Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Death of My Father

For some time, I had been trying to convince my Dad that moving to a smaller place would be much more advantageous and he finally agreed in early January. I had been looking for a safe and secure place and found a retirment community with duplexes that were just what they needed. Dad agreed and my brother and I decided to get it done before he changed his mind. The latter part of January we moved out of the house that they had lived in for 44 years. I have never been so sad in my entire life as we made decisions about my parents belongings that they had spent a lifetime accumulating. Much of what they had was given away or discarded. Important and sentimental things were split between us kids but it was sad to see the house slowly emptied of everything that had been accumulated over so many years.

I remember commenting to my brother Clark, that you really begin to fully understand the scripture that talks about your life being a "vapor", here today and gone tomorrow. While we were moving, my Dad was having a lot of issues and it looked like things were getting bad. My Mom and Dad spent two nights in their new place before we had to rush him to the hospital as he was getting weaker by the minute. It was a trip he would never return from.

I had allotted a week off from work in order to move them and I had to return to Houston as I was not sure when he would be getting out of ICU. I knew in my heart when i left him, it would probably be the last time I saw him alive. While I returned just before they took him off of life support, I was never able to speak to him again.

His last words to me were..."I love you son...I just wish I had told you that more often"! It is now the 21st of February and I am just now able to write about this without completely falling to pieces. The sadness and sense of loss has been almost overwhelming as it feels like I lost both my Mother and Father in a two week time frame. Dad to death and Mom to a mental state in which she hardly remembers who I am. I have asked God to teach me something through all of this and I believe He has. Here are some of the things that I have learned and hope it helps you, especially as you face similar circumstances.

1. Cherish your parents - I know we all get busy, especially as we get married and many times live far from home. I left home in 1975 and have lived way outside of california since that time. It seems like I saw my parents several times a year, but not as often as I now wish I had. In July of last year, my parents were to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. My sister wanted to get us all together in Reno, Nevada but it seemed like life was too busy and I wasn't sure if I could take the time off. Well, I worked it out to we could go and looking back, I am so grateful to God that we did. I remember the evening as we celebrated their 60 years of marriage, that all of the kids and grandkids were able to express their love and appreciate to this most worthy couple when they were alive to hear it all. At that point, I had no idea that our gathering would be the last time we would be with them on their anniversary.

2. Take time even when you think you can't - In late October, I flew to San Diego for a speaking engagement and called Mom and Dad and asked if they would come down and see me. I had a beautiful hotel suite overlooking coronado Bay with plenty of room for them to stay. The room had an enourmous bedroom and I decided to give my parents the private room and I ordered a roll-away single for me. They were like kids and enjoyed our time together as we ate breakfast each morning out by the water and had dinner late at night watching the sun set on the bay. We laughed about memories and I so enjoyed their company. They heard me speak at the conference I was attending and I felt the same pride that they had for me when I won my first speech contest on the same island in 1972.

3. Live a life of "no regrets" - While I am devasted over the loss of my Dad, I can see so clearly the hand of God directing my steps over the last year. There were so many times I felt time challenged and almost succumbed to other issues but felt that it was more important to see them, be with them and make time for them...I now know why! The emotions and sadness would have been compounded greatly if I was guilt ridden over my failures to be with them when I could. Losing my Dad was difficult enough without adding guilt and regrets to that picture.

4. Death has a way of putting things in perspective - Everything in life seems to be important. We go through life with time pressures, financial constraints and personal problems but all those things seem petty when you look in the casket and see your only father lying dead before your eyes. It is a sobering thing and it has a way of moving you to think about what is really important in life. Everything that I thought was so important seems trivial by comparison. So many people waste so many years in bitter relationships...but those all have a way of changing when a death occurs. I am sure that I will be thining differently about what is really important.

5. "Stuff" that you have will become someone else's stuff sooner than you think - My parents house was full of stuff...Heck...my house is full of stuff! The ironic part about it is that all their stuff is now someone else's stuff. Dad had spent a lifetime accumulating stuff...even money...and he could take nothing with him. The over-abundance and over-accumulation of stuff that we all have is really quite extraordinary if you think about it. We have to work to get the stuff, we then have to pay to protect the stuff, we have to take care of and fix the "stuff" and for what purpose??? So that other people can have the stuff in the end. Seems rather pathetic when you think about it like that.

Well, these are just a few of the lessons that God has shown me in 15 days from my Dad's death. I know he has more in store for me and I look forward to learning them. In the meantime, Dad knew Jesus and I am confident he is safe in His arms in a place free from pain. Knowing Dad, he's been checking out his new place and is loving every minute...that's just the kind of guy he was.

