September / October 2021
Armstrong From TV to Statehouse
Fish Story A judge’s Scales of Justice
80-year-old’s joyful service
Uniforms’ Uh... penguin costumes?
Doug Armstrong with his wife Amber and their dog Babar
Contents September / October 2021 “I lie awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.” — Psalm 102:7 NLT
Volume 10, Number 5
FEATURES Hands of Hope NW marks its 25th year 7 World religions:
John Vehlow: A fishing story
What is Christian Living Spotlight?
God’s opinion: On race, gender, etc.
Doug Armstrong’s Commencement Speech
Doug Armstrong: Seminary at 60
Christian uniforms: Uh...penguin outfits?
Reflections: Thoughts on connectedness
But God: Two comforting words
Jane Gunter: What a clown!
Choosing to Love: Not easily angered
Wednesday’s Child: Meet Kahli
The Road Less Traveled: When to turn back
“I Get To!”®: Believe my Creator
Daily Bread: 24 Your Coping with inflation
Responsible 38 Biblically Investments: Consider Romans 14:21
IN EACH EDITION 4
Publisher’s Corner: Tough as pioneers?
Caldwell Prayer Walk set for October 9 15
Man’s Toolbox: 32 Real Restoring men’s hearts
Not all the same
Culture & Faith: 36 History, Alexis de Tocqueville
25 Understanding Relationships:
Need Prayer? Call Idaho Chaplains Association
Talk to a Chaplain
Publisher Sandy Jones firstname.lastname@example.org 208-703-7860 Editor Gaye Bunderson Submit story ideas, article submissions & press releases email@example.com General Info firstname.lastname@example.org 208-703-7860 Advertising & Sales Kimberly McMullen email@example.com 208-703-7509 • Katy Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org 503-816-3042 • Scott McMurtrey email@example.com 208-841-4583 Cover Photo Steve Jones Graphic Design Denice King www.greentreedkdesign.com 208-918-5190 Contributors Daniel Bobinski, Rick Chromey, Roxanne Drury, Joan Endicott, Terry Frisk, Doug Hanson, Leo Hellyer, Jason Herring, Gary Moore, Steve Nelson, Bethany Riehl and Ed Rybarczyk Website Design SEO Idaho Distribution D&S Distribution • 208-985-6904 Christian Living is committed to encouraging and instructing individuals in their daily lives by presenting stories of people in the Treasure Valley who are living on a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and who serve as uplifting examples to others. Views expressed in Christian Living do not necessarily represent those of the publisher. Every effort has been made by Christian Living to insure accuracy of the publication contents. However, we do not guarantee the accuracy of all information nor the absence of errors and omissions; hence, no responsibility can be or is assumed. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2021 by Christian Living Ministries Inc. Christian Living is published every other month and is available in over 600 locations throughout the Treasure Valley and Twin Falls, including grocery stores, convenience stores, medical waiting areas, and churches. If your church would like additional copies please email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org Annual subscriptions available for $12/year. To start your subscription or give one as a gift send your check or money order, along with complete address information, including which issue to begin with and a phone number to call in case there’s questions about your subscription to Christian Living Magazine, PO Box 867, Meridian, ID 83680.
Christian Living | September / October 2021 3
Cast your sins like pioneers’ old shoes
Image by Davgood Kirshot from Pixabay
By Sandy Jones Its official: I would have died on the Oregon Trail. Failed as a pioneer woman. Apparently in my sleep one night recently I felt something; I woke up as I was flicking a spider off my face. Of course I had to get up and go into the bathroom, where I could turn on the light to be sure he wasn’t still on me and that I hadn’t been bitten. Getting back in bed, I realized flashlights hadn’t even been invented when the pioneers traveled the Oregon Trail westward from Missouri to Oregon, and if I’d been a pioneer woman, I probably would have died from heart failure! Hope this made you at least chuckle. We live near the Oregon Trail, and pioneer life is a frequent topic of discussion. As we travel around Idaho and Oregon, we’ll see the historical markers along the highway and often
stop to read up on what happened at these specific locations. Frequently I’m astonished by how rugged the terrain is by these signs, pausing to think about how difficult it had to be in a covered wagon, on horseback, or even on foot. One of our favorite day trips has been to go to Baker City, Ore. to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, i.e. the Oregon Trail Museum. It can be a real eye opener for anyone who’s never been. The museum is full of authentic covered wagons and buckboards; mannequins clothed in actual garments as mentioned in so many of the pioneers’ diaries; and, yes, even some of those actual diaries where one can read firsthand about these amazing people’s adventures, trials and tribulations. The variety of pioneer dresses, pants, and shoes (or lack thereof) is fun to see. I can’t imagine walking across the Idaho desert barefoot, but clearly by this point on the trail, some of the travelers had exhausted the footwear they left home with
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4 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
many months before. Vignettes of things they’d had to cast off and leave alongside the trail, for whatever reason, always shock and amaze me. I’m sure the pioneers realized it was better to forget these former belongings and be grateful for what they still had and for the life ahead of them. These people were clearly made of grit and determination! These images of things left behind remind me of God’s forgiveness. Through His grace we can confess our sins, casting them off, asking for His forgiveness, knowing full well that when we are obedient in confession, He will throw them into the sea of forgetfulness.
Peace wants to give you His peace. Trust me, He wants you back – all of you! Just like the father of the prodigal son welcomed the son home, God will welcome you home with open arms!
You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. – Micah 7:19 NIV
Many times I’ve heard statements like, “You don’t know what I’ve done. I’ve gone too far. God would never want someone like me.” Or, “He won’t want me back.” God knew before you were born the choices you’d make, and He still made you – in His image – to be His child. You don’t have to confess to another human being; confess your sins to your Heavenly Father – cast them off, like the pioneers left belongings along the Oregon Trail – knowing the Prince of
“… we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” – Luke 15:32 NIV
I was right when I said I’m not tough or strong enough to have survived life as a pioneer woman on the Oregon Trail. Today, I am grateful that through God’s love and forgiveness, His mercy and grace, I don’t have to be tough, strong, or in any way perfect. I’m grateful for the life I have, and I’m looking forward to the life ahead. Until next time…. God Bless n
This message, along with all the inspiring and uplifting articles in this and every issue of our magazines, is brought to you courtesy of our advertisers. We sincerely could not do what we do if it weren’t for them. Please frequent these wonderful businesses who support us, and thank them for making Christian Living Magazine possible.
Christian Living | September / October 2021 5
CHOOSING to Love
Emulating a love not easily angered By Daniel Bobinski Note: In March of 2020 I decided to use this space to focus on God’s greatest command. If you’re connecting with this series for the first time and would like to read the earlier columns on this topic, I encourage you to visit Christian Living’s website to read the whole series. Visit https://www.christianlivingmag.com/columns/
approached the preacher privately with my concern, saying nowhere in Scripture does God command people to not have emotions. In fact, in Ephesians 4:26 we are told, “In your anger, do not sin.” We are all human beings, and since anger is a naturally occurring human emotion, people are going to feel anger. The idea for living out a life of Godly love is to not reach a point where we become exasperated. Ironically, the preacher did not like someone questioning his teaching, and he got angry with me.
People often ask me what version of the Bible I like best. My answer is always the same: the original version. No, I don’t read Hebrew, and I’ve had only one class in Koine Greek, so I like the Blue Letter Bible website (blb.org), which Love the Lord provides lots of insights. I especially like all the The greatest commandment says, “Love links for quickly researching word meanings, Daniel Bobinski the Lord your God with all your heart and and with the embedded concordances, it takes with all your soul and with all your mind just a few mouse clicks to see where and how specific words are and with all your strength.” If we’re to love the Lord, we used throughout Scripture. shouldn’t be easily exasperated by Him. That becomes easier The next phrase in our study on how to live a life of Godly if we also practice “Love is patient.” Think about it. If we’re love, as defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, says love is not parbeing patient, it’s harder to become exasperated. Even as we’re oxynõ (par-ox-oo’-no). Before we explore the various translaexperiencing anger, we can choose to not to let that anger boil tions, know that the word literally means “to make sharp,” or over and get the best of us. “sharpen.” Antonyms for exasperated include calm and tranquil, so if Interestingly, paroxynõ appears only twice in Scripture. We love is NOT being exasperated, what is it? One could easily find it in Acts 17:16, which reads, “While Paul was waiting choose the words “calm” or “tranquil” to answer that question. for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see After all, it is possible to be angry and yet remain calm. that the city was full of idols” (NIV). I admit, I have been exasperated with God from time to In the King James version, the word is translated stirred, and time, but thankfully it doesn’t come easily. And it almost always it’s translated provoked in the New America Standard Bible. comes when I’m not patiently trying to see things from His The other place paroxynõ appears is in 1 Corinthians 13:5, perspective. where Paul is telling us what love is not. The word is translated as: Love Your Neighbor – as Yourself • Not easily angered (NIV, Berean) According to Jesus, the second greatest commandment – love • Not irritable (ESV, NLT) your neighbor as yourself – is like the first. But, if you’ve fol• Not easily provoked (KJV, NKJV, NASB, Amplified) The Strong’s Concordance tells us the word also has a figura- lowed this column for any length of time, you know I believe it’s best to receive God’s love and own it for ourselves before we tive meaning: to exasperate. set out to love our neighbor. By doing so, we have a much betPersonally, I like that word best out of all that have been ter idea of what we’re trying to do for someone else. presented, because I think it works well in both places that In this aspect of living out Godly love, we should not easily paroxynõ appears. Paul became exasperated that Athens was so full of idols, and 1 Corinthians 13:5 says loving others means become exasperated with ourselves. Why? Because God is not easily exasperated with us! Do we think we are better than God we should not easily be exasperated by them. to think it’s okay to be exasperated with ourselves when even It’s important to remember that God is love, so therefore, He won’t do it? God is our model. This is pretty easy here, because God does Being calm with ourselves – when we might normally be hard not get easily exasperated with us – for which I am immensely on ourselves – is often a large area of personal growth for peograteful. ple. As the saying goes, “Try it; you’ll like it.” As with all aspects Does that mean God never gets angry? No. In Exodus 32:9of living out agape love, our relationship with God strengthens 10, God tells Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it when we do it, because we’re becoming more like Him. is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore, let me alone, that With patient calmness toward ourselves, it’s much easier to be my wrath may burn hot against them.” Of course, Jesus displayed anger as well. Remember when he flipped over tables calm and not exasperated with others. And if we can do that, we can have increased confidence that we are living the type of at the temple? (See John 2:13-17 and Matthew 21:12-17.) But life God wants us to live. It truly is a joy, and I pray your life is those demonstrations of anger did not come easily, and that is filled with much joy as you choose to live a life of agape love. n the key. God does not get easily exasperated. This concept of getting exasperated correlates to something I Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is an award-winning and best-sellonce heard from the pulpit, when a preacher taught that God ing author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. does not want us to be angry. Yes, he actually used the phrase, Reach him at email@example.com or (208) 375-7606. “God says don’t be angry.” This bothered me. Afterwards, I
6 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
Hands of Hope NW marks its 25th year
