Malarkey! Raising kids, MLK Jr Day and Sufficiency

1. I know it’s funny that Alex Malarkey’s last name has a coincidental meaning in English of “nonsense.” And the book previously drafted by him is nonsense.

But can we stop with the plays on words with the person’s name? Just take for example the fact that both Alex and his mother have repented and are working to amend for the error as enough to say, hey, let’s stop making fun of the kid’s name?

Seriously, he inherited that name from his earthly father, and Alex has a new Father now anyway. I can’t tell you how hurt I’d be if someone with my last name did something stupid and then my last name became a great punchline.

2. If you are going to talk about Martin Luther King Jr., and you don’t allow people to refer to details about the man’s life or teachings which directly relate to his character, well, remember the words of … um … Martin Luther King Jr.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

I would say allegations of adultery go directly to the “content of his character” regardless of the “color of his skin.” And if the content of a man’s character directly relates to his qualifications as a preacher, then so be it. And if a man isn’t qualified to preach, I have no reason to listen to his preaching on that basis. Now that doesn’t mean MLK never said anything right or true, but it was incidental, for the wrong reason and thus, possibly misdirected.

If me writing what I just wrote makes me a racist in your estimation, then you are part of the problem.

3. Back to the Malarkey or Burpo kid with the Heavenly Tourism stuff. What should be striking is NOT so much that there are ravenous wolves trying to deceive the Church, but rather, that the Church is either so non-Christian or so lacking in discernment that these books are even popular. Seriously, I don’t know the demographics, but my guess is the predominant statistics would tell us it isn’t atheists and Muslims who are buying these books!

Whose fault is it? A number of people, to be sure, but for one thing: pastors and teachers who are afraid to speak ill of these books and name them to their congregation as well as men who do not hold to and consistently teach the sufficiency of Scripture.

4. My baby boy is turning 1 Sunday. After 2 miscarriages, for God to give my wife and me a child is so sweet. This is the first child we are raising together (we had 3 others already when we met). It is really fun to watch the process and to see how we each interact with him. I’ve noticed in the area of discipline something neat.

It seems to me that my wife tries to appeal to him to love her and have a desire to obey her. So when she tells him what to do or what not to do, it is very kind and gentle, almost enticing him to goodness. It’s like subconsciously, she wants him to choose good things for good reasons and love and trust for her.

I am nearly opposite. I am completely happy that he fears me and the consequences of bad behavior. You can see the difference in how we interact with him. It made me think of our Perfect Triune God who really offers both those features to His children to provoke us to love and good works in the fear of the Lord.

Just a few random thoughts for a Wednesday.

How to be Good

Be content with God’s goodness toward you and be thankful for the abundance as it is not owed to you.

1 Timothy 6:6–8 (NASB95)
6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

Goodness is that quality in us which the Holy Spirit produces whereby we desire moral purity and to give charity toward the brethren and the heathen; it is the heart attitude by which our outward behaviors must be judged.

Are you patient or kind or peaceful because you are Good? Or do you try to do those other things to make yourself Good? Your legitimate kindness toward others, your self-control, your gentleness and humility are to be tempered by your Goodness: your moral uprightness as defined by God’s statutes revealed in His Word.

Proverbs 3:27 implies that God, who is always good and knows our need before we do, may seemingly withhold some good thing from us, like a wife or a husband, a job, a position at work or the church. He may let you have a dead child or spouse. He may not save family members as quickly as you’d like, but He is always good and thus, does not withhold good things from them to whom they are due. Therefore, the goodness you expect is either not due to you or it is not what is good for you at that time in His infinite and perfect wisdom.

There’s a preview of today’s Sunday School lesson I’ll teach at Berean Baptist Church where my views may or may not reflect the views of the church :).

Random Acts of Kindness

Preach the gospel at all times, whenever possible include kind actions as well.
–Michael Coughlin

Christian: You can seem kind without giving the most important thing you can give to people. I’m not saying “don’t do kind acts,” and I’m not saying “you can only do a kind act if you share the gospel” … but don’t pat yourself on the back for sending people to hell with full bellies or warm clothes or a free lunch or two.

