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Devotions

FASTING

Linda Chontos

Matthew 6: 17-18  “But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

Eugene Eagle had a terrible problem. He couldn’t fly. For the first few months of his life he had done well enough with this flying business, but lately he simply couldn’t get off the ground.

One day, while taking a stroll along the seashore, he chanced to meet the Wise Eagle. Eugene had never spoken to him before, although he certainly knew about him. He ranked in importance only a little lower than the Eagle King. Eugene mumbled a polite greeting and stopped in astonishment as the great eagle spoke his name.

“Eugene, I have seen you walking here on the beach many times.  Why do you not fly like your brothers and sisters?”

“Oh -oh,” stammered Eugene. “I certainly would like to , but I can’t seem to manage it. I flap my wings ever so hard and nothing happens. I seem to be stuck to the ground.  I long to soar above the clouds like the others. I want it more than anything.”

“I couldn’t help but notice the gold chains you’re wearing on your legs, Eugene. How did you happen to come by them?”

Eugene perked up, for this happened to be his favorite subject. “I found them on the beach hidden beneath a rock  the very first day I flew from the nest. Aren’t they beautiful? I love them ever so much. I polished them and worked on them until they fit my legs perfectly.”

“Aren’t they a bit heavy.”

“Oh, a little I suppose. But they don’t bother me a bit.”

“Back to this flying business, Eugene. You say you want to do it more than anything. Have you spoken to the Eagle King about it?”

“I have. I speak to him every day. I love him, you know. I do everything he has commanded us to do.”

“Has he said anything to you about your chains?”

“Well, yes. He suggested (well perhaps it was a bit stronger),  I take them off.” 

The Wise Eagle looked pointedly at Eugene’s glittery legs.

“I know he said that, but I don’t think he really means I have to - you know - actually get rid of them. After all, they are very dear to me. He understands. I told him I would do anything else he asked- but he hasn’t answered me.” 

The Wise Eagle shook his head. “I think, my friend, flying must not really be that important to you. I am sorry for you.”

He spread his beautiful wings and effortlessly lifted off into the sky. As Eugene watched him go he felt a weight settle on his heart.  

In the days that followed he couldn’t sleep, and nothing tasted very good. Even more disturbing, he could find no joy in anything. Even his precious chains seemed to have lost their luster.

After tossing and turning through another sleepless night, Eugene stepped out of his little house on the beach and stood looking across the vast ocean. As he watched, the sun began to peek over the horizon tinting the clouds with a rosy hue. Something in Eugene’s heart shifted. He bent down and loosened the chains from his legs. 

At first nothing changed. He walked slowly toward the water’s edge and sensed a lifting of the heaviness in his heart. Gingerly he stretched out his mighty wings and fluttered them against the wind.  

As the sun rose over the sea, Eugene felt his body lift and then he soared into the heavens. 

Our good, good Father, as Pastor Todd said, loves helping you do the things you cannot do without Him. There will be times when, in the process, He calls us to do more than pray; to go deeper with Him; to be so desperate for Him and for breakthrough we are willing to give up something vital to us; to fast. His ways are far above our ways. We cannot understand every mystery, but we can know He will keep His word. 

THE FATHER'S TABLE

Linda Chontos

“For God shows no partiality.” Romans 2:11

We have a large wooden table in our kitchen. Nearly forty years ago my husband built it using the wood from a huge white pine tree. Back then, it lived in our dining room, and we only used it when we had company. We didn’t know all those years ago that one day our family would grow so large we could hardly all squeeze around it. Now our grown children and their children crowd around it to share meals, play games and celebrate special moments. 

The table is no longer reserved for special occasions or invited guests. Our family doesn’t have to pass a qualifying test to come to the table. None of us are perfect, but every single one is loved. The scarred surface of that old table testifies to the fact that we can come just as we are. 

Our Heavenly Father also has a huge table. It stretches farther than the eye can see or imagine with room enough for whoever wishes to come. 

We can do nothing to earn a seat at this table. It has already been paid for by Jesus. Everyone is invited to come.  The invitation doesn’t come with a long list of requirements. You simply come as you are. The poor, the rich, the broken, the sinner, the powerful ,the humble, the young, the old … no one is excluded. No one gets a more prominent seat. All are equally loved and no one is ever turned away. 