Hands of Hope Northwest medical ministry will celebrate its 25th anniversary since incorporation in 1996 with a fundraising event billed as “25 Years of Hope Dinner – Celebrating the Past, Looking to the Future.” This evening event will be held at College Church of the Nazarene, 504 E. Dewey Ave., opposite the Northwest Nazarene University campus in Nampa, on Thursday, October 14. Save the date and reserve your spot for dinner [see information below]. Hands of Hope NW collects donated medical equipment and supplies and repurposes it for people in need, locally and internationally. The pandemic has challenged non-profits everywhere and has limited shipments and overseas mission trips for Hands of Hope for the past few months. Executive Director Todd Durbin hopes to ramp up shipping to reach communities that have been badly hit by COVID-19 and its variants where people often suffer because of under-equipped or non-existent medical clinics. It is in critical times like these that Hands of Hope can make a transforming impact for those struggling to survive the twin hardships of poverty and a global health crisis. Shipments just left for Syria and Guatemala, and one is planned for Lebanon in collaboration with Nazarene Missions International. To those seeking a greater purpose, Hands of Hope provides a means of giving back to people less fortunate through its targeted medical assistance. Enduring partnerships with Treasure Valley hospitals and clinics make this possible through their continual donations of medical products. Durable medical equipment that isn’t sent overseas is stored in Hands of Hope’s Nampa Distribution Center for use in its Community Medical Equipment Loan Program. This allows hundreds of local people to borrow equipment short-term, including the elderly, mobility challenged, and post-surgery patients. Hands of Hope also equips and supplies local nonprofits – such as Boise Rescue Mission, Terry Reilly Health Centers, and Path Pregnancy Clinic – in a desire to share with others and avoid waste. If you’re passionate about helping people locally and around the world receive better health care and mobility, or you be-
Supplies from a shipment delivered by Hands of Hope Northwest, based in Nampa, are carried into the Orient Medical Center in Idlib, Syria, one of several shipments sent to the worntorn country to help displaced people. (Courtesy photo)
lieve in conserving and repurposing used materials, consider supporting Hands of Hope at its 25th anniversary celebration. Tickets are available from the Hands of Hope office and website. Event and table sponsorships are an option for businesses and corporations looking for ways to give back to their community. Contact Hands of Hope NW at (208) 461-1473; 1201 S. Powerline Rd, Nampa, ID 83686; or visit HandsofHopeNW.org for tickets and impact stories. n
Christian Living | September / October 2021 7
Of truth and religious mountain tops
states and nations. I myself was born in Nampa By Ed Rybarczyk and have family scattered across the Treasure When I was a theology professor, I routinely Valley, but I lived in California for 33 years. ran across this attitude: “All religions lead to the The Gem Sate is undergoing an unprecedented same mountain top called God.” In the generhistorical transformation. We who embrace ous sense, usually one embraced by my someJesus as Lord ought be mindful and strategic in time Christian students, that phrase expressed how we relate to folks inside other religions. Acthe hope that the world’s major religions all knowledging the existence of truth should help wanted the best for people. In the cynical sense, us in a missional sense. Let’s ask, listen, study, a simmering undercurrent at today’s universiand learn before we say things in conversation ties, it was a way to dismiss all the religions as that we’ll regret later. equally fabricated, equally antiquated. Whether But my prior comments about truth are generous or cynical, that all religions want the also important as we reflect on the nature of same things is a widely held belief. Christian faith. In our generosity, while we do And yet, is that really true? Does Orthodox well to first believe the best about others, it is Judaism seek the dissolving of each self into the important that we do not build straw bridges. Is-ness of the universe? Of course not. Do Dao- Ed Rybarczyk Again, as a college theology professor I saw that ists teach their practitioners to guard against sin all the time. Undergraduate students, traveling and hell, or do they believe that life is comprised of a yin and to foreign countries characterized by non-Christian religions, yang balance? The latter, clearly. Does Islam teach that one so earnestly wanted to connect with folks inside those other should daily bow in prayer toward Rome, the religious center cultures and religions that they would trade biblical truth for of the earth? Stop! Does Confucianism hold out hope for a relational unity. Share a meal? Of course. Build friendship? bodily resurrection? Not at all. Does Buddhism encourage its adherents to give their entire identities to the resurrected Lord Why not? Discuss the arduous nature of life in a political Jesus? Let’s not be silly. To be fair to Buddhists, Buddhism does world? Go for it. But for the sake of bridge building, pretend that Christianity is just another manifestation of the one God? not even believe in a God, let alone Jesus as God incarnate. Now a line of demarcation has been crossed. For starters the belief that all religions lead to the same God Social outcasts were magnetically drawn to Jesus. The is dismissive of all the religions. This point is commonly missed chronically diseased (who were therefore deemed religiously by Christians and can make us seem naïve. In the sharing of unclean and shunned), street-folk, prostitutes, and outsiderour faith, or in our mundane conversations with folks who Gentiles all discerned the meekness of the man from Galilee. embrace other religious traditions, it does not serve us well Oh, what would it have been like to be near His person?! He to speak like all religions are finally or secretly the same. No, exuded love. He walked in peace. His soul was beautiful. And we do better to treat the other with respect and humility. And yet for all of that personal presence, Jesus never qualified His those two qualities both direct us to allow the other person to own identity; never made it easier to accept His self-referential genuinely be other, to allow the other religion to genuinely be assertions. He said He is the shepherd before whom all the other. Or to put it in the negative, to believe and act as if all the world’s religions are ultimately the same is to bear false wit- nations of earth would be gathered and judged (Mt. 25:31-46). ness (Ex. 20:16). Better to be honest. It’s better to be charitable He claimed to have the authority of God to judge and forgive sin (Lk. 5:18-26). He conquered death, sin, and the devil. and seek clarity than to be dismissive and naïve. For all His gentleness, Jesus was also unembarrassedly When we process the world’s religions we need to realize that truth is a separating quality. Unless truth is itself a mere fantas- divisive: the truth about Him caused division everywhere He went. The tension between those two – inclusivity and exclumic mental construct, truth variously defines, illuminates, and sivity – was and is dramatic with the person of Christ. separates. For example, if God is eternal and I had a beginWe who exalt Him as risen Lord do well to embrace that ning then I am not God. Or, if the universe had a beginning – same tension: inclusive and exclusive. With our demeanor, posas the dominant scientific model of universal origins now ture, words, and hospitality, let us be inclusive. With our commaintains – then it is not eternal and so is not itself God. mitment to Christ’s unique identity, let us be exclusive. Let us Or, again to push back on still another widespread noremain faithful to the truths that pervade Christian life. n tion – “we are really all one!” – if you are authentically you, a person with your own history, genetics, loves, Ed Rybarczyk, Ph.D., is both an ordained minister wounds, and aspirations, then you and I are difand a retired History of Theology professor. ferent. We may share a ton in common, includHe now produces and hosts the ing finite human nature, but we individuals Uncensored Unprofessor podcast are not fundamentally one. Truth separates. @ uncensoredunprofessor.com. I believe all the forementioned is imporHe may be reached at tant because Idaho is experiencing a firstname.lastname@example.org. sive influx of immigrants from other Image by Klaus Dieter vom Wangenheim from Pixabay
8 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
Kahli wants to be in a faith-filled family The following information is provided by Wednesday’s Child, an organization that helps Idaho foster children find permanent homes. Kahli, 13, is a quirky teen with an adventurous spirit. This brave girl recently let us tag along on a trip to a local salon, where she chose to cut off all her long hair for a new style that better matches the transformation she’s working on in herself as she heads towards a new life with her future adoptive family. A sweet girl who can be just a little shy at first, Kahli quickly warms up and shows off her fun personality. She loves going for long drives, riding bikes or scooters, going camping, swimming, and taking walks. Kahli is in her school choir and enjoys all genres of music, and she also plays the Kahli piano. Her favorite school subject is art and she can’t get enough of anything related to anime. Kahli dreams of someday visiting Japan to fully immerse herself in their culture. She loves making cakes, brownies, and pies and has set a goal of becoming a professional baker. Kahli is a tender-hearted yet resilient girl and is extremely protective of the people she cares about. She finds a sense of purpose in sharing her own difficult life experiences and how she has overcome them, in ways that might help others. Kahli always tries to be kind to everyone around her and prides herself on how good she is at helping her friends work through struggles
in their own lives. Kahli is SO looking forward to being adopted. She has her sights set on finding her Forever Home with a Christian family, one who will take her to church regularly. She’s open to a traditional family with both a mom and a dad, or to a single mom, with no more than 1 or 2 other children in the home. Kahli loves dogs. She describes her relationship with animals as giving her a sense of comfort and connection that just makes everything better. She is really hoping that her adoptive family loves animals as well and that she can have a dog of her own. Kahli’s Permanency Team is open to hearing from Idaho families, as well as families who reside out of state, and is particularly looking for parents for her who have formal trauma training or a significant understanding of the needs of children who come from hard places. Kahli has several siblings and will need a family who is committed to supporting and nurturing those ongoing sibling relationships. If you feel that your family is just what Kahli has been longing for and you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime to begin, inquire today to find out more about this special girl (see below). n For more information on the Idaho Wednesday’s Child Program, visit www.idahowednesdayschild.org, or contact Recruitment Coordinator Shawn White at email@example.com or cell 208488-8989 if you have specific questions.
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Christian Living | September / October 2021 9
What a fine fishing story he’s got to tell
John Vehlow of Kuna likes to fish for his own entertainment but also to help out the young people he has seen in his role as judge for the Ada County Juvenile Court. (Photo by Darrell King)
10 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
By Gaye Bunderson There are many ways to serve the Lord and many places to do it. John and Karen Vehlow of Kuna have served Him in a courtroom, sitting at a judge’s bench. The Vehlows are now both retired and working as what John calls “rent-a-judges” – senior judges who fill in when a full-time judge isn’t available. The story of when the couple met, what transpired in their lives, and how John made himself notable for both being a judge and starting a program for youth called Scales of Justice is an enlightening one about serving where you’re at. “Karen and I moved here the same summer: 1975. She had gone to law school in Michigan, and I went to St. Mary’s University in Texas,” John said. They both took a cram course for the Idaho State Bar exam and married early the next year. “I was the first deputy attorney general for Idaho Fish & Game, and Karen was the first female attorney magistrate in Ada County,” said John. They eventually went into private practice together in Kuna. John was later working at the Boise City Prosecuting Attorney’s Office when an opening came up in 1987 for a magistrate judge. Karen suggested John apply for the job, and he did. “At the behest of my wife, I got it,” he said. “From ‘87 to ‘90, I handled all the magistrate court judge responsibilities.” In that position, John oversaw such things as criminal cases, divorces, guardianships, and adoptions. In 1990, he accepted a position as a judge at the Ada County Juvenile Court and said, “I felt like that was where I belonged, and I stayed there until my retirement in 2005.” Even prior to accepting the judgeship in 1990, he had an affinity for working with juveniles. “To me, the fulfilling work was always at juvenile court. It’s a different type of judging than sitting on a bench in adult criminal cases. The one aspect of being a juvenile court judge was that I found an opportunity to change a life – I truly thought I could make a difference,” he said. “If you could make a general rule [about the juveniles], it was that the majority came from some form of adverse circumstances in the past. But sometimes even kids from good homes just went down the wrong road and got into drugs [or other trouble] out of peer pressure.” Some of the kids may commit a petty offense like stealing something small from a store – it’s a one-time thing and the court never sees them again. However, serious offenders also exist in juvenile court. But the judge maintains no favoritism of good kids over so-called bad kids. He never writes off any of the young people who pass through his court, and his faith is a motivator in that. John said both he and Karen were not attending religious services prior to coming to Idaho. Then they adopted a baby, a boy they named Eric; and, even though it was a closed adoption, they were told through intermediaries that the birth parents wanted their son raised with a solid Christian faith. “We made a promise to raise the child as a Christian,” said John. “We ended up at Kuna Church of the Nazarene. Some dear friends of ours – Ken and Ruth Anne Inselman – led us to the Lord, and we accepted Him into our lives.” Now that their son is grown, the Vehlows are as committed to their faith as ever and now attend Valley Shepherd Church of the Nazarene. John stated: “We accepted Christ, and He has become the most important part of our lives.”
