Category Archives: Character

Charles Colson

Of all of the men in the book “Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness”, Chuck Colson life is truly impressive.  Partly because he lived in our era.  To read about a man, especially a man who worked in the public eye, and whose life was truly transformed, amongst all the scoffers, is a testament to God, and the power of Jesus Christ.

Chuck Colson’s life was: 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Charles (Chuck) Colson, who worked hard, in his younger years, for President Richard Nixon – the most powerful man on earth, but spent the second half of his life working even harder for the King of kings.

Chuck was an only child to ambitious parents.  They sacrificed to allow him to attend Browne & Nichols in Cambridge, MA.  He graduated in 1953, then married (Nancy). In the next few years they became parents to 3 children, 2 boys and a girl.  Chuck rose quickly in the Marine’s ranks to become the youngest captain in its long history.

In 1954, on the deck of the USS Mellette, he became certain that beyond all the stars, was God.  He prayed and accepted God’s miraculous and mysterious ways.

In 1960 he managed a senator’s political race. There he learned his first ‘dirty tricks’, from planting fake news stories to spying on the opposition. Chuck was obsessed with politics which led to a divorce. In 1964 he married the woman who would be his wife for the next 48 years – Patty Hughes.

!n 1968 he became involved in a presidential campaign, working hard to elect Richard Nixon.  At age 38 he had the ear and the confidence of the most powerful man on the planet.  In 1972, he was made a scapegoat and was let go. This after 4 years of, anything but, upstanding moral behavior.

Chuck, as a lawyer, met a client who recently accepted Jesus Christ at a Billy Graham crusade.  Tom Phillips gave Chuck an open invite to talk anytime he felt or needed to. Chuck, at the time, felt uncomfortable about it.

Meanwhile, a historical political meltdown was brewing called Watergate. It was revealed there were unlawful secret conversations that were recorded. Chuck cringed thinking about whta was said. Newsreporters and cameras were now stationed outside his home. Chuck escapeded the gathering storm by taking a trip (to Maine). En
route, he decided to visit his friend, Tom Phillips, in Massachusetts. Chuck asked what had happened to alter Tom’s life so drastically.  He pulled out a paperback copy of ‘Mere Christianity’ and read aloud from the chapter on “The Great Pride: Sin”, Chuck felt the agony of shame, and began to sob.

As he drove home, Chuck, still sobbing, pulled over to the side of the road.  There on the side of a MA road, Chuck gave his life to the Lord. All Chuck knew was that  he asked God into his heart, in a simple way, had come out of his brokenness.  At first, the idea he had to accept not just God, but Jesus, was confusing.  He dove deeper into C. S. Lewis.  The mans logic was irrefutable.

Returning to Washington, Chuck’s life was stressful, especially with a looming trial on the horizon.  Tom Phillips contacted a friend, Doug Coe, who was leading a Christian fellowship group. Chuck found close allies, especially in the painful months to come.  He was offered a plea bargain, but as a new Christian, felt uncomfortable and denied it.  He actually took a step further which didn’t make sense to anyone besides his Christian fellowship brothers. He plead guity to another (obstruction) charge.

On July 8, 1974 Chuck entered prison, he spent nearly a year in jail but didn’t just survive, he thrived.  After his release in 1975, he returned to visit just 3 days later, this was a sign of things to come.  ‘Prison Fellowship Ministries'(PFM) made prison ministry a front burner issue in many churches across the country.  Chuck also had a deep interest in worldview and the need to teach it to be faithful.  The PFM and ‘Breakpoint’, a radio program with more than 8 millions listeners – fruits of his time spent in jail/the Word.

Chuck truly was a Wilberforce for our times.  Like Wilberforce, he came to genuine faith in adulthood. Like Wilberforce, he wanted to help those in society who suffer.  Even if it took decades, he was committed to helping those entrenched in social problems.

Chuck died in 2012, his daughter, Emily, spoke at the funeral: “Today is a celebration of my Father’s life, but today is also about us – you and me.  What will we do in the shadow of such an extraordinary role model? There is work to be done. I encourage you to continue the work God has begun through my Father’s life. Do the right thing, defend the weak, live courageous lives.

Chuck’s last words to his family were a final witness to a God he served. ” I want my funeral services to be joyful,” he wrote “I don’t want people to be sad because I believe with every ounce of conviction in my body that deathis but a homecoming, and that we’ll be in the presence of God. It’s a culmination of life. It’s a celebration.

Do you believe that?  It’s true.

