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My Last Decade in Pictures

The last decade was a roller coaster for me. Of all the previous decades, 2010-2019 was the toughest time I ever had in my life. The lowest lows and the highest highs.  So what I would like to do is give you a glimpse of my last decade through the pictures I took.

The first thing I learned is that I didn’t really start taking pictures until about 2012. This means that the lowest time of my life has no pictures to accompany it. The decade started with my divorce. It was rough. I was married for 18 years and it ended pretty rough.

I moved out of a large home on 5 acres and into a small rental home that was built in the 1940s that was freezing in the winter and deathly hot in the summer. I would get the kids every other weekend and the occasional holiday.

It was rough, but thanks to the men at the church I was attending, they brought me back to Christ. By 2012, I became a deacon at that same church. And a little later that year I was asked to lead the mission journey to Peru.

That was one of the most impactful trips I ever took in my life. I learned that even though I was going through a rough patch in my life, it couldn’t compare to the lives that many of the people in Peru were leading.

This would be the first of many trips to Peru over the course of the decade, which you will see more pictures later.

Since I worked at Whole Foods Market, I was able to take several trips throughout the decade to coffee farms throughout the world. I was able to see some of the most beautiful farms and meet a lot of great people.

Throughout the early part of the decade, I spent time simply getting to know my kids again. Working for Whole Foods Market, I was required to travel a lot. There were some years that I was traveling 45 weeks out of the year.

Matt Fred 2013

So I took the opportunity to do all the crazy stuff with Matt that I didn’t have a chance to do earlier. We would hang out, go to DC United soccer games, and practice his soccer skills.

Matt Fred DC United 2013

In 2013 I became an elder at Chesapeake Christian Fellowship. The same men that built me up are the same ones in this picture ordaining me to become an elder.The two of us

Then, early in the decade, I also took a trip around the United States with my kids. I took 3 weeks vacation, turned in all my stock options, and rented an RV and traveled around the United States. It was during this time that I not only got some great time with the kids, but I met a woman who would go on to make a major impact in my life. You see, it was during the trip around the United States that I officially met Mimi Baker (now Mimi Noble). We had spoken online for about 3-6 months prior, but had no idea what each other were really like.

As I sat on the side of a lake while both our children were playing in the water, I got to know her and realized that God was showing me the woman I would eventually call my wife.DSC00893

In 2014 Kenzi went to her first middle school dance. I couldn’t believe how much she had grown up.

Kenzi Fred 2014 MIddle School Dance

That same year, I was able to start seeing Mimi much more often. She moved to Virginia and then eventually, after I moved out of the little rental home and into another one, she moved into the rental home. We were only 15 minutes apart now, not a couple thousand miles.

Fred Mimi 2014

In 2014, as the relationship between Mimi and I grew, we decided to make our first purchase as a couple even though we still didn’t live in the same house. We got a dog. Funny thing is that the dog’s name is Peru. We didn’t give her that name, she was given that name at the pound. Mimi and I had gone to Peru a couple of times by 2014 already and she had fallen in love with the country and the people there as much as I had.Fred Peru Dog 2014

In 2015, I realized that I had fallen head over heels in love with Mimi Baker and I asked her to marry me.

ring 4

SHE SAID YES!!!

wedding day

Later in 2015, we went back to Peru. It was this year that I totally screwed my back up. A few months later in 2016 I would be going back in for back surgery.

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I love serving side by side with Mimi! She has such a tender heart for people and a great work ethic.

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Also in 2015, Kenzi would be playing her final year in sports. From this point forward she would be focusing on her photography and art.

Kenzi sports 2015

When we got back from Peru in 2015, Mimi and I had finished having a home built and we moved into it. We made God the promise that if He were to give us the house, we would use the extra bedrooms to house missionaries and people who were in need. Since we made that promise, we had a whole bunch of children who were rescued around the globe and were now part of a national concert tour, we have had several young adults stay with us, we had a young woman who was lost and has since become a missionary to the nations, and we have housed several other missionaries from around the world.

boyz

2016 saw Mimi and I heading back to Peru and spending more time there with the people. We would meet Paige and Stalin, a couple missionaries, one from America and the other indigenous. They will become more important to us as the decade continues.

franks-house-6Peru 2016

I was also, beginning in 2015, but really by 2016, learning how to be a stepdad. Being both dad and stepdad is a very challenging thing. Each of the kids are so different, and their backgrounds are tough to bring together.

Jake Ryan 2015

Also in 2016, my little girl, Kenzi, got her first job. She would be a junior counselor at the local church camp in the summers. This would become a job she would love and grow with throughout the rest of the decade.

