Peace Sells

In my former life, the life where I was a dead sinner, I loved listening to Megadeth.  Mitch Mustain's haunting voice and raw lyrics combined with their unique electric sound to pump what must have been gallons of adrenaline through my veins.  In one of their songs, Mustain asks the question, "Peace sells, but who's buying?"  Twenty years later I think I have found the answer.

One of the tactics satan has used to weaken the church in America is distracting Christians.  If he can keep us focused on anything other than Christ, he weakens our effectiveness.  He has been particularly effective at disarming believers under the guise of tolerance.

Durning my formative years, tolerance meant to disagree with people yet respect them and their beliefs. Tolerance was agreeing to disagree.  Somewhere over the last twenty years tolerance has come to mean that you affirm another persons "faith" as right or correct for them, regardless of the actual veracity of their beliefs.  Tolerance used to mean that personal beliefs could be labeled wrong.  Today personal beliefs cannot be labeled as wrong without a firestorm of consequences.

The misunderstanding of tolerance has morphed into a catapult for unbridled sin.  Homosexuality is now an 'alternative lifestyle', not a sin.  Abortion is a woman's choice and not murder.  Along the way, biblical Christianity has been pressured to label sinful beliefs and sinful actions as 'right' or 'good' instead of calling them sin.

The Church has suffered.  Unbelievers have infiltrated the local church in America, weakening her understanding and resolve.  The Church has been pushed to reneg on John 14:6,
"I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me."
The world wants the church to revise John 14:6 to read,
"I am a way, a truth, and a life.  No one comes to a father except through me."
Why does the world strive for this type of tolerance?  I think it is, in part, because all human beings want peace.  Most people do not like conflict.  Why do we have to fight and argue?  Can't we all just get along?  You see, peace sells.  Peace sells and the whole world is buying.

What I find brilliant about this strategy can be seen in the antichrist's rise to power.  If people are taught that tolerance means to affirm the worship of any god, when antichrist rises to power, how easy will it be for people to continue their damning beliefs by simply replacing the face of their god with the face of antichrist.  People of many different belief systems can all worship their gods because antichrist will take the name of them all.  They can then worship antichrist as their god, in peace with others, on what they think is their terms.

But God is a jealous God.  He shares His glory with no one.  He will not allow such evil.   His peace, true peace, comes at a price.  Christ paid that price at Calvary.  And in an ironic turn of events, He will no longer tolerate the world's idolatry and He will make war against them, avenging His Holy Name!

Come quickly, Lord!


Limb Differences

Considering the amount of study and talk in which I have participated regarding trials, I suppose it is right to assume God has been preparing me to lead my family through a little adversity of our own.  A few years ago, the Lord used James 1:2-4 to shake up my world.  As our small group memorized the first chapter, I was dumbfounded at the Word of God and how it related to all of life!  Only the Triune God could open His blessed Word to these failing eyes the way He did.

Fast forward to summer 2009.  Bek's father was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer.  While we were shocked and stunned at the news, the trial remained somewhat distant, happening outside our home.  God poured out grace upon grace to our family, granting Randy a clean bill of health near the end of January 2010!

Near the end of January 2010, Bekah and I found out she was pregnant with our fourth child!  We were humbled that God would grant us a fourth arrow with which to fill our quiver!  Her pregnancy proceeded on schedule bringing us to Tuesday April 20, 2010.  Our 18 week ultrasound arrived, promising gender confirmation!  We had decided to take Hannah with us to the ultrasound, planning to phone Grandma Stuart with the news once we left the hospital.

As Hannah spoke to Grandma, she reported that we were having a boy!  Hannah was witnessing answered prayer as she had been praying for another little brother!  She then announced to Grandma that Isaac did not have a left hand!  We were actually somewhat relieved because we were debating how to tell Grandma and Papa.

During the ultrasound, the Radiologist informed us that he could not find Isaac's left hand!  He had traced the left arm from the shoulder to elbow and along the forearm.  But his forearm simply ended.  He could not see Isaac's left hand.

Needless to say, we were shocked.  We managed some shallow humor as our thoughts turned to our son.  The good news was that all the other numbers measured normal.  As far as the professionals could tell, the problem was isolated to his left hand.

