Faith & Family by JohnBagwell
Struggling Daily to Keep First Things First
Jul 12, 2011 | 12719 views |  0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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The Great Pretenders
by JohnBagwell
May 26, 2013 | 18499 views |  0 comments | 212 212 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

I was walking through my living room when I noticed an upside-down cardboard box moving kind of awkward-like down the hall.  Two pairs of legs from the calf down were visible.  The box bumped and bungled its way around as the two occupants inside giggled and talked.  Watching my daughter's play make-believe in this manner put a smile on my face.  How many card-board boxes have been turned into how many different toys?

Make-believe is great when you are a kid.  Not so much for adults.

And yet . . .

I know some of the greatest players in the land of make-believe are adults.  They put on a happy face and pretend everything is perfectly OK in their life.  No marital problems.  No questions about their faith in God.  Firm grasp of Biblical understanding.  Check.  Check. Check.

This is not a bad thing on one hand.  We don't want to be around people who carry their problems on their shoulders and spill their guts to us every chance they get.  How many times have we slowly tried to edge away from someone we don't know who suddenly feels free to share intimate details of their personal problems with any stranger willing to listen?  Some modicum of social decency says we are to respect the relational boundaries we have with others.  On the other hand, all this pretending has also had a harmful effect.  The festering wounds we suffer go unspoken, unnoticed, not talked about, and then when something visible happens, everyone is surprised.

I know of divorces I never saw coming, people leaving church for "no apparent reason", and spiritual lives that suffer to this day in deadly silence while smiles mask any hint of the personal pain they bear.

They are The Great Pretenders.

I remember having several teachers growing up who would echo a consistent message between them: "Does anyone have any questions?  Speak up!  Someone else probably has the same question and is just afraid to ask."

What questions are you afraid to ask?  What are you afraid to ask about marriage, child rearing, your spiritual walk, your faith in God?

I have realized in recent years that the questions I have, and the problems I struggle with are not as unique to me as I thought.  What's more, while I sit and worry about the problems in my own life being discovered, there are people all around me thinking and worrying about the same things.

Someone has to be willing to speak up and start asking questions.

For me, it was asking the hard questions about why my own marriage was not thriving like I thought it should.  I looked around, and everyone else seemed to have it together.  Smiles and happy faces all around.  Everyone sitting as families together in church.  Not a problem in the world among them.  Then it happened.  A whisper of a long-married couple was getting divorced.  Shock was followed only by bowed heads wagging in wonder how it could happen.  Thank goodness their own marriages were functioning perfectly fine.


The truth I know is that there are no perfect marriages.

I do not see behind your closed doors.  You do not see behind my own.  The struggles we have are common, though our knowledge of others' struggles is not.  We hide these problems because we fear.  We do not want to be judged by others.  Seeking help would unmask the truth, and the truth must not be known for what others may think of us.

So, we pretend.

We pretend we do not have such problems.  We pretend our marriage is just fine.  We pretend we have no problems with our children.  We pretend we have no questions about our faith in God.  We pretend we have understanding on spiritual matters where we may be confused.  We pretend . . . . and we keep up the charade, yet secretly hoping someone will figure us out and come and help us.  Until then, we pretend that our lives are full of nothing but joy and happiness.

We are the Great Pretenders.

Help though is as simple as one person having the courage to ask a question.  Who is going to ask the question everyone else is thinking but too afraid to ask because of what others may think of them?  If we are to be men and leaders of our homes though, we must ask these questions.  We must be willing to become vulnerable - not to the public at large - but to trusted Godly friends and Christian advisers who will seek to help, and truly want our greatest good.  For that to happen though, we must stop pretending everything is always OK.

We cannot be the great leaders in our homes God wants us to be and retain the title of Great Pretender.

by JohnBagwell
May 20, 2013 | 3785 views |  0 comments | 213 213 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

One word.

A tremendous amount of power and significance behind it.

The last few weeks I've not had much TIME to do anything more than work, study, work some more, and try to find TIME for family in there somewhere.  As the weeks of my studies drew to a close, TIME became more and more of a precious commodity because I seemed to have less and less TIME to get anything critically important done.  All things worked out though.  Barely.