Kenzi first job 2016

2017 came in and was immediately rough. My mom was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. From the time she was diagnosed until the time she went home to be with Lord was only a matter of weeks. My mom was born on Easter Sunday and she died on Easter Sunday.

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But a week before Easter, my mom wanted to make a big dinner for her own birthday. It would be the last time that all of us would see her alive.

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We went back to Peru later that year and enjoyed a great time there with the people we served as well as the people who joined us on the journey.

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Ryan had a great year. He was on the JV baseball team and was doing very well.

Ryan Baseball 2017

Ryan also received plenty of awards academically in 2017.

Ryan award 2017

Also in 2017, Mimi’s oldest daughter, Brieanne, married the most amazing young man ever. Hopefully he will continue to make foods with Old Bay in them, so I can continue to respect him. 😉

Brie wedding 2018

Also in 2017 I undertook my largest home improvement project I ever did, I built a patio, with my 75 year old dad.

Patio 2017

Matt got his first job in 2017 selling fish and crabs.

Matt first job 2017

And he decided to switch things up a little and play football. He was actually very good! But he didn’t like all the pain his body felt after each practice and game.

Matt football 2017

I took the kids white water rafting in 2017.

Kenzi Matt Fred Rafting 2017

Kenzi had her first art show where she sold her photos.

Kenzi art show 2017

Jacob graduated high school in 2017.

Jake Graduation 2017

At the end of 2017 we had the opportunity to take everyone to Disney.

Disney 2017

And, in 2017, Jacob got his first car, a 40th anniversary Mustang.

Jake first car 2017

In 2018, Kenzi graduated from high school.

Kenzi and I

Those same missionaries, Paige and Stalin, would come to DC and spend almost 2 weeks with us. We took them on the tour of the area.

DC with Paige and Stalin 2018

Also in 2018, which was a good year for Kenzi, she won several awards at a local art show and won over $100,000 in scholarships to college.

Kenzi art show 2018

In 2018, I wanted to give Mimi an opportunity she was talking about for a long time. She had always wanted to take a horse drawn carriage through Central Park in NYC. We decided to do that and it was just as magical as we through it would be.

NYC 2018

In 2018, Kenzi started college at McDaniel in MD.

Kenzi first day of college 2018

Mimi’s and my final trip (for now) to Peru would be in 2018. It was such a beautiful trip and we fell in love even more with the people of Peru.

Peru 2018

At the end of 2018 and really starting in 2019, I left the retail/restaurant world and went into ministry as Director of Ministries for Friendship Community Baptist Church in southern MD. I was sad to leave my church home of 16 years, but in order to keep growing, change is required. And this change has been such a good fit for me and my family.

New job 2019

In 2019, Matt and I had the opportunity to take a skiing/snowboarding trip. It didn’t end so well because the friend that came with us hit his head on one of the final runs of the day and got a pretty bad concussion.

Skiing with Matt 2019

2019 saw Mimi’s aunt Becky going home to be with Lord. But before that happened, Mimi got spend a lot of great time with her in Minnesota, almost a month.

Mimi and Becky 2019

Also in 2019 Mimi decided to start farming Monarch butterflies. Apart from having a few endings that were not so desirable, most of the Monarchs were grown from egg and released into the wild.

Mimi butterflies 2019

2019 was also Matt’s final year of soccer. He had been playing soccer with many of the same boys since he was 5 years old. It was great to see him be able to finish his high school soccer life with those kids.

Matt Soccer 2019

In 2019, Friendship Community Baptist sponsored 5 homes in the county and did construction projects on them. We did everything from adding gutters, replacing windows and doors, and installing hot water heaters.

Christmas in April 2019

Also in 2019, Friendship Community Baptist did 6,208 boxes for Operation Christmas Child. A church of 200 doing 6,208 boxes is a pretty amazing feat!

OCC 2019

We have made a lot of friends at Friendship Community Baptist. Our small group had a Christmas gathering at one of the houses and we enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship.

Small group Christmas gathering

The Christmas gift that Mimi got me was given to me early, concert tickets for Tran Siberian Orchestra. It was an amazing concert! Not exactly Mimi’s favorite music, but I was in heaven!

Tran Siberian Orchestra 2019

Also at the end of the year we started going to concerts with my dad. This one was in DC, the military Christmas concert.

Military Christmas Celebration 2019

Wasn’t exactly on our financial plan for this time, but Mimi’s car decided to die. We ended up purchasing a new-to-us 2015 Mazda.

