Alive

June 23, 2010

Towards the end of my run this morning, I heard these lyrics through my iPod.

Everyday is a new day
I’m thankful for every breath I take
I won’t take it for granted
So I learn from my mistakes
It’s beyond my control, sometimes it’s best to let go
Whatever happens in this lifetime
So I trust in love
You have given me peace of mind

I couldn’t help but think of my Dad and the excitement he held as he faced each day he was alive. I know there will be many things that will remind me of Dad, things that will make me stop and think about him, and things that will bring tears without warning in the days, weeks, and months ahead. But this morning I found peace in these lyrics and comfort in the memory of a man who had learned to live the lyrics that so many others just sing and dream about.

Every day is a new day.  Although many things in this life are predictable and we oftentimes feel we are somehow trapped by our routines, you learned to approach each day with the wonder of a child.  Not exactly sure what might happen, but expecting something that would be an experience, create a memory and bring joy. That is enough to wake up for every day because every day is a new day.

I’m thankful for every breath I take.  It is hard to see through the pain right now, but I am so thankful that I never doubted your love for me and that you never wondered if I loved you. I will make sure I never miss an opportunity to tell my family and friends how much I love them and what they mean to me. Because you taught me this, I am thankful for every breath I take.

I won’t take it for granted. I will follow in your footsteps. I will do what I can to create experiences and make memories with those I love. You taught us that a treasure chest full of experiences and memories is so much more valuable than a chest filled with the possessions of this world. You taught this lesson well and I won’t take it for granted.

So I learn from my mistakes.  One of the greatest things that I have heard people say about my Dad was how he changed over the years. To understand this completely you would have to have known my Dad. My Dad learned from the mistakes others made that impacted him negatively. He also learned from his own mistakes that impacted others. These lessons were often quiet and without fanfare, but they were there and if you knew Dad, you saw him change over the years, you saw him in so many ways get better.  There was no denying that there were areas where Dad was classified as old-fashioned, but there were so many more ways in which he was very current, a part of the generation in which he lived.  Your mistakes do not define you, they tell you who you’re not. I am so thankful for the living lesson that you taught us here. So I learn from my mistakes.

It’s beyond my control, sometimes it’s best to let go whatever happens in this lifetime.  You taught us all that life is too short to live with regrets. Life is too short to live with grudges. Life is too short to live with shame or guilt. Life is too short to allow such pettiness to interfere or damage the relationships you have spent a lifetime nurturing. So if it’s beyond my control, sometimes it’s best to let go whatever happens in this lifetime.

So I trust in love.  Love was the foundation of our relationship. Love is why you always expressed your pride in me. Love is why we smiled when we were together. Love is why you understood me. Love is why I understood you. Love is why my heart breaks that you’re not here. Only love can leave such a mark. Only love can heal such a scar. I believe this so I trust in love.

You have given me peace of mind.  Dad, you lived your life with a trust and a faith in God that was undeniable. This faith in the God who created you and the trust you placed in His Son as your savior allowed you to live your life with an amazing peace of mind. I live with hope today because I too have this same trust and faith in God and His Son as my savior.  As I finished my run this morning, it was this hope that brought peace. I know this peace comes from God, but this morning I felt it was delivered by God through the memory of you. You have given me peace of mind.

You have finished your race and it was a good run.

Thanks for running with me this morning. It was a good run and I enjoyed you being with me.

As long as I’m alive, so will your memory!

See you next time!

Dad

June 15, 2010

These are the words I shared at my Dad’s funeral.

Dad
June 8, 2010

On behalf of us kids, our Mother and the rest of our family, we want to thank you again for being here today to help us celebrate the life of our Dad. I started to say to help us remember, but one thing has been proven over the past few days, Dad will always be remembered.

It goes without saying that I stand here sad today, sad because my Dad is no longer here, but also sad because we didn’t get to say goodbye.  Even as I say this, I know this is exactly how he would have wanted it. We never said goodbye when we talked or saw each other, it was always “see you next time”.

As you have heard from my brother, brother-in-law and sisters, our Dad was a very proud man. He was proud of a lot of things in his life, but we all knew that he was most proud of us.  We never wondered if this was true because Dad made sure it was said. In fact, just recently I rec’d an email from Dad letting me know how proud he was of me.  I simply replied with “I am never too old to here that”.

Dad, we probably didn’t say it often enough, but we were always so proud of you too.

We also knew that he loved us, again we never wondered, because he would always tell us. He found a way to love us each uniquely and loved us each equally.  Although there is some debate that he may have loved Jake a little more than the rest of us.