In a couple hours, I’ll delivery my teaching on “kindness” from Galatians 5:22.

Check back or go to my Sermon Audio page to hear the final teaching.

Everything Else is Idolatry – BIG10 Championship

3 men from central Ohio traveled to Indianapolis for the Big 10 Championship game in 2014, but they didn’t go to watch the football: they went to preach Christ.

Joe Conkle, Caleb Davenport and I went to Indy for this event. In a few hours, we handed out over 4000 tracts. I preached for 2 separate sessions of 30-40 minutes. We were encouraged by believers, mocked by scoffers and ignored by the indifferent.

God granted nice (dry) weather, but in the wind tunnel which was the intersection of Capitol & Georgia, it was freezing. But God brought us through it all.

This is the result. In this sermon, you will hear my heart as I plead for the lives of the men and women for whom I traveled to serve with the glorious Gospel.

OSU vs Indiana Outreach Report

Greetings! On Saturday, November 22, 2014, Fred Triplett and I rode down to Ohio Stadium together to meet newly ordained apostle evangelist, Joe Conkle.

Joe brought 3 men with him who were all eager to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Kelly, Johan and David.

We ministered for about 2 hours, from the end of the 3rd quarter to when the crowds died down at Lane and Olentangy River Road. I preached the gospel for about an hour, and thousands of people heard the Word.

While preaching, I read from 1 John 4, Colossians 1, Romans 1 and Psalm 34. As a point of conviction and rebuke to you, dear reader, did you spend that much time in God’s Word yesterday? There are days I have not, to my shame!

I don’t know how many tracts were distributed, probably a thousand or more. I had my share of hecklers and yellers. I did my best to come back to them with winsome, rational comments. Hopefully, someone saw the fault in the anti-God worldview. One guy yelled “Shutup” to me. I replied by asking “Why don’t you?” Afterward, I wondered if it came across as rude or “seventh-gradey,” but I meant it as a serious inquiry into his logic. He didn’t respond.

God protected us from inclement weather and evildoers. That corner is covered in Police directing traffic which makes me feel very safe. After preaching for half an hour, I caught a glimpse of one of Columbus’ finest who was on the corner closest to us. He is a man I have known for years as he is a Christian and the brother of one of my best friends.

We brought a box of 20 Bibles and only gave away 1 of them. This is one area where I want to do better. I ought to be more prepared and have a sign that says “FREE BIBLES.” I suppose if people don’t know we have them, they aren’t going to just ask for a Bible. What was interesting is that while preaching, I mentioned that we had Bibles to give away. Shortly after, a man who overheard me, named Chris, approached asking for a Bible. I shut down the microphone for a few minutes and listened to him tell me about his life, and I was able to share the gospel with him.

Dear Christian, will you please pray for Chris? He’s engaged and has 2 daughters. His appearance was humble, but only God sees the heart.

On a side note, for those of you who don’t think open air preaching “works,” I’ll answer a fool according to his folly and point out that a man heard the gospel one on one and received a copy of God’s Word because he heard a preacher with a microphone mention that he could receive a free Bible.

There was one other instance to note: A drunk man was seemingly mesmerized by the preaching, (once in a while you catch someone who is CLEARLY listening and engrossed in the preaching). His friend kept trying to get him to move on, but he remained focused on me. I asked him, “Do you want forgiveness?” And he nodded in the affirmative. His friend urged him on, but he heard the message. Maybe God will use it to convert him!

May you bless God for his graciousness to me. Five men showed up to minster the gospel with me and without any conflict deferred to me as the leader and authority in the group. It is a responsibility I accept as one which was foreordained by God. I only hope that I will humbly serve, even those who submit to me, as my Lord Jesus did. May God be glorified because He is worthy and His Word was exalted and the name of Jesus was magnified.

Special thanks to Sports Fan Outreach International who encourages us, inspires us and prays for us as we labor to the crowds in Ohio.