March 14th was my daughter's ten-year-old birthday.  Every year on each of my daughter's birthdays, starting back when they were five years old, I began taking them out for an all-day father-daughter date.  Not this year.  I finally did get around to taking my oldest out on that father-daughter date - over two months later.  There just wasn't enough TIME on her birthday.  Maybe things didn't work out so well after all.

We had fun, but she noticed the difference.  She had counted the days.  She had counted the TIME that had elapsed between when we were supposed to go out on the date, and the day we actually went.

Its my fault.  I had no idea the classes would be so taxing.  Working a full-TIME job and trying to hold onto a part-TIME job to make ends meet certainly strained any free TIME as well because of my class load.  Seems to be an all-too common complaint.  I just don't seem to have enough TIME.

While talking with my daughter over some serious issues, one of the things that came up is TIME.  She can tend to get frustrated with her younger sister.  My youngest seems to pick the wrong TIME to want to be around my oldest who really would like to have some TIME to herself.  That's when I told her, what her younger sister really wants from her is some TIME.

When someone calls your name, they are asking for your TIME.  When someone calls you on the phone, they are asking for your TIME.  When you get an email, a letter, or someone tries to get your attention, what they are asking you for is your TIME.  It is up to you to chose whether or not to give some TIME to them or not. 

Some people take our TIME without asking and we can get frustrated with them.  The person who seems to never stop talking, the car that sits on a green light, the lines we wait in, the constant grab of advertising, all are trying to wrest from us what we really do not wish to give in those moments . . . our TIME.

TIME, it turns out, happens to be one of the most precious things you can give - if you really give it.  When we truly give someone our TIME, we slow down for them, turn to face them, actively listen and engage them, and give them our full attention.  The gift of TIME is a wonderful thing when given freely.  When you give the gift of TIME, you are telling someone that your TIME now belongs to them to use in any way they wish.  Because it is theirs, they can do anything they want with it, and giving your TIME to them communicates that they are important to you.  Not giving your TIME can communicate the opposite as well.  TIME is a powerful thing that way.

Who gets your TIME?  If you were at the end of your life, is there anything, or anyone you might wish you had not given your TIME?  Are there any blocks of TIME wasted, spent, or otherwise given to people or things that really did not matter?  What would you do if you could get that TIME back?

Alas, you cannot get TIME back.  You only have whatever TIME you have left. 

TIME, you see, is very limited.

Today, who will get your TIME?

What is real freedom?
by JohnBagwell
Apr 07, 2013 | 5177 views |  0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

What do you think of when you think of freedom?  Maybe, like most people, you probably think of things such as freedom from slavery, freedom from oppression, freedom from social injustice, and on and on that list seems to go.  There's nothing wrong with setting captive individuals free, but lately I've been seeing the cry for freedom in American society take on other tones.  In fact, it seems a lot of the talk of freedom has to do with breaking away from anyone or anything someone may consider personally binding in any way.  It's as if there are people out there who want to be free from anyone telling them what to do in any way, shape, form, or fashion.

The problem with that desire is that the real world does not, and will not ever work that way.

Though it would seem obvious to say it, there appear to be those that do not understand that true freedom is not without its limits.  The result of a society of people completely free to do whatever they pleased would be chaos, death, and destruction.  The result of a person who takes such complete freedom to do whatever they want to do is always pain.  Here we find a truth: in the pursuit of freedom from physical bondage, there is another, more alluring and evil enslavement waiting far on the other side.

Where freedom is completely taken away, you have one side of slavery and bondage.  This is the lack of freedom we are more used to because it is felt, it is visible, and the suffering and pain it causes is immediate and obvious on its face.  However, there is another, more sinister type of slavery that grips the person who would claim complete and total freedom.

I came across a blog article HERE that more deeply explores these two issues using the movie The Hunger Games as an example of the two views of slavery.  It is worth taking the time to read and really understand.  In the end the conclusion is the same.  A person or a people completely free from everything are eventually enslaved to unconstrained desire; condemned to the foolishness and folly of empty lives of empty pursuits that never satisfy or fulfill, to put it another way.  Whether chained to a wall, or chained to an empty life, both are lives of enslavement.

Do we not see this in the lives of Hollywood celebrities who seemingly have everything you or I could ever want?  I can think of several  celebrities in the news recently who have garnered vast amounts of wealth at very young ages, able to buy the freedom we all seem to think we want, only to discover for themselves an empty and hollow world of isolation and loneliness that could never be forged from metal bars and chains.  So they turn to escape even this world in drugs and alcohol, and other pursuits, only to come crashing back to the reality of this existence, and their place in it.  Having the world of freedom they so thought they desired, they learn only too late that they are now held tightly captive by form of bondage unseen.