However, as with any invitation we must choose to either accept or reject it. The Father waits with open arms to welcome you into His family.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12 

CONDITIONS FOR ANSWERED PRAYERS

Linda Chontos

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

A little “parable” based on Pastor Doug’s sermon:

Imagine with me a kingdom ruled by a wise and loving king - a king whose compassionate heart longed to have meaningful relationships with his people. His wealth made it possible for him to not only meet their needs but to fulfill the deepest desires of their hearts. All they had to do was ask. 

Of course certain reasonable conditions, recorded in the king’s book, had to be met before anyone could expect him to grant their requests. Even then, the king reserved the right to decide the way in which he would answer. His deepest desire was to do what was best in every situation. 

One condition was foundational to all the rest - an intimate, growing relationship between the king and each petitioner. To facilitate that the king made himself available to speak with them whenever they wished, and each one had a copy of the book of wisdom he had written for them.

There was a young man who had worked in the king’s garden from the time he was a little boy. They knew each other well. One day, the young man asked the king if he might help him to get a better job. He explained that he would be getting married soon and needed to earn more money. The king happily agreed. Within a short time, the young man was promoted to the position of chief gardener. He thanked the king profusely and promised to keep in close touch with him. 

Months passed. The new responsibilities kept the young man very busy, and he found it difficult to carve out time to visit the king. The longer he put it off, the more difficult it became. Before he knew it, years had gone by without his having spent any time at all with the king. 

The king missed him and occasionally tried to make contact with his young friend. The silence made his heart ache with longing. 

There came a time when the young man found himself in need of financial help. He and his wife had several children by now and the youngest was often very sick. Bills for the doctor and necessary medicines mounted up, and he could see no way out. 

At his wife’s urging he decided to go to the king for help. After making himself presentable he walked to the king’s home. Slowly he made his way into the vast castle hall - his footsteps echoing off the great walls. A guard approached him and gruffly demanded to know what he wanted. 

He explained that he and the king were friends, and he had urgent business to discuss with him. The guard instructed him to wait and walked through the massive doors into the king’s chambers.

The waiting was excruciating for the man. Over and over he reproached himself for having neglected the one who had shown him such love. It seemed hours had passed before he heard the creaking of the doors and saw the guard approaching. 

“I’m sorry,” he said. “The king does not wish to hear you.” 

Broken-hearted, the man turned to leave. The guard gently tapped him on the shoulder. “There is a way back, you know.” With downcast eyes the man nodded.

“It will be up to you,” said the guard. “The king has not changed. His love remains.”

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” I John 5: 14,15

This precious promise supposes we will ask according to God’s will. We can only know that when we walk closely with Him - listening to Him, spending time in His word, getting to know His wonderful heart. 

THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT

Linda Chontos

When we think of comfort we usually associate it with helping someone in their time of trial or grief by offering hope and consolation.  Dave Roever, someone certainly well acquainted with suffering and sorrow, suggested another way in which we can comfort others. We can encourage them to get back in the battle. 

We may think this a difficult thing to offer in the way of comfort. Likely our first instinct is to sympathize and soothe, and both of those things are good. However, our comfort must not stop there. Perhaps we can find a good example in scripture of the way we should comfort. 

Who better to model comfort than the Lord Himself? In I Kings 18 and 19 we find the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Simply put - Elijah had just come from a mighty victory over the 450 false prophets. God had worked through him in a mighty, miraculous way. He should have been celebrating. Instead we find him running for his life from the wicked Queen Jezebel. 

As happens to so many of us, Elijah went from the mountain top headlong into the valley. Discouraged and feeling abandoned he begged God to take his life. Then he lay down under a broom tree and slept. 

With tender compassion, God sent an angel to minister to Elijah.  He gave him bread and water - the kind of comfort Elijah needed in that moment. 

A few verses later we find Elijah talking things over with the Lord. He stood before God on the mountain as a mighty wind that tore the rocks lose buffeted him; then an earthquake shook the ground and after that a fire. But God was not in any of those things. Instead Elijah heard the sound of a gentle whisper and knew it was the Lord.

The Lord listened to Elijah as he poured out his complaints. He had remained faithful to the Lord when all of Israel had abandoned Him. He alone was left and now they were trying to kill him. 