John said that due to the concept of separation of church and state, he cannot outwardly speak about his faith in the courtroom. “But we depend upon our Christian values when we sit on the bench,” he said. “You use everything at your disposal and within your ability to help those kids.” Something the judge used to encourage youth is his love of fishing through an event he was pivotal in creating called The Scales of Justice Bass Tournament. Not surprisingly, it all started with a troubled youth. The story of Tommy L. began in 1999 when, as an 11-year-old boy, Tommy came in front of Judge Vehlow for: having set a mattress on fire in someone’s garage; angrily tipping over all the desks in his classroom; and beating on his little brother. His parents divorced when Tommy was 6; there had been drugs and alcohol and domestic abuse in the family, and both parents had criminal records. Tommy had been abusing his pets, battering his siblings, and hearing voices telling him to do bad things. He had been hospitalized in 1999 three times and put on medications for depression and suicide attempts. At the time of sentencing, he had spent 41 days in detention; his mother had not visited him once. As for his father, an arrest warrant caused him to flee Idaho. When Tommy was in front of him, the judge found himself promising the boy that if he completed probation and stayed out of trouble, he’d take him fishing. John said the comment came out of nowhere and was the first time he’d ever said such a thing in court. He was nearly certain that Tommy’s future likely held more trouble and ultimately commitment to residential treatment. But instead, it turned out that Health & Welfare
removed him from his home and placed him in a stable foster care environment, and he benefited from it. With the help of his probation officer and case worker, Tommy successfully completed probation in 2001 and stayed out of trouble, and the judge thought, “I owe him a fishing trip.” He had procrastinated despite a reminder note on his computer, as well as Tommy’s probation officer telling him from time to time, “He still wants to go fishing, and he’s ready when you are.” “A promise made by his judge had to be kept,” said John. So with a help of a friend, he picked up Tommy, then nearly 13, at his foster family’s home, took him to Lake Lowell and let him steer his boat. “I hooked the first bass and let Tommy reel him in,” said the judge. Then Tommy caught several on his own pole. Later in the day, after all the fishing, the group of three decided to stop for burgers. While waiting to order their burgers, Tommy got the judge’s attention and said, “Judge Vehlow, I want you to know that this has been the greatest day of my life.” The judge, who had seen the worst of deliquent behavior make its way through his court over the years, confesses he teared up at that – and it’s possible he knew right then that that was not to be the last of his fishing adventures with youth. John enjoys bass fishing tournaments with adults and began to think: “Why couldn’t I have a tournament for kids?” And specifically for kids who find themselves in juvenile court? Continued on page 12
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www.Bathmanofidaho.com Christian Living | September / October 2021 11
Continued from page 11 From 1999 to September of 2004, he sought the approval of people who needed to sign off on such a competition, including the Director of Juvenile Court Services, the Idaho Supreme Court, and the Ada County Commissioners, among others. “It took me four years to get it together,” he said. In September of 2004, Scales of Justice launched at Strike Reservoir in Elmore County; over the intervening years, young participants from throughout southern Idaho, as well as Malheur County in Oregon, attended the annual angling competition. But one monkey wrench was thrown into the works, and it’s the same proverbial wrench that ruined so many other things in the past couple of years: COVID-19. Last year, Scales of Justice was cancelled due to the pandemic. It happened again this year when Ada County Commissioners felt there were too many uncertainties to give the go-ahead for SOJ to take place this September. John said he gets it. “I have no bad feelings; I understand completely – it’s unfortunate, but correct.” Nevertheless, he feels it could take a lot of effort to resurrect the event after having it cancelled for two consecutive years. “There are many moving parts,” he said. An SOJ committee met monthly each year to plan the next Scales of Justice tourney; court staff pitched in and helped in organizing the event. Now, some of the order and organization has gone out of it. But it is still potentially on the table for 2022 and no doubt many would like to see it revived. Ken Jenkins, Training Manager for Ada County Juvenile Services, said: “In 2010, I participated in my first Scales of Justice tournament, shortly after I joined Ada County Juvenile Court Services. I have been heavily involved in the 2010-2019 events, including service as the SOJ Committee Chair for three years. During that time I have worked closely with Judge Vehlow, and I stand in awe of his dedication to youth, bass fishing, and positive mentoring to kids facing a challenge. Nothing was quite as heartwarming as seeing the smiles on the faces of those young men and women when they returned to shore. “As the community reviews the SOJ program and community safety this fall, I believe we all hope to see SOJ return. The committee and other SOJ volunteers know how much Judge Vehlow has given to the program. He has built a lasting legacy for Ada County as a judicial leader and stellar volunteer.” The judge stated candidly, “I can’t tell you if Scales of Justice changed lives. I can’t say what impact it had, but I know the youth came in the morning and got in the boats and they came back at the end of the day with their eyes wide open. In 16 years, no kid has been brought back to the shore for bad behavior.”
John and Karen Vehlow are both judges. They have often fallen back on their Christian values to guide them in their careers. (Photo by Andrew Sterling, Sterling Images, Austin, Texas)
The kids, usually between the ages of 13-16, pair up with boaters and are given angling equipment, such as a rod and reel and a tackle box; at the end of the day, they get a plaque and a photo of themselves with the fish they caught. Then there is a picnic and an awards presentation. It has been a program well worth the four-year wait that preceded it. The judge said that someone once told him there was a risk in doing the tournament but that risks are sometimes worthwhile. SOJ has been one of those instances. What’s best about Judge Vehlow and his wife is their complete lack of pretension. Neither has any sense that because they were – and still are on a part-time basis – important members of the rarified group known as courtroom judges that they are any better than anyone else. Judge John Vehlow is well-known simply as Judge Bubba; his wife, who also worked at Northwest Nazarene University teaching business law, among other subjects during her academic career, is quick to say, “We just try to be ourselves.” Despite all they’ve accomplished, it seems to be working – and hopefully John will be out on a boat with a young person as Scales of Justice 2022 re-launches next year. n
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ChristianLivingmag.com 12 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
THE ROAD Less Traveled
Don’t turn back unless it’s time to turn back
clear day. The online forecast now called for thunBy Jason Herring derstorms on the mountain. We had made the This past year I was asked to give the closing right decision. It was time to pack out. prayer at the Idaho State Prayer Breakfast. The It was disappointing not to reach the goal of guest speaker was Brian Dickinson, former Navy the summit. I had invested in necessary gear and Aviation Rescue Swimmer and author of Blind made the trip in hopes of standing on top of the Descent – a gripping tale that he shared with a most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous captivated audience that morning. In 2011 Brian United States. But I had been in this situation bemade a solo summit of Mount Everest after his fore on a summit attempt of Kings Peak in Utah. Sherpa became ill at high camp. Because of a Remotely located in the Uinta Mountains, King’s small crack on his goggles, he developed a severe Peak is Utah’s tallest mountain. After a long drive case of snow blindness on his way down from the down dirt and gravel roads to get to the trailhead, summit. How he made it back to high camp is a you have to hike 13.5 miles to get to the summit. miracle and the theme of Blind Descent, in which I was about 500 vertical feet below the summit he gives all the glory to God. After the Prayer when a massive lightning storm rolled in. I made Breakfast I shared my love for the mountains, and the decision to turn back. It was a 26-mile round Brian offered that we should go climbing in the trip that left me 500 feet shy of my summit goal. PNW sometime. When I mentioned that I had al- Jason Herring Brian Dickinson has successfully summitted the ways wanted to climb Mount Rainier, we decided highest mountains on all seven continents except for his home to plan a trip. continent of North America. Twice he’s been turned back from This year provided an open window, and on the first week of a summit push on Denali due to weather and dangerous condiAugust we set out from Sunrise to head up the Emmons Route tions. Imagine the thousands of dollars, months of preparation, to make high camp at Schurman and summit Washington’s high point the following morning. It was Brian, myself, and a great guy and tremendous effort involved to come within striking distance of one of the most prominent peaks on earth. Only Everest and from his church named Tom. When we finally reached the snowfield and put on our crampons and harnesses, we were well above Aconcagua are more isolated. But as legendary mountaineer Ed the normal boundaries of the glacier because of snowmelt and Viesturs always said, “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down intense summer heat. We embarked across a couple of football is mandatory.” Viesturs is the only American to summit all 14 of field-sized patches of snow before we came to solid ice. Roping the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, and yet he turned back on 7 of up, we embarked up the sparkling blue crust with a much more his 21 attempts. On his first attempt at Mount Everest he turned methodical, focused pace. You could hear a river of water rushing back only 300 feet below the summit. Can you imagine? beneath the ice that my crampons were biting into while little When going for a stroll around Washington, D.C., Ulysses S. streams rushed over the surface. Grant would never turn back to retrace his steps. It was a thing We ascended a short distance as Brian took the lead scoutfor him to always go forward. And while that approach served ing for a safer route ahead. Seeing none, he called for a quick him well as commanding general in the American Civil War, it huddle so we could assess our situation. We were probably a little didn’t always benefit him in life as evidenced in his two scandalover 100 yards up the ice with maybe another 1,500 feet before ridden terms as U.S. President. In High Altitude Leadership, reaching high camp. The conditions weren’t any better farther Chris Warner and Don Schminke write: “Walking away does not up. It was one solid sheet of ice. The spring and winter snows mean giving up. It’s about maintaining a higher-level strategy that had melted from the surface, leaving it exposed and unstable. We allows you to withdraw and then return again. It’s not a sign of were informed at the Ranger Station that only the day before, two weakness; only smart leaders know when and how to retreat well. guided groups had turned away from the summit and stated they Perseverance does not mean continuing on in the face of imposwould not be leading any more groups that season. Was this the sible obstacles, but having the capacity to retreat, rethink, and reason? return.” While we stood there weighing our options, a rockfall cascaded Sometimes in life, whether it be in business, career choices, over the snowfield we had just traversed. I looked down the relationships, or ministry, we must retreat, rethink, and return. mountain and realized how hard it would be to self-arrest if one In church camp we sang as kids, “I have decided to follow Jesus. of us slipped. Sliding and scraping and bouncing down hard ice No turning back, no turning back.” We should never turn back while carrying a 70-pound backpack was not my idea of advenfrom following Jesus. To even look back is unfit for the kingdom ture. “This is just like Lhotse,” Brian said. “Except you have two of God. But following Jesus should not be confused with pursuing miles of it and fixed rope lines.” a ministry calling, following a ministry leader, or filling a ministry “This is like the Lhotse Face?” I asked in surprise. role. Sometimes you have to step away. “Yes,” Brian answered. “Except the key difference being: with In relationships we can find that “the arrows are beyond you” fixed ropes.” to borrow a line from the story of David. You’ve gone as far as We all agreed that we were outside the comfort level of manyou possibly can. When your heart is set on something and you’re ageable risk. The mountain wasn’t going anywhere. There would emotionally invested, it’s easy to ignore the signs. It’s easy to get be another summer, another time, another opportunity. So we summit fever. Mountaineers will tell you to “listen to the mounturned back. A group of about a dozen climbers passed us at the tain.” Just the same we have to listen to the still small voice that edge of the snowfield. As we shed our crampons and harnesses, God has placed inside of us and know when to withdraw. We we watched them freeze out on the ice and then remain frozen often think of God’s will in relation to a position or a place or a before slowly venturing to a clear ledge where they held conferperson. But critical to this is God’s timing. God’s timing is always ence over the same concerns and fears that we had expressed. perfect. Don’t be afraid to turn back. Wait on the Lord, and He Clouds rolled in, shrouding the summit on what was forecast as a will bring it to pass. n
14 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
Christian Living Spotlight: What is it? By Sandy Jones “You have a radio show?” came the voice on the other end of the phone. What? You mean everyone doesn’t pick up every edition of Christian Living Magazine and read it word for word? Yes, in October of 2020 we launched Christian Living Spotlight, a half-hour chat radio show that airs every Saturday at noon on 94.1FM (KBXL 94.1 The Voice). Our ministry was blessed with a generous grant to cover the show. Who are our guests? I’m glad you asked. Each week we dive deeper into the stories and ministries you read about in Christian Living Magazine. We have had a couple of instances when the timeline between magazine deadline and ministry needs or an event don’t line up and we’ve shared them with our listeners, but nearly always the show is a deeper look into or an update about a ministry or person who has been in the magazine. We invite you to join us this Saturday at noon to listen in to this week’s special guest, who will encourage you with hope and inspiration. (Missed the show? You can catch any of the past shows on our website, www.ChristianLivingMag.com, and look under the About Us tab for “Radio Archives.”) n
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Caldwell Prayer Walk set for October 9
The annual Caldwell Prayer Walk will be held Saturday, October 9, beginning at 3 p.m. (The walk held earlier this year was to make up for last year’s walk, which had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. The walk is generally held later in the year each year.) The walk will start at Caldwell Memorial Park. “We walk around downtown, praying at various locations,” said walk organizer, Arlene Robinett. “We pray for the mayor and the city council, as well as for the policemen, the firemen, the paramedics, the businesses, all the colleges and schools, for all ages of people and occupations, for Caldwell to keep thriving and be a great place to live, and for safety and peace.” Those who wish to may stay at the park band shell to pray. A potluck dinner will follow the walk, and those in attendance are encouraged to bring their favorite dish. For more information, call Robinett at (208) 391-8516. n
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“I GET TO!”®
Believe the Creator’s words over critics
By Joan Endicott “If you don’t want to be embarrassed, humiliated, or be ranked on a 1-10 scale, don’t ever go down the senior hall, Joan!” I remember as a freshman in high school being warned by older friends who told me about certain senior jocks who sported their lettermen’s jackets and stood along the senior hall wall making horrible, judgmental, sexist comments about any girl who walked by. I was so terrified by the thought of such humiliation I would have walked a mile around campus to avoid that experience like a plague. We’ve probably all laughed at similar situations if they were in sitcoms like, the 1950’s-based show Happy Days, especially if it included actor Henry Winkler, playing Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli who was considered the epitome of cool. Though funny in a sitcom, being labeled in real life is not funny and can clearly cause real trauma. Thinking about this right now may bring up difficult memories of when you felt deeply wounded after being labeled, called names, or bullied in some way. Please know, you are not alone. Frankly, I have yet to meet anyone who is exempt. Even those who have bullied were bullied. You see, over the years before and after the days of fearing “jock judgments,” I’ve heard countless condemning voices hurling attacks and insults at me. Things like, “You’re ugly, you’re a failure, you’re stupid, you’re fat, you’re a loser, you’re selfish, unloved, unwanted, and unworthy”—just to name a few. I’ve also been bombarded by messages like, “Who do you think you are? You can’t do that! It’s too late for you! You’re too young/old, you don’t know enough, not enough talent/gifts/ abilities, you don’t have the right background/family/DNA, stop dreaming—just face it, you’ll never be enough!” As I’ve shared with you, some of these hurtful words did come from other broken, hurting people, but over the years the majority of times I’ve felt overwhelmed by such destructive, debilitating messages, they’ve come from that insecure blonde gal looking back at me in the mirror. We may think these are coming from our own internal, insecure critic—but if it is contradicting what God says about us, isn’t it ultimately coming from the enemy of our soul—The Deceiver himself ?