The following day we attended our appointment with Dr. Vold.  He informed us that he had never witnessed such an event!  While we were hoping for answers, he basically said this was outside his area of medicine.  However, he did bend over backwards to secure for us an appointment with Maternal Fetal Medicine, located one floor below.  What a kind and gracious comfort The Lord extended to us in the form of Dr. Vold's efforts!

Today, Monday April 26, 2010, we attended another ultrasound, confirming Isaac's "deformity".  After talking with a geneticist and a doctor from MFM, they believe that Isaac's "condition" is an isolated event and there should be no further effects.  Yet another gracious gift that God has given us if it is true!

In an effort to keep this post short, I will direct you to Bekah's blog for further explanation regarding our reactions and faith in Christ.  I plan to add many thoughts and Scriptures throughout the rest of our pregnancy.  As we know, man plans his way, but The Lord directs his steps.  For now, please enjoy the following 3-D images of my little man!

Isaac William Wentling

Here is a picture of Isaac's left side.  The end of his left arm is located directly above the 'e' in the word forearm.  The doctor believes it is severed an inch or two above his wrist.



Too often trials get a bad rap.  Here's a bad rap with some thoughts on trials.  You provide the music.

Can you appreciate sunshine without the rain?
Or treasure good health without the pain?
Can couples rejoice in a child's birth
without filled quiver to understand worth?
All are true to some degree,
but a fuller regard through life they see.

So to lift thy loudest praise,
and whole-hearted lauding of Christ you raise,
with all the strength of mustered voice,
though trials be heavy in Him rejoice!

For tests of faith you must endure,
their perfect result: presenting you mature.
What brother in strife would fail to see
trials are life's necessity?

From death to life trials transform,
Is the Savior in focus without the storm?
From the storm your life He saves.
Are you looking to Christ or fearing the waves?


Mom for a Day

In keeping with the poetic blog theme and celebrating the recent vernal equinox, I would offer the following:

Roses are Red,
Violets are blue,
I'm glad I'm a man,
and so are you.

These words were verified through a recent trial with which the Lord has blessed us!  Although Bek is pregnant (an obvious blessing and gracious gift from God), The Lord has thought best to test our faith with another tooth problem.  On March 27, she began feeling some pain in one of her wisdom teeth which extended through this past week.  Consequently, she slept much less than normal last week.  After suffering through the weekend, she was able to see the dentist who helped with some medications, scheduling an extraction for yesterday, April 5.

Bekah was not overly excited at the prospect of having another tooth removed.  However, when weighing it against the option of extended tooth pain and many more sleepless nights, it seemed best.  Because she is pregnant, she is unable to inhale large doses of the famed "laughing gas" so prevalent in dental offices nationwide.  Instead, she received shots to numb the area.  It took one whole hour to get her numb.  Apparently they had to insert an IV-type tube into the area just to numb her!  The three minute extraction seems to have had some good results.

For example, I have been blessed with the opportunity to care for my entire family!  Hannah and Ben are old enough to be extremely helpful so I figured this was no problem.  It would be no problem, if I were Bekah.  But I am not.

She had wisely planned to have a rather simply dinner: potato soup.  Not only is it fairly healthy and simple to make, but I love it, providing more motivation as I tried to reconstruct this palatable masterpiece.  She graciously pulled up the recipe on her Ipod and off I went!  With a preparation time of 45 minutes, the meal would be ready around 5:30p, a great time for dinner!

I read through the instructions to get an overview.  The author must have made some major assumptions here.  Apparently, the time to find all the ingredients and measuring utensils is not included in the preparation time.  So, twenty five minutes later I had assembled all of the ingredients and was ready to measure, mix, and melt as necessary!

The actual cooking proceeded forward without too many problems.  Having been instructed by Bekah once before, I was somewhat familiar with the process.  However, I don't remember having to work over Phoebe.  Our youngest daughter has the sneakiness of Ben combined with the jabber-ability of Hannah.  Being focused on the instructions and ingredients, I would not notice her crawl into position between me and the oven.  The next thing I know, I am trying to reach over her to add or measure ingredients!  How was I supposed to care for Phoebe and cook at the same time?  I underestimated the sneakiness!