Mimi new to us car 2019

Christmas service at Friendship Community Baptist reached almost 300! Not only that, but God blessed us with 20 baptisms and several Gospel encounters throughout the year.

Christmas 2019

This is the picture I will end this with. My Christmas gift for the end of the decade was ending it with a woman who truly loves me and cares so deeply for me.

Christmas 2019 2

So there you have it. My last decade in a few short pictures. A lot happened last decade! I can only imagine what will happen in the 20’s.

 

Things I Wished I Learned in Seminary

2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

A few months ago I stepped into a full time ministry position. It is truly a dream job. I had been chasing that dream since the end of 2013, so, almost 6 years. It took so long for several reasons, but, suffice it to say, God was preparing me for the ministry.

The position I took is a Director of Ministries role at a solidly medium-sized church. We run about 200 each Sunday and have over 65 people each week engaged in growth groups, which is an amazing percentage!

As Director of Ministries, I find that my role encompasses a lot. We only have 2 full-time staff: the pastor and myself. This means we both wear a lot of hats.

In all churches the staff wears many hats, but that number of hats you wear goes up exponentially as you get smaller. But I have found that the number of hats follows a sine curve. When the church is very small, the pastor wears all the hats, but the number of things that pastor is responsible for from a production standpoint is minimized simply because one person cannot do it all.

Then, on the other side of the curve is the megachurch. These churches typically have someone for almost every position in the church and the only reason someone would have to wear another hat is when they are transitioning between leaders.

Then you get to the mid-size churches. These are the churches that are between 200-400 people. In those churches you don’t have the congregation size to pull for every ministry that the church wants to do yet these churches are really starting to expand their community relations, build their worship teams, and see guests coming each week to check out the church.

It is in these churches, which don’t have the income to support full staffs, that the team is tasked with wearing several hats all at once so that the ministries continue to grow and the Sunday worship experience is on par with churches of larger size.

So when I went to seminary, I was told that the most important thing to understand was the Bible.

I still don’t doubt that.

Knowledge of God is the most important piece of ministry. I spent thousands of dollars studying a single book, The Bible.

But after seminary I feel woefully unprepared for many of the day to day parts of ministry.

Seminary is preparing people to be Ed Stetzer, Steven Furtick, David Platt, Louis Giglio, and many others. They aren’t preparing people to be the day-in and day-out shepherds of a congregation that can be challenging, amazing, beautiful, maddening, heartbreaking, and powerful. It also doesn’t prepare you for the operational aspects of ministry.

Colossians 3:23 – Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men

So what I would like to do is give a list of classes that I wish I had a chance to take in seminary. Seminaries don’t offer most of these classes, just so you know. These are things that you would never see in an MDiv or MAR.

  • Rigging 101

The past couple of days I have been helping the pastor plan the 4 services we are going to have this Easter weekend. The first service is Good Friday at 7 PM. For this service, we are moving a huge, close to 200 pound, cross from its normal place on the stage to hanging it from the ceiling in the middle of the room. This is requiring chains, aircraft cable, and a lot of prayer. If this thing falls in the middle of the sanctuary, it won’t necessarily be a “good” Good Friday.

  • Graphic Design

One of my first tasks was to prepare a brochure for the church that was to be used in the business meeting. Our goal was to make it something that looked professional yet didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I had the brochure almost completely done when I found one of our congregants has graphic design experience. I showed it to her and was almost laughed out of the room. I handed it to her and, within a week, she had something that was absolutely hands-down amazing. I wish I had that skill!

  • Application of the Fruit of the Spirit

We all know the fruit of the Spirit. It is laid out in Galatians 5. Each one of those fruit will be tested by the congregation. They will be attacked by Satan. It would be amazing to hear from pastors who have stood the test of time to give a class on how to maintain the fruit of the Spirit while in ministry. The other day my pastor and I were talking about how I have a very corporate mindset and how I like to tell someone what to do and expect them to immediately do it. Unfortunately in ministry, it doesn’t work that way. It is much more relational. This is definitely a skill I need to learn more from him, and I am. But imagine if seminary had prepared me for this.

  • Sound & Lighting

I realize that for those who take a worship track in seminary get a lot of this, but during my time at seminary it wasn’t even an option for me to take. I guess they figured that I was going for church planting and therefore would not have need for a worship team? (please note the sarcasm in that question). I am thankful that I studied it when I went to college, but that was in the 80’s and 90’s, so things have changed…a lot.