The Lord responded not with commiserating words but by giving Elijah his marching orders. He sent him back to continue the work He had called him to do. Among those things, he was to anoint Elisha who would eventually replace him as Israel’s prophet. Before he left, the Lord reminded Elijah that there were 7000 others in Israel who had never bowed to Baal. He was not alone after all. 

The God of all comfort was with Him - as He is with us, through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” II Corinthians 1: 3-5 

We comfort with compassion and love. We also comfort with encouragement to continue in the battle - for we know the victory is already ours.

HOW PRAYER CHANGES OUR LIFE: PART I

Linda Chontos

It’s been said that prayer changes things, but anyone who has walked - and talked - with the Lord knows that prayer changes us. 

Pastor Doug pointed us to Luke 11 in his teaching on prayer this past Sunday. After walking with Jesus for over three years and experiencing all the miracles and listening to all the teaching, the disciples wanted more than anything else to learn how to pray. They had seen Him pray in every sort of situation. They had witnessed the power, peace and comfort that flowed from time spent talking with His Father, and they wanted to experience it for themselves. 

Too often prayer becomes difficult for us. It happens when we somehow reduce it to a laundry list of things we want God to do for us, or when we come to Him after we have exhausted every other means of getting what we need. For some it has become a duty - another task to check off our “spiritual to-do list.” Prayer, as the disciples understood, is so much more than that. It is the wonder of being able to talk to the Living God - and knowing He hears and answers prayer. 

Elisabeth Elliot put it this way:
"Prayer lays hold of God's plan and becomes the link between His will and its accomplishment on earth. Things happen which would not happen without prayer. Let's not forget that. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit's prayer....we often feel helpless and hopeless until we remember, 'We do not know how to pray worthily as sons of God, but His Spirit within us is actually praying for us in those agonizing longings which never find words'(Romans 8:26, Phillips)."

We don’t have to be spiritual “giants” to pray. We don’t have to accomplish great acts of service. We have only to come to the Father in Jesus’ name, fully surrendered to His will, and talk to Him. 

To illustrate this, I share a story from my own experience - a story of ordinary women coming to an extraordinary God in the midst of a long, difficult drought.

On Thursday morning they gathered in the little portable building, as they had been doing for months, and took their accustomed seats around the table. The air conditioner hummed, working against the relentless heat and humidity, in an effort to make the small room comfortable. Outside, a few dark clouds gathered - hope for a drought-thirsty land.

One by one, hearts opened to share what lay heavy; for they knew this was a safe place. A place to drop the masks and lay down the protective armor. They had come, not to offer easy answers to hard questions. They had come to lay the weight of those questions and burdens at the feet of the One who hears and answers. Long ago they had agreed to pray BOLD prayers to the God for Whom nothing is impossible, and He had done miraculous things.

They bowed their heads and sat quietly before praying. "Be still…" He had said, "and know…"* The air conditioner cycled off. Peace filled the room, and then it came - the sound of thousands of raindrops hitting the metal roof above their heads. They opened their eyes and looked, in wonder, at one another. "It's like He has heard us and is pouring out His Spirit." They laughed for the sheer joy of it.

We have a Father who delights to give us good gifts - a Father who bends down to listen to us when we pray. 

“Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!”  Psalm 116:2

BONES OF THE BIBLE: PART IV

Linda Chontos

This past Sunday Pastor Doug spoke about the legacies left by both Jacob and Joseph - legacies of faith for the generations that would follow them. Like them, we can leave our families no greater inheritance than a life lived for God. What joy to know that future generations will look at our lives and be drawn to the Savior. 

Supposing, however, we haven’t always lived a life of faith? Do the things in our past disqualify us from leaving the kind of legacy Joseph left? Let’s take a look at a story from the Old Testament and see what the Bible has to say.

The Children of Israel have wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Moses has died and Joshua has taken his place. The time has come for the Israelites to step into the Promised Land - the land the Lord has prepared for them. 

Before crossing over the Jordan river, Joshua sends two men ahead to spy out the land. Entering the city of Jericho, they “came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab and lodged there.” (Joshua 2:1)

The story is a familiar one. Rahab has heard about the great God of Israel, (“For the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath,” Joshua 2:11) and has the faith to believe He can save her and her family. She hides the spies from the king of Jericho, helping them to safety - and in return they agree to spare her and all her family from the coming destruction of the city. 