Shared by Doug Ross
next week….it’s back to Chad, now I’m on vacation!

Jackie Robinson

Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey first met Jackie Robinson on Aug. 28, 1945. Rickey told Robinson that he wanted to sign the 26-year-old ballplayer and break the national pastime’s color barrier. But for him to succeed, Rickey said, Robinson couldn’t respond to the indignities that would be piled on him: “I’m looking for a ballplayer
with guts enough not to fight back.”

Rickey then opened a book published in the 1920s, Giovanni Papini’s “Life of Christ,” and read Jesus’ words: “But whoever shall smite thee on the cheek, turn to him the other also.” Robinson knew the Gospel and knew what was required of him. He replied, “I have two cheeks, Mr. Rickey. Is that it?” This meeting between the two Methodists, Rickey and Robinson, ultimately transformed baseball and America itself. …

What is often overlooked in accounts of Robinson’s life is that it is also a religious story. His faith in God, as he often attested, carried him through the torment and abuse of integrating the major leagues.

Robinson grew up in Pasadena, Calif., where his mother, Mallie, instilled in her five children the belief that God would take care of them. “I never stopped believing that,” Robinson later said. They originated in Georgia, but their father left town never to return. Jackie’s mother saved money to move her, all 5 kids, and other family members to Calif. The journey, in a Jim Crow train, took nine long days!

One day, in California, Jackie met a preacher named Karl Downs. He had a tremendous ability to inspire young people. He knew that Jackie was a Christian, and taught him that exploding in anger was not the Christian answer to injustice.  He explained that a life truly dedicated to Christ was not submissive; on the contrary, it was heroic

Robinson, who had been a stand-out athlete at UCLA, signed up in the spring of 1945 to play baseball for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. Robinson openly scorned his whiskey-drinking and promiscuous teammates. He also stunned his teammates by declaring that he was waiting until he was married to have sex.

Nobody in sports had ever faced the sort of pressure, and abuse, that Jackie Robinson did when he took the field for the first time in a Brooklyn uniform on April 15, 1947. And yet Robinson didn’t merely endure, he thrived.

In a 1950 newspaper interview, he emphasized his faith in God and his nightly ritual of kneeling at bedside to pray. “It’s the best way to get closer to God,” Robinson said, and then the second baseman added with a smile, “and a hard-hit ground ball.”

“I can testify to the fact that it was a lot harder to turn the other cheek and refuse to fight back than it would have been to exercise a normal reaction,” Robinson wrote. “But it works, because sooner or later it brings a sense of shame to those who attack you. And that sense of shame is often the beginning of progress.”

He thought of his wife and his children, whom he knew, but he also thought of all the others who would benefit from his doing the right thing, and he suffered greatly to do what he did. Because of his courage and heroism, he is included with these great men.

Shared by Doug Ross
next week….Eric Liddell

George

George Washington (GW) is often a name and face that most everyone knows but we don’t often think of him as a real person. He looks anything but manly on the dollar bill, with his powdered hair and lace trimmed shirt, but GW was considered the manliest man most had ever seen and he was 6′ 2″!! His military career began with his involvement with the Virginia militia, including a notorious mission he undertook to deliver a message to the French in the Ohio Valley. Several years later, he was given command of the Virginia militia forces due to his heroism. He resigned in 1758 and returned to his home, Mount Vernon. He married a rich widow, Martha Custis, later that year.

GW was born into a mildly prosperous Virginia farming family in 1732. After his father died when George was eleven, George’s mother, Mary, a tough and driven woman, struggled to hold their home together with the help of her two sons from a previous marriage. Although he never received more than an elementary school education, young George displayed a gift for mathematics. This knack for numbers combined with his quiet confidence and ambition caught the attention of Lord Fairfax, head of one of the most powerful families in Virginia.

While Washington focused on his farming for the next few years, he also became involved in politics.  He was elected as the first
president of the United States in 1789. GW laid the foundations for the role of a president during his first term; he served a second
term. He refused a third term, and retired to Mount Vernon in 1797; he died two years later.

A lifelong church goer, GW believed that God had a special purpose for his life. His charity towards others is also well documented.   Before leaving his estate in Mount Vernon he was quoted “Let the hospitality of house with respect to the poor be kept up. Let no one go hungry away…..provided it does not encourage them in idleness.” (Interesting quote, esp. in light of the current administration)

GW could have became a king, there was talk of naming him the King or dictator of America. The liberty of millions depending on one man. He knew there was something even greater than power. He gave up a sure thing to do the right thing, and today he is deservedly regarded to be one of the greatest heroes in the history of the world.