  • Children

I have kids. I haven’t been the best father in the world. I will never win any dad awards. But when you have several other children and yours are grown, and children were never a strength of yours, it takes a lot more focus and energy for me to deal with children than it does for someone who is good with kids. I don’t know how to put together a lesson plan. I don’t know how to control a classroom (unless the people in it have already been through puberty). A basic class on classroom management for dummies would be awesome.

  • Construction Techniques

Much of my job is working with people to keep the church from falling apart. The church is old. At least 40 years old for the main section. This means there are things that are breaking, falling apart, and not efficient. If I knew how to build, fix, and update all the things in the church for cheap it would be awesome!

  • Keeping your marriage strong during ministry

This is another one of those things that I think would be an amazing class to have ministry couples teach a class about the storms, the tests, and the trials you will face as a ministry couple. There are times that I can see strain between us for things at the church. I am thankful that I have a pastor that has been through that storm and is a great resource for me.

So these are a few of the classes I wish were available at seminary. And I know that some seminaries do a better job at some of these than others, but for the most part, many of these aren’t even on the radar of seminaries to prepare future pastors for the calling.

Pastors and ministry professionals have a high burn-out rate and a high turnover rate. Perhaps if we spent more time in seminary preparing people for both the knowledge of God and the intricacies of bathroom cleaning, then we might see that turnover number go lower.

Jeremiah 3:15 – “‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Love Cyanide

Ephesians 4:31-32 – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Hurting those we love.

Humanity is filled with examples of hurting each other, especially the ones we love.

Too often we proclaim our love for a spouse, child, or friend and then turn around and poison the relationship with what I like to call “love cyanide.”

Just what is cyanide?

Historically, cyanide has been used as a chemical weapon. It is also used in pesticides, plastics, and mining. When shocking a pool to get it ready to swim in, cyanide can be produced in low levels. It is also found in smoking.

One important note about cyanide is that “lethal doses of cyanide results only from accidents or intentional acts.”

Once the body is exposed to cyanide, the chemical quickly enters the bloodstream. The body tries to convert the chemical to a less lethal chemical called thiocyanate. As the doses build up, however, the body’s ability to convert cyanide to something less lethal gets overwhelmed. Large doses of cyanide prevent cells from using oxygen, causing the cells to die. The heart, respiratory, and central nervous system are most affected by cyanide poisoning.

What are the effects of cyanide poisoning? Some of the more profound are: weakness or confusion, sick to your stomach, difficulty breathing, and cardiac arrest.

The quickest way to treat cyanide poisoning is to get away from the poison and into fresh air.

We could easily remove cyanide from those notes above and replace them with the words “disrespect” or “dishonor” or “loving poorly.” If we do that, then we see the effects that disrespect or dishonor have on relationships.

Romans 12:18-20 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

It is like a love cyanide.

Many times, we use our love as a chemical weapon. We withhold our true love from someone in order to see them act or behave the way we desire before we will show them love. We expect a person to love us first before we’ll love them completely.

That is a weapon.

But we also hurt those we love accidentally. I know with my children that I have, at times, not lived up to a promise or hurt them in some way through my words or actions. It wasn’t intentional, but it happened. At that moment, my love to them is more like cyanide.

We either intentionally or accidentally poison those we love. Just like cyanide.

Humans are resilient, though. We tend to stay in those cyanide relationships for long periods of time. We think that things will get better or that it will change. What might have started as a small dose of love cyanide turns into the doses building up in our systems.

We are made for relationship. With relationship comes pain from time to time. You will never love anyone perfectly. Our bodies are made to handle small doses of love cyanide. But extended and large doses of it can destroy who we are as humans. It will bring on depression and walls around our hearts.

When we have been affected by too much love cyanide, we feel weak and confused, sick to our stomach. With depression and anxiety comes difficulty breathing. And like the chemical cyanide can cause cardiac arrest, love cyanide can cause broken hearts.

What is the quickest way to get rid of love cyanide poisoning?

Well, unlike the chemical, many times we can’t simply walk away from the people we love. It is why the divorce rate is so high, even among Christians. We see our feelings as more important as those we love.

But you can’t just leave family and friends.

Luke 6:31 – And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

So I want to look at the “fresh air” idea a different way.

Instead of getting away into fresh air like you would with the chemical, the best way to cure love cyanide poisoning is to clear the air. Discuss the issues with the person you are having those issues with.

So why do I bring all this up?

As Christians our job is to not only love God and love others. Our job is to accept sanctification. Sanctification means that we are set apart for God and for those we love. But sanctification is also defined as a process of transformation.

If we are the cause of love cyanide, then we need to seek God more. We need to strive to become more like Him.