While this was going on, Hannah would come in with questions about reading.  She is doing a fabulous job with her reading so we want to encourage her.  However, it is tough to cook, not step on Phoebe, and read Hannah's books all at the same time!  How does Bekah do it?  On top of that, Ben would come into the kitchen from time to time reminding me that he is hungry.  The lesson:  not only is daddy a slow cooker, he cannot multitask to save his life!

After beginning dinner preparations at 4:30p, we finally settled down to eat around 6:10p!  What a night!  Praise God for Bekah, my wife!  Where would we be without our wives and mothers!  I am glad mommy can stay home and care for the kids.  I assume the kids are glad too!  We will see how Tuesday goes!


Jesus Christ our Hope

oh blessed hope, to Calvary
thou art forever tied,
resting in the Savior who
suffered, bled, and died.

creation's wrath could not impair
the hopeful path Thou trod,
when on the tree Thou did assuage
the very wrath of God!

offended God, eternal rage
His unrelenting wrath,
was placated, yes satisfied
by Christ on my behalf.

but useless was my slate wiped clean
if Christ stayed in the grave,
now forever more He lives!
and I with Him, His slave!

since the Father doth approve
of all work of the Son,
I have grace through granted faith
His love forever won!

though this pilgrimage doth seem
a hard and vicious road,
now justified I have this hope
to onward in me goad.

now rejoicing in the hope
of the glory of God,
His Spirit doth in me reside
and through all trials doth prod.

plodding onward to the day
when hope shall realize,
faith shall be sight, love purified
when Christ besets my eyes!


Hope in Trials

When trials buffet life, we can lose sight of Christ.  He is the One Who is our hope, enabling joy amidst suffering.  Without hope, we become discouraged, fettered in doubt.  Hope motivates.  Hope renewed refreshes the weary soul.  May your eyes be fixed on Our Hope today!

Oh blessed Hope!  My faithful steed
through tests of faith doth bear,
My joy in trials, completeness seek,
and shall present me there.

On endurance cast thine eye
looking to thy end,
when complete in Christ I'll rest
as is thy faithful trend.

Arriving at thy heavenly goal
surveying life I'll see,
Through momentary light affliction
thou hast shouldered me.

For the weight of glory I
prepared shall realize,
these momentary trials forgot
when Christ besets my eyes.

So come disaster, scorn, and shame
perfection be Thy grant,
"I shall follow Way, Truth, Life"
forever be my chant.

Unmooring ties to friend and foe
and loved ones shouldst Thou call,
Thy hopeful winds shall forceful drive
my faith-sails to Thine hall.

Mine eye on heaven, the home of Christ,
with joyful soul shall I,
endure what suffering Thou deem best
and ever homeward fly.

Then docking in Thy heavenly port
forsaking bowel and bile,
gazing on Thy shining face
shall make my wait worth while.


Days of Grace

Friday January 29, 2010, was a day different from most.  We were coming home from a week of feasting on the Word of God!  I collected my thoughts as we exited the Double K Ranch.  Bekah had begun our taxes earlier in the week and it looked as though we were receiving a substantial refund.  Unbelievable considering we paid no federal taxes last year!  As we began the journey home, I thought, "It is just another reason to praise God for children!  Without them, we could not take advantage of the 'child tax credit'!"

God had blessed us with three wonderful children and we were praying for a second son to keep our family symmetrically gendered.  As I floored the pedal, causing the luggage-laden minibus to inch closer to the speed limit, my cell phone rang.  Glancing at the phone, I wondered why God would have my wife calling from her mom's cell phone just as I was entering the interstate.  Needless-to-say, I don't believe in coincidence.

"Hello, this is Curtis," I boomed after answering the call.  Expecting to hear Bekah's voice, I thought about her normal frustration with wireless headsets and freeway driving.  "Hi Curtis," exclaimed my mother-in-law.  "Why is she calling me," I thought.  She is faithful to call on my birthday and anniversary, but rarely am I graced with this blessing the rest of the year.  "I wanted to update you on Randy," she followed.