Miracles abound in this story, but the one thing that stands out as we consider the way the mistakes and failures of our past  may impact our legacy is the fact that a harlot played a key part in God’s plan. Rahab had not lived a perfect or even a good life up until this point, but she put her faith in the God she had heard so much about and saved not only herself but her entire family. 

This isn’t the last place in scripture we see Rahab.  In the book of Matthew we find her name listed in the genealogy of Jesus. “And to Salmon was born Boaz by Rahab…”. 

In Hebrews 11 - the chapter known as the Hall of Faith - we find listed among such great heroes of the faith as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob , Joseph, and Moses this woman whose life once seemed so tarnished. “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient after she had welcomed the spies in peace.” What a truly amazing legacy this faith-filled woman left for not just her family but for all of us. 

We can be encouraged, when we look at the life of Rahab, in knowing that the sins of our past will never disqualify us from living a life that will bless those who come behind us. When we turn to God and repent of our sins, His gift to us is eternal life and a new beginning.  From that moment on we begin to build a legacy of priceless value for those we love. 

THE LITTLE FOXES THAT SPOIL THE VINES

Janet Roberts

What a great practical topic on those sneaky sly little foxes who are up to no good. Their nature is derived from Lucifer himself. Their purpose is to hinder and even try to destroy our personal relationships with God, family, friends and the church family. These little foxes like to come out in the darkness because they know the light will expose them of their evil intentions.They see an opening in the fence of defense and they will dig and dig until they sneak in and eat the fruit of the vine in our lives.

The Bible states that Jesus is the true vine, and God the Father is the Gardner and we are the branches. As branches we must abide in Him so we can remain connected to Jesus so in turn, produce much fruit. Galatians 5 points out the fruit Jesus expects from us... [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. These are the graces which should characterize us as Christians.

The sins of the flesh are the gross sins of adultery, murder, blasphemy, drunkenness etc. The sins of the spirit are the little foxes that can spoil the vines. Some examples are; pride, being offended, anger, bitterness, lying, and gossiping. Vines represent your relationship with God, family, friends and the church family. These little foxes invade us through the wrong things we think, the wrong things we say, and the wrong things we do.

We counter with the blood of the Lamb. The Lord Jesus has already defeated him upon Calvary and we are more than conquerors. When these little foxes come around we can light their tails with the Holy Ghost fire and send them back to where they came from! That’s what Samson did to the enemies of his days.

We need to go back to the basics by committing to His Word, and by praying and fasting. It starts with me and my house, you and your household, which makes up our local Calvary Temple Church.

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. Song of Songs 2:15 NIV

So beware of the little foxes that can hinder your relationship with God, family, and friends.

BONES OF THE BIBLE: PART III

Linda Chontos

Hopelessness - surely one of the most frightening words we know. 

My 96 year old mother often tells of a time of hopelessness in her own family. It happened long before she was born - during a time of great financial struggle for the entire country. Her mother, my grandmother, had to go out to work to help support the family leaving her six month old infant girl in the care of a friend. 

While in the friend’s care, the baby scratched herself on the rusty old carriage where she was napping. What,  in our time  would have been a minor problem, quickly escalated into a life and death struggle as infection coursed through her tiny body. Without any effective medication, they could only watch with an overwhelming a sense of hopelessness as this precious little one slipped away.

We all, at one time or another, will find ourselves in a situation that seems hopeless. For the one who knows Jesus as Savior,  it is (as Pastor Doug reminded us) an opportunity for God to call us closer to Himself. We don’t have to think all is lost because we cannot control the circumstances in our lives. Instead we can learn to trust the One who controls all things. 

This hope is not a feeble-hearted wish.  It is confident expectation that God will do what He has promised.

We have this priceless gift to share with those who don’t know the Lord. When we speak to them about the eternal hope we have in Jesus, we wrap it in prayer placing it in the hands of the One who gives life and hope to all who will receive it - by the power of His Spirit. 

“Prayer draws God’s heart into our lives. When you combine prayer and action, there is no hopeless situation.” (Pastor Doug)

BONES OF THE BIBLE: PART II

Linda Chontos

Legacy - a gift by will especially of money or other personal property; something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past

We don’t have to be wealthy to leave a legacy. Regardless of economic or social status, we will all leave some sort of inheritance to those closest to us when we die. Our lives, the every-day ordinary moments, will determine what sort of legacy it will be. 

