Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ya Gotta Meet My Dad!

Like you feel about your parents... I really love both of mine too.. and they are still together after fifty years! Today that seems so rare. They travel well together and are leaving on another month-long vacation tomorrow. What a blessing they've both been, but have I ever told you about, Kim, yet? He's my incredible father and a best friend of mine in Christ. As a teenager when I knew everything there was for humans to know, I never could have imagined being close friends with my dad. But Kim is a good example, a leader, very to the point (he never minces words) and tough in a good way, but he feels for and also helps the hurting. I've learned tons from him. He's the real deal; a much better Christian than I am, that's for sure! He has always been an honest, hardworking professional who has provided well for his family for many years. We're so thankful for him and for all that God is doing in his life.

Indulge me for a few seconds to brag just a little more... Jesus lives in my dad. Many people respect him and for years they've have gone to him for counsel due to his consistent integrity, keen business acumen, sharp mind and deep convictions that he is willing to die by. He is not self centered or a pleasure seeker. He used to be feared as he punched-out many troublemakers a long the way (he'd carry boxing gloves in his car just for such moments where "something needed to be proved and some fool needed to get a clue on how to be a man"), but today he biblically dukes-it-out in the good fight of faith.

Zero pathetic wimp, perverseness, or girley-boy in him... God has given him a lot of wisdom for dealing with boys and young men, and a lot of it came from from his dad (Bill) who started a great camp business many years ago (Tom Sawyer Camps). My dad was the director for years.

Now it became the task of my wild brothers and I (me being the worst of the lot of wayward rascals) to thoroughly prove this wisdom by testing my dad in every area possible and we started early in the '70s as we began to drink hard, listen to hard rock, and grow out our hair down our backs. We made life hard for him. Hey, not a fun job, but we felt that someone had to do it.

Kim is very evangelistic today. He humbly and clearly shares his faith with all who will listen to him and as a result, several have come to faith in Jesus due to his bold obedience. And he hates sin more than ever... and every evil way (even the wrong in faulty politics), therefore he serves at his church diligently in San Clemente, California ...that majors on getting the truth out in love. My dad does whatever the Lord and his pastors need done.

Well, he has been asked to speak at men's meetings on different occasions and God has really used him—even recently. In a nutshell, this is his story ..in his own words. If you have a few moments, take heed to the Word. It's interesting and very inspiring.

The Early Years "Decent Folks – High Standards"

I was born into a hard-working, middle-class, loving, but unstable family – unstable because of mental illness (with my mom, due to a family tragedy car that she suffered in when I was a small child). Although my parents were not Christians during my growing up years, my parents had very high moral standards and lived them out. They were well known and respected in the community. My dad was an educator, small businessman and rugged outdoorsman. My mother was a stay at home wife and mother. Dad owned and operated a private youth camp, so the out of doors and sports were a part of my life from the very beginning. I somehow got the message very early that some of the traits I should possess were physical, mental and emotional strength, rugged individuality, industriousness, honesty, competence, achievement, and leadership. Tough assignment to live up to, right? I was taught that not only should I complete all tasks undertaken, I should do them well. Dad often said: "If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well." I was also taught that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I believe that a good foundation was laid for my later belief in "works salvation and sanctification." Of course I found out later that no amount of good works on my part would gain me a "ticket to heaven". No one can earn their salvation, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Through the ministry of Katherine Kuhlman, Dad became a Christian near the end of his life as a result of a series of strokes, so I look forward to seeing him in heaven.

No Christianity Growing Up

Church and/or religion were not part of our lives when I was growing up. I remember one occasion, as a very young child, visiting a Unity Church. Also, my mother read some literature on an ongoing basis by Ernest Holmes, who I believe was the founder of the Church of Religious Science and to my knowledge never mentions Jesus Christ. Dad believed in some "great spirit of goodness and the great out of doors." I don't remember ever attending a Christian church as a child. In fact in the schools I attended, I can remember Christianity being ridiculed from time to time.

Drinking was Evil

My dad never used alcohol or tobacco and on many occasions made sure that we all knew how evil those things were. I can remember one time when he bought a bottle of whisky in order to mix it with some other ingredient for the purpose of stripping the finish from some furniture. It worked and he made sure that my sisters and I witnessed how powerful the whiskey was. He asked us how we thought our insides would feel if we drank some of that stuff. That left a great impression on me, but apparently not a good enough impression, as you will hear.

