Paul’s Use of His Freedom

1 Corinthians 9
19Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Excerpt From: Tyndale House Publishers. “Life Application Study Bible NIV.” Tyndale House Publishers. iBooks.
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There are moments in the life of being a parent when you don’t know what to do, when you feel like a complete failure. You feel like if parenting were a sport you would be tossed out of the game – disqualified.

I’ve been a parent for 19 years, 10 months, and 29 days now. One would think that after practicing a craft for such a long time that you would be considered an expert. With parenting the opposite is true. The older I get the less qualified I become. This must be the truth as my teenagers affirm it with the roll of their eyes and spouting off at my seeming inability to grasp what they are dealing with.

Often in this journey we have taken the road less traveled. We have chose to do the hard things. My wife has stayed at home the entire time, foregoing 20 years of income, in order to be there. We have homeschooled a good portion of that time, to create huge opportunities to explore their interest. And yet, I am finding out that my kids are going to make their own decisions regardless. They are men now, and quite honestly, this is a terrifying viewpoint knowing just how harsh the world can be.

I know that I will never stop being a dad, but as I am drawing to the end of getting them to their adulthood, I can’t help but wonder if it was enough – was it too much. My head is filled with a whole lot of second guessing. One thing is for sure, we weren’t handed any owner’s manual when left the hospital. We can say that we have done our best, we left it all on the court.

It’s a funny thing that anyone you ask has an opinion on child rearing. You should do THIS or you should do THAT. Even young couples with no kids at all can be complete experts on how to deal with an unruly kid in the grocery. The only thing that is predictable about being a parent is that it is completely unpredictable. Really, I don’t even feel worthy to write on the subject or anything else for that matter. That’s probably why I have posted very much in the past few months.

I asked my wife the other day “What’s the point of being a parent if our children won’t listen and they are just going to learn things the hard way?” Without hesitation she said “To draw you closer to Jesus”. We both laughed but it’s so true. So when it’s really hard, and difficult, and serious, and there are no answers – There’s just Jesus and prayer.


Psalm 1
The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly

1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Going for a Swim


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jesus at bethesda 2

There was a pool in Jerusalem during the time of Christ that was called Bethesda.  In Hebrew the word Bethesda could mean either House of Mercy or House of Grace.  In Aramaic the word could mean shame or disgrace.  During this time the pool was believed to have special healing powers.  People believed that when the waters were stirred that you would receive healing if only you were the first one in the pool.

Well Jesus shows up (John 5:1-15) at this pool to find a man who has been an invalid for 38 years!  For 38 years this man has tried to get well through his own efforts.  I can picture him trying to drag himself to the edge of the pool once the waters started to move, thinking to himself that “maybe today I will succeed and be made right“.  The bible says the man tells Jesus that no one will help him when it’s time get in the water and consequently he is pushed out of the way by others.  38 years of frustration!  I would imagine that he has become bitter towards others because they won’t help him in his struggle.

Then Jesus ask him the question “Do you want to get well?”.  Obviously the man wants to become healed, he has tried for 38 years!  I love that the pool’s name has two meanings – Mercy and Disgrace.  Here is this man who society would label as shamed or disgraced because of a physical disability.  Everyone would have judged him on appearance that either he or his parents caused this condition due to sin.  All this man wants to do is remove the shame.  So Jesus already knows that he wanted to be made physically well; He’s asking him about the condition of his heart.  Jesus replies to the man’s answer with “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

How many times do try to be made right with God?  We can struggle with sin in our lives for years, crawling toward some kind of perceived hope.  The truth is that no matter what we do on our own, like the invalid, we will never be able to make it to the pool of Mercy.  Jesus is the only one who can heal our Disgrace and our Shame.  Jesus didn’t care what the man had done, he simply ask “Do you want to get well?”.  He is still asking us today, “Do you want to get well?”.  He wants to take you by the hand and say “Get up!”.  He wants to take what others judge to be your pool of disgrace and turn it into what you will see as an Ocean of Mercy!