P.S. Midway through my preaching, a couple of young ladies stood about 20 feet in front of me and held up a camera phone. I assumed they were recording me (for what purpose, I have no idea). Am I vain that I sucked in my stomach? Maybe that’s a sign I need to be more disciplined! 🙂

Oh What Can 12 Years Do…

12 years ago today God preserved a little baby’s life. For anyone who did not know the story, I wanted to share this story of my first son’s birth. To Nicholas – I’m so glad to know you. I only wish I was the father you think I am.

I wrote this 12 years ago. If you’ve only met me recently, consider that at this time I was married to a woman named Julie (now divorced), and had no love for Christ in my heart. There is a chilling absence of God in my writing.

Nicholas was due September 22, 2002. That is why I rushed out of work at 4:00 on Thursday September 26 when Julie called and mentioned hospital. What she was trying to tell me was that we needed to go to the hospital because she was not noticing as much fetal movement as she is expected to notice. We arrived at the hospital around 5:30 PM. I was quickly amazed when I found out that their computers were being shut down from 6:00 to 7:30! Anyway, Julie was immediately put on fluids to lower her fever she had acquired. The on-call doctor diagnosed from home that Julie just had a touch of the flu, and since she was not in labor yet, sent us home. We warily walked to the car, dazed that we were just in the delivery area for the first time since our tour of the facility. We got home after 9 PM.

Friday morning, September 27, 2002 @ 3:21 AM:

After experiencing contractions for a little while, Julie woke me and asked me to help count the contractions. After an hour of it, we called the number and the same doctor called back. Without any concern which we could perceive, he instructed us to count for another hour and then go to the hospital. So we prepared for our trip after another 30 minutes and left around 5:10 AM. From about 6:00 to 9:00, Julie lied in her bed experiencing contractions, discomfort and nausea without complaint. By 9:00, a doctor came. It was the new on-call doctor, whose shift had just started. She came in the room and swiftly decided to induce labor. Given Julie’s condition, (the fever), she wanted to expedite the birth to protect both her and the baby. So at 9:15 I was outside calling the family to let them know; it would still be hours before the birth so they had plenty of time to get there.

By 10, Julie didn’t seem to be progressing further into labor. Nicholas’ heart rate was consistently in the 170’s; below 160 is desired. The doctor recommended an emergency Cesarean Section. Julie was taken away to begin anesthesia; I left to put on my scrubs so I could be there too. While sitting in my rocking chair waiting to be invited in, a man walked up and introduced himself as Rick longlastnamewithalotofsyllables, Pediatrician. He wanted to ask me a couple of questions and let me know what he was thinking. I could not believe how much interest he took in my questions.

His main concern was the meconium in the womb. Meconium is the first feces (stool) of the newborn. It is thick, sticky, and greenish-black in color and may be seen in the amniotic fluid after 34 weeks gestation.
The doctors knew that Nicholas has already had his first bowel movement. They knew it was floating around in the amniotic fluid. The concern was getting any meconium out of his lungs which had gotten in there. The doctor didn’t seem too worried, so neither was I.

After approximately infinity hours, I got to enter the room for the C-section. We were having a quiet conversation when I heard some noise. I asked Julie what it was, and she said it was a baby crying. I couldn’t believe it. I looked over and the doctor was holding a tiny baby. He was gray. I wasn’t ready for that. The pediatrician and a maternity nurse grabbed him and began Apgar tests.

I kept waiting for them to bring him over. It had been drummed into me how important it was to hold your baby right away and bond with him. But they just kept sticking a tube in his mouth and trying to suck something out. They were routine about it though; they had a manner which exuded confidence and calmness. It made me comfortable. Soon they communicated the need to transfer Nicholas to another room. I didn’t know why, so they wrapped him up and brought him over for Julie to look at real quick. Seconds later he was wheeled out with me in tow.