God gives us unconditional love.

We will never be perfect at giving unconditional love, but we need to try.

And in the times we get it wrong? We need to be the first to repent of our errors. If we hurt someone, even accidentally, we need to stand up and repent.

Building love cyanide into a relationship will not only hurt the relationship, but it will destroy the people in the relationship.

We need to build love, without the cyanide. Provide living water without the poison. Be sanctified and drive to love like Christ loves us.

Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

 

Dear George Takei

James 4:11 – Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brothe, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

So I was surfing Facebook yesterday and came across a story in my feed about George Takei putting Donald Trump in his place. I listened to the YouTube video and read the transcript of what he said and I have a few thoughts. Please keep in mind that my thoughts are more toward both George and “The Donald” but George’s final comment that went viral is what I feel the need to discuss.

Also note that this came on the same day as I was reading/viewing a ChurchLeaders.com article about 10 views on the gay marriage debate with views that are incredibly dangerous (Hillsong’s Carl Lentz) to Pharisaical (John MacArthur) to completely uneducated (Joel Osteen).

I want each of my readers to know that I am working to understand everyone’s viewpoint in this debate. The Christian church has a bad reputation in this day of being so closed-minded that it doesn’t even take the time to hear people when they say they are gay (or divorced or having an affair or, or, or….)

But I also want each of my readers to know where I stand. First, I truly believe homosexuality is a choice. Second, I believe that since it is a choice, and it is spoken against in the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), that it is a sin. Third, because homosexuality is a sin in the Bible, and living a homosexual lifestyle is living a volitional life of sin, I would not be able to marry a homosexual couple. I also would not be able to ordain a homosexual person. Fourth, I believe that we as Christians scream at people way too much about their sin and neglect to get ourselves right with God and crucify our sin daily.

So, Fred, what does this have to do with Takei and Trump?

Well, I am glad you asked, but I am not there yet.

Donald, I have very little respect for you as a politician and absolutely no respect for you as someone who understands the Christian worldview. I do respect what you have done in business, although I am worried that you have done so through ruthless, cutthroat actions, which runs counter to what I believe. If you plan on running my country like that, I cannot, in all integrity to what I believe, ever vote for you.

George, I enjoyed watching you on Star Trek. I respect that you lived your life quietly in the shadows until the day came when you could unleash your frustrations. I do respect that you have taken up this cause, no matter how misguided I believe it is. But, George, there comes a time when humans should learn to control their tongues. And with this latest round, I believe you crossed the line.

Ok, so now, here is what happened.

Romans 14:1 – As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

You probably saw it on the news, but George took to the news media to explain his differences of opinion to Donald Trump. He pointed out that Donald, who supposedly believes in “traditional marriage,” holds his definition of traditional marriage loosely because he has been married three times.

Now, while after research, I must agree that Donald holds his definition too loosely, I believe George generalized way too much.

Let me explain.

When George simply said that Donald didn’t believe in traditional marriage, he was speaking about the marry/divorce/marry repeat cycle that Donald has been involved in. But that over generalizes, George, based on the definition of traditional marriage in the Bible and what Paul meant by a “one woman man.”

You see, George, I got married this weekend. This was my second marriage. It was my new wife’s third. In the Bible there are circumstances that divorce is approved. And just so you know, George, both Mimi and I fit the criteria for being able to divorce. We did not nullify what you think is the definition of traditional marriage. Both of our previous marriages ended when our ex’s had sexual relations with another person. Beyond that, my ex gave me the writ of divorce. Biblically, we were open to marry another person, whether they have never been married or if they had a similar situation.

So, George, don’t generalize those of us who support traditional marriage and got divorced.

I want to make one more point clear. I support our government doing whatever they want from a standpoint of providing equality for all.

Our government is not Christian.

But when that same government reduces rights of a population (aka Christians) to increase rights to another population (aka the gay community) then that is where I see the problem.

If our government wants to give you “marriage” rights by their definition, let them. They will have to answer to God for their choices.

But if they are going to remove the benefits and rights they have provided me or my group, then the constitution is not being upheld.

Your definition of marriage and mine do not intersect. The government’s definition and mine do not intersect. And I am fine with that.

1 Corinthians 11:19 – For there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

I never expected those with non-Christian values to understand the choices I make.

I just expect that the government that I am living under to protect my rights as a citizen, and that includes my right to worship how I see fit.

That means I cannot marry a gay couple. That means that in certain circumstances, I may not be able to accommodate a gay couple. For example, if we host a homeless shelter in our church, I will allow the heterosexual married couples to room together but I cannot allow the homosexual couples to room together. If I own a college that is founded on a Biblical premise, I cannot allow housing for gay “married” couples.