As a young girl I joined a club in our church called Christian Girls in Training - CGIT for short - and remained a part of it until I was well into my teens. I loved every part of it - the songs, games, crafts, outings, lessons and even the memory work challenges. 

I believe all of it helped to shape my faith - but none more than the elderly leader, Aunt Ethel.  I can still picture her small upright stature and silver curls. She had a certain “presence,” and we all, from the youngest to the oldest, knew she would brook no nonsense. I dreaded those rare occasions when she felt it necessary to sit us all down and give us a talking to. We all loved her and felt sad when we knew we had disappointed her in some way. 

On the other hand, she had a beautiful smile and a great sense of humor. In spite of her age, she seemed never to tire, and we had to hustle to keep up with her.

Her love for the Lord and devotion to “her girls” was reflected in everything she did and said. To this day, all these many years later, I remember the things she taught us. I see her still, teaching, singing, laughing, holding hands with us in a circle at the end of our meetings as we prayed and sang:

“Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh

 Shadows of the evening steal across the sky.

 When the morning wakens, then may I arise

 Pure and fresh and sinless, in Thy holy eyes.” *

She didn’t do anything outstanding by the world’s standards. She simply, humbly, lived a life of service one ordinary day at a time. But this little girl was watching, and she left me a legacy of faith, strength, grace, wisdom and a life well lived. 

As Pastor Doug said, “The way we live our lives will have lasting effects long after we’re gone - good or bad.” 

* ”Now the Day Is Over” Sabine Baring-Gould

BONES OF THE BIBLE: PART I

Linda Chontos

In his message this past Sunday, Pastor Doug used the story of Samson found in Judges 15: 9-20 to teach us about areas we need to be aware of in dealing with the enemy. 

He also pointed out strategies that won’t work when we are trying to defeat the enemy of our souls. During this period in the history of Israel they were confronted by the powerful Philistine army. Although they vastly outnumbered their enemy they so feared them that instead of trying to defeat them, they tried to live with them. 

Samson knew that tolerance would result in an eventual deterioration. He chose instead, to confront the enemy. In faith he used the unlikely weapon God provided (the jaw bone of a donkey) and single-handedly dealt the Philistines a deadly blow.

We too face a seemingly overwhelming enemy - one who seeks to destroy us. He is very subtle in his attack, slowly infiltrating the fabric of our society. It began when prayer was taken out of our public schools and has escalated until it is difficult to recognize our own country. One of his most effective weapons is called tolerance, and he skillfully uses it to help advance his agenda. 

When the people of God take a stand, they are accused of being unloving and intolerant. The barbs sting, but God has called us to take a stand. Like Samson he calls us to faith and equips us to fight the battle. 

This quote from Josh McDowell sums it up well: 

"Tolerance says, “You must approve of what I do.”

Love responds, “I must do something harder; I will love you, even when your behavior offends me.”

Tolerance says, “You must agree with me.”

Love responds, “I must do something harder; I will tell you the truth, because I am convinced ‘the truth will set you free.’ ”

Tolerance says, “You must allow me to have my way.”

Love responds, “I must do something harder; I will plead with you to follow the right way, because I believe you are worth the risk.”

Tolerance seeks to be inoffensive; love takes risks. Tolerance glorifies division; love seeks unity. Tolerance costs nothing; love costs everything."

CELEBRATE AMERICA

Linda Chontos

It has been said the Kingdom of God is an upside/down kingdom. In this kingdom:

  • The first will be last

  • We become rich by giving our money away

  • We lose our life to gain it

  • God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the strong

Another apparent contradiction concerning this kingdom is  the one Pastor Doug spoke about this past Sunday: 

  • true freedom comes when we surrender our lives to God.


The desire to be free is common to all of us. We push against anything that tries to limit or restrain us, but it is those very things we see as freeing that can eventually enslave us. 

God has given us a free will. We get to choose what we will do with our lives. The danger comes when those choices, often made in the name of freedom, end up ruining our lives.

The story of the prodigal son illustrates just how devastating our choices can be. This young man thought freedom lay in “doing his own thing.” Instead, he found himself enslaved by the very things he thought would bring him happiness. It wasn’t until he made the choice to return home and submit to his father that he found true freedom.