Shared by Doug Ross

Next week William Wilberforce

"A Seven Men" Man

First of all, thank-you for your prayers and concerns for my daughter Emma.  After a driveway mishap, she seemed OK, but vomited around midnight. Missy took her Pinnacle, where they performed a CT scan. She called back around 330 AM and said they’re taking her, by ambulance, to Hershey Med. with a skull fracture! Those word reverberated in my head, What does this mean?, What will they do? How bad is it?  Lord, be with her, heal her.

We’re thankful to have such a ‘world-class’ hospital/trauma centerjust minutes from our house.  We’re also thankful that she did not, seemingly, have any memory or cognitive (thinking) issues. Emma returned to school today (Monday) and even resumed her piano lessons. Life can be so fragile, yet resilient, all in one. Thank-you God for protecting my little girl.

I was given this book “Seven Men and the Secret of their Greatness” at Christmas and it’s my kind of book. Not so much because of the content, which is great, but because it’s an ‘easy read’. Each brief biography about 20 pages long. I tried writing a summary synopsis of each chapter but I was gridlocked, so I ‘borrowed’ bits and pieces from the internet, giving credit where credit is due.  I hope you enjoy and learn from these great men of faith.

Author Eric Metaxas presents seven exquisitely crafted short portraits of widely known–but not well understood–Christian men, each of whom uniquely showcases a commitment to live by certain virtues in the truth of the gospel.

Written in a beautiful and engaging style, “Seven Men” addresses what it means (or should mean) to be a man today, at a time when media and popular culture present images of masculinity that are not the picture presented in Scripture and historic civil life. What does it take to be a true exemplar as a father, brother, husband, leader, coach,
counselor, change agent, and wise man? What does it mean to stand for honesty, courage, and charity, especially at times when the culture and the world run counter to those values? Each of the seven biographies represents the life of a man who experienced the struggles and challenges to be strong in the face of forces and circumstances that would have destroyed the resolve of lesser men. Each of the seven men profiled–George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson–call the reader to a more elevated walk and lifestyle, one that embodies the gospel in the world around us.  goodreads.com

Ain't Nobody Got Time For That

I’m sitting here thinking of how in less than 24 hours it’s the time when the weekly Cross Effect blog post is typically released and I’ve yet to write anything, nor have any real topic in mind.  Is busyness an excuse?  There is certainly some validity to this considering the fact I’m currently spending several hours a week meeting the requirements of Fight Club. Yet, I do not feel I can use that as an excuse.  I’ve wrestled for the last several days with the thought of changing the posts to bi-weekly for a while until after Fight Club, maybe this will happen… maybe not.

There is a lesson in all this, a reason I’ve named this this post “Ain’t nobody got time for that”   We are all busy.  Some more than others, but our busyness is almost always self-imposed.   We tend to set our schedule and then try to find time to squeeze God in.  I’m thinking it should probably be the other way around, but for most of us it probably isn’t. Ultimately, we make ourselves so busy it is hard to find time for uninterrupted, quiet time with God.

We know how we start to feel when we neglect the most important relationship in our life. In my busyness, recently I’ve begun learning how to establish boundaries and set time aside for various aspects of my life…. i.e. when it is time to do something… I do only that.  On the flip side, I’ve been learning how to combine things.  Mainly, how to invite God into my life as I do other things.  Not that I should ever exclude him out, or that He should ever be secondary to anything I’m doing…. it’s just that often times I waste my thoughts as my mind wanders aimlessly.

So what times throughout your day could you do something yet make that time intentional in assuring you are focusing on God?  An example of this is that I’ve now dedicated my 17 minute drive to work as time that I focus on God in prayer and reflection.  It’s not much but instead of thinking about work or challenges in life… I dedicate this as time with God.  This is my practical challenge to you for this week:  Is there a time you can dedicate to set aside as a time that you’ll focus on the Lord?  What about when you exercise, do dishes, shower,,,, etc.  Think about it.   Dedicate it and grow in relation.  Blessed is Best!!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

What's in Your Wallet

A series of popular Capital One credit card commercials were based on the popular catchphrase of “What’s in your wallet.”   It’s likely you remember them since they played for years and could be somewhat entertaining.  The point of the commercials was that there were often times things hidden from us which had an impact on us, yet we had no idea.  The commercials challenged us to look at these things and see if they were causing harm or damage.  The assumption was that people never paid attention to the details and specifics of their agreement with their credit card company, instead focusing on just the fact that they “get.”