Blessings,

Steve R.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Final Approach Seminar In The Woodlands, Texas October 28-29, 2011

After a year-long process of prayer, planning, and preparation, Final Approach is ready to launch its first ever Seminar at The Woods Edge Church in The Woodlands, Texas on October 28-29th, 2011.

Dr. Joseph Norvell and I will be speaking to families on the subject of "How to help children land safely into adulthood". As we have observed many times, too many teens and young adults are running into problems as they approach adulthood and many are leaving their "beliefs" behind.

In the homes of many Christian families there is a battle being fought for the hearts and souls of the younger generation. Everywhere around us we see young people whose love for the world and themselves has pushed aside their relationship with the Lord. The reality is that many parents struggle to know how to pilot their families through this turbulent time when their teens ask, “Do I believe what I believe because I believe it, or because it is what I’ve always been taught?”

Sure, these same parents guided their children well through their pre-teen years. However, once their children are in flight and headed for adulthood, dad and mom often stall. It is as if they, the parents, are flying blind. How do you guide them through their FINAL APPROACH into successful adulthood where responsibility, maturity and honor meet wisdom and a strong personal relationship with the Lord? Final Approach is a weekend conference designed to help parents learn the skills for discipling their teens, while encouraging young people to make their faith their own.

To register, please click here! Please join us for two days of eye-opening and encouraging instruction, challenge and discipleship as we unfold the secrets of raising children who can land safely in adulthood.

Blessings to All!
Steve Riddell

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Delicate Balance of Faith, Grace & Works


The following is an article written by Andy Terry that I found to be one of the best explanations that trip most Christians up.  With so much rancor and discussions regarding these topics, I thought it might be worthwhile to bring some balance into view.  Hope you enjoy!  SR