Where did this destructive dialogue come from?
Let’s look back at our sister Eve. Genesis 3:1: The serpent was the craftiest of all the creatures the Lord God had made. So, the serpent came to the woman. “Really?” he asked.“None of the fruit in the garden? God says you mustn’t eat any of it?” 2-3 “Of course we may eat it,” the woman told him. “It’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we
Fellowship of Christian Businessmen
are not to eat. God says we mustn’t eat it or even touch it, or we will die.” 4 “That’s a lie!” the serpent hissed. “You’ll not die! 5God knows very well that the instant you eat it you will become like him, for your eyes will be opened—you will be able to distinguish good from evil!” 6 The woman was convinced... (Living Bible) In that moment of temptation, Eve believed the serpent more than she believed God, was deceived, and sin entered the world! WOW! Notice how the serpent plants doubt, twists God’s Word and calls God a liar? Nothing has changed! From the Garden of Eden until Jesus comes again to reign, the devil’s desire is our destruction. In John 10:10 Jesus reminds us that, “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I (Jesus) came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This is exactly why every thought we have about who God is and who He says we are should be held up to His Word to see if it’s in agreement with what our Creator says. If the devil can make us doubt what God says about our worth and value or doubt that God loved us enough that Jesus paid the ultimate price for our life, then just like Eve, we’re deceived! The good news of the gospel is that when Jesus Christ died for our sins, He made a way where there was no other way to have a relationship with God. He who knew no sin took on all our sin —past, present, future. He paid a debt we could never pay! Ohhh, that wonderful, marvelous, matchless grace of Jesus is greater than all our sin. I have absolutely no idea where I would be apart from knowing Christ as my Savior and Lord. It has influenced my every decision—one of the most important being who I dated and then married on December 20, 1980. Mark’s unwavering commitment, love and faithfulness to Christ have been the spiritual compass for his commitment and faithfulness to me, our family and anything he does in life. Apart from my salvation, Mark is the greatest gift God could have given me. I can only imagine how things might have been different without knowing God’s love and being mentored by others who love Him. I would have literally looked for love in all the wrong places and tried every possible substance to help numb heartaches and reminders of a broken, painful past. It’s often crossed my mind that I may have been on a similar path as my sweet friend Laurie—I share her story in Chapter 1 of my first book—who ran away from home and her horribly abusive stepfather at age 15. As a frightened teen she pursued a life she could have more control over, which led her to drugs and prostitution. There is no one’s life we can look at and not
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compassionately say, “Except for the grace of invite You to come into my heart and life. I want God, that would be me.” Her soul exploded with to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. gratitude for all Jesus had done for her when In Your name, Jesus, Amen.” she accepted Him as Lord and Savior. I know What next? that Laurie would want you to know the truth of what Corrie ten Boom’s sister Betsie said, Pray. Read your Bible. Go to a Jesus-loving, Bible-teaching church. Get plugged into a good “There is no pit so deep God is not deeper still.” In this world you will be judged by others— Bible study—in person or online. Just as we all need good, nutritious food to be physically much more harshly than any immature, insecure senior boys could. My prayer for you (and healthy, we need good, spiritual food to grow myself) is that, as we walk through the various and be spiritually healthy. Multi-award-winning singer/songwriter, Lanny halls of life, we focus not on the critical voices Joan Endicott Wolfe, wrote one of my favorite songs, Only along the sidelines, rather, The One—The only One—who is qualified to judge, yet offers kindJesus Can Satisfy Your Soul. ness and compassion. If my eyes are lifted up and focused on The world may try to satisfy that longing in your soul. You my Savior and Lord, I will not be distracted by the devil’s lies may search the wide world o’er but you’ll be just as before. about who God is or who I am. I will not be worried about who You’ll never find true satisfaction until you’ve found the I am, but rejoice in whose I am. Lord, for only Jesus can satisfy your soul. I hope you see this is not about religion, rather it is about a reOnly Jesus can satisfy your soul. Yes, only He can change lationship with the One True God—the God of the Bible. The your heart and make you whole. He’ll give you peace you difference between being a follower of Jesus and the follower never knew, sweet joy and love and Heaven, too. For only of a religion, is that those gods are all dead. But Jesus—HE’S Jesus can satisfy your soul. n ALIVE and He loves you just as you are, right where you are. Friend, do you have peace with God? If you died tonight, do Grab your FREE copy of Joan Endicott’s “I Get To!”® you know where you would spend eternity? book at JoanEndicott.com. Joan is an Award-Winning KeyIf not, I invite you to pray this prayer and ask Jesus to become note Speaker, Author and Coach whose coaching has reached Lord and Savior of your life: “Dear Jesus, I know that I’m a over 30 countries. Meet her and enjoy her encouraging messinner and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe You died and rose sages on Facebook and Instagram! again to pay the price for my sins. I turn from my sins, and I
Christian Living | September / October 2021 17
GOD’S opinion on:
Race, culture, gender, age and class Therefore let us stop passing judgment on By Steve Nelson one another. Instead, make up your mind not The world is fantastic at times, especially to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the when different kinds of people stand together way of a brother or sister. (Romans 14:13) in unity. The best example is the body of 3. Gender: A) Contradicting the heroic imChrist, with a huge variety of people serving age of a loving and strong father, why do the and working together to accomplish the imposmedia and Hollywood continue to emascusible. This group, although physically different, late the image of fathers by pushing constant has “common spiritual genetics” with each stereotypes of weak, stupid men who cannot individual in God’s family. However, without lead their own families or parent their own spiritual understanding, any person can get children successfully? B) Despite clear inpulled into the world‘s petty conflicts, where structions in the Bible for dads and moms to exaggerated physical differences are used to work together, why do some men suggest they divide, criticize and harm. do not have to participate in parenting, but In this article we’ll look at five of these catcan dodge this responsibility and leave it all egories. Each will include a couple of rhetorion the shoulders of the mothers to do the child cal questions to help us think, some insight on Steve Nelson raising alone? God’s “opinion” (Truth) as learned from the Men and woman are distinct, each having unique strengths, Bible, then finally a Scripture. 1. Race: A) Why do people care so much about skin color weaknesses, authority and influence. However, from a spiritual point of view, no matter if male or female, everyone has an when God does not? B) Since a person cannot choose nor equal chance to believe God or not. This believing involves alter their genetics, why are people judged by physical charaction. Merely acknowledging God’s existence isn’t that noteacteristics? Humans have varying shades of the brown pigment melanin, worthy, since even the devil himself knows God exists, as an example. Believing is a verb which corresponds to action in folwhich designates skin tone, simply a physical trait. Yet what lowing and obeying the guidance in life by God, found in the defines a person’s quality is not about the outer appearance, Bible. No gender is ever inferior, nor spiritually advantageous, rather it is the heart where God looks. Humans, however, still in the eyes of God. compare outwardly due to spiritual immaturity. Racism is There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, an excessive physical emphasis. It ignores the spiritual qualinor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ ties that actually matter, which are those behavioral choices Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) for each individual: thoughts, words and actions. Ignorance 4. Age: A) Why do societies, in particular via social of God’s wisdom and fear are two of the reasons why people attack others who are different than themselves. The emphasis media, continue to show unbalanced regard for the opinions on life, as taught by Jesus and others in the Bible, is about help- of youth at the expense of the wisdom of the elderly? B) Conversely, in other scenarios, why do many disregard the ing others, no matter if short, tall, big, small or if blue, green, opinions of young people, assuming they don’t have a valuorange or purple. able contribution merely because they have less experience? But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his apSocieties must better utilize the combination of youthful pearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord enthusiasm and mature wisdom. From a person’s first breath does not look at the things people look at. People look at the until their last, God is fully involved in the life of each person. outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Therefore there is no question of what God does, but rather Samuel 16:7) 2. Culture: A) Since there is only one true God, our com- what we as individuals do in response to God’s love. Neither mon Creator, why do some suggest God favors people within seasoned experience nor young energy are the most important factors to validate if a contribution is valuable or not. The ulcertain political borders? B) Since God is not guided by timate measure of quality is in those ideas that are in harmony favoritism, why do some suggest that when and where they with the Word of God. Young or old, our lives will be successwere born indicates they are loved by God more than others ful at every stage as we walk with God. born at different times and places? The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the Despite tunnel vision and bias, people often think their own splendor of the old. (Proverbs 20:29) particular generation and way of life is better than others in 5. Social class: A) Why do people in the world so often the eyes of God. However, principles of the Word of God define “success” in proportion to their amount of money? endure across every generation and supersede every fleetB) Why do so many people abuse the generosity of goving trend and custom. No individual is measured merely on ernments and private groups, instead of working hard to their location or time in history, but rather their decisions provide for themselves? to love God and others, or not, related to their own unique If rich, middle class or poor, God is the one we should aim to circumstances. Humans are constantly criticizing others, while please with our conduct in life and our efforts to have genuelevating themselves. Yet, it is not a question of what we do in comparison to others, but rather what we do with the potential ine prosperity. Society treats people differently based on their income bracket, yet we can treat all people with respect, no and opportunities we specifically were given. God is the God matter what economic level a person is labeled. Grace, mercy, of all. No person is ever measured by God in comparison to compassion and kindness are a part of life, with each person another person.
18 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
needing help at different times and in different ways, for a season. Tough financial times happen even to righteous individuals when Satan thwarts believers from prospering. But God rescues people financially. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. (3 John 2) Let’s move ahead with confidence, enjoying what makes us all unique. What a joy life can be when we realize what we have in common as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you! n Steve Nelson has been a Bible teacher for over 25 years. This article comes from “Common Spiritual Genetics” Segments 31-35 of “CORE”, a course for families on how to read and understand the Bible. See T4FAMILYCENTER.COM or reach Steve at T4FamilyCenter@ gmail.com.
Artwork by Steve Nelson
Fourfold Kingdom of God
Family is why we do it all.
Design of the Space-time Universe By Gerald Paul Kooyers
Four Functional Realms
One of the more intriguing often repeated themes of the Christian Scriptures is the quantity of four: • 4 types of trees in Garden of Eden • 1 river becomes 4 to water the 4 trees • 4 beasts in the prophecy of Daniel • 4 creatures w/4 faces in Ezekiel’s vision of God • 4 horses/ 4 chariots in Zechariah’s vision • 4 living creatures surround Throne of God in Revelation • 4 Horsemen • 4 Messengers of Destiny
An interesting read - For those seeking a scientific discussion of Christianity
A book for those seeking to understand how the universe is designed; what makes man tick; how to have an eternal life of peace, fragrance, & beauty, this is a very valuable read.
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Christian Living | September / October 2021 19
His Road From
To The Statehouse Doug Armstrong is shown with his grandson Carter and his wife Amber. (Photo by Jay Armstrong)
By Gaye Bunderson Doug Armstrong served for the first time as the Senate chaplain during this year’s Idaho legislative session. “I was a complete rookie,” he said. But, so far at least, no one has accused him of making any rookie mistakes. He got together with long-time House of Representatives chaplain, Tom Dougherty, and got some words of advice from him. Some of the most welcome information he got was from Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, who first asked him to serve as chaplain, but was told no. What eventually drew Armstrong into the chaplaincy was finding out from Winder that the chaplain is not allowed to take sides or be partisan. Armstrong was used to practicing non-partisanship. He’d worked in television news for 34 years and was motivated by objectivity to remain free from political bias.
20 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
Though Armstrong, 63, is well-known in the valley for his work as KTVB’s president and general manager for 22 years and as a frequent speaker at faith-based events, everyone has a beginning that few frequently know little about. Armstrong was born and raised in Lewiston. “Growing up,” he said, “my mom was a believer and wanted us to go to Sunday school. My dad’s example was not Christian, but he was an amazing man. I thought my father’s world was more interesting.” His father, Arvid, had a 12th grade education and his grandfather had only an 8th grade education. But both men possessed character traits that Armstrong admired. “They were hard-working, and they’d do anything for anybody. They were two of the greatest men I’ve ever known,” he said.
