Posted in The Word, Theology

Choosing to Believe God

Belief (Faith), at its foundation, is a choice. My wife recently shared a quote with me that says “It doesn’t take any more effort to believe that one can than to believe that one cannot.” However, in the Bible, there is a significant difference between Faith and Hope. Hope is based on circumstances that we desire to see. A wish that somehow things will turn out the way we want, but Faith in the Bible is based on promises; specifically the promises God has made to his children in the scriptures. One of my favorite verses has come to be 2 Peter 1:3-4

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

So it is placing faith in these “great and precious promises” that we are allowed to participate with God and enjoy the benefits of believe him. Recently, in our Freedom in Christ study, we compiled a list of promises that we associated with doubts and fears that are common to everyone. My wife typed up that list, which I’m providing to you below. Read over these every day and remember that God has ALREADY provided “everything we need for life and godliness”!

  • Why should I worry about the future when God holds the future and tomorrow will have enough worries of its own. Matthew 6:34
  • Why should I be consumed with thoughts about food for man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the son of God and my heavenly Father already knows I have need of food and clothing. Matthew 6:31
  • Why should I concern myself with how I look in my clothes when God says my body is more than clothing. Matthew 6:27
  • Why should I insist on working out for my physical body to be “good enough” when my body is already a temple of the Holy Spirit.
  • Why should I believe that God is distant when he has promised to complete the work he has begun in me. Phil. 1:6
  • Why should I feel that I have to perform and achieve for God’s acceptance when God made Jesus who was sinless to be sin for me so that in him I might become the righteousness of God. 2Cor. 5:21
  • Why should I feel God will tell me no to a promise when all of the promises of God are yes in Jesus. 2 Cor. 1:20
  • Why should I feel that I am alone when Jesus said, I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:20) and that he will never leave or forsake me. (Heb. 13:5)
  • Why should I believe I’m worthless when Jesus died for me to have eternal life with the Father. John 3:16
  • Why should I feel depressed when I can recall to my mind and therefore have hope, because of the Lords great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lam.3:22,23
  • Why should I ever be in bondage for where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17) and It is for freedom sake that Christ has set me free. (Gal. 5:1)
  • Why should I believe that any of my efforts will make me more accepted by God or anyone else when I am complete in Christ. (Col. 2:10)
  • Why should I believe that the enemy’s plan can prosper against me when I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)
  • Why should I believe that God isn’t listening to me when I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 2:18)
  • Why should I believe the thought patterns of the enemy when I am free forever from condemnation. (Rom. 8:1-2)

*Adapted from Neil T. Andersons “Who I Am in Christ” p.273

Posted in Ministry, Parenting, The Word


Taken from p.17 Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course Book by Neil T. Anderson and Steve Goss.

 I Am Significant: I am no longer worthless, inadequate, helpless or hopeless. In Christ I am deeply significant and special. God says:

Matthew 5:13,14 I am the salt of the earth and the light of the world

John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
Acts 1:8 I am a personal, Spirit-empowered witness of Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
2 Corinthians 6:1 I am God’s fellow worker

Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

I Am Secure: I am no longer guilty, unprotected, all alone or abandoned. In Christ I am totally secure. God says:

Romans 8:1-2 I am free forever from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 I am assured that all things work together for good.
Romans 8:31-34 I am free from any condemnation brought against me.
Romans 8:35-39  I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established anointed and sealed by God.
Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.
Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.

2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.

Hebrews 4:16 I can find grace and mercy to help in time of need.

1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.

I Am Accepted: I am no longer rejected, unloved or dirty. In Christ I am completely accepted. God says:

John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 I am Christ’s Friend
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:1 I am a saint, a holy one.
Ephesians 1:5 I have been adopted as His child.
Ephesians 2:18 I have direct access through God through the Holy Spirit.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.

Posted in Books, Family, Kids, Parenting, Prayer, The Word

Family Devotions: Sort Of

While my wife takes on the bulk of the responsibility when it comes to educating our kids, one role that can’t be abdicated by me as a Dad is in the area of Family Devotion. While having a family devotion is not the only way we are to Disciple our kids in Christ, it is one of the main places we can grow our family together.

This does not have to be complicated. It’s best for it to be simple and consistent than to be complex and occasional. You don’t have to have smoke, lights, and musical talent. Neither do you have to have a PHD in hermeneutics.