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Eph 2:8-9 (KJV)
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Phil 2:12 (KJV)
"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?" James 2:14 (KJV)
You don't have to be a meteorologist to observe the effects of the collision of warm and cold air masses. I've stood out in the front yard and watched the frightening beauty of a cold front slamming into a warm front, then watched the ensuing fireworks. The show can be ominous, noisy, often destructive and sometimes fatal. When the atmosphere slips out of balance, titanic cumulonimbus clouds rise to the fight and vie for control of the skies. I've witnessed a similar "titanic struggle" materialize between the pillars cited above. *Super Saints will rise like anvil-laden thunderheads, quoting Paul's words to the church in Philippi. In their wake, they'll often leave the spiritual equivalent to storm damage, having soundly bludgeoned all within earshot. Andy's Lexicon
SUPER SAINT. This is an individual who has adopted an air of spiritual or moral supremacy among their fellow believers. Symptomatic behavior includes: The belief that they have ascended to the next spiritual plane between Earth and New Jerusalem; Belief that God has provided them with special insights not understood by the Christian "hoi polloi"; Patronizing conversations with those still considered in their own estimation to be "carnal".
RECOMMENDED TREATMENT. Liberal doses of Paul's Epistle to the Romans and time spent in front of the mirror have proven effective in treating Super Saintism.
An ordered God doesn't contradict Himself, despite apparent contradictions of these verses. Obviously, a closer look is in order. In doing so, we'll see that what appears contradictory isn't, and that there is a delicate balance between Grace and works. Salvation, "By Grace alone, through Faith alone" is foundational to historic, Biblical Christianity. Our participation in the miracle of biblical salvation is limited to our embrace and acceptance of this gift of Divine favor. To add ANYTHING else to the equation inserts a "work" of some stripe of color, and flies in the face of the statement. In fact, we could distill the statement down even further by stating that it's not our faith, but God's Grace, by which we're saved. We're not saved because we rose above the battle and accepted the Divine Invitation, we may receive that invitation because our God is infinitely gracious. None could reach the bar of God's perfection any easier than an Olympic high jumper could clear a 200-foot high jump.
The words of Paul in the Ephesian Epistle are seminal to the Historic doctrine of salvation. I hold this passage in Ephesians Chapter 2 near and dear for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it declares the miraculous means by which salvation is obtained. We've been saved by the incomprehensible Love of God the Father, through the atoning sacrifice of God the Son. It wasn't through prayers of penance, acts of contrition, the giving of tithes and offerings or anything that I could have conceived in my mind that merited salvation. It was nothing less than the unmerited favor of God. But this passage is special because as a student in homiletics, my first assignment in scriptural exegesis was to do an exegetical breakout of Ephesians 2:1-10. It was (and remains) a magnificent passage to cut one's teeth on.
One Epistle to the right of Ephesians is the Epistle to the Philippians, and here we read the seeming contradiction to work out one's salvation in "fear and trembling". The ringer is found in the General Epistle of James, where we read, that "Faith without works is dead". Believers throughout the history of the church have noticed this apparent tension. Even Luther, when confounded by the apparent contradiction referred to James as the "Epistle of Straw"1 as in his mind, it flew in the face of the Pauline doctrine of Grace and Faith.
For better or worse, I've run into extreme Arminianists along the pilgrim pathway who tend to use these latter verses as a club to beat their fellow pilgrims into a mold of their liking. Specifically, I'm speaking of those on the far edge who, view the "security of the believer" as presumption. In their dire zeitgeist, the saint is never more than a heartbeat away from loosing their salvation and falling back into the abyss of the unredeemed. These as a group, tend to place heavy emphasis on the "fear and trembling" and "works", while forgetting about "grace". Too, I've encountered extreme Calvinists who've all but completely negated the former, while focusing entirely on the latter. The God of creation is a God of harmony and order, so it's only logical that a scriptrually-balanced fulcrum has to exist within the text of God's Word. I believe that we'll see this fulcrum there in that "Epistle of Straw".
James, the Stepbrother of our Lord, was an "everyman" who could communicate and relate to every man ( women and child). From the witness of the Gospels, we may conclude that prior to the resurrection of Jesus, he was dubious if not completely doubtful of big brother's claims of messiahship. It was during that interlude between Christ's resurrection and ascension that James acknowledged the Lordship of the one who he'd known all his life as "my big brother, Jesus." This little brother became a passionate spokesman for Jesus, but he never asserted or sought any special status accorded to earthy royal relationships. His self-perception is seen in his salutation in the opening of his epistle, where he identifies himself simply as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Any perceived contradictions evaporate when we consider the viewpoint of this servant as he wrote to the church in general. Kent Hughes, in his commentary on the epistle sheds an insightful viewpoint2. According to Hughes, Paul approached the life of faith from an objective stance, taking time to engage counterviews while providing weighty scriptural background material from the Old Testament. James in contrast, approached the life of faith from a subjective stance. As we read James, we can see the flint striking the steel, hear the metallic resonance and feel the spark leap from the ensuing collision of elements. Paul was an apologist to the preeminent, while James was an apologist to the pew. Concerning that Fulcrum, let's consider the passage in the second chapter of James in some detail.
There is a critical presupposition to keep in mind as we view James; he's speaking to believers. This isn't an evangelistic appeal to the unredeemed; it's an appeal to those who've committed their lives and fortunes to the hands of the Savior. The epistle is written to the Church at large, and deals with the conduct of those who would wear the moniker of "Christian". That said, let's continue. Let's for a moment think of the "works" cited in this passage as "fruits". For the most part, fruit is harvested from trees and because we can pick an apple out of a lineup of fruit, when we see them hanging off of a tree, we can conclude that the tree in view is an apple tree. Apple trees produce apples, not oranges. People are capable of good works and we've observed noble acts by folk who weren't part of the family of faith. Spiritual fruit can only be produced in the lives of spiritual people. Regardless of perceived nobility or good intent, the unredeemed are incapable of producing these spiritual fruits or works. As we keep this in view, then the perceived contradiction begins its melt.
James in this passage actually compliments Paul's thoughts in Ephesians 2. As we read beyond verse 9, we see language that points to our being God's workmanship. This passage is given even greater weight in its original Greek as "workmanship" is seen in the Greek word "Poeima", the root of our contemporary word for "poem". Paul reminds us that we weren't simply redeemed in order to loll about in heavenly sunshine as the ages roll. No, we were redeemed that we might be conduits for God's outworking; to be the "doer of deeds" that He ordained from eternity past. Taking this thought to its logical conclusion, if we're not bringing forth fruitful works, or being God's T-1 line to the world, then something is amiss in our divine relationship. We don't perform good works in order to earn ( or even maintain) our redemption; good works are a consequential byproduct of that divine redemption.
As to the idea of "fear and trembling" as seen in Philippians 2:12; the resolution again falls on context and construct. Paul is neither speaking of a God whose thoughts are of short-sheeting sheep nor a vindictive deity who sits with a quiver of lightning bolts, waiting to zap a stumbling saint. We need to zoom out and look at the greater context as seen in Philippians 2:12-18. Paul calls the Philippians to live out their redemption with the senses of awe, wonder and reverence, because the Almighty is moving and working through their day-to-day lives. Think about it! The God, who spoke the sub-atomic particles into existence, is moving and working through our mundane lives! The Lord who let light trip from his lips and spun the stars and planets into orbit is moving actively in our lives on a daily basis. Awesome!
So, what's the rub in the midst of all this? The balance between grace, faith and works falls on our understanding, first on the nature or God's salvation, and second on our understanding of scripture. If we profess to be among the redeemed but our branches are without fruit, we must engage in a round of soul searching. Are we fruitless because we haven't truly been redeemed? I'm speaking of mental ascent rather than a deep heart's acceptance of the need for a savior and true repentance. We may not have truly committed our lives and fortunes to God. Or, are we fruitless because we've yet to seek God's plan for our lives once we've turned to him? Or, are we just plain (ouch!) lazy? Any of these will inhibit the production of spiritual works in our lives. To be true, the Super Saints do have an extremely limited point, though I have issues with their dire lack of love and compassion in the delivery of their message. If we were God's children, it would be considered normative to witness some evidence of that familial bond. But lest we forget for even a second; these spiritual works have not, do not, or will not EVER save us.
Soli Deo Gloria! ( To God alone, be the Glory!)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Together In Unity