Ideas about manhood were planted in Armstrong by the way his father cared for his family and other people, but he was left without an image of what a completely committed Christian man might be like. After high school, he attended Whitworth University in Spokane and said of the experience: “Even though it was basically a faith-based institution, that mattered nothing to me.” In 1977, during his freshman year in college, the No. 1 book in the country was Looking Out for No. 1 by Robert Ringer. Its lessons included the idea that self-sacrifice is foolishness and that a person should work toward attaining sole dominion over his or her own life. The subtitle of the book was “How to Get from Where You Are Now to Where You Want to be in Life,” espousing the notion that getting ‘where you want to be’ will lead to the highest fulfillment. Armstrong accepted that book as his how-to manual for a satisfying life. “That became my navigation app to happiness,” he said. His primary goal post-college was to build a successful business career. “It all merged into wanting to run a company,” he said. In 1985, armed with a degree in business from Whitworth, Armstrong became a controller and business manager in Boise for King Broadcasting Co., which owned 4 television stations at the time. He was in his late 20s, and around the same time, he met a woman named Amber. The couple got engaged. In 1988, Armstrong was offered a job with KHNL, a Honolulu television station. He and Amber got married and, as Armstrong puts it, “We ended up going to Honolulu for a honeymoon, and stayed.” In 1989, Armstrong was named president and general manager of KHNL, a job he held for eight years. He was in his early 30s and was living out his life goals, the ones he’d decided on after reading Robert Ringer’s book: master of his own universe, propelling himself to success, standing on the highest rungs of everything that mattered to him. Except that it didn’t. “The clock started ticking on my discontent,” he said. “I thought I was going to be content, but I wasn’t. Happiness, peace, and satisfaction didn’t arrive. I was still the same discontented person.” He’d gotten the fulfillment of his dreams, and in a Hawaiian paradise no less, but none of it felt the way he’d expected. “I’m a reader and researcher,” he said, “so I started studying comparative religion.” Later, during his morning commute, he went through the radio channels and landed on KLHT – sort of like Boise’s 94.1 The Voice – and he would listen to it during his 45-minute drive to work. He listened to such Christian teachers as Chuck Smith, Mike McIntosh, and Greg Laurie. Laurie was a particular favorite of Armstrong’s. Unbeknownst to him at the time, his wife was also on the search for more meaning in life. “Amber and I were on the same path,” Armstrong said, going on to highlight his wife’s best qualities. “She’s dedicated, determined, dependable, a great team partner. She’s a hard worker, independent, self-sufficient.” His and Amber’s path toward a life of faith was “a slow, incremental, two-year journey, and I began to realize that my navigation app might be leading me in the wrong direction. My job was fun but not fulfilling.” He and Amber had also started to think about having children. In doing so, they discussed what they saw as “the big three questions of life” that many children are likely to ask in one form or another. Those include: where do I come from; why am I here; and what happens when I die? “We realized we hadn’t answered those questions for ourselves. We wanted to give an innocent child an informed answer to those questions.” It was uncomfortable to think he might not have all the answers.
His and Amber’s search for meaning and answers intensified. They searched the Yellow Pages in the phone book and selected a church: East Oahu Christian Church, now Island Family Christian Church. They made what Armstrong refers to as “a cold call” one Sunday. The pastor of the church, Ron Hunt, had suffered a neck injury while body surfing and had to wear a large neck brace and medical paraphernalia around his head. In order to read the Bible, he had to extend his arms and hold the Bible up high, which he did while in front of the congregation. “We found that interesting, like watching a sideshow,” said Armstrong. They kept attending, and before long, Armstrong got to know Hunt quite well, and they golfed together. At one point, the pastor told Armstrong that Greg Laurie was going to hold a Harvest Crusade in Hawaii. “You should go,” he said. Armstrong’s initial response was no. He was still trying to fly under the radar with this newfound Christian thing. “I said no because I didn’t want anyone I knew to see me. I wanted to pride myself on being okay ... but I wasn’t okay.” Hunt was persistent, and Armstrong and his wife showed up at the crusade. They listened to Laurie speak, and Armstrong – who was 33 at the time – said he felt that it was the Holy Spirit speaking to him as well, not just the evangelist. “I came to terms with ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’. I found out I’m not my own creator,” Armstrong said. “The Scripture verse that most spoke to me at that time was John 3:30: He must increase, but I must decrease. I knew right then that God had put me on a two-year collision course with myself.” He now gave sole dominion of his life to Christ. Pastor Hunt baptized him in Hawaii. He made the commitment in 1991; in August of 1992, his first daughter, Lauren, was born. In 1994, his son Jay was born. Lauren was 4 and Jay was 2 when the position opened up in Boise for a new president and general manager at KTVB, the job Armstrong held until 2018, when he retired. In 1998, the couple had a third child, Taylor, now 23. Lauren, 29, lives in Tacoma; Jay, 27, lives in Meridian; and Taylor lives in New York City. “It’s been a joy and privilege to be their father, and I have learned so much about life, being a father. We love our children unconditionally, deeply, and equally, and that’s what we don’t compromise on,” Armstrong said of himself and Amber. After going through several profound family-related heartbreaks in his last year or so before retirement, the details of which he prefers to keep private, he experienced a crisis of faith. He signed up to attend Moody Theological Seminary in part because he sought to allay some of his doubts through Bible study. He was asking God “why” a lot and came to the realization that with all he was going through, he “couldn’t fix any of it” even though as a boss he was supposed to fix everything – and he did, as much as he could. But during his time of crisis, he was helpless, at a loss, having no ability to fix even the smallest thing. When he attended Moody at age 60, he said, “The why turned into what,” as he realized God was going to use him for His plans, and use some of his sufferings for His work. He was asked to make a three-minute speech during the Moody Theological Seminary Commencement Breakfast in Chicago on May 18, 2019. The first paragraph of the speech reads: “As the oldest student in my cohort, perhaps I viewed the idea of a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies differently than others. Continued on page 22
Christian Living | September / October 2021 21
Doug Armstrong Continued from page 21
After all, I had no occupational aspirations. Instead, it was a series of life events that drove me to question my faith and test its foundation. I reasoned that if I was going to spend the remainder of my life ‘believing in something’ then it must be founded on historical truth and objective reality. I truly dislike delusion. So, for me, the two-year journey was more important than the destination.” [See the full speech on page 23] Armstrong likes to quote D.L. Moody when he explains how he saw his work at KTVB, as well as his chaplaincy with the Idaho Legislature. Moody used lighthouses to make a point about Christianity when he said: “A holy life will produce the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine.” “At KTVB, I never blew my horn, I just tried to shine,” Armstrong said. “Also, the community meant a lot to me.” For instance, he launched 7Cares Idaho Shares and other programs during his tenure at the station. “We set a path and charted a course to come alongside the families in the community. We sought to be radical and helpful to local businesses, organizations, and families. We asked nonprofits like the Boise Rescue Mission, ‘How can we come alongside you and supercharge your efforts by making it a multi-year effort?’ We measured our success by asking: Is the charity meeting its goals?” 7Cares Idaho Shares is still going strong and took in more donations last year than any previous year and also won a Cel- Doug Armstrong served as chaplain for the Idaho Senate during the 2021 ebration of Service to America Award from the National Aslegislative session earlier this year. He will return again for the 2022 session. sociation of Broadcasters for stepping up during the pandemic. (Photo by Heather Goetter) As for being the Senate chaplain, he did an about-face on politicians. “I was cynical about politicians until I met and got as well as the brief introductions he wrote up for their edificato know many of them. I thought all politicians were primartion. He quotes such notable people as Abraham Lincoln and ily motivated by self-interest and re-election. But now that I’ve Mother Teresa, giving encouragement and a bit of historical gotten to know members of the legislature, my opinion has and/or current context. changed. These are good people, and I say that about both Armstrong will be returning to the Idaho Senate next year to Democrats and Republicans. They care about Idaho.” serve once again as its chaplain. As he has learned that politiIn early July, Armstrong published a book titled, “2021 Idaho cians can be good people too, those who meet him may deduce Senate Prayers: Idaho’s Longest Session.” It includes the words from his behavior that the same can be said of believers like he prayed over and with the legislators and their staff each day, him. They don’t blow their horns. They just shine. n
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22 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
“What I Learned in Graduate School” By Douglas Armstrong
Speech delivered at Moody Theological Seminary Commencement Breakfast, Chicago IL 5/18/2019 As the oldest student in my cohort, perhaps I viewed the idea of a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies differently than others. After all, I had no occupational aspirations. Instead, it was a series of life events that drove me to question my faith and test its foundation. I reasoned that if I was going to spend the remainder of my life ‘believing in something’ then it must be founded on historical truth and objective reality. I truly dislike delusion. So, for me, the 2-year journey was more important than the destination. Graduate school helped me see why the Bible is the most unique and best-selling book in the history of the world. This year alone, over 100-million copies will be printed worldwide. The Bible is really more like a small library; made up of dozens of separate books, penned by 40 different writers, written over a period of 1,500 years, spanning 50 generations, originating from 3 continents, and in 3 different languages. Its authentic historicity is anchored by early manuscripts that number in the thousands. Moreover, it contains diverse literary genres including law, history, wisdom, poetry, narrative, songs, epistles, and prophecy. And yet, from this ‘stew’ of diversity, the Bible voices one single unified, seamless, and beautifully integrated “story of God” from beginning to
end. How is this perfect unity possible? It’s akin to a large symphony orchestra with diverse musical instruments, yet the conductor blends diversity into harmony. I see why the Bible is more than ink-on-paper, and how it delivers divinely-inspired answers to questions like: Who is God? Why am I here? What is wrong with this world? How can things be made right? To be clear, we do not worship the Bible. Rather, we exalt the person whom the Bible reveals: the Lord Jesus Christ. There are nearly 300 scriptural references to over 60 prophecies of a promised “Messiah” that were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The odds of one person fulfilling all these prophecies is beyond all mathematical possibility. Beyond this, the disciples of Jesus witnessed the first Easter, and this miraculous experience emboldened them to spread the good news. Even under the constant threat of prison and death, the disciples’ devotion to what they knew to be true literally changed the world. Saint Augustine said this about the Bible, “The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.” Charles Dickens said, “It is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world.” President Theodore Roosevelt said, “No man, educated or uneducated, can afford to be ignorant of the Bible.” And, D.L. Moody, the namesake of this university said, “The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.” My transformation is due to biblical beauty, goodness, and truth. After questioning my faith and testing its foundation, I was led back into the loving arms of Jesus Christ. n
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Christian Living | September / October 2021 23
YOUR Daily Bread
Coping with, staying ahead of inflation yourselves treasures on earth, where moth By Terry Frisk Have you noticed the uptick in prices lately? and rust consume and thieves break in and I’m sure you all have. It recently cost me over steal.” There is a greater risk of spoilage and $90 to fill my vehicle with gasoline. I looked waste when you buy more than enough to back at purchases in January and it cost less fulfill your current needs. than $50 to fill the tank at that time. WOW! 4. Be good stewards with what you The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics have. Carefully plan major purchases and reported overall prices increased 5.4% from avoid buying more than you need. Keep June 2020 to June 2021. While fuel costs are what you have in good working order and a large portion of the increase, prices are incomplete repairs and maintenance when creasing for many items. Groceries increased needed. Avoid replacing items before they 2.4% over the past year, while clothing was reach the end of their useful life. I drove my up 4.9% and used cars were up a whopping previous vehicle for 12 years and only had to 45.2%! As the world reopens from the pancomplete routine maintenance. Keeping it demic, we are paying more for goods and Terry Frisk nice reduced my desire to trade and resulted services as demand outpaces supply. Many of in a higher value when I did trade it. us are being forced to reevaluate our budget 5. Use your resources efficiently. Be thinking ahead in response to make ends meet. Over the last 40 years, the average annual inflation rate and plan how you spend your time and money. Plan your in the U.S hovered between 1% and 3%, much lower than errands to minimize the amount of time and distance you the average annual rate of 7% experienced in the 1970’s. spend in your vehicle. This not only saves gas and reduces For the most part, wages in recent years have kept pace the miles on your vehicle, it also saves you time for more with price increases. However, the recent spike in prices has important activities. made it difficult to make ends meet. How do we stay ahead 6. Avoid using debt to accumulate possessions of inflation? Here are some action steps you can take: you cannot afford now. I’ve heard it said, “It’s going to 1. Review your budget. Look at how price increases cost more in the future, so I borrowed to buy it now.” Howare affecting your budgeted spending and make necessary ever, this ignores the interest that would be paid on the debt. adjustments to compensate. If you do not have a budget, The credit monitoring service WalletHub recently reported now is a good time to start. Jesus addressed budgeting in Luke 14:28 stating, “For which of you, desiring to build a the average interest rate on credit card debt is 14.61%, which would likely exceed any increase in the cost of the tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether item purchased. he has enough to complete it?” While many experts believe the recent inflationary trend 2. Shop for the best value. Many times store brand or is temporary, it is important to adjust our finances in regeneric products are just as good if not the same as name brand products. Name brand products spend a lot of money sponse. You may feel helpless swimming against the tide of advertising their brand, which is built into the price of the escalating prices. But through prayer and planning, you can product. Often the store brand is the same as the name overcome the financial adversity through your faith in God brand with a different label. to provide. Take care and may God bless! n 3. Avoid stocking up in anticipation of higher prices. While this may seem like a good idea, it results in Terry Frisk is a partner in the firm B2B CFO, providspending a disproportionate amount of money stocking ing financial advisory services to small businesses. He also up, thereby reducing the amount of money you have for counsels individuals on personal financial matters through the other immediate needs. I am reminded of Jesus’s statement Cathedral of the Rockies Budget Counseling ministry. He on materialism in Matthew 6:19: “Do not store up for may be contacted through e-mail at email@example.com.