As created beings, we are all fallen from God's grace, broken and in need of God's healing.  The problem is that we resist that healing because to us, it looks too much like the opposite of freedom.  It looks like more rules and restrictions than real freedom.  Consider then the husband who, in pursuit of full freedom goes out and cheats on his marriage, or the willful child who resists all attempts to compel good behavior.  The end of these paths are only pain.

Mark McMinn writes, "The consequences of unbounded independence are woundedness, brokenness, and pain."

The quest for the freedom that brings true happiness in life then is not the quest for complete freedom, but rather a quest to be the person God created you to be, in His will, under His rule, and under His authority.  Real freedom is not marked by a complete lack of rules or laws, but rather by a submission to authority, a restraint in both word and deed, and a world that is ordered by purpose.

A Real Church
by JohnBagwell
Mar 31, 2013 | 3982 views |  0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

What do you think of when you hear someone talk about church?  I'm sure there are those reading this that will say a local church is a local body of believers and part of the larger church which is the bride of Christ.  This is true, but is it really what you think of when someone else is talking about church?  I mean, really?!?!

I always hear people talking about going to church, as in the building.  There are activities at church, services at church, weddings at church, and worship at church.  For all those people talking about church, there seems to be a whole lot more talk about a building than a living organism.

When I was growing up, I was pretty much taught the same way.  "Church is people, not a building," was heard from the pulpit, and then a new building fund would be launched to build, well, a church (building).  So, like many people I went to church (building) with, I called all my fellow-believers my brothers and sisters in Christ and claimed them all as part of a larger family.  Only problem was that I usually only saw this family on Sunday, they always dressed in their nicest clothes, and we went through this kind of ritualistic greeting time before the service, a shaking hands ritual called "time of fellowship" at some point during the service, and after the service my church family would usually politely say goodbye as they headed for the nearest exit.

Outside of this building called church, it seemed what was supposed to be my church family blended away seamlessly into the world, and became so diluted you never heard or saw from them again until the next service.  Oh, each service they were plenty happy to see you, smile, shake your hand, engage you during the official time of fellowship, and then politely say goodbye.  Each service, three times a week, this could be repeated in case you did not get a good enough dose of church at any of the other services.  There are also lots of unspoken rules I'm not even about to get into.  Suffice it to say, a lot of people are putting a lot of stake into those rules.  If you think differently, by the way, you'd better not mention it because otherwise you're just causing trouble trying to change things.

While I know some reading this will say "Not at MY church!" the truth is, I believe this church experience is exactly like this for most people who walk in from the world outside church doors.  All of last year my family visited around to many churches in my area.  The pattern seemed to repeat itself everywhere.  People gathering in a building smiling and greeting each other, singing songs, time of fellowship, service, polite goodbyes, and then (poof) everyone left.  For each successive service, simply rewind and repeat.  For all the differences churches like to promote about themselves, they are quite surprisingly very much the same as all the churches they say they are different from.  Anyone who could stick around long enough to figure out this pattern could become an excellent church member in good standing in no time at all!

There was one exception, and it redefined what church meant to me.

When we first started going to this church, we were asked to simply give them a chance to get to know us, for us to get to know them, and to make an effort to attend for six Sundays to help accomplish this.  We agreed.

In those six weeks, we did get to know some people there, and some of them came to know us.  While we were not ready to commit to anything right away, something felt distinctly different.  I felt like these people really cared.  Fast forward to the beginning of this year, and as my wife and I talked about all the different churches we had visited, that one church kept coming into my mind.  I wanted to go back to see how they were doing, like checking up on an old friend I had not seen for some time.  We did.  Then we went back again a couple of weeks later.  After a few more weeks, I felt I simply could not go anywhere else and feel like I was going to a building where people met.  I had found a real church, and this Sunday, my family became members of a body of believers known as Redeemer Church in Oxford, AL.

This was no small decision on my part.  I had determined to either find a real church, or not go to any church and simply start one myself.  I had become so frustrated with what church had become, I could not tolerate it any longer when I knew what it could be.  What it is supposed to be.  What God created it to be. 