Mother's Illness and Instability in our Home

My mother didn't smoke but would have a small glass of wine on rare occasions; she was a very loving and doting mother to my two sisters and me. She started showing signs of mental illness not long after a serious auto accident involving our whole family. She seemed to get worse as time moved on, and eventually lost complete touch with reality. Despite her illness, she was remained a loving, and giving person; she passed away a few years after Dad. God is perfectly loving and just. I trust Him and entrust my mother to His hands

Sports, Outdoor Pursuits and School

Despite, or perhaps because of, the instability in our home, I spent much time when I was growing up in sports and outdoor pursuits. I was very shy but I excelled in studies, was elected to various student offices and was a better than average athlete so I had some recognition and validation at school. Since "toughness" and excellence in athletics were high on my list, I worked very hard at being the best. I was good but not as good as I wanted to be; it always seemed that there was some guy who was better, and that was frustrating to me. I was an "over-achiever", as opposed to being an "under-achiever". The best way I can explain that is, in my mind somehow I had to achieve more than you to be equal to you. Among other things, this lead to being a good student in school, and eventually graduating from the University with honors.

Start of Drinking

I took up drinking in my junior year in high school, despite my early education about its evils. It seemed that I was pre-disposed to alcoholism; I was an alcoholic just waiting to take that first drink. Much later, In a 12 step program I have been labeled a "silk sheet" or "high bottom" drunk, because I didn't spend a lot of time in jail; I didn't go through several marriages, I didn't live on the streets, or even receive a DUI arrest, (although I deserved all of the above). My "skid row" was between my ears. It was in my head, but I believe that my "bottom" was every bit as painful to me as that of anyone who reaches a "deeper bottom."

More Drinking and Crazy Behavior

Since my father was so "dead set" against alcohol and it became so important to me, I had to do a lot of sneaking around to drink. My drinking increased in college; I did some wild and foolhardy things when drunk. On a dare, 4 of us climbed the Pasadena City Hall at about 2:00 o'clock one morning. We were caught and spent the rest of the night in jail. That made the front page of the L.A. Times. They played it up as a daredevil prank. I once picked a fight with a former welterweight champion who was pointed out to me at a bar. He was kind and didn't take me up on the challenge; thank God! These were just a couple of the incidents that demonstrated my rebelliousness, which was released under the influence of alcohol. In college I became quite active in campus politics and held a couple of offices, at the same time I became known as a partier.

Betty Came Into My Life

I met my wife to be, Betty, on the beach at Little Corona, and later at a fraternity party. We both had different dates that night, but ended up sending our dates home with other people and she and I ended up together. Betty was, and still is, a devout Catholic. Our relationship was "lust at first sight". We were married during my junior year in college and started having kids right away. I worked part time and with Dad's help finished college; I was 22 years old and by this time and we had 2 kids; we ultimately raised four.

Graduated and Started First Career

Upon graduation, I went to work full time in my father's youth camp business and coached athletics in the local community. As a coach, because of my ego and the fact that I was, and still am, a perfectionist, I insisted upon having winning football teams and went to great lengths to make sure that happened. I coached at a small Catholic boys High School, which had about 600 boys, and no girls. About 300 of those boys came out for football for one of the 3 teams. I was the head sophomore coach and assistant on the varsity. The varsity won 2-A CIF several years and was bumped up a division. We won CIF there too and were bumped up again to the highest division.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I was careful not to do my drinking in town because I didn't want to run into anyone who knew me in my "educator" capacity. What a hypocrite; I lived a Dr. Jekyll – Mr. Hyde existence, on one hand, playing the role of a youth leader-educator, with high ideals, and on the other, living my "secret" life of drinking and partying. My life was a paradox, for example, in the year that I got sober, but while still drinking, I was nominated as the outstanding young man of the year in the city where we lived and worked; little did they know. Knowing what I know now, it was the Lord Who sustained and protected us, and my faithful wife who stood by me at least to that point.

Became a Catholic – Had Problems taking Communion

I became a Catholic convert in 1967, with the attitude, if I couldn't "whip em", I might as well "join em"; obviously the wrong reason, and I certainly was not "born of the Spirit" which Jesus said was necessary to see heaven. I had problems with taking communion on Sundays because I had almost always committed the "mortal sin" of over-indulging in alcohol the night before. I would go to confession on Saturday afternoon, and then before Sunday communion, had blown it by getting drunk. I thought that if I was going to go to heaven, I was going to have to die in a rather small window of time, after communion on Saturday afternoon, (when I was supposedly free of mortal sin), and before I started drinking on Saturday night, when I put myself back into that state of "mortal sin". On Sunday morning, because of that "state", I couldn't take communion again.