jesus at bethesda

Brooklyn Water Bagels


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Brooklyn Water Bagels on Urbanspoon
We found a great little bagel shop last weekend called Brooklyn Water Bagels.  Not only did they have good breakfast sandwiches, it was educational as well.  The idea appears that they start by purifying the water that is used in the process of making the bagels.  You can watch the entire process of making the bagels through the windows – from water purification, to mixing, all the way to baking.  One thing that I didn’t realize before was that they boil the bagels in water before they go in the oven.  It appears that they use the purified water to make their coffee as well.  The restaurant had a great feel to it, with old black and white sitcoms playing on the mounted flatscreen.  Others seem to have caught on as there were several people in line.  It was a chilly day so seating was limited.  

Everyone is was very nice and willing to take the time to explain the process to us.  The lady behind the register was very helpful & patient as we made our selections.  You can get your bagels to go and they will give you a freezer bag to keep them fresh. A great experience that I’m sure we will try to re-create in the future.  


Let Us Keep to the Point


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Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest – January 1

“God’s order has to work up to a crisis in our lives because we will not heed the gentler way.  He brings us to the place where He ask us to be our utmost for Him, and we begin to debate; then He produces a providential crisis where we have to decide – for or aginst, and from that point the “Great Divide” begins.
If the crisis has come to you on any line, surrender your will to Him absolutely and irrevocably”



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The ADVENT season was a great time to be with my family and friends this year.  My wife and I have tried very hard over the years to have Christmas traditions of our own.  It’s something that I think has been especially important for her and at the same time hasn’t come easy.  When you think of traditions it conjures up images of Norman Rockwell paintings.  It’s a trap that I have fallen into many times over the years and as a parent can leave you feeling defeated.  I can remember times when the kids were little and trying to put up the tree.  Decorations, Christmas music, hot cocoa – you get the picture.  Well reality; about a ten minute attention span intervened by a sugar rush.  I’m not going to lie – it was tough with two little boys.  I think the best we were able to do in the way of traditions in those days was going to the tree farm to cut down the tree.  We would hike around looking for the perfect tree, have the Clark Griswold like angelic illuminated moment when it was found, and a ceremonial “Timmmmmbeeeeerrrrrr”.

This year, we took another run at the ADVENT calendar.  Every day in December there was a different activity to do as a family.  Some days we coordinated the fun with some other families so we could do things together.  Some of the highlights this year:

Purchase a Christmas album
Work on a puzzle together.
Play Texas Hold’em at the Odell farm
Christmas party around the fire pit in the back yard
Christmas cookie exchange
Ginger bread house decorating contest
Ornament exchange
Line dancing at the Odell farm
See A Christmas Carol play (my personal favorite)
Christmas gift shopping as a family
One night stay-cation (Gaylord Palms)

We stayed very busy this year with something to do every day, but it was well worth it in relationship and in tradition making.  We even broke a tradition (I had a hard time with that) this year and opened our gifts on Christmas eve.  The teenagers slept in on Christmas morning and we did stockings when they woke up.  It worked out great!  After the stocking my wife shared some things she had learned from her devotions this month, and we all prayed as a family.  What a sweet way to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Afterwards, Christmas morning Eggs Benedict breakfast.

So yes, even when it seems the boys are all grown up traditions can be made.  You have to just keep trying and just keep loving.  Merry Christmas!

Happy Campers


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We went camping a few weeks ago at Fort Wilderness and spent four days and three nights there.  Each year we have a group of about 30 families that get together for a long weekend at the Disney campgrounds.  It really is a lot of fun and Disney knows how to make it well – Disney.   Continue reading

Honey Harvest


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I have to say that I have been wanting to write about this for several months now.  This past Saturday I was invited to one of my favorite family’s home to participate in the harvesting of honey from one of their bee hives.  What an absolutely fascinating process.  Continue reading

Pumpkin Carvin’


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We had a good time last night with friends carving pumpkins.  I appreciate so much how my friend Pilar works to create events like this and therefore memories.  The food is always central to the festivities as well.  It’s really is a blessing. Continue reading


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