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24 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
Spouses, look for lessons in your differences and so forth. When everyone works in unity, each By Gary Moore part enhances the others and together they serve In case you haven’t noticed, you and your the purposes of God. spouse are different. And I don’t just mean God designed our differences to be assets, not anatomically. You’re different in every aspect liabilities. When we learn to maximize our difof life – talkers often marry people who are quiet and reflective; early risers often marry ferences for the benefit of the marriage, we align those who “don’t do mornings”; planners often our lives with God’s purposes. The Bible calls marry people who work out the details as they this marital unity. go along; penny-pinchers often marry spenders. In working with couples, I’ve found that it’s I’m sure you could add many more examples. relatively easy to get them to recognize the differOur personalities are even different. And even ences and then accept their differences. However, if we have the same basic personality traits, we getting them to celebrate and affirm each other’s express them differently. In many marriages differences is a “different animal”. But when they these differences first irritate, then grate. Then are able to celebrate and affirm their differences, after many years of arguing about differences, they weld themselves into an unbeatable team. each trying to convince the other that his or her Gary Moore How do we “maximize our differences”? Let way is the best way, couples often conclude that me suggest five steps that Dr. Gary Chapman lists they are incompatible. In fact, incompatibility – or “irreconcilin his book, The 4 Seasons of Marriage. able differences” – is often given as the grounds for divorce. Step 1 – Identify Your Differences. How are you differIn God’s plan, our differences were never intended to divide ent? The most obvious differences will be those that are the most us. God instituted marriage as a union of two unique individuirritating. Thus, one way to identify your differences is to make als. He knew He was creating unity out of diversity. In God’s a list of all the things that irritate you about your spouse. After mind, our differences are designed to be complementary, not you’ve made your list, ask yourself two questions: Why do these to cause conflicts. This principle is illustrated in 1 Corinthians things irritate me? What differences do these irritations reveal? 12 where Paul describes the Christian church as being similar Continued on page 27 to the human body – composed of ears, eyes, legs, feet, arms,
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Christian Living | September / October 2021 25
A CHRISTIAN uniform?
One man’s suggestion: penguin outfits But here’s the thing: we’ve already been asBy Scott Riggan signed a “uniform,” so to speak: a definitive, It was one of those late-night dorm room conobvious characteristic that should let everyone versations – probably fueled by study fatigue, know Whom we serve. Here’s what Jesus has to stress and stale pizza. A seemingly profound say about it: suggestion was proposed: what if, when one “A new command I give you: Love one became a Christian, some kind of uniform another. As I have loved you, so you must love could be issued. Upon wearing this uniform, one another. By this all men will know that the follower of Jesus would be easily identified you are my disciples, if you love one anothby everyone all around. er.” – John 13:34-35 NIV Okay, sure. You have to admit, there’s little on Jesus – whose opinion matters, I think – is saythe outside of us that reveals what we believe ing that our actions speak louder than the Jesus about God. Even things like the Jesus fish or the fish on our Volvos. How we live – and particuChristian T-shirt have limitations, since much larly, how we love – identifies us as His folof our Christian cultural shorthand doesn’t lowers. Notice He doesn’t say “by your Moral always convey what we might hope. Perfection” or “by the Tidiness of Your Front Say you’re standing in line at Starbucks. I’m Scott Riggan Yard” or even “by your Correct Theology.” pretty sure nobody around you could guess that No. They’ll know we follow Jesus by the way you’re a disciple of Christ just by looking at you. Would your we LOVE. order of a Grande Soy Mocha clue anyone in to your faith oriNot obvious enough, you say? Well, I’ll agree that our penentation? How about if you were wearing a Christian T-shirt? guin suits would definitely get people’s attention. Would that do the trick? Or what if people could plainly see a But try to imagine this: Christians – real people with different Jesus fish on your car as you drove away? opinions, personalities, political affiliations, racial and cultural So back to my friend and his “uniform” suggestion. He figbackgrounds – actually loving one another (and by that I mean ured that this “Christian” outfit would need to be drastic and more than playing nice together). I really think that would be unmistakable. It would need to be something that no one else attention-getting. Even shocking. would just happen to wear. “Love one another.” And if that isn’t going to do the trick, Specifically, he proposed that we all should start wearing then we’d better get to work sewing those penguin costumes. n penguin costumes. Why penguins? I can honestly say that I have no idea. But Scott Riggan is best known for his recording of “I Love You you’ve got to admit that people would notice if you walked around dressed as a penguin. Picture yourself in a penguin suit Lord.” He serves as Worship Arts Pastor for Eagle Christian Church and lives with his family on a small ranch in at your office. Or at the store. Your school. Having dinner at a Emmett. After a long break from songwriting, he’s recorded restaurant. Working at, say, a construction site ... a new album titled “Beautiful and Terrible.” No question, this would make a Statement.
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26 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
Continued from page 25 Let’s be real. In most cases, the reason you get irritated is because your spouse doesn’t do something the way you would do it. And the way you do it works for you so you know it must be right. Guess what? Your spouse feels the same way about their way of doing things. You and your spouse are simply different in these areas, and thus far in your marriage you have seen these differences as irritations. Subconsciously you are saying that God made a mistake in the way He designed your spouse. Identify the differences that these irritations reveal. Step 2 – Look for Assets In Your Differences. Every difference has a positive side. We don’t have to see our differences as irritations. How we view them is a choice. Many times, couples live with a low-grade resentment of each other just by the way they are viewing their differences. Most of the differences that irritate us in the normal flow of life do not involve immorality. They are simply expressions of our unique design, and there is always a positive side to our uniqueness. If we are to maximize our differences in marriage, we must look for the assets. Step 3 – Learn From Your Differences. There are always lessons to be learned from our differences. God’s design for our differences is that they be complementary. They are not intended to divide us, but to unite us. God’s design for marriage is that it will stimulate our spiritual, intellectual, and emotional growth. When we look for the lessons in our differences, we will find them and benefit from them.
Step 4 – Replace Condemnation with Affirmation. When we view our differences as irritations, we typically deliver sermons of condemnation to our spouse that become personal character attacks. Such criticisms build icy blocks of resentment. However, once we understand that our differences are designed to be positive not negative, we can replace condemnation with words of affirmation. Both partners in a marriage need to feel appreciation rather than condemnation. Mutual affirmation creates an atmosphere for positive change. Step 5 – Discover A Plan for Maximizing Your Differences. Once you have established a pattern of affirmation and cooperation, you can begin to explore a plan for maximizing your differences. A plan assumes intentionality. And that’s exactly what it takes – intentionality. Recognize, accept, celebrate and affirm your differences. They are part of God’s design and plan for your spiritual, intellectual, and emotional growth. n Gary Moore served as associate pastor at Cloverdale Church of God for 15 years. He does couples’ coaching and leads couples’ workshops and retreats called MUM’s the Word. He does a weekly radio program called Life Point Plus on KBXL 94.1FM at 8:45 a.m. on Fridays. Monday mornings at 10 a.m. he does live relationship teaching called MUM Live on his Facebook page Mutual Understanding Method. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christian Living | September / October 2021 27
Thinking about how everything intertwines By Roxanne Drury Did you ever stop and think about how things are connected? I mean how everything, literally everything, is just sort of entwined together somehow? How does that happen? How did it happen? By accident? I think not! And what does it all mean for me and for you, for everyone? It’s interesting to discover that every single person has their own special, one-of-a-kind story. No two people have had the exact same situations to deal with. No two people have had all of the exact same experiences. Oh, you may have shared a similar experience here and there with someone. But I don’t believe for a minute that anyone else has shared every single thing you or I have experienced. Why? The answer – God planned it that way. See Psalm 139:13-16: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. God is a creator, an artist, a genius at making things amazing and wonderful and beautiful and, and…different! He is by no stretch of the imagination boring. Think how boring and dull it would be if we were all the same, having the same life experiences, the same thoughts, the same inclinations, the same perceptions, the same ideas, wants and needs. Yeeesh! Now that would be boring! Psalm 40:5 speaks directly to what I am talking about here. Scripture calls what God has done “wonders”. Let’s look at the whole verse. “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to count.” The wonders He planned for each of us are too many to count. Nope, I do not read ‘boring’ or ‘sameness’ in any of those words. Since we are all created distinctively, I think it is safe to assume that we are not gifted alike either. You may have a way with a paintbrush whereas I can paint a picture with words. My friend, Lindsey, is gifted at being able to quiet and redirect any fussy little one. Me, not so much. Give me a preschooler any day. My husband can meet someone for the very first time and instinctively and immediately know their character. (So, watch out you characters! He’s got your number.) That is not a gift everyone has. It takes some of us much longer to figure it out, sometimes with devastating results. God designed us so that we complement each other. My weakness may be your strength. The bottom line is that we were made to work together in harmony using our gifts and talents for the good of one another. When I was a Children’s Ministry Director, the verse we chose for the ministry was 1 Peter 4:10: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” This verse speaks to harmony, sharing, teamwork and variety. Sharing what God gave you personally in the way of giftings and faithfully using it to bring Him glory and help your fellow man/woman/child.
28 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
See Ephesians 4:11-13: So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. In a word, service. Are you being called to serve someone? Answer the call. We have the best model of this in Jesus. He was a servant. He came to love and serve others. He served those in His immediate circle and everyone who came to Him then and now, the leper and you and I for example. How can I love like Jesus loved? How can I love others like God loves me? John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That is a huge kind of love. Sacrificial. Overwhelming. Powerful. This is a question that we need to ask ourselves daily: What can I do today to bless someone and show God’s love to someone else? My thought is, I must first have eyes to see the needs and next the wherewithal and desire to respond and act upon them. Seeing it and wanting to do something about it are two completely different things, however. We need to have both. Understand, there are some things we just cannot fix. Only God can fix some of the things we encounter. But many times, we do have the power to do something about whatever it is, even if it is as small as giving a hug, a smile, a look or word of support. Having eyes to see, a heart to do and hands that act are a sign of growth in a person’s faith walk. Growth comes in many forms, however. How does your garden grow? How do you build your relationship with God in such a way that it grows and gets stronger every day? Prayer (Colossians 4:2), reading, memorizing and studying God’s Word (Psalm 1:2, Joshua 1:8), worship (Colossians 3:16), and acts of service are all great ways to build that relationship. Jesus gives us a visual on how we are to build our relationship with Him by keeping close to Him. He uses a grapevine as a metaphor for our relationship to Him. John 15:4a references ‘abide in me’ in the ESV translation. Meaning abide in Christ. NIV states, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” It goes on to say, “No branch can bear fruit all by itself; it must remain in the vine.” This is a very clear picture of how we are to stay close to Jesus, as close as a branch is attached to a tree or, in this case, a vine. This is not a once and done kind of relationship. The word ‘remain’ or ‘abide’ implies it is constant. I would even go so far as to say it implies this will be a lifelong process of continually nurturing and growing my faith. But how do we do that? In any relationship, wouldn’t you agree, that the way to building it and strengthening it is communication? Prayer is simply communicating with God. It is a two-way deal. You talk, He listens. He talks, you listen. Colossians 3:16 gives us a hint as to what God is looking for from us: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
Know the Word; use the Word; sing, pray, stay close. Communicate! So, here are some take-aways that will guide you as you reflect: Take-away #1: God loved you before you were born. He set out a specific wonderful plan for your life. He made you special and unique. One of a kind. You can rest in who God made you to be and trust that you are exactly that person, experiencing exactly what He wanted you to for His purposes. Take-away #2: God loves you so much, Roxanne He blessed you with special gifts so you could/ would use and share them with others. Take-away #3: God loves you unconditionally. He proved His love by sending Jesus. Our response should be that of undying love in return by serving Him and our fellow man. Take-away #4: God loves you and wants to spend time with you. His desire is that you want to spend time with Him, too. Communicate. Did you happen to notice a trend in all those take-aways? Yep, me too. My very first sentence inquired of you, “Did you ever stop and think about how things are connected?” What I hope you walk away with from this article is that everything, from the very beginning to this day and forevermore, can be connected to God’s love for you and me and every single person alive. And that, dear readers, will never change.
I close with words from Paul’s letter to the Romans found in Romans 8:35-39 because in reflecting, and searching for meaning in the questions we often ask ourselves, we can claim this truth as our own and find freedom, security and connection to each other and to God in the words. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we Drury face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Can I get an Amen?! n Roxanne Drury is a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired Christian preschool teacher with a teaching certificate in Early Childhood Education. She has served the Lord in children’s ministry for over 40 years and is currently on staff at Rockharbor Church.