In a metaphorical twist I’ll rephrase the question… “What’s in your heart?  Do you take the time to read the fine print?  Are there things in your life that are having a hidden impact on your life yet you are either unaware or just ignore?   Chances are there may be many things in your life… there are certainly many things in mine.  An unawareness or ignoring of them does not change the significance of their impact, and as with the point of the credit card commercials, if we knew how damaging they were we’d want to change.

We participated in a cool activity yesterday in church that got me thinking about all of this. Near the end of service everyone was asked to grab a stone off the the stage and write something on it something that they needed to let go of in their life.  It was powerful to have  200 people participate in this activity.  Our further instructions were to take that stone sometime in the near future and throw it somewhere in which it would never be found again such as to the bottom of a lake or pond.  I personally could have used a few more stones as my greatest challenge seemed to be narrowing it down to just one thing.

We can’t know “What’s in our wallet” if we don’t take time to look… We can’t know “What’s in our heart” if we don’t humble ourselves before God and ask that He reveal the hidden things to us.  A failure to do this is rooted in pride, essentially a love for oneself.  I challenge you to ask God to continually reveal to you the hidden things of your heart that are causing separation between you and God.  These hidden things keep us from truly experiencing Him at a level that deep inside we desire, even if we don’t recognize this desire.  Blessed is Best!!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Labor of Love

As a follow-up of Chad’s latest (Impact), I choose to impact my brother Chad. I know he appreciates a breather from the blog.  May this be momentum for me, similiar to financial guru Dave Ramsay’s paying off the small bills (first), to gain momentum for bigger bills, or in this case Blessings.

Well, in my household there’s a lot of post mission processing going on. This brings both good and bad news.

The Bad
It’s very sobering knowing that we Americans, and yes Canadians too, are not the norm when it comes to standards of living.  Just a few facts;

1. Half the world lives on less than $2.50 per day.

2. More slaves (sex,labor,child, and child soldiers) exist today (in the world) than ever before in human history.

3. We spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on all goods combined.

Excess has impaired the people in America, we are the richest people in the world, praying to get richer.

The Good
It’s easy to dismiss all these grim facts but that’s NOT we are called to do.  I believe we can each find our own gifting/cause to make a difference – and see it through.  Then, indeed, we would become “good news to the poor” Luke 4:18

Let us be thankful for where we live, our family and friends. Let’s, most of all, celebrate Christmas and the good news it brings. Knowing that a life in Christ is everlasting – It’s great news for everyone.  An angel put it this way: ” I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem” (Luke 2:10-11)

Shared by Doug Ross

A recent song I heard on WJTL sung by Point Of Grace (a more realistic account of His birth over 2000 years ago)

Labor Of Love

(Songwriter: Andrew Peterson)
It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
On the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
For the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

Joy in Suffering

I’m not really sure who reads this blog each week.  There would be some who read this that I may not know very well, while others of you fully know the struggles and challenges my family and I have been facing lately.  Ironically, I remember saying something to my wife about  2 months ago about how well everything seems to be going in every aspect of our life together.  It is almost scary how suddenly things can change for the worse.  How can it be that James would even try to tell us to “count it all joy” when we face all kind of trials?  Why would Paul also tell us in Romans 5:3 to “rejoice in our sufferings” and “give thanks in all circumstances” in 1st Thessalonians 5:18?  The icing on the cake is (and applicable in my current situation) is when Jesus says in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

The scriptures mentioned above sound wonderful…. I know them to be true but doing what they say can be a challenge.  If this is not challenging enough lets take it to another level by understanding that we are to also “… love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44) and “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” Romans 12:14.

We’ve just looked at a lot of scriptures that can be very challenging to follow in the times of trouble.  I’m thankful that I can at least read them although I’ve not yet fully grasped how to do exactly what they say.  I want to know how to do this and I want to know why!  May I now present James 1:2

“Count it all joy, my brothers,  when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  

It all comes down to a testing of my faith!  Do I truly believe all the things about God that I say I do?  Does God really protect, avenge, provide, comfort, and help me?  Am I able to trust God enough in my situation that I’ll continue to keep Him first and foremost in my life?  Can I cast all my cares upon him and trust that He cares for me?  If I can do this then my faith in God will produce a steadfastness that will enable me to lack in nothing.  A man who lacks in nothing can be used to do incredible things for God’s glory.  I want to be that kind of man.  I’ll end this posting now so I can go and sincerely pray and bless those who persecute me and trust that God is the father of my children before I am…. it is He who will protect them and in this I will trust.  Blessed is best!!