Betty Left – Reached "Bottom"

As I mentioned, Betty and I raised 4 children. We were both extremely busy. Thank the Lord for the energy He gave both of us. The drinking was getting more frequent and one night, after an argument, and after I passed out, Betty packed up the 4 kids and left. Although she left a note stating that it was over, she didn't tell me where they had gone. I was devastated and truly believed that I had blown it and had lost my family for good.

I had one more "swan song" drunk a couple of nights after she left, and the next day "turned myself into" a well known 12 step program. In my eyes, my life was over; I was at my bottom, completely surrendered and was willing to listen and take the loving yet tough directions of my sponsor. I took my last drink sometime during the night of November 21, 1970. I have never sworn off forever even till this day, but have never had another drink or "mind bending" chemical since that time. I was delivered from that terrible bondage by a loving, powerful God more than 37 years ago.

There was no doubt in my mind that there was a loving and merciful God. I started to succeed at that point for the right reasons, rather than to try to satisfy my ego. I continued coaching football and although my underlying goals had changed, we won for the "right" reasons.

Moved to Orange County – No Job

In 1973, we "pulled up stakes" in La Canada and moved to Orange County; we had always wanted to live at the beach. I had a couple of career opportunities here which didn't materialize but we already had moved. Now I didn't have a job. I diligently pounded the pavement, sent resumes, followed up on ads and did everything I could think of to get a job and income to support my family; no success. Our financial resources were down to about 2 weeks of groceries left for our family of 6. I applied for a graveyard shift assembly line job, which I figured would supply the family food and leave me free during the daytime to continue seeking a position which would pay the other bills. I was turned down for that job for being "over-qualified." I was at another emotional "bottom" and literally went into our bedroom and went face down on the floor. I had a serious conversation with God. I talked to Him about His promise to provide. It suddenly dawned on me that although I hadn't used it, I had a real estate license and perhaps that was what I was supposed to do on a full time basis. I really didn't have any other choices at that point. From that time forward, the Lord took care of our family financially; He did the planning and I did the footwork and His results were beyond my expectations.

I Became a Real Christian

In 1980, I prayed to have an even better relationship with the God. He introduced me to His Son. Shortly after that I recognized that Jesus Christ is God, confessed that I am a sinner, in need of a savior. I realized that Jesus paid the price in full for all of my sins, past, present and future and I turned my life over to Him. I was a "born again" Christian. The Father drew me to the Son, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). What a relief it was to find out that no amount of "good works" could get me to heaven, Jesus already paid with His blood for my entry.

Was Baptized in the Holy Spirit

Not long after I was saved, I met a man named Wally Jennings at a Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship meeting at a restaurant in Laguna Hills. The luncheon was lead by George White and Wally and later moved to the "Big Yellow House" in Mission Viejo. I wanted all that the Lord had for me and Wally laid hands on me and prayed for me to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was at that time that the power came into my Christian life. I had an extreme thirst for the things of God and His word. I still have a burden for souls and share the "good news" every time I get a chance, and sometimes even when I'm not given a chance. Both George and Wally are now with their beloved Lord in heaven; thank the Lord for those faithful men.

Celebrating Recovery!

In about 1991 my first sponsor, in the 12 step program called from La Canada to tell me that a newcomer was now living in Orange County, and he suggested looking him up. I contacted the newcomer and we met, had lunch together and attended at least one secular 12 step meeting together. This newcomer mentioned to me at one of the lunches we had together, that he loved the SECULAR 12 STEP PROGRAM but as a Christian, he wished he could share more openly about his "higher power", Jesus Christ. He mentioned that he had thought about starting a recovery group which did acknowledge Jesus Christ as God. I mentioned to him that as far as alcoholic recovery, in my view, the secular program had done a great job over the years of getting people sober enough to pay attention. Then they could get saved by the true Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We did pray together about his vision. That "newcomer" went on to be the founder/leader of CELEBRATE RECOVERY, a Christian 12 Step Program. The rest is history: God took this man and his vision for Celebrate Recovery and spread it world wide. It is now in more than 10,000 churches and prisons throughout the world. All glory to Him – God, that is! I now serve in that ministry on a volunteer basis.