I am glad my family has a church home now.  We will meet in a building, but it is very obvious to anyone who visits here that Redeemer Church is not a building, nor will it ever be.  The focus of Redeemer Church is, and I believe it will always be, on the glory of God and the joy of all people - not just the ones who walk through its doors, but those far beyond the walls of whatever building they will meet in.

They do not say they care about people.  They simply care about people, and their actions speak louder than words.

So, really think about that question I started with.  What do you think of when people around you start talking about church?  If you get a picture of a building in your mind, maybe you need to start looking for a real church.

Moms vs Dads
by JohnBagwell
Mar 19, 2013 | 2885 views |  0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

I was reminded earlier of the different roles moms and dads have in a child's life as I thought about a former comedian who noted this particular difference:  "A father will take his son out to a baseball field, teach him to hold a bat, teach him to catch with a glove, teach him how to hit a baseball, and practice for hours and hours, for weeks and years on end.  The kid eventually grows up, gets a sports scholarship through college, and eventually makes it into the Big Leagues.  On the day he makes his professional baseball debut, in his first ever interview and before the reporter asks the first question, this young boy whom the father groomed his entire life will look into the camera lens, smile, wave and say "Hi, mom!'"

If you're a mom out there, you're probably nodding your head thinking, "As it should be."

So, along those lines, here are some other thoughts on the differences between moms and dads.


First Aid Response: Moms vs. Dads

Mom - Rushes to the scene with a worried look on her face, tenderly looking over the child and searching for any obvious signs of injury.

Dad - Looks on from a seated position and commands the child to "come here" with a waving motion of his hand.

Mom - Upon further inspection and seeing nothing is wrong will repeatedly ask, "Are you sure you're all right?"

Dad - If the child has managed to walk to his dad, the dad simply assumes the kid must be OK because he just walked from where he was lying on the ground writhing in agony a minute ago to where dad has been patiently sitting and waiting.

Mom - After seeing where the child might have been injured, as indicated by the child pointing to an injury invisible to the naked eye, the mother will lean over and give it a "kiss to make it better."

Dad - Even if obvious injury is visible to the naked eye (such as a protruding bone) will scrunch his eyebrows, frown, and probably give one or both pieces of the following advice: "Walk it off" or "Shake it off".

If the parent was watching at the moment of injury:

Mom - will react with complete and utter horror, holding hand over mouth, and maybe actually screaming

Dad - if he has anticipated the event, will be reaching furiously for the video camera or his mobile phone trying to record the event

If the kid is essentially OK with only some minor scrapes:

Mom - "If you ever do that again I'm going to kill you!"

Dad - "That was awesome!  Try it again, but this time wait until I give you the thumbs up that the video is on."

If the kid has a bruise:

Mom - will want to get some ice on it as quickly as possible

Dad - will congratulate the child with a slap on the back and a proud smile "Nice shiner you got there!"

If there is blood:

Mom - clean the wound and apply antibiotic ointment, spray, or both and wrap the wound

Dad - "Don't worry about that.  Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  Now get back out there."

Anyway, those are the ones I've observed at one time or another.  What are some of the funny and different ways you have noticed moms and dads reacting to various situations?

The Thought Experiment
by JohnBagwell
Mar 03, 2013 | 4631 views |  0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

You can have some pretty interesting conversations with kids as they can come up with some pretty interesting questions out of the blue.  Just such a conversation happened earlier this week with my oldest daughter.

During our little talk,  I asked her to imagine what would happen if an unbreakable chain was suddenly formed between the earth (presumably nearest the equator) and the moon.  Her little mind raced with different thoughts, none of them good for the planet earth, and we finally concluded that anyone who lived long enough to survive the catastrophic events in the immediate term would certainly be doomed within 10 hours as the coil of chain reeled in the moon until it collided with the planet.

"That could never really happen though," she informed me.  I smiled.  "That's what you call a thought experiment.  It makes things interesting and can lead you to think in different ways about the things around you."

She asked for another one, and so I asked her to imagine what it would be like to have a million dollars, but you couldn't spend any of it.

She talked about all the things she could buy with a million dollars, but I had to keep reminding her that she couldn't spend any of the money.  If she had a million dollars, but couldn't spend even one penny of it, how would her life be different than it was right now?  She puzzled it over, but she never could let go of the thought of actually having money you could not spend.  I reminded her again, that this too was only a thought experiment, and that the value of something that was never to be used was equal to the value of nothing at all.