The church of Jesus Christ does not recognize the marriage of gay couples.

So judge me how you will. It is what I believe.

And, from what I understand of the constitution, I am allowed to believe what I want freely as long as I do not advocate a breach of the peace or cause violence.

I am calling for Christians to get back to the Bible. Peacefully reject the government’s claim that homosexual couples can marry. Refuse to marry and ordain. Remember during all of this, Christian, to love. If we simply attack with our words, we are breaching what we love this country for and the commands of our own Christ.

To my gay friends and advocates for them, I appreciate you each in my life. You have helped me to understand that I need to stay strong to my own convictions but to do so with love and grace.

To that end, I would be more than happy to talk to anyone at any time about my beliefs and how my own convictions do not make me discriminatory any more than you wanting me to give up my beliefs is discriminatory.

So, George, I ask you to simply think a little harder before you make blanket statements about a population. In return I will strive more deeply to offer grace and peaceful words to those who believe as you do.

In Christian Love,

Fred Noble

2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

#LoveWins

Genesis 50:20 – You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result–the survival of many people.

See what I did there? The LGBT community is not the only community that can use a term and turn it to their agenda. This will become more prevalent as this post continues

So this weekend I am getting married. No. I am not celebrating the Supreme Court victory by running off with another guy and getting married. Mimi (www.wovenbywords.com) and I decided back in March that Sunday June 28th would be the date we get married and begin our life together. The Supreme Court decided to make that weekend in a celebration of gay marriage being legalized in all 50 states.

Well, that was unfortunate.

On a weekend when I want nothing more than to celebrate the joy that my fiancé has added to my life, I now have to share it with “We Are the Champions” being blared by cars with rainbow colors on their cars. And, yes, that is a very true story. As I was driving to the little market by my house this weekend, I saw that car on the main strip driving very slowly with guys hanging out the window waving to everyone as that song was blared throughout the town.

Well, this begs the question, to a BIBLE-BELIEVING Christian, who believes the BIBLE is the authoritative Word of God and who believes it is infallible and inerrant in its original context, what is the definition of marriage and what does the SCOTUS decision mean for our beliefs?

Many who are educated in the Bible who believe otherwise will probably castigate me on my blog, and that is fine. But I want to lay this out for in as simple terms as I can because I am a fairly simple guy.

First, what should Christians do about this?

You are going to hear all sorts of rhetoric about how we should petition the government (tried that, even 50 million signatures wasn’t a loud enough message to SCOTUS). You will hear people say that we need to get louder and take our complaints to the streets.

I disagree.

I do believe we need to take to the streets, but not to beat anyone up about their beliefs that are different from ours. We need to take to the streets to show people how deeply Christians love. We need to go out and feed the poor, clothe the naked and provide shelter for the homeless. We need to share OUR testimonies of how we came to Christ.

Amos 5:24 – But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

We should never take to the street to demand a public outcry on a political issue.

The main reason is that the majority of Christians are uneducated. If anyone mentioned Textus Receptus to the average Christian, they would have no clue what they were talking about. If you asked the average Christian about hell, they would give you a typical answer of place of fire and brimstone with a ruler that is red and has horns and a pointy tail and pitchfork. But if you ask them about Sheol, they will have no clue.

If we take an uneducated Christian out into the world to fight for or against something they know very little about, they are going to get eaten alive by the world that perverts the Word of God.

And, ultimately, this victory in SCOTUS for gay marriage is the fault of the church to begin with!

WHAT!?! FRED THAT IS HERESY!

No. It isn’t.

The American church has been schizophrenic about how they interpret the Bible and the overall population of America is suffering for it!

If Christians would unify! Learn to disciple each other properly. Bring each other up. Younger generation relying on older generation to pass on wisdom and biblical teaching, then Christians would not be so quick to bend in the world’s winds.

Church, it is time to WAKE UP!

But as for my gay friends? I love you all. No, I will not marry you, even if one day the government forces my hand and tells me I should. I am sorry, I cannot allow my belief that homosexuality is a sin and a choice to be put aside and seen as insignificant simply because you want me to.

But, to all my gay friends, please know that I am right there beside you as you struggle with acceptance in this world. There is nothing harder than fighting for acceptance. Christians have been doing it for years (for the most part wrongly, I must say).

2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness

And this is where, for the Christian, #LoveWins.

