when embalming was not utilized, said to Jesus concerning her brother Lazarus who had died, “But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” The same word, “dead,” is used in the Bible to also refer to those who are spiritually dead. Because these can move, speak, breathe, and blood courses through their veins, and their physical flesh does not deteriorate as a physically dead person, the description of being spiritually dead does not alarm as it should, nor does the state of being spiritually dead raise appropriate concern and action. The Bible equates the two, and you need to as well.
The Bible describes the spiritually dead in a graphic fashion: their future apart from regeneration is more than grim, its unspeakable; their understanding is dulled (you have the sense when spiritual truths are the subject that you are talking to a wall); their senses are calloused and becoming more so; their pride is not only not broken, but stiffened; their spiritual flesh is deteriorating, adversely affecting the lives of those who look to them for leadership, responsibility, or example; they cannot grasp the truly important things of this life, and certainly not the next (which for them does not exist or does not matter enough to do the right thing about it); and they cannot lift a finger to help themselves, because they are dead. This is the exact point of Ephesians 2:1-10, spiritually dead people are just that, dead. They have no capacity in themselves to bring life where death reigns. Salvation is of the Lord! “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
So what do we do to “bring” life to those in whom death reigns? You love as Christ loved you (Matthew 22:39), you persevere in witnessing, teaching, and communicating the good news to them (Romans 10:14-15), you always pray for them and never give up (Luke 18:1), and you acknowledge the Holy Spirit of God must introduce life in them and implore Him to do so. If you think it is all up to you, and your efforts are not producing the result for which you yearn, you will grow weary and give up at some point. But with God, all things are possible. Pray earnestly, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!” And may your will, Father, be to bring spiritual life to this one for whom I pray.
Death in each state is horrible; but the Bible tells us “not to fear those who can kill the body, but fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” (Matthew 10:26) Spiritual death is infinitely more important than physical. You can understand this better, and deal with it more appropriately, when you learn from physical death what spiritual death is really like, except it resides in a still physically breathing person. If you claim Christ as your Lord, then He has called you to be an instrument of His peace to someone or someones who are presently dead in their trespasses and sins. He has commissioned each of us to to be about this task until He comes or you go to meet Him.


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Apr 02, 2014

Saints Out Of Sinners

It always starts simply.  Issues within our own life, family or community do not generally come as a tsunami.  While success comes after much repeated preparation, crisis comes after that which has been building up finally breaks down.
Nate’s parents, Jeff and Judy, saw in their son someone who by all early measurements was succeeding.  He was smart, independent, an excellent student, even engaged and excited about being in youth group.  Like so many of us parents, when we describe our own child or others, Nate would have been called a “good kid.”  He was not unusual and despite being strong willed, didn’t create problems for his parents.
Jeff and Judy modeled a loving relationship, challenged their children academically, had fun together, valued family and the church.  Yet Nate’s life began to change with just one step down a different direction from what they had taught and lived.  Gradually, it became worse and worse.  It’s just hard to pinpoint when exactly, but like all patterns, we don’t generally recognize the full tapestry of what is unfolding until our lives have
completely changed.
For parents today, navigating issues facing youth is simply different.  It’s not that we can’t connect with the underlying roots of security, identity, and relationships.  But the mechanisms that cover or uproot those insecurities have changed.  How can something as simple as video games or friends and followers on social media platforms cover over the reality that we all need to feel significant?  That our self-worth and value often is falsely found in whom others say that we are.
As Jeff and Judy began to recognize a pattern that was emerging, their concern led to action.  When they took action, they found their son, who had excelled at school and had been enthusiastic at church, was no longer the same young man.  Somewhere, he had changed and lost hope.  And his parents couldn’t see what was coming next.

Next

What came next were the confrontations.  Nate went from being a child who didn’t create problems to someone whose parents had to call the police on their own son.  Arguments escalated.  Little things like turning off the video game became major issues.  It’s hard to imagine that something as simple as not playing a game could lead to physical altercations.  But for Nate, in his virtual world, one in which he occupied for close to 20 hours a day, he was something, he mattered.  In the real world, he was losing hope.
It didn’t start with playing a video game on the computer for 20 hours a day.  As adults, we don’t always notice the habits forming in our own lives. The same is at times true for our children.  We may see where the behavior is going, but we can’t imagine it going as far as it does.  You simply don’t think about it that way.  But for the Thompson family, they had no way of imagining that when they tried to gain back control, how irate Nate would become.
Nate was disconnected from reality, addicted to technology and drugs.  In his mind, in the game he was important; he had followers, status, and success.  But he was important in a place that wasn’t real instead of feeling important, in a real place; home.
Losing connection to family led to a loss of hope.  Everyone was miserable. The escalation continued until finally, an altercation was so significant that the police had to be called.  For Jeff and Judy, nothing was more miserable than watching their son be put into the back of a police car at their own home.  They changed all the locks, and would not allow Nate back in their home for the sake of their other children.  Until he was ready to change, he was no longer welcome home.  Nate had become a prodigal.  They endured calls and messages pleading to come home.  The stress, heartache, and pain were beyond measure.  When Nate attempted to take his own life, he had reached the bottom.

Ready for change

After surviving his attempted suicide and being in the hospital for a few days, Nate was finally ready to change.  Nate had begun to realize that his choices were dictating his circumstances.  His decision to change became a chance to regain hope.
From the outset of going to the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH), Nate was serious about dramatically altering the course of his future.   He was looking for hope and he was committed to being different.  He believed that his life could be better.  Life is the birthplace of hope!
Spiritual, emotional, mental, social, and physical growth all became the seeds that were growing in his life.  Strength could be measured in the progress he saw in his life and so success came bit by bit, building on each previous success and lessons learned from mistakes.  His parents saw the change when they came to visit.  What was once marked by anger and violence became replaced by peace.  They were being reconciled and restored to each other.
Nate’s issues and altered view of reality affected more than just himself. It changed him, his family and others who would come to know and love him.
People couldn’t imagine who Nate used to be.  Those who know him best could not be happier with who he has become.  Nate’s candor, openness, and joy of what the Lord has done in his life are a source of pride in a Savior who can deliver us all from the deepest pit.
We all have a past, but sometimes we are surprised at the details of the depth.  The Nate we see today is not the person he used to be.  It surprising and hard to believe in one sense but at the same time, not surprising because of what we know the Lord can do.  The PAYH gave the Thompson family an opportunity to face reality, fix their foundation, and extended far beyond Nathaniel.  The whole family was healed.
Nate and his wife Emily are currently working on Master’s Degrees at Columbia International and remain passionate about sharing the Gospel.  As a husband, student, employee, son, and missionary, it is difficult to fully understand how far transformation reaches into those closest to us and the world.  Change starts with one.  One day at a time, one life at a time.  It always starts that way; simply.
“God creates out of nothing.  Wonderful you say.  Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.”  Soren Kierkegaard

Together, we can continue to create stories like this one.
Make a contribution today that will provide another young man this same opportunity.


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