Kathy's Murder

All these years God had been faithful and extremely good to us, demonstrating that He is the provider and protector. However, in 1993, I received a phone call at my office from the police in Corpus Christi, Texas, that my daughter, Kathy, had been murdered. She was 29 years old and lived there with her two boys, ages 1 and 3. She apparently had decided to get back with her estranged husband. Her boss/boyfriend, who had "taken a fancy" to her, apparently entered her apartment in the middle of the night and stabbed her multiple times. Her 3 year old found her body in the morning. Her murderer still roams the streets because they couldn't come up with enough evidence to convict him, although they were convinced that it was this boss/boyfriend. A "cold case specialist" from the Texas Rangers recently re-opened the case. For the sake of the people of Corpus Christi, not for mine, I hope they get the murderer off the streets. I came to understand that vengeance is the Lord's, not mine, as it says in Romans 12:19… "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord."

The "Fruit" from Kathy's Death

Without the Lord, neither Betty nor I could have gone through that trauma. I learned that Romans 8:28 is true even in a circumstance like that, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Kathy, our daughter, had accepted the Lord in a phone conversation with her mother 6 days prior to her death. Her friends in Corpus Christi mentioned that she had made some big changes in her life in those last 6 days, one of which was going back to church. Her death has resulted in the salvation of an untold number of people who knew her and/or attended her funeral, including her oldest brother who turned from his lifestyle of drug abuse and dealing, to the Lord. He is now an "on-fire" Christian. Another of Kathy's brothers was a pastor and spoke at her funeral. He had an alter call at the funeral and several people over the years have mentioned to me that, that was the day that they turned their life over to the Lord.

Favorite Scripture Verse

My favorite scripture is found in 2 Corinthians 12: 9 which says, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." Many times in my 30 year plus walk with the Lord I have found myself in situations or positions of helplessness, frustration, fear, pain or suffering. I learned to count on that scripture for deliverance and peace, the Lord's peace, not my own. He always delivers when I rely on Him.

Gratitude and God's Will

God wants me to be grateful; it is a key ingredient of a victorious life. Paul said in First Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Based upon this passage, there is no reason to wonder what God's will is for me; it is clearly stated.

Salvation and Sanctification

God is always faithful and lives up to His promises, even though I fail. He has promised to provide and protect. I have a long way to go, but as I cooperate with the Lord's process of sanctification, He has changed me, and He continues to change me. Before I was saved I got salvation and sanctification mixed up. If you would have asked me if I were going to heaven when I died, I would have said, "I hope so." I guess that I believed that if I died in the "small window" of time I mentioned earlier, when I was free of mortal sin I would go to heaven, otherwise I would go either to hell or purgatory. I know now that salvation is an event, whereas sanctification is a process. Since the Lord saved me and I was sealed by the Holy Spirit, that can't be undone, but for the rest of my life here on earth I will be in the process of sanctification as I cooperate with the power of the Holy Spirit. I can neither save nor sanctify myself, but God doesn't violate my free will and I have to be sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, confess my sin and rely on His power to make the changes God wants me to make.

Where We are Now

Betty and I celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary last year; we have 3 adult sons, 10 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. It wasn't hard to accept that I was a grandfather when that came to pass, but it is unbelievable to me that one of my sons is grandfather. We all have a great relationship now even though they live far away. We talk on the phone or email almost daily. I try not to give advice unless asked, but I am really complimented when my 47, 49 and 50 year old sons ask me for it.

Time to Retire and Refire Spiritually

I recently retired from a real estate company, which was part of the top market share brand in Orange County, wherein I was the broker of record responsible for the supervision of 460 agents. I seem to be as busy as I ever was, perhaps partly because I work slower now. I spend a good amount of time now volunteering in a couple of ministries.

It sounds trite, but, I could have missed all of this, but for the grace of God. I am very grateful, but I believe He's not through with me yet. He has more sanctifying to do with me, as I cooperate. All glory to Him!

Salvation in Jesus – Going to Heaven, Rather Than to Hell

You Can Make that Choice Too!

The Apostle Paul in Roman 10:9 states: "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Do you want your sins to be forgiven and to have a personal relationship with this all powerful and loving God? If so, bow your head now and say this prayer from your heart to God:

"Lord I know that I have sinned, I believe in my heart that you paid the price for my sin by your death on the cross. I thank you for that and I receive the free gift of your forgiveness for all of my sins, past, present and future. Completely fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I can walk with you now in power and obedience. Thank you for saving me; I now make you Lord and master of my life."

If you said that prayer from your heart, be sure to tell me or someone about what happened. That is a very important part—sharing your faith. You are now part of God's family and the angels are rejoicing in heaven!

Thanks for letting me share and may the Lord bless you!

More Pix: http://www.katanapg.com/group/1972

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