I also told her that people who wish for a million dollars are not really wishing for a million dollars just to have a million dollars sitting around.  There is something they want to do with that million dollars; something they want to change about their life.  What they want to change is the real reason they want a million dollars, and they think having that money to spend will allow them to change something that they see as a problem in their life.

We talked some more, but my own mind began to wander.  As I listened to my daughter, I thought about all the things in the past that brought her into my life.  How many different scenarios could have played out, different choices with different outcomes, and that I would trade none of them with the moment I was sharing right then.  I look back on my own life, and I can see that by any standard I had it rough growing up.  Without getting into details, I can say there are very few people who would wish to trade places with me if they knew everything about how I grew up.

In my own little thought experiment, I sometimes wonder what if . . .

What if this had been different, what if that choice had been made instead, what if I went here instead of there, and on and on the "what ifs" go.  The reality is that I am here now because of all that has been.  As the conversation winds down, it occurs to me that it is not the "what ifs" in life that really matter.  Those "what if" moments in your past are like a million dollars you can never spend.

You cannot count on "what if" to change your life as it is right now, nor can you blame "what if" to change your past.  I look back and see that many people in similar circumstances in life never seemed to be able to break out beyond the thought experiment of "what if", as they continue to blame the past for everything that happens in their life today and in the future.

What matters now are not the "what ifs" of the past, but the concrete decisions you make to ensure real change moving forward from here.

THROUGH the Storm
by JohnBagwell
Feb 24, 2013 | 3808 views |  0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Flashback to April 27th, 2011.  What do you personally remember from that day?  Unless you were in Alabama or a neighboring southern state, probably not much.  However, for those of us around that day, each of us has a story to tell.

That morning, I remember being awakened by the strong sound of wind outside.  I got up with a tense sense of unease, walked to the window, and could see the trees in my back yard leaning hard over and steadily to one side as the sound of the wind whistled through their branches.  Even the house seemed to be making low, groaning noises I'd never heard before.  This wasn't a tornado.  It was straight-line winds that I later would learn had knocked down dozens of large trees all over the area, blown some structures apart, severed power lines, and ominously enough, was only a precursor of what was still to come.

Later that same day, twisters would cross the state of Alabama with one in particular driving a line of destruction right across the map.  My family had left our home earlier that day to go be with family who had a more secure location.  As the tornado approached, I remember standing just outside the shelter.  The hard rain had stopped, but I've never seen anything like the lightning that flashed across the sky that night.  It was eerie.  It was not a brief flash here and there, but rather the entire sky seemed to stay lit with continuous overlapping flashes of lightening.  What was even more strange than this was the fact that it seemed as though someone had hit the mute button on the thunder.  Normally, a bright flash of lightning is followed by the boom of thunder, but this was different.  Sometimes far off in the distance we could hear thunder, but for all the lightning in the sky directly above us, it was abnormally quiet.

Turns out, one of the major tornadoes that crossed Alabama passed by my house northward by about 8 to 10 miles, and northward of the shelter location by about 10 - 15 miles.  We all knew someone who had been touched by the devastation that day.  I personally helped a friend salvage what little could be saved from his home that had been torn down, and scattered across a street and several acres of land.

While it is true that not all storms are this bad, you do learn that storms happen.  They are unavoidable.  I tend to think the damage from the straight-line winds that had caused so much damage earlier that morning had everyone taking the tornado warnings for that evening a lot more seriously than they normally would have, and the experience from that morning followed by the warnings that worse was still to come probably saved a lot of lives.

Sometimes in life you get warnings of things to come; precursors that indicate trouble is coming and you had better prepare yourself.  Too often though, the storms of life seem to come out of nowhere and hit us without warning.  What I have also found to be true is that people can have completely different reactions to the same storms.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine who battled cancer and is now doing quite well.  He still has to go for checkups, but has been cancer-free for quite some time.  I remember asking him about how he felt the day he found out about it, and his answer caught me off-guard.  He said he just knew everything was going to be OK, and that he never really believed he wasn't going to make it.  He went on to say through the whole ordeal he had peace about it, and when asked if he ever thought he actually might die, he said no.