 
Shared by Chad Hellenthal

nebu-CHAD-nezzar

Over the past 2 months I’ve been asked for various reasons to study and learn from the Book of Daniel.  I’ve often thought of this book for the classic children’s stories it contains such as lions’ den, the fiery furnace, and who could ever forget the human hand writing on the wall.  In my recent study I found some commonalities between myself and Nebuchadnezzar, it was not until I pondered these for a while that I noticed my name (Chad) was contained right in the middle of nebuCHADnezzar.  Anyway, that is a mere coincidence but the following I find to be true.

Like myself, for many years NebuCHADnezzar was not a believer in the true God Almighty.  He followed false gods for most of his life, but likely died a righteous man who acknowledged the Most High God.  NebuCHADnezzar had to lose his mind for seven years and live like a wild beast in a field, eating grass like an ox before he humbled himself before God.  I’ve never lived in a field and ate grass, however, when once living like a non-believer I can certainly look back at times of my life and feel as if I was nothing more than a wild beast.

NebuCHADnezzar’s heart was so hard.  One might think after God allowed Daniel to both describe and interpret his first dream, maybe he’d give consideration to following the God of the man who could do such a thing.  Instead, NebuCHADnezzar later erects a golden statue of himself and agrees to a decree that it shall be worshiped when music is played.  This decree caused Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be thrown into the fiery furnace.  As you may recall from this popular children’s story, the three men are saved in dramatic fashion.  NebuCHADnezzar witnesses this miracle and immediately blesses their God and sets a decree against anyone who speaks against their God.

At this time is appears that NebuCHADnezzar at least acknowledges God Almighty but not necessarily as the one and only true God.  In spite of all he has seen NebuCHADnezzar still clings to numerous false gods and idols.  It is now that he must face a humiliation almost beyond comprehension as he spends 7 years of his life as a wild beast, only to later return to power over his kingdom.  I’d highly recommended reading Daniel 4:34-37 to read the words of the king after he went through this traumatic experience.   He is not the same man he was before.  We know little if anything about his life after this event but I personally believe he lived out the remainder of his life trying to be righteous before God…. this is merely my personal speculation.

How many opportunities do we need, or have we been given to get right before God.  What struggles have we had to go through, or will we have to live through before we acknowledge and humble ourselves as NebuCHADnezzar did.  I’ve had more than my fair share of warnings and trials yet struggle to wholeheartedly commit my life to my to God.  There are many reasons I believe we need to take this matter seriously.  It impacts our lives, our loved ones, every aspect of our entire life.  Let us not forget about those that will be thrown into the fiery furnace… unfortunately, no one will be going in there to save them.

Why Should I Care?

I have a confession to make…. “I’m not sure that I really care about you.”  I’ve got nothing against you… you’re my brother in Christ and I want nothing but the best for you, but I’m not sure that I honestly really care.  You seem like a nice guy and all so please let me know if there is anything I can do to help, or if there is anything I can pray for.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I’ve got a lot going on in my life and many concerns of my own.  (P.S. Please don’t take it personally if I fail to not pray for you more than once if you asked, or follow-up and see how the matter is going…. I’m just very busy and have many matters in my own life.)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)

Hold up just a second….. I’m supposed to actually love you, merely caring is not enough?  To top it off I should love you like Jesus has loved me!   But I don’t even really know you.  It is great to say “Hi” or maybe even “How are you doing” each week as I pass you in the halls of church,  you might even be someone I’d enjoy talking to if I had the desire and bothered to take the time.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)  

Wow now…. So my love for you is the basis of how others will know that I am a follower of Christ? But I have a fish sticker on my truck and will occasionally make reference “to church” in my conversation with others.  I’m pretty sure most people know that I am a Christian.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

I’ve become very convicted of this recently in my own life.  I just don’t seem to care, I certainly cannot love if I do not care, if I do not love then people will not know that I am a disciple of Christ.  I then tend to look just like everyone else except maybe not curse or gossip as much.  To make this matter even more difficult, I’m not sure I even know how to love you.  I lack the wisdom in my life at this time to understand but trust God will provide it (See James 1:5).  I do however understand this much,  I must make an effort to talk to you and listen with intensity when you speak.  I challenge you with this…. Will you find a man you do not know very well and make a sincere effort to get to know him better?  Be prepared to listen, be prepared to share, most of all ask God to help you sincerely and honestly care.  Blessed is best!!

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.    (1 Peter 4:8)  

Shared By:  Chad Hellenthal