In the back of the nursery the doctor and nurses worked without a break to give him oxygen. I was scared, but again it seemed routine. They were patient and efficient in a coldly compassionate mode. They had a way of doing what they needed to do, explain it all to me, and keep Nicholas going the way they needed to. I tried to understand what was going on, I could tell he had quite labored breathing, but I didn’t know why or what the effect would be. The doctor explained that he thought Nicholas had a respiratory infection; he just needed some help breathing for a little while. When I inquired about the seriousness of the situation he replied something to the effect that it is not very serious, or he would send him to Children’s Hospital.

So I went back and forth between Nicholas and Julie. Both doing well. I took pictures for Julie to see of her son. We had a relaxing afternoon overall. Soon it was 5:15 PM. My (now ex) father-in-law and I left the hospital to purchase some things for the house at the store. I left the hospital with my cellphone off, forgetting to turn it back on. This was before we always left cellphones on!

By 7:30, I was cooking dinner. I realized my phone was off so I turned it on and checked my voicemail. At 5:45, Julie’s mom had called to let me know Nicholas’ condition had worsened and he was on his way to Children’s Hospital. This felt very bad. I finally got a hold of Julie, and she told me how to get to see Nicholas.

I rushed to the hospital and waited. Nicholas got there around 9:00 PM that night. Less than 12 hours old, and he is hooked up to more needles than I thought he had vessels, a catheter, and a tube down his throat. The situation was explained as Meconium Aspiration Syndrome. If the infant breathes while still in the uterus or when the baby takes its first breath, the meconium/amniotic fluid mixture can be inhaled into the lungs. The inhaled meconium can cause a partial or complete blockage of the airways, causing difficulty breathing and poor gas exchange in the lungs.
As a result of MAS, Nicholas began to suffer from PPHN, Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. Long story short, Nicholas’ body does not know how to breathe. There is an imbalance of blood pressure which is causing blood to draw away from his lungs, instead of toward.

So I stayed Friday and Saturday. Nicholas was on a high frequency oscillating ventilator. He was periodically having his lungs cleared as best as possible by the nurses. He is receiving Oxygen and Nitric Oxide. He has a nurse taking care of him and one other baby 24 hours a day.

It is unbelievable how wonderful they are. The people at Children’s explain everything in great detail and are so patient with us through all our questions. We have 24 hour access to see him.

A brief summary of the events which followed. Nicholas came home October 21st, 2001 after about 11 days in the NICU and 13 more days being relieved of drug addiction and progress monitoring. Children’s required regular developmental checkups for Nicholas until his 6 month birthday when he was just too healthy to require more.

If you research meconium aspiration syndrome in 2014, it is a very predictable and treatable situation. 12 years ago, it was not understood as well. Without treatment, he absolutely would have died. The loss of oxygen could have had terrible effects on his neurological system, but God protected him.

God preserved a healthy, athletic young man whose brain and lungs work just fine.

In a side story, there were about 45 beds in the NICU. An acquaintance of mine named Dan was there because his newborn daughter needed heart surgery. We had some good times just chatting in the sitting room. Nicholas came home before Dan’s daughter did as she was younger.

Let me set the stage here. Remember, I’m now home with my baby boy whose lungs did not work at birth. It’s a Monday night and I’m cursing because my son will not stop screaming. My now deceased friend Bobby calls me to tell me that he spoke to Dan that evening and that Dan’s baby girl, Taylor, had died. I remember feeling so terrible for being mad at my son for screaming. Oh how he likely wished for a screaming baby.

For those of you who know Nicholas, I thought you might enjoy this bit of history. For those of you who only know Wesley from pictures…well…this is the story of one of Wesley’s favorite people.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday School Series – Fruit

This week, the Lord allowed me to begin teaching a Sunday School series with the adults at my church. I have titled the series, “fruit.”

My intention is to dig into Galatians 5:22-23, inspecting each attribute listed, but before we can do that, I thought it wise to lay a groundwork concerning the relationship between good works and salvation in the intro.

My goal will be to have the audio edited and uploaded weekly so you can follow along. Here is the first in the series:

Click here for the notes to launch in a new tab.

Note, you can also view the notes and download the audio if you go to the Sermon Audio Page.

I believe from that page you can subscribe for direct updates when a new teaching is posted. Or you can try these links depending on the feedreader you use.