Looking back, seeing him now as someone who battled cancer and is who has been cancer-free for some time, it might be easy to take such statements for granted, but you have to remember that he had lived in the storm of that moment.  He was talking about a perspective he had when most people I know would have been devastated.  What I also believe to be true, is that his peace passed my own understanding, and I also believe that it had to be from God.

The takeaway for me is that while we all will face storms in life, we have a choice in how we respond to them.  Peace can be had just as my friend had peace knowing he would win out over the battle against cancer, but in the same instance I have heard other stories of people having peace with the fact that they knew they would not survive.  While this article has focused on cancer as a storm of life, I hope the broader application is absorbed.

You may never specifically face cancer in your life, but there is a storm coming.  Maybe you will have some warning, but for most us, there will be no warning at all.  When your storm comes, I hope you will recall two things from this article: first, storms are temporary things, and second, that as Christians we have an Anchor on which to hold that will never fail.  He will see us through every storm.

How to Love Unconditionally
by JohnBagwell
Feb 10, 2013 | 6433 views |  0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

With Valentine's Day approaching this week, much will be spent on flowers, chocolate, and small baubles as men of all ages seek to communicate in just the right way the simple words: "I love you".  February 14th is a day when some will even seek out the bonds of marriage, while some others may have chosen this day specifically to tie the proverbial knot.  As I watch this yearly phenomena, I wonder how much of it is sincere, how much of it is advertising coercion (buy this for her and she'll love you, or don't and you're a dead man!), and last of all, how long it will last.

That last question really bothers me.  I hope it bothers you, too.

How long does "I love you" last?

It reminds me of the joke where some married couple is arguing and the wife accuses her husband of never telling her "I love you" often enough.  At the end of the joke he finally ends the argument by saying, "I told you I love you the day we were married.  If anything changes, I'll let you know!"

The problem with a love that does not last is that it is a love based upon conditions.

Face it, we are taught to live a conditional life in a "do this for me and I'll do this for you" sort of way.  Most people I know wouldn't work at their jobs very long without a paycheck.  Even if they love what they are doing for a living, there has to be the condition of payment or else they could not continue to do that job indefinitely.  We walk out of stores with certain needs and wants in exchange for money.  We tend to treat others with varying degrees of trust that are earned.  Respect is also a two way street where our ability to respect someone can decrease rapidly with how well (or not) we feel respected or disrespected.  The list of conditions in all of our various interactions and relationships with others is quite long!

It seems life is full of conditional arrangements.  So then, it is quite a natural idea that how we love each other, even in marriage, would be conditional.  The act of divorce itself is proof enough of that.  If someone can answer the question "What would make you want a divorce?" then they have answered the condition(s) upon which their marriage would rest.  However, God wants Christians in marriage to love unconditionally.  Even though infidelity in marriage is listed as a possible reason for divorce, the act of divorce is still discouraged.


Because a Christian marriage is supposed to be a picture of God's love for us.

Does God love you conditionally or unconditionally?

For those of you reading this who have been through divorce yourself or know someone who has been through divorce and thinking of all the reasons why a divorce is justified, stop for a moment and think about the unconditional love of God for you.

I realized one day that . . . . . (for the rest of this article, please click on the link: MenRising)

What do you REALLY need?
by JohnBagwell
Jan 27, 2013 | 7277 views |  0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Walk up to the average person and ask them what they want.  With reasonable certainty, I could guess that they would say they would want money, a new home (or current mortgage paid off), a new car, or to be debt free.  There are a few others out there I know who might say something like World Peace, or to rid the world of hunger, disease, or some other worldwide problem.  However, that is not where I want to go with this question.

What I want you to think about is your inner personal life.  When thinking about you, your life, personally speaking, answer the question: What do I want?  Set aside externals, think internally.  What do you want on the inside?

Whether you have something in mind or not, keep reading.

You see, many people are pursuing things they think they need, and their pursuit has nothing to do with getting their physical needs met.  They are in pursuit of something missing.  They are seeking to fulfill physically a need that has not been met on the inside, spiritually.

Christians like to say "Jesus is the answer" to these needs, and I would agree; however, in my estimation, the very people who say that do not understand the meaning of those words.  Strange, no?  Christians, who are saved and have Jesus Christ in their hearts, will say "Jesus is the answer" and still fall into the trap of pursuing physically something they need to fill a void they feel on the inside.