An update on Randy.  "Today is the day" I said to myself, remembering that his PETSCAN results were to be unveiled today.  It was about time too.  It had been six months since I had heard the news of Randy's throat cancer.  And ten months since he had lost his job.  Perhaps it was not the ideal scenario for fighting cancer - laid off after almost a decade of faithful service.  Then again, is there an ideal scenario?

I thought of the battle one young man in our church waged against tongue cancer, eventually meeting his Maker in an unimaginable way.  By the grace of God Randy's cancer was not as belligerent as Andrew's.  Randy had been told there was an eighty percent chance this (radiation therapy and chemotherapy) would be the only treatment he would need!  Little did we know what lie ahead.

The seven weeks of treatment began with much confidence and enthusiasm, thinking Randy would be the anomaly frequently heard of and more often hoped for when facing such a devastating illness.  The seven weeks ended with an eye-opening awkwardness as the man we all love lived like a zombi.  The treatments came and went, as did most of the symptoms.  Even on this beautiful Friday morning, Randy could taste a few things, though his saliva glands seemed to be more of a leaky garden hose than a fire hydrant.

I chuckled as I recalled our latest family day.  After visiting all of our furry friends at the Woodland Park Zoo, the day rose to crescendo at our rib house of choice!  Forgetting what a chore it would be to eat meat with no saliva, we dragged the entire family to Famous Dave's Barbecue.

There are some moments in life when a person's selfishness is manifest before their eyes.  It was one of those moments for me.  I cannot explain the shame I felt (I suggested we go to Famous Dave's) as I watched Randy try to polish off his half of the ribs, brisket, and chicken.  He looked like a baby bird in its nest, scarfing down whatever its mother was shoving down its throat.  The water glass was his best friend.  Eventually, the waitress just brought a pitcher.  I don't think I have ever seen him so determined to succeed!

And succeed he did!  His strength was returning.  The taste buds were responding, though not as accurately as the pretreatment days.  While his retarded saliva production turned fudge into paste, a few extra cups of water with each meal made eating manageable.  God had brought him through!  We were thankful!

"Randy is cancer-free," Debbie exclaimed!  "the PETSCAN shows no cancer in his body!"  His exuberant bride glowed even over my cell phone!  I thanked God.  He did not have to give Randy more life.  He did not have to give my wife more time with her dad.  He did not have to give my children more time with Papa.  This day was a Day of Grace!

The day was not over, however!

I arrived home around the usual time.  I had hoped to sneak out earlier, but responsibilities required attention.  We decided to celebrate my return from the week long sojourn with dinner at Denny's!  I could already taste the buffalo chicken sandwich I enjoy almost every time we dine there!

When we returned home, I decided to catch up on some football news while Bekah showered.  However, my mind was not entirely on football.  In August we had begun praying for our fourth child.  Wall street was pretty excited to hear this because every time we start trying for a baby, the companies who produce pregnancy tests see a marked increase in sales due to my wife taking so many of them.  I guess making babies is good for the economy!

In December I asked Bekah to take no more tests until February.  With February being only two full days away, I conceded to her request to take a test.  She had waited patiently.  With only two days until the greatest month of the year, why not?  Randy was cancer free.  The finances looked good.  Why not take the test?

Suddenly I heard Bekah speak from the bathroom, "Curtis, could you come in here?"  What in the world did she need?  Was the drain clogged again?  "Just a moment, honey," I replied.  Upon entering the lavatory she said, "Can you look at this?"  I took the instrument from her and replied, "It looks like a pregnancy test."  "Ha ha," she responded sarcastically.  As I looked closer, the reading was a bit weird.  Following a detailed examination of the instructions, we agreed -- Positive!  The Lord had given us another baby!

The following week afforded opportunity to pause, ponder, and reflect.  God had enabled us to cast off the bad debt we had accumulated.  He had granted the continuing of the life of my father-in-law.  He had granted the conceiving of life to my wife.  Our finances were accounted for, our father was conserved, and our family continued!  God had painted all of this blessing on the backdrop of our family being reunited!  It was one of the best days of my life!