This is not something I had ever seen modeled before I had a family of my own. I had only read about in a few books (Like Faith Driven Family). I’ve been around Christian families my entire life, but apparently not at the time they were having a devotion. Unfortunately many assume this is what “church” is for. About six years ago, when my kids were between two and eight I started “trying” to have family devotions. The kids would have a hard time paying attention, I would lose my spot reading, and the time seemed more like a wrestling match than a devotion time. The problem was not with the kids, but with my expectations. I was expecting too much. All I had ever seen was the “Church” example. So instead of trying to make it a chore, we tried to make it fun. So here three quick pointers to get you going


Set a time. Nothing happens unless you plan it. For us it’s the first thing in the morning, for you it maybe at night. Develop a family routine so that after several weeks there is an expectation that we are going to do a family devotion. It usually takes us around 10 to 15 minutes for us to do this. Sometimes its longer (because we are enjoying it) and sometimes its 5 minutes in the car on the go (but these are exceptions).


Everyone should be a part. This is not just Dad’s time with the kids. Have mom, dad, dogs and all the babies sitting under the Bible for a few minutes can do wonders for your family. I know this could be more difficult with teenagers, but if you start them young, they won’t know any different.


Keep it simple. We typical Read (the Bible or Devotion), pray and occasionally sing.

When my kids were younger we used the “One Year Devotions for Kids“. (You can download these as Kindle Books and keep them on your phone). These devotions are built around story situations where the kids may learn a virtue or a value. To me it’s important to always to connect these to Jesus and make sure he is the hero.

More recently we use Training Hearts Teaching Minds by Starr Meade (Not on Kindle). It uses the catechisms to teach kids how to respond to spiritual questions. It is broken down into a Monday through Saturday readings that are very short. By teaching the Kids these catechisms, you will give them something to carry with them. We should always encourage participation by asking kids what they think. Never shut them off even when they are wrong. Let them finish their though and gently point out the truth. If you are always correcting their efforts to learn they may become discouraged and not participate in the future (Ephesians 6:4).

Often we will sing. I wish I could play an instrument. But thanks to YouTube we can waste our life, or find worship songs and hymns with lyrics and music all together. We will let one child pick a song and we will watch and sing along.

Here are a few of our favorites (click the links)

Amazing Grace



Finally, I will also often ask if the kids if anyone would like to volunteer to pray for us as a family. Sometimes I pray or mom prays. Other times we ask for prayer request before praying. If one of our kids shares something, we may ask another one of our kids to pray for that request. We want to them pray for each other not just themselves.

I really hope this helps. You will NEVER regret any time spent leading your family this way. It is very rewarding in and of itself.

If you have found other resources of things that work for your family, feel free to comment and share for others.

Posted in Books, Education, Entertainment, History, LifeHacks, Productivity

Who Has Time to Read?

So you don’t have time to read? Neither do I; but I have found time to listen.

Last year I joined to catch up on my “to be read” stack and I’ve come to love it. They have a great selection of audio books from some of my favorite authors.

Audible is owned my Amazon and has great customer service. Three or four times over the past year I have purchased a book with my monthly credit only to be disappointed with the content or reader. Each time Audible has allowed me to return to book for another selection.

There are several plans but I belong to the base plan of 1 book credit per month for $14.95. I have found it takes me about a month (base on my travel time) to get through an 8 hour book. Then it time for a new one.

I highly recommend this service and hope that you will find it as useful as I have. They often have a free book or other great offers for new customers. Give it a try.

Posted in Uncategorized

Social Media: Know Your Audience

Before communicating anything, we should always stop and consider who is listening. This is no different when it comes to social media. In 2007 I jumped on Facebook and starting “friending” everyone; even acquaintances. A few years later I realized that my Facebook account had become a running list of everyone I had ever met in person. Not that these aren’t my friends, but there were things I wanted to share that I didn’t want going out to everyone. So instead of dropping Facebook all together (or trying to figure out how to customizing it) I moved to twitter.

On Twitter I went in the opposite direction. I only began to follow leaders, people who were experts in their industry. People whom I would probably never meet and become friends with. I immediately saw the benefit of this approach and began to see these social media outlets as different offices. Most recently I discovered Instagram and decided to make Instagram my smallest circle. This is where I would post things from my life that not everyone would care to seek/know.