Our Heavenly Father, like the father in the story of the prodigal son, loves us unconditionally and knows what’s best for us. He withholds only those things that will bring us sorrow and pain and eventually hold us captive.

 Jesus came to set the captive free:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.” Luke 4:18

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:34-36

As we celebrate freedom this week may we be mindful of the source of our true freedom. It came, just as our nation’s freedom, at great cost. 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

KEEPING IT TOGETHER... WHEN IT'S ALL FALLING APART

Linda Chontos

Listening to Pastor Doug’s sermon, “Keeping It Together… When It’s All Falling Apart,” I couldn’t help but think about my almost three-year-old grandson. This sweet little one is in the process of learning one of life’s on-going lessons - things don’t always go the way we would like them to. 

Sooner or later we come smack up against the reality that difficult and unfair circumstances come to everyone - even Believers. When they do, we question why and then we react. 

Our grandson tends to do what most of us do when life gets tough. He cries. Nothing wrong with that. As Pastor Doug pointed out, even Jesus wept. 

The problem comes when we let our emotions take control. If the crying doesn’t get him what he wants, our grandson ratchets it up a bit throwing his whole little body into the effort to get his own way. 

This method isn’t any more successful for him than allowing our emotions to spiral out of control is for us. The need to get things to go our way often leads to bitterness and anger. We question why bad or unjust things are happening. Then we look for someone to blame. Often, that someone is the Lord. In our bitterness and anger we fail to realize that the only person we’re hurting is - us.  

We find restoration and hope by taking the focus off ourselves and our circumstances, forgiving those who may have hurt us and trusting in God’s promises and great love. Our circumstances may not change or be resolved in the way we had hoped, but we can trust in that love and know that our good God will do what is best. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

THE GODLYFATHER

Linda Chontos

Billy Graham has said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” 

The truth of that is borne out by the heartbreaking statistics Pastor Doug shared with us this past Father’s Day. Thirty percent of children are raised in fatherless homes, and those thirty percent account for the highest percentage of suicides, runaways, rapists and high school drop outs - just to name a few. 

The role of a father can never be underestimated. Often he becomes the representation of God in the mind of his children. Their first understanding of a Heavenly Father is wrapped up in the image of their earthly father.

Fathers would do well to follow the example of Joshua. In his 110th year he gave this charge to the Children of Israel:

“Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24: 14-18

There is always a choice. A father who chooses to lead his family to know, love and serve the Lord gives them a priceless gift. His love for them will flow from his love for the Lord. He will lead by example, and his children will follow. 

As Pastor Doug said in his closing remarks: “Dads are in a war for the souls of our families.” 

That is especially true in the times in which we live, when even truth has somehow become relative. As fathers lead their children into the truth of God’s word, they will equip them to stand strong in the face of anything this world can throw at them. 

THE NO-HANDED DRIVER

Linda Chontos

"Do you want to go for a ride?" As a little girl, I loved going for a ride, especially with no particular destination in mind. We would all climb into the car, Dad in the driver's seat, Mom riding shotgun, my little sister and I in the back seat - the windows rolled down all the way. I don't think any of us tired of meandering down old country roads - with the happy possibility of a stop at the frozen custard stand.

Worry and fear had no part in those rides. I didn't wonder what would happen to us if the car broke down, or we got a flat tire, ran out of gas, or had an accident. Of course, when Dad announced "I think I know a short cut," we looked at each other with big eyes knowing we were in for a long ride.

I had complete trust in my Dad's ability to drive well and get us safely home. It freed me to look at the scenery - hair blowing wildly in the wind. I especially loved driving at dusk when darkness began to enclose us. I looked into the lighted windows of the homes we passed and in my imagination saw them - families, always happy and content.

God intends for us to live life just this way. He longs for us to know we can hop into the "back seat" and trust Him to take care of us. Far too often we worry about all the things that might go wrong. Instead of sitting back and enjoying the ride, we look ahead anticipating disaster at every turn or, even worse, we climb into the "driver's seat" and try to wrest control of the wheel out of His hands.

Incredibly, the Lord will allow us to drive - for as long as it takes for us to realize we really don't have control at all. All the worry and fear in the world will not keep us safe from the inevitable troubles that lay ahead of us. They will come, and when we loosen our tight-fisted grip on the wheel, the One who controls all things will take over. He will get us safely home.

"Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10