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Christian Living | September / October 2021 29
Two small words full of immense comfort
To borrow something my pastor said recently, By Bethany Riehl we are just not good enough. We have to come to But God. a place where we understand that. Our lives deThose are my two favorite words in Scripture pend on acknowledging this unmistakable truth. that, thankfully, are repeated over and over lest We are not good. Forget enough. We are simply my feeble mind forget. not good. We have no power on our own to save I used to overlook these words when they arourselves. rived on the scene. Or maybe it’s that I wasn’t But God. reading my Bible carefully enough. Multiple “But God, being rich in mercy, because of times in Scripture when all seems lost, the text His great love with which He loved us, even speaks these words and reminds us of their great when we were dead in our transgressions, made promise. us alive together with Christ (by grace you have We see them after Adam and Eve sinned been saved), and raised us up with Him in the against God in the garden. They were afraid, heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the aware of their nakedness, the covering of fellowages to come He might show the surpassing ship and perfection gone, when we read, “But the riches of His grace in kindness toward us in LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” Bethany Riehl Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7) (Genesis 3:9) Yes, He cast them from the garden, God’s riches are so much more than we can but His perfect plan was already in motion. There would be a imagine. A nice home, fancy car, and fat bank account are not Savior to undo the awful damage that had been done. examples of the goodness of God. Not really. Those are all temAfter the earth was cleansed by the Flood and all but eight poral. The real goodness lies in the promises found in Ephesians souls were destroyed, Genesis 8:1 begins, “But God remembered 1:3-8a: Noah…” “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Later, Joseph assures his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavagainst me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many enly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the people should be kept alive as they are today.” (Genesis 50:24) foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameDavid says in Psalm 49:15, “But God will ransom my soul from less before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.” sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind I could share hundreds of examples, but I think they all come intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we down to this ultimate truth: “…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sin- have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He ners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) lavished on us.” Six years ago, we were blessed to go through a series of trials As I write this article, my phone is beside me. I’ve been texting that completely stripped away all of my previously conceived notions about who God is. When I say blessed, I mean it. I would with my sister and father all day because my mom is in the hospital and it’s not looking like she will be coming home the way we rather go through suffering and know the real God than have expected her to, if she comes home at all. a comfortable life spent possibly worshipping a false one. I had Like most of you, I’m certain, I just can’t picture a world always known that He was good, but through various trials I without my mom in it. Hers was the first heartbeat I heard, the learned that His good is not the same as mine. first voice, the first warm embrace. She has encouraged me in my Six years ago, life got real and raw very quickly. God began to writing, talked through Scripture with me, fed my love of Revelashow me the unedited reality of who He is. He opened my eyes tion and the study of eschatology. Most importantly, she taught to what His Word actually says about Him – instead of my own me to love Jesus. My heart is breaking. quick perusal and assumptions. No fluffy feel-good version of But God. God where His goodness is measured by how well life is going, This world is not our home. My mom repented and put her how big my house is, or how well-behaved my children are. trust in the blood of Jesus as a child. Whether now or someday The “But God” reality. far in the future when we have to say good-bye, it will only be for The God that is bigger than physical pain and emotional suffera little while because of the marvelous mercy and grace of our ing. great and glorious King Jesus. The God that is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But God, my friends. From the darkest of days to the brightest… The God that will not leave nor forsake, and who shows you exBut God. n actly what that means when you surrender to Him and His will. The God who refines with fire, sharpens with iron, and sepaBethany Riehl lives in the Treasure Valley with her husband, rates truth and love from lies and hate with a double-edged three kids, and one super chill dog. She and her husband sword. His blade cuts too close for comfort at times, but God is homeschool their kids and were only slightly embarrassed a master surgeon with precise incisions. For our good and His when their lives didn’t change all that much when the world glory. shut down in 2020. Hashtag, homebodies. She writes articles The story of our lives could not have been more bleak when and fictional novels when she can, and her one desire is to He saved us. We were dead in our trespasses and sins, helpless point others to the love and sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Her and hopeless. All of us. Every single one. And some reading this books can be found on Amazon or at your local library…after article are still in that place. you request them to be in stock, of course.
30 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
RandyB Funk Christian Rapper
Hip-Hop artist, RandyB Funk has a gift and wants to use it to benefit his community and speak to his generation.
second album! No stranger to work, he never stops giving 100 percent to his community. His latest songs, FACTS and WORK (Remix) just dropped this summer. One of his next singles features R-Swift, who many in the industry call the ‘Godfather of Christian Rap.’ R-Swift did a song with RandyB when he was just 15, and also headlined with RandyB at the 3rd Annual Fired-Up Tour on April 2nd 2021.
RandyB continues to create powerful ways of sharing God’s love through Christian Hip-Hop with the Treasure Valley, and beyond. Known for his Christian Hip-Hop music and his monumental SOS Service Drives that benefit Boise Rescue Mission and Idaho Humane Society; this year’s annual SOS service drive starts the last week in October, and runs through December 23rd. He is a hard worker, who has always been involved in his community. He was the Meridian Youth Arts Commissioner for several years, a Prudential Award Recipient, a Meridian Star Award recipient and more. He currently resides in Eagle but loves the whole Treasure Valley. Along with his busy performance schedule, RandyB has also produced three hip-hop shows, dubbed the Annual Fired-Up Benefit Tours. The best Christian rappers are selected for these concerts that also benefit the Boise Rescue Mission. This year’s 3rd Annual Fired-Up Benefit Show, took place in April 2021, followed by another performance at “Preview,” both held at Boise Bible College where RandyB was a co-curricular student. This year he is also studying Psychology as a dual credit high school/ college student at Liberty University online. RandyB will graduate high school in 2022, with two years of college under his belt. RandyB was also chosen by nationally known Effect Radio 91.9 FM, to be the “ARTIST OF THE MONTH,” in September 2020, and in December he was awarded the “DO GOOD CHAMPION,” by Project 88.7. He was the December 5th SPOTLIGHT with our own Sandy Jones for Christian Living Magazine’s radio show, Christian Living Spotlight; and this past April was interviewed by Discover Idaho on TVPBN.com and his Fired-Up concert in April was aired live! RandyB has multiple songs on Christian radio and is now preparing for the release of several singles, followed by his newest video. Over the summer RandyB produced the Hip-Hop Love Fest, which took place at Boise Bible College, and performed on tour through the Northwest promoting his WORK (REMIX) and FACTS. While he still
RandyB also has an upcoming video shoot in Hawaii (where he was raised until age seven) for his popular song “NEW DAY” with Derick Sebastian, who is hailed as the best Ukulele player in the world!
has a few more spots open, he has been booked for over a dozen performances this summer/ fall. RandyB was honored when Project 88.7 included him in the line-up for SUMMER SPLASH at Roaring Springs in August, which featured KB, WANDE, ZAUNTEE and, yes, Treasure Valley’s own, RANDYB FUNK! RandyB has been featured in multiple publications, as well as on radio and news shows, where he shares his love of serving his community through his service drives and music. RandyB has major companies now participating in his service drives and is receiving similar support for his concerts. He recently started a promotions company with his Mom, called FIRED UP PROMOTIONS. RandyB has been turned down by most area churches to perform, which he finds sad. He says he’d love to hear from local youth pastors. He shares, “Hip-Hop is the most popular music among young people and when we can replace the harsh words with encouraging ones, real talk, it can truly help our generation to have hope and not feel so alone.” He continues, “I’m incredibly grateful for the support from Boise Bible College.” RandyB is planning four concerts a year at BBC. After an EP and multiple singles, RandyB Funk dropped his first album, titled “DIVIDED,” in 2020. He followed up with another single in January 2021, titled “WORK,” and is working on his
He’s been blessed to perform with Steven Malcom, 1K Phew, R-Swift and others, and performed at the HIPHOP LOVE FEST with PEABOD! He believes Christian rap can be used as a vehicle to reach those broken and affected by the shut down - especially the kids and teens. The Hip Hop Love Fest took place on July 16, 2021 focusing on the joy of the Lord, and had a ‘Christian Woodstock’ theme. RandyB shared the following thoughts, “I want to encourage my peers and the community that there is comfort and hope in the love of Jesus. I want to create a space for people who come to my concerts, where they can feel loved; connect, make friends and belong.” He stresses that families are welcome and encourages them to come and support these concerts. “I like to keep it positive and fun. I’m doing what I love and trying to make a difference, we get all ages to come and share in the fun.” RandyB has spoken at the Boise Chamber of Commerce tips groups, Eagle Chamber of Commerce, local fire departments, City Hall and has been attending chamber meetings with his Mom since he was 12. He gleams, “As believers we are commissioned to be lights in the world and to encourage others to shine and use their gifts. People are happiest when they’re using their gifts.” Team RandyB Funk can be contacted at: phone (208)-914-3793; email email@example.com. Find him at randybfunk.com, on social media @ randybfunkmusic, and heard on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music
REAL Man’s Toolbox
Restoring the hearts and souls of men
being. In Colossians 1:24-27 we read about our By Leo Hellyer incomparable Christ who rescues us from the All Christian men are on a journey that many realm of darkness. times has some rough spots in it. There are Just like athletes, first responders, and medical both mountain tops and valleys in this journey. providers, when people in responsible leaderAs Christian men and leaders, we often find ship positions are not frequently fed spiritually it hard to admit that there are times when we and emotionally, they many times will suffer may need help living our lives. Leaders are used from something called “vicarious trauma”. This to leading and helping others, and they may emotional and physical exhaustion can be very forget that they need to be fed to be able to debilitating. feed others. The best Christian leader cannot God wants us to come to Him, to seek Him, continue meeting the needs of others when that and let Him intervene on our behalf. In the vast leader is empty. majority of cases, we also have people around There is a great book and Bible study which us who are eager to help us on our journey has been released this year that I sincerely through life, if we will reach out to them. We believe every Christian man should examine do not have to carry the heavy load of life’s in detail. I Am Restored: How I Lost My Leo Hellyer challenges on our shoulders alone. Religion but Found My Faith, by Lecrae, is a There are many books available on Christian leadership from fantastic guide to follow in living our lives according to godly a variety of perspectives. I just recently came across one of precepts. Lacrae is very transparent as he shares with us the journey that he has been on, and how this journey has restored these great books that was just published this year and which is coming from a very unique perspective. This book spoke to him. me, and I believe it will speak to most Christian men who are Any man who finds himself in a position of emptiness is in leadership positions in churches, businesses, ministries or in very good company. Even professional athletes who train families. This book was written by David Dusek, the founder for stressful situations have these valleys of life where they of Rough Cut Men Ministries. The book is titled, The Battle: can have serious difficulties managing their lives. A few athTactics for Biblical Manhood Learned from the 7th Cavletes who have openly discussed their experiences with menalry in Vietnam. tal health difficulties, such as anxiety, depression, or feeling In an endorsement of the book, Lt. Col. Oliver North overwhelmed, are Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, and Michael USMC (Ret.) says, “Perfectly titled, The Battle by David Phelps. When anyone is in this place it can be a very dark Dusek goes straight to the heart of issues facing today’s Chrisexperience. tian men. Illustrating the precepts of biblical manhood in the Many times we forget, in the midst of our battles, that our context of a legendary battle during the Vietnam War makes God is a God of redemption. One of the observations that this book appealing and powerful.” Lacrae makes in his book is that our God is not a God who Stu Weber, a pastor from Boring, Ore., author of Tender discards us when we aren’t perfect. It is very important for us Warrior and Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart, and recipient to know and believe that our God takes us from where we are of three Bronze Stars as a Green Beret in Vietnam states, “... and guides us on the journey of redemption, peace and well-
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32 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
this book is something of a pre-fight battle brief written by one rough man to other rough cut guys – how to survive on a planet at war against everything you hold dear.” Our God is with us through all things good and bad. Our major task is to keep focused upon Him as we face our various challenges in life. In Colossians, Paul instructs us to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Life is a battle. Every day as Christian men, we are in the middle of a battle between the powers of good and evil. For us to survive this battle, we must remember that we cannot fight in this battle alone. We must armor up. We must follow the rules of engagement. We must be part of a team with a common goal. We must follow our Commander in Chief into the battle. By the way, in the battle of life that is set before us, our Commander in Chief is God Almighty. We don’t know from one moment to the next who, where, or what our next battle is going to be. Our Commander in Chief knows. God gives us all of the tools that we need to successfully complete the mission He has for us. We need to keep our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts upon Him and not get distracted by the counterfeit spirits around us. n
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Leo Hellyer is a non-staff pastor with a local church and has been married to his wife Norma for more than 45 years. The couple volunteered with the Boise FamilyLife Ministry Team for 20 years. Leo has also been serving with Boise Rescue Mission Ministries for 20 years and is currently serving at the River of Life Rescue Mission. He is president and chief firearms instructor with Helping Hands Firearms Training LLC. If you have questions about Real Man’s Toolbox, or need other assistance, Leo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 208-340-5544.
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Christian Living | September / October 2021 33
WHAT a clown!