So before you give up on social media all together, considering thinking in terms of the audiences and don’t be disappointed when “friends” don’t understand your post.

Posted in Ministry, Missions, Quotes

Phil Robertson, Pharrell Williams, and George Muller

What do these three men have in common? They are all about “Happy”.

Phil and thousands of others are walking around every day saying “Happy, Happy, and Happy”. (I confess I have done this but have since repented J)

Thanks to the movie Despicable Me 2 that made Pharrell’s song “Happy” even more popular.

But most may not have ever heard of George Muller’s Happy (27 September 1805 – 10 March 1898)? I had heard he was a praying man, but I didn’t know about his pursuit of happy. Wikipedia describes him as,

“a Christian evangelist and Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, cared for 10,024[1] orphans in his life.[2] He was well known for providing an education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life. He also established 117 schools which offered Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of them being orphans.”

A few weeks I ran across a quote from Muller about the most important thing in his life. I’ve not be able to shake it out of my mind and in many ways it gives permissions to those of us who follow Christ to be happy J. It seems for some of us (me being one of them) that to ENJOY our relationship with God is wrong. We believe that we should serve God, but it’s more out of a sense of legalistic duty, than a pursuit of Happiness in God. I hope this quote inspires you like it did me.

“The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.

The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord or how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished.

I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it.”

George Muller

Enjoy God today! Be Happy in Him!

Posted in Kids, Parenting

Setting Goals for Kids

Steve Armour is a man that I really look up to. Steve and his wife Debbie have 12 children, most of which are now young adults. Seeing such responsible and godly kids, should really quite any of the naysayers who would have objected to them having such a large family. Earlier this summer I asked to Steve to share his thoughts about what to plan for kids during the summer. I believe his response could apply to helping children at any season of the year, not just summer. With his permission I’m posting his reply below.

Rethink and discuss with your children their goals God wants them to accomplish for the next year, 5 years, 10 years to help them set good short term and long term goals. Look at goals as an individual, spouse, parent, provider/domestic manager, servant leader of men/women

-Set schedule of your summer based upon these goals

-Set daily schedule too

-Some things we have done:

  • Continue math subjects year round
  • Sons do yard work—building projects, gardening, goals to support a wife and family and further Kingdom
  • Daughters consider domestic skills for being a single, married and being a mother—go shopping with budget plan to make meals for family, etc.
  • Assist our church with VBS and youth group in ministry outreach work
  • Reinforce time-line of how their life is progressing and will progress—read good books of great Christians who started businesses, ministries, etc.
  • Camping trips, canoe trips, fishing, hiking, biking—we all love outdoor activities
  • Child Evangelism outdoor classes held in neighborhoods

You may notice I did not mentioned the usual stuff people are heavily involved in such as baseball, etc. but with our family we gave them some choices of maybe one sport per year—with home educator basketball league that is one option. People can overcommit to activities and not have time for your direction. Not saying there is benefit with participation. It’s very important to impart direction with children’s ownership of goals. As they grow you want them to take ownership of their faith. Having people in home to share testimonies is great as well as having small group discipleship of young people.

God bless you these most important efforts to disciple your children. Let me know how I can assist further.



Posted in Bloggers

Introducing Shelterwood!

I’ve rebranded my blog from to It was time for me to get a fresh start at blogging and I wanted a new identity to go with it. Here are a few more reasons for the change:

  • Using my name was a bit egotistical. Don’t get me wrong, for me to write my views in any form carries with it a bit of an ego. I think this goes for facebook, twitter, or any social media. But for some reason I feel I will be able to write more freely without flying my name as my primary logo/identity.
  • Shelterwood as a concept and a website is much more scaleable and transferable. I will have others people post to this site and they don’t have to necessarily be linked to me. Who knows, one day I may hand this off to someone that may want to use the name/blog. This is more difficult to do when using your name.
  • Shelterwood’s spiritual connotation. Shelterwood is defined by google as “mature trees left standing to provide shelter in which saplings can grow.” It is a forestry strategy use in re-growing a forest. I believe God has called those of us over the age 40 to being to provide shelter for our children and others who are coming along behind us, in order to grow strong in the faith of Jesus Christ. I hope myself and others can provide spiritual shelter as we move into the coming persecution of the followers of Jesus Christ.

Thanks to my friend Chris Johnson for teaching me about the concept of “Shelterwood” a few years ago.