Dad, there is no doubt that you knew that we loved you, because we said it every time we saw you or talked to you.

Although we are wrestling with why you had to die now, I believe that you more than any of us understood why you had to die. Regardless of the many emotions we will go through in the days and weeks ahead of us, I know that if you were here, you would simply remind us that you died because we live in a broken world. You would remind us that God didn’t do this to you, but this is just what happens when mortal beings live in a sin-ridden world.  Ever since the fall of man and sin entered this world, things have been broken, there has been sickness and disease and people die. You would also remind us that the only thing that can overcome this brokenness is the love and grace of Jesus Christ. You would tell us that it is only through the blood of Jesus Christ and the price that he paid on the cross that restores this brokenness and gives each of us hope for a new day full of endless possibilities.

My Dad was able to love others because of the love of Jesus that resided in his heart.

When I was a kid you used to call me “stud” and although that really needs no explanation, I know you gave me that special nickname because you wanted me to feel bigger than I was and to know that I was important to you.  For anyone who ever knew you, that’s exactly how you developed relationships. You made people feel bigger than they were and you made everyone feel important.

You spent your whole life collecting experiences and memories because you knew that is what mattered in life more than collecting material possessions.

It is no surprise to me that you died early in the morning. It was always you favorite time of day and I will always cherish the early mornings that we spent together. You taught all of us to approach each day with the hope and wonder of a child because each day presented new possibilities. When you awoke on June 4, 2010, as you sat in chair putting on your running shoes there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you were excited about what the day would bring. And after you ran your last mile on this earth and entered the gates of heaven. I know you were running with a smile on your face because you knew this day was going to bring something very special.

There is so much more that can be said, but if you asked me if that is all that I want to say right now, I would say yes, that’s pretty it.

We love you and will always remember you.

Dad, I am so proud of you, you did really good.

I love you and I will see you next time.

[If you would like to read my siblings comments, please see their blog sites at the bottom of this page.]

Christianity in Crisis

June 4, 2009

Christianity in CrisisChristianity in Crisis: 21st Century written by Hank Hanegraaffis a reworking of a book he wrote 20 years ago in a effort to expose those whose teachings threaten to undermine the foundation of biblical faith.  As I read the introduction to this book, I wondered if this was going to be a book full of verbal darts thrown at those that Hanegraaff identifies as prosperity teachers (Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, et al). I must admit that Hanegraaff grabbed my attention and I was listening. I must also admit that I have never read a book written by Joyce Meyer or Joel Osteen, who Hanegraaff seems to be building a case against, nor I have watch their TV programs or listened to their podcasts. It is worth noting that there are 70+ pages of bibliography and source references as Hanegraaff assures his readers that what he is “communicating is painstakingly accurate and assiduously documented.” I determined to approach this book with an open mind and a heart searching for truth.

Thomas Nelson has asked for complete honesty in our reviews, so that is what I will offer.  I was intrigued and somewhat astonished at the claims made early in this book and agreed that most of what was documented goes against my personal view from scripture.  I also agree that the claims made by these “prosperity” teachers are dangerous and even more concerning is the influence that these teachers have on thousands upon thousands of people who read their books, attend their churches, watch their tv shows, etc.  Hank has done a wonderful job of documenting his sources and his “proof” does seem very credible and reliable.  The Bible tells us that we are to “Test everything.  Hold on to the good.  Avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thes. 5:21-22) and I think that each person has a responsibility to adhere to these instructions, especially when it comes to the foundations of our faith.  So in this respect, Crisis in Christianity: 21st Century offers a valuable resource for those who may question or doubt the validity of the claims made by these “prosperity” teachers.

The problem that I had with this book was that after the initial intrigue and astonishment, I grew weary of the same quotes or sources being referenced again and again to make either the same or similar points.  Although, as stated previously, these sources were “painstakingly” referenced and documented, it became tiresome to see the same sources being used again and again.  So much so that I honestly stopped reading after 195 pages and have yet to finish.

If you have questions about or are unfamiliar with the folks that Hank labels as “prosperity” teachers, this book offers a great resource for you to “test” for yourself.  Just be prepared that in my opinion it began to feel more like a text book .  I was satisfied with Hank’s arguments and agreed with him on the analysis made, I was ready for him to move forward and I felt like we got stuck.  Maybe I gave up too soon, and hopefully I will find the time and energy to finish this book, but for now the first 195 pages have convinced me that I am on firm ground in the foundations of my faith.

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