Jane Gunter finds a joyful way to serve By Gaye Bunderson Have you ever thought of clowning as an act of service to the Lord? Well, Jane Gunter of Boise has, and she believes that by ‘clowning around’, she’s serving God. In fact, her sense of using clowning as ministry started at church one day. The pastor’s message was on “Finding Your Calcutta.” In other words, if you can’t serve the poorest of the poor like Mother Teresa, what else can you do to serve God and humanity? “I wanted to have some way to serve the Lord and when I heard the sermon on ‘Finding Your Calcutta’, I thought, ‘I’ve found my Calcutta. I can serve the Lord through a clown ministry’.” Jane, who is 80, had been on a year’s leave of absence from clowning, but she knew it was time to return. She first learned clowning in Yuma, Ariz., where she and her husband Jay were snowbirds during the winter months. When they made their home in Boise approximately six years ago, she eventually contacted a local clowning group, Idaho Gem Jesters, before becoming actively involved with Clowns of Idaho. With her interest in clowning newly revived, she was only temporarily thrown off course by the pandemic. She and other members of Clowns of Idaho performed “window events” – as Jane calls them – at nursing homes. “People were stuck in there; they couldn’t have any visitors, they were just locked in like prisoners,” Jane said. Costumes went on and spirits went up, as the clowns entertained the seniors outside the nursing home windows. “That was so fulfilling for us,” said Jane. Their venues have broadened out now that many people have received the vaccine. They’ve done parades, kids’ expos, Meridian Dairy Days, and birthday parties – and Jane, the oldest member of the group, was right along with all the others. They’ve also entertained at City Light Home for Women and Children and the Boise Rescue Mission. It’s all about bringing smiles to faces. “It’s about making people laugh,” said Jane. “If you’re dressed up like a clown and you walk into a room, people’s faces light up. You see that and you do a ‘walk-around’. You make people feel good, and that’s the motivation.”
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34 September / October 2021 | Christian Living
Jane Gunter serves God through a clown ministry. She is a member of Clowns of Idaho, and she has many clown costumes, as well as puppets that she likes to use when she is entertaining people of all ages. (Photo by Gaye Bunderson)
Come to think of it, what better way could there be to serve your fellow man? Fellow Clowns of Idaho member Charlye Hahn agrees that clowning can be service. “Yes, I also feel that it is a ministry,” she said. “I did children’s ministry for our church and we would do a once a month skit. I was a clown named Mrs. Goodword, and I reminded the children in a fun way of the Word of God. Clowning with the Clowns of Idaho is, for me, an extension of the ministry in that I get to remind the public to not worry for a little while. “My clown name when I am not doing children’s ministry is Ima Tri N, as in Ima Tri N to make you laugh. I brought Mrs. Goodword out of retirement for when I get to clown at church and if I get other opportunities.”
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Picnic Tables for the Big Family Outdoors The clowns do face painting and balloon sculptures. “Or you can pick your own skill you’re best at,” Jane said. She added puppets and dolls to her routine. She has a puppet squirrel named Nutsy, as well as a cute kitten puppet that emerges from a small basket with a timid glance around the room. If the kids love it and the seniors love it, what about the people in between? “Teenagers want you to scare their friends,” Jane replied with a laugh. But the clowns prefer not to scare anyone. They even do a church family fun night and tell parents in advance that clowns will be showing up, just in case their little ones might be frightened. Jane is also teaching her 3½-year-old little dog Mochi – a real dog, not a puppet – to do some tricks so he can join in the performances. Asked where all the clown costumes come from, Jane said, “There are lots of ways to get our costumes: out of our own closets, at thrift shops, the Youth Ranch, and sometimes clowns who retire or leave, leave their outfits for us. I have a closet full of costumes.” And she uses them all, not limiting herself to just one clown character but taking on many a clown persona for others’ entertainment. “I always loved performing,” she said. There are about 20 local members of Clowns of Idaho. Some come and go, but there are roughly 8 to 12 members in the core group. They hold meetings and learn something about clowning each month. It could be how to write and perform a script or how to apply clown makeup. Jane said the meetings inevitably start out with laughter. Group officers are known as Boss Clown (the top leader), Coin Clinker (the treasurer), and Pencil Pusher (the secretary). The clowns have their fans, and Jane said her own biggest fan is her husband Jay. “He’s my best supporter,” she said. Jane likes to attend clown conventions and has been to a Clowns of America-International event and a World Clown Association program. She has studied online with Pricilla Mooseburger at mooseburger.com. She takes her clowning seriously but obviously with enough joy to share it with others. What a noble act of service to give to God. n
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Christian Living | September / October 2021 35
HISTORY, Culture & Faith
Diplomat saw America from past to future By Rick Chromey
“[It’s] the most comprehensive and penetrating analysis of the relationship between character and society in America that has ever been written.” 1 That’s how one historian described Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, a work considered among the most influential books of the 19th century. Published in two volumes between 1835 and 1840, Alexis de Tocqueville analyzed the social and political life of early America. Born in the wake of the French Revolution, he was a diplomat, philosopher, historian and aristocrat. Dr. Rick Initially, he traveled to America in 1831 to study our prisons, but quickly found something greater underfoot. Alexis de Tocqueville discovered our Christianity. He penned: “Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country...” 2 Alexis de Tocqueville observed how our “notions of Christianity and of liberty” were so deeply intertwined that it was “impossible to...conceive one without the other.” He noted in his travels how our Puritan forefathers immigrated and established a “democratic and republic religion.” He summarized how “religion in America...must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country...[imparting] a taste for freedom.” 3 Alexis confessed his inability to “know whether all Americans [had] a sincere
faith” but was “certain” that we fully accepted religion and all other institutions being connected. “This opinion,” he wrote, “is not particular to a class of citizens of a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.” 4 Alexis de Tocqueville affirmed this thesis through an anecdote of an August 23, 1831 court case he observed in Chester County, New York. In this case, a witness admitted to the judge his atheism. In Alexis’ home nation of enlightened France, atheism was not uncommon nor was it reason for concern in matters of integrity. And yet this American judge “refused his testimony” because atheism was enough reason to lose the “confidence of the court” in Chromey any testimony someone possessed. Alexis also documented a local newspaper’s report for how the judge was surprised to discover “a man living who did not believe in the existence of God...[and] knew of no case in a Christian country, where a witness had been permitted to testify without such belief.” 5 Alexis de Tocqueville wasn’t alone in his perception of America’s Christian roots. His traveling partner – Gustave de Beaumont – penned his own memoir known as Marie ou l’Esclavage aux E’tas-Unis (1835). Beaumont documented over a dozen different sects of Christianity in early America and wrote: “Religion...is not only a moral institution but also a political institution … In the United States, the law is never atheistic … All of the American constitutions proclaim freedom of conscience and the liberty and equality of all the confessions...” 6 Beaumont noted how Massachusetts’ Constitution recognized “only Christians.” He cited how Maryland’s Constitutions declared “all of the faiths are free” and gave its legislature the power to tax “for the support of the Christian religion.” The Vermont Constitution recognized “only the Christian faiths” and mandated “every congregation of Christians [to]
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celebrate the Sabbath.” Pennsylvania required a belief in God as part of its citizenry. Beaumont further documented how most states demanded profession of Christianity to serve in public office. Beaumont summarized: “In general, anyone who adheres to one of the religious sects, whose number is immense in the United States, enjoys all of his social and political rights in peace. But the man who would claim to have neither a church nor religious beliefs would not only be excluded from all civil employment and from all political offices … but … would be an object of moral persecution of all kinds. No one would care to have to any social relations with him … No one in the United States believes that a man without religion could be an honest man.” 7 In 21st century America such religious fervor would be considered prejudicially extreme, even among the Christian faithful. We’d never consider excluding someone from employment or political office if they were not Christian, nor discounting the court testimony of the agnostic or atheist. But in early America – founded as a Christian nation – we did...and it was a preferred state of living. Alexis de Tocqueville opined on how America could lose its democracy and freedom. It would happen, he said, in slow
measures as Americans “in a restless search for...petty, vulgar pleasures” eventually numbed to its political “protective powers” who removed “autonomy...from each citizen.” “It is...difficult to imagine,” de Tocqueville concluded, “how men who have completely given up the habit of selfgovernment could successfully choose those who should do it for them … The vices of those who govern and the ineptitude of those governed would soon bring it to ruin and... revert to its abasement of one single master.” 8 It’s why Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America should be required reading in America’s history classes. He not only documented, as an outsider, our Christian founding and deep religious fabric, but offered a blueprint for how “we the people” could lose our cherished liberty and democracy. Essentially, it’s how one French man saw America’s past... and future. n
Robert Bellah, Self, Symbols, and Society: Classic Readings in Social Psychology, edited by Nathan Rousseau (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002): 322. 2 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume 1 (New York: George Adlard Publishing, 1839): 307 3 Ibid., 304 1
Dr. Rick Chromey is an author, historian and theologian who speaks and writes on matters of religion, culture, history, technology and leadership. He’s the founder and president of MANNA! Educational Services International. Rick and his wife Linda live in Star, ID. (www.mannasolutions.org) Ibid., 305 Alexis de Tocqueville, The Republic of the United States of America (New York: A.S. Barnes, 1851): 334 6 https://www.wnd.com/2017/07/religion-the-foretaste-of-politics 7 Ibid. 8 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume 2 (New York: J.&H.G. Langley, 1840): 342 5
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BIBLICALLY Responsible Investing
‘Don’t cause your brother to stumble’
How do we know if our investments are contribBy Doug Hanson uting positively or negatively to society? FortunateThis is a hard article for me to write because it ly, there are moral screening tools now available sheds light on my family, but in a shadowy sense. that provide us insight into companies and funds. A My mother told me stories of her grandfather, who free online screening tool can be found at https:// I never met, that shocked and saddened me. While inspireinsight.com which provides a negative or riding to school on the bus through the small farmpositive score for any stock or fund you enter at ing town where she grew up, my mother would see the top of the website. I encourage you to type in her grandfather passed out in a drunken stupor on your investments and see what they score. A negathe sidewalk. He was known as the town drunk. tive score means that the company’s products or My great-grandfather immigrated from Russia philanthropic endeavors probably don’t match your as a married young adult, but he could not escape values. the influences of his childhood. His father was a The website allows you to investigate what areas wealthy mill and tavern owner in Russia whose paare causing a negative score. Typical areas of trons would give drinks to my great-grandfather so concern include: 1) promoting the addiction of they could laugh at his antics as an inebriated child. pornography, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, or canLater, as an adult in the States, his wife would try to nabis; 2) bioethical compromises including aborhide his alcohol, but often to no avail, and he would Doug Hanson tion products, abortion legislation, and embryonic lock her out of the house, forcing her to sleep in stem cell research; or 3) donating corporate funds their orchard. to causes that do not align with biblical values. For example, typing Research has shown that most alcohol sales in the States are to in a typical S&P 500 index fund will show 363 securities that are those considered heavy drinkers. They are the repeat customers flagged for moral compromises. who provide profit to alcohol makers. The Bible warns us not to Biblically Responsible Investing is more than avoiding “sin” cause our brother to stumble, “It is good not to eat meat or drink stocks; it also seeks to invest in companies that reflect the biblical wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (Romandate to “love our neighbor.” These companies treat their workmans 14:21). This truth should cause us to evaluate what companies force, suppliers, and environment with care, produce products that we are investing in through our retirement plans, stocks, and mutual promote human flourishing, and contribute to society in uplifting ways. One example I like to share is of a medical research company funds. Let us not profit from another person’s stumbling.
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CHURCH DIRECTORY that is exploring ways to do non-invasive colonoscopies. For those of us in America, that idea is enticing enough, but imagine the benefit to those in Third World countries. Investing in companies like that allows us to “love our neighbor” across the miles. Biblically Responsible Investing is also about being good stewards of what the Lord has blessed us with. In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, we read of good stewards. One servant was given five talents and he was commended for investing it and making five more. Another servant was given two talents and was also commended for making two more. However, the servant who was given one talent did not invest it and was condemned. What is the lesson here? A good steward seeks to put to good use whatever resources the Lord has entrusted to him. In investing, “good use” means seeking competitive returns while investing in companies that honor the Lord. Today, Biblically Responsible Investing can offer that. Thankfully, my grandfather chose not to emulate his father, therefore starting a new direction for his progeny. But I still wince when I think of my mother, as a young girl on her way to school, seeing her grandfather in the proverbial gutter. Let each of us consider if our investments are helping to build up or tear down others. Let’s seek to lift each other up by investing in companies that do the same. That is one way we can “love our neighbor” and be good stewards of God’s blessings in our lives. n Doug Hanson is an investment advisor with Christian Wealth Management in Boise, providing biblically responsible investment advice to Christians. For more information, visit investforthegloryofgod.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 697-3699.
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