Sometimes these pursuits lead people (Christians included) to drink alcohol, have extra-marital affairs, fall into drug abuse, gambling, or some other form of addiction.  People who did these things before they were saved still have the capability to fall into these snares again, but with a difference.  Those who are saved have the answer they are seeking, but are not applying the answer.  The answer is "I AM" but they do not really understand that as an answer no more than I did as a 7 or 8 year old little boy.

When I first heard "Jesus is the answer" I was about 7 or 8 years old.  In my mind all I could think of is the grade I would have had if I had tried to write "Jesus" on all the answer blanks on a particularly hard test I'd had the week before.

What does that mean, really?  Jesus is the answer?

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January 22, 1973
by JohnBagwell
Jan 20, 2013 | 7689 views |  0 comments | 81 81 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

I'm taking off work this Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013.  You see, my youngest daughter was born on January 22nd, and each year, with each of my daughters, I take them on a day-long father-daughter date.  Together we choose where to go, what to do, and I take them shopping for a new dress, a new book, and generally find different places to go and be so we can spend time together.

Watching her grow up, and learning about her as her personality develops is amazing.  With all her little quirks and playfulness, she captivates my heart every time I see her.  I love it when she comes into my office, crawls up into my lap, gives me a kiss on the cheek and says, "Papa, I love you."  I don't have any boys, though after watching some boys from other households and then looking at my experiences with my own two daughters, I believe I am much happier.

In the end though, I know I have the children God gave me.  In His infinite wisdom, God knew that these two little girls would bring perspectives and experiences into my life that I needed, and that they would change me into someone that they would need.  However, things did not have to be this way.

What I realized today, is that this Tuesday with my daughter quite possibly may never have even been a possibility.

You see, 40 years ago, on the same day my daughter would be born 40 years later, our country made the decision to make it legal for women to kill their unborn children.  According to nature and the way things work, the very next month after the Roe vs. Wade decision was handed down, my mother became pregnant with me.  She had a legal choice to make.  My life was in her hands.  Nine months later, on a cold November day, I was born into this world, and things were set in motion that would lead to my father-daughter date this coming Tuesday with one of the most beautiful of all of God's creations.  (Though I admit I am quite biased.)

It reminds me of a saying I heard somewhere that goes, "Just because you can do a thing, doesn't mean you should do a thing."  There is a lot of wisdom in those words.  Every choice you make has implications, and there are both the foreseen intended consequences, and the far reaching and mostly unseen and unintended consequences.

I suddenly realize, looking at my family and my two daughters, that had my mother made the legal choice to abort me, then the two wonderful little girls who are my children would not exist today.

Too often people are too quick and too eager to speak up for their rights, for their choices, and for their freedoms without understanding that with those rights, and choices, and freedoms comes responsibility for the outcomes, and consequences both intentional and the unintended.  As it turns out, Norma McCorvey, the woman whose personal life was used to argue the case of Roe vs. Wade, never had an abortion.  Her baby was born and adopted by another family.  Just two days ago, I saw a TV commercial where she openly acknowledges regret.

I believe if we were to all be open and honest, the conclusion could be made that the main reason abortions take place today are due to the personal inconvenience of life an "unwanted/unintended pregnancy" would represent.  Despite the myriad of social, medical, and economic factors, the truth is simply that the pregnancy is compartmentalized as "a problem" and abortion has been offered as an expedient and legal "solution" to that perceived problem.

I cannot say I do not understand that line of thinking.  My life was not easy growing up.  My family had it very hard economically.  I understand what it means to grow up poor.  My father left our family when I was 14 years old.  By all indications, the legal murder of my life would have been justified looking back on how hard and how tough life was not only for my mom and myself, but the other children in our family.  If my mom could look back on her life and see with 20/20 vision how much easier her life could have been without me being born, maybe she would have decided to end my life.  Furthermore, she may have chosen to end the lives of my two brothers that followed.

Yet, if my mother had only looked at her own personal circumstances and made a decision that was convenient for her, the unintended consequences of ending my life would be that my two daughters would not exist.

Abortion, as of this date, is legal; however, it is the legal killing of unborn children.

Just because you can do a thing, doesn't mean you should do a thing.

This Tuesday I get to go out on a date with my daughter.  Exactly 40 years after the killing of unborn children was made legal, I will celebrate another year of life with my own child.  As I look into my daughters eyes, I am very glad that just because my mom could do a thing, she didn't do a thing.

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