It doesn’t happen in a state-sanctioned marriage. Allow the government to rule their people the way they see fit. They have distorted the God-given meaning of marriage. This is not a Christian nation. It is a secular one. This should come as no surprise that humanistic philosophy gets the advantage. They will have to answer for their choices one day and if any of them do not have Christ, then they will experience hell first hand.

It doesn’t happen in Facebook arguments and passive aggressive social media posts. That is not Christian love at all. It comes from the pit of hell.

#LoveWins when we look to John 4 for wisdom. Jesus approached the woman at the well, knowing full well her sin and accepted her. But He also told her, “Go and sin no more.” That woman was amazed that someone who had such different beliefs as her would give her the time of day and care enough about her to learn about her.

That is love.

That kind of love has nothing to do with marriage. It has everything to do with respect.

Meanwhile, it is this weekend that #LoveWins for me. As a straight man, I am marrying the most beautiful woman in the world. Approved by God, those I love, and all my friends.

I am blessed.

Mimi Baker, I am proud to be able to marry you as one who is approved by my Father in heaven.

This is the meaning of #LoveWins. When a man shall leave his father and mother and take a wife, cleaving unto her. Treating her how Christ treats the church, as a beautiful bride.

Thank You, Father, for the amazing woman you have given me in Mimi Baker.

Hebrews 13:4 – Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Ephesians 5:25-33 – Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Magic Quiver of Holding

Matthew 18:1-3 – At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

So this week I am going to show my geeky side a little. When I was growing up, I used to play the game Dungeons & Dragons a lot.

No comments from the Christian community about whether playing D&D is a good Christian thing to do, especially if you Christians go out and see movies like The Avengers and Harry Potter or read books about spiritual warfare that take a lot of artistic license (Frank Peretti or Ted Dekker) or listen to music that doesn’t spend all its time worshiping Christ, of which I am just as guilty, by the way.

But when I used to play the game, one of the things I always tried to get was a bag of holding. The bag of holding was a 2’ by 4’ cloth sack that, when opened, would open to a nondimensional space making the size inside bigger than the assumed size outside. Basically, you could carry a lot more stuff than you thought because this bag could hold double or triple the amount you could normally carry.

Shift gears.

Psalm 23:24 – The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

A few major things are happening in the next week. First, the Sunday the 21st is Father’s Day. Then, on Sunday the 28th, I am getting married. While to you, the first may seem more important than the other, to me they are both significant, and, I believe the government should consider my marriage date to be a national holiday.

But this Father’s Day, I will celebrate with my two direct children. Since they primarily live with my ex-wife, I won’t have them this weekend but will be stopping by after church to go to lunch with them. Not the big celebration that most fathers have on that day, but, to me, it is just as significant to know that my kids want to spend a few hours with me on a weekend I don’t have them. Probably hit the Greene Turtle or another local restaurant and just sit and talk about the summer.

What is significant about this Father’s Day is that this will be the last one that I can say I only have 2 kids.

The following week I am getting married.

Isaiah 43:5 – Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.

On that day, I will immediately go from 2 kids to 6!

Now, granted, the other 4 kids are not my flesh and blood and 2 of them are grown and on their own already, but I still feel responsible, even if not to the degree their biological dad does, to their success.

Does that mean I love my own 2 kids any less? No.

Does that mean I won’t spend any time alone with my 2 kids? No. There won’t be as much private time with them now that I am married and have 3 other people in the house with me, but I believe it very important for dads to spend one on one time with their children just like I believe it important for moms to do the same.

And I plan on doing one on one time with all the kids throughout the year, even her kids. Her older son is into culinary programs so possibly seeing if a celebrity chef is in town and going to see them would be cool for him. And her youngest is into baseball, so maybe going to a Baysox game or something with just him one night will be good.

Psalm 127:3-5 – Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

The Bible calls the family a quiver. And my quiver is about to go from 2 arrows to 6. My small quiver is now going to be holding much more than I ever thought it could…or should.

A lot of fears come to mind with becoming an overnight father to 4 more kids. First, how will I still show love to my own kids without them feeling like they are being left out? Next, how can I gain credibility with the 4 news ones so that they don’t feel like I am showing favor to my 2. Third, how will parenting work when Mimi and I are clearly VERY different parents?

Well, none of those I have the answers to.

But I have been reading Hebrews 11 a lot lately. In that chapter, we relive the stories of many of the Old Testament faith characters. None of them knew what they were getting into when they said “yes” to God. They simply went.

And that is what I am going to do.

Go.

And let God figure out the details.

And then be prepared for God to send blessing after blessing on a family whose first line of defense will be in Him when questions arise.

