As I look back, with 20/20 vision, I am somewhat amused at how particular events occurred in my life to prepare me for the ministry God had planned for me to conduct from Hartford, Connecticutt, a thousand miles from home, while Lea was so deathly ill. As I have written in a previous post, I believe our stay in Hartford was bibical discipline for me, and I came out of it a much stronger Christian than I went into it.

I started researching doctrinal theology using Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” early in the year 2004, using it to expand my understanding of various topics that arose during family converstations conducted each Sunday evening. Those conversations, initiated by my son, Link, were conducted by telephone, as a means of conducting weekly study of Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life.”

Participating in these conferences were Link, as discussion leader, Deanna, his wife, my son, Lance, my wife Lea, and myself. Lance made the sessions possible through his three-way calling and free long-distance features of his calling plan. Lance was in Texas, Link and Deanna in Hawaii, and Lea and I in Indiana.

The weekly sessions were each prefaced with each of us reading a specific portion of the book, and then we would discuss that section and any questions we had during the conference call. Lea and I were operating a bed & breakfast at the time, and were not active in our church due to the commitment we had to our business and weekend B&B guests. The far ranging questions listed at the end of each study section, and those that arose in our discussions, were very good for us to discuss as a family.

It was God’s will that our persistent prayers for Lance’s salvation were answered during the period of these conversations. I had prayed for many years for a miracle in Lance’s life that would cause him to invite Jesus into his heart, and God had been working on him lately, too. Sometimes, in a humorous way. Perhaps Lance will write his testimony one day.

My failure to lead Lance to eternal salvation was a difficult burden for me, but I knew that God had a plan, and that it would happen in His own time. Lea and I had been active in the Union Hill Baptist Church, across the street from our home in the years our sons were in elementary school. Both boys were baptized at their own request, but Lance was not a sincere convert. I had feared that might happen at the time Lance requested to be baptized.

I felt Lance was too young to make that decision at the time, and initially objected. However, the pastor tested Lance, and said that he was ready to accept Christ, so the baptism went forward. We didn’t discover until Lance was an adult that he was not sincere and had not factually accepted Christ.

This was a terrible burden for me, for the bible says, “You must warn them so they may live. If you don’t speak out to warn the wicked to stop their evil ways, they will die in their sin. But, I will hold you responsible for their death.” (Ezekiel 3:18). And, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NIV) You can, perhaps, understand what a blessing it was to my heart to have my prayers for Lance answered! I can see now that Lance’s conversion was a message from God for me to get my priorities right.

I used the bed & breakfast as an excuse to be “too busy” on Sundays to attend church. And, if I couldn’t attend church on Sunday mornings, I wasn’t going to be involved in bible study groups during the week. So, in effect, I had put the bed & breakfast ahead of God in my priorities, so He eventually took the bed & breakfast away from us. There is now no excuse for not being involved in His ministry!

As a result of the weekly conference calls, as we went through this journey together as a family, and research I had done to resolve some theological questions that came up in the discussions, I had defined the direction for my life:
1) To improve my relationship with God, the Father, by paying attention to my ministry through testimony of His power and grace in my life,
2) to be a witness for the peace He can bring into your heart when you trust Him completely, and,
3) to live in a manner that brings honor to the good news of Christ’s sacrifice.

I also resolved to study the entire Systematic Theology to enhance my understanding of what the whole bible teaches us about how to live our lives. In reading the preface to the book, Wayne states his convictions regarding certain points that are disputed within evangelical Christianity.

I found that many or most of his convictions mirror my own, and set out my personal convictions as a precursor to beginning the study of his text. I will be detailing more about those convictions soon, as well as how important this study was in helping me through the terrible days I spent with Lea while she was in the hospital during her extended illness.

God works in mysterious ways, and I am excited that one day we will each be able to look back on our lives and be able to understand all the events that happened, and how they were designed from the beginning of time to fit into His great plan. But, that’s a topic for another day. 🙂

Glory to God for using my son, Link’s, ministry to bring Lance to the cross, and into His family of believers, and for bringing me back into the church body. Priase God for the many blessings He has given each of our family members as we made that 40-day journey together! Glory to God for the powerful ministry He has given Lea and myself to witness for Him.

Thank you, Lord, Father, for the love you shower upon us, and for the gift of Your Son’s sacrifice that we might be saved! Amen!

God bless!

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