Genesis 33:5 – And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”

I Wanna Puke

Genesis 2:18 – Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

So when this gets posted, I will be about 2 weeks away from getting married…for the second time in my life.

Satan, and my own anxieties, is having a field day with this.

There are all these thoughts going through my head.

“Fred, the first time you weren’t strong enough to hold on to your wife, what makes you think you can do it this time?”

“Fred, you couldn’t even keep your own household in control and look where it got you…divorced.”

“Fred, just give up.”

I battle those thoughts constantly.

Mimi and I have not had the most fairy tale courtship, lol. Everyone who knows me knows how it began, on Twitter. But the subsequent 3 years to get to this point has been a serious uphill battle.

About 6 months after we started “dating,” Mimi decided to move east. She was already planning to come east to get out of Minnesota for a while because of needing a break from her past life, but this put her within 2 hours of me.

That’s when this relationship really became, well, real.

I couldn’t hide my real self anymore. All my bumps and bruises would actually be seen by her. The times my kids would misbehave? Yep, she saw that. How about those times that I came across as if I knew what I was talking about, but actually didn’t? That was now on the radar. And what about those areas that we simply differ, whether they be theological, spiritual, mental, or emotional? Those were on parade for her to see.

And let’s not forget, I was the one to say “I love you” first. So now I have to live up to that. Once you say the “L” word, you better be prepared to act because love is verb, not a noun. (and grammar experts, please don’t correct me here, I know that technically it can be both in the English language, but I am going for effect here so just roll with it.)

Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another

The next two years would be very hard. Of course we had some amazing times. Getting together with her kids and my kids at her parents’ house and surprising her by attacking her with silly string. Having an impromptu water balloon and water gun battle. Actually having someone to spend “date night” with. Those were all amazing.

But then there were the not-so-amazing times. The time we actually broke up over a dog (not the one we have now). Or what about the times either my communication or her communication skills lacked? Those were plentiful, for sure. Or what about the times my kids rebelled against me and her because of her? That one is still going on and we are fighting back with a lot of prayer, grace, justice, and close friends.

The first time I got married, I knew how, when, and where I wanted to propose. I wasn’t scared. I was excited. I was thinking in my carnal one-track male mind that it was the next logical evolution of a relationship.

Psalm 56:3-4 – When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

This time I am scared beyond belief. There is nothing logical about our relationship. Who on earth moves from Minnesota to Maryland to build a relationship with a man you met on Twitter? How do two people with so much heartbreak in their pasts come together to create a life together? She takes everything literally and I take quite a bit of life figuratively, how will THAT work? She is always looking to uphold the law, I am always looking to extend grace. Boy, has that one caused a lot of grief.

This relationship flies in the face of logic.

But something else flies in the face of logic. The fact that my Creator has extended me enough grace to give me life, give me freedom from condemnation, and desires to spend eternity with me. The relationship of the Bridegroom (Jesus) to His bride (the church) is a relationship that, in itself, goes against logic.

Why would Jesus want to marry a Bride who is constantly letting you down, not changing for you but expecting you to do all of the changing, and fighting with your children about how to raise up newborns?

Jesus, for all intents and purposes, should have never been courting the church! The universal church is so broken, and resistant to healing, that Jesus could just have easily said, “Nah, folks, I am going to go over here and find some aboriginal tribe that has no concept of me yet and court them. You all are bat crap crazy.”

But He didn’t.

He made a commitment to us.

He shows His love for us over and over and over again.

He cares so much for us that the world looks at it and says that there is no way someone can love another person so much.

And that is the same kind of love that Mimi and I have. It isn’t logical.

Song of Solomon 1:8 – If you do not know, O most beautiful among women, follow in the tracks of the flock, and pasture your young goats beside the shepherds’ tents

And while I think she is one of the most amazingly beautiful women on the face of planet Earth (dare I say that she is HAWT!), it is not only my hormones telling me to chase her.

And while she and I care for each other like a good friend that you want in your life always, that isn’t the only reason I am chasing her.

You see, the love we have is agape love. It comes right from the throne of heaven. The world doesn’t understand agape love. The world’s definition of love is so skewed that anything beyond sex, looks, and being able to get along is foreign to a relationship in the world.

So I am choosing to love Mimi with agape love. And she is choosing to love me with it as well. We may never perfectly show love to the other, but we have a singular purpose in mind, imperfectly seeking Jesus as we do life together and including God into every aspect of our lives.

And because of that, I know that I have finally made the right choice when it comes to women and got myself the right one.

1 John 3:1 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him

But I still wanna puke.

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