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”-Psalms 133:1

This amazing thought is penned by David and is one of the "Songs of Degrees." Wouldn’t it be amazing if congregations were able to lift up their voices “together” and sing… “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

Click here to hear a song on Unity!

The first time I ever heard this song sung was on one of the Maranatha Records Series sung by Psalty, the singing songbook. It has stuck with me ever since and yet as I get older, I see so much “dis-unity” amongst Christians, it’s no wonder that those outside the body of Christ have a hard time hearing the unifying message of Christ!

If you have ever been part of a group, a congregation, a body of believers, a church… you have undoubtedly witnessed issues or problems arise that the “group” has a hard time dealing with. Invariably, there are always people who are drawn to a particular group, and others who decide, for whatever reasons, to remove themselves from that same group. The very things that drew them “to” the group, no longer satisfy and at some point they leave looking for another group that has a greater attraction.

Our church group, like others, has not been immune and we have experienced members (many good friends of mine) leaving for a variety of reasons. Most of them that I have either spoken with, or read their comments on Facebook leave no doubt about their unhappiness or dissatisfaction with some aspect of the group of people they once were drawn to. My heart breaks over any group of people who suffer from disunity, but when it hits so close to home it affects everyone and the inevitable consequences of bitterness, taking up offences, pride, gossip, breaking of relationships, etc., takes its toll. Everyone loses in this scenario, the body of Christ is damaged and people suffer as a result.

As people divide, all the members of the once unified group are left to:

  • Choose sides (after all there has to be the right side and wrong side).
  • Wonder… “What happened?” Many of the newer members may be totally clueless to some long standing issues from the past.
  • Decide who or what to blame. In the movie, National Treasure 2, Sadusky catches up with Ben and the following conversation takes place; “Someone’s got to go to prison, Ben, but you’ll feel better inside.” Ben asks, “Is there a door that doesn’t lead to prison?”
  • Make judgments, and most of the time without the benefit of all of the facts.
  • Sort out the pieces and try to make sense of it all.

Unfortunately, nothing good comes from any of it. Sometimes people choose to mend broken relationships, but sadly, most do not.

Perhaps David should have penned the Psalm to read, “Behold how really bad and how unpleasant it is for brethren not to dwell together in unity!”

God clearly gives direction on how to mend broken relationships.

1 Corinthians 3:3 advises us against carnal relationships full of envy and strife. "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"

1 Peter 2:1 advises us in relationships to not be hateful, envious, deceptive, nor speak evil of others. "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,"

James 3:14 advises us to rid ourselves the envy and strife that is in our hearts. “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

Romans 13:13 advises us to walk honestly and not in strife and envy. "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying."

To all who have ever had situations where unity suffers and broken relationships occur, I am reminded of an answer that Billy Graham wrote to a woman who had a broken relationship with her mother.His words hold the answer as he extends years of biblical wisdom and counsel to her…and for that matter to all of us.

He writes, "Thank you for your letter - and I too hope your experience will cause someone to think about the broken relationships in their lives and try to do something about them. The Bible says, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18).

One of life's hardest lessons is that we cannot change the past - and this is especially true when death intrudes. Then the opportunity to say something we should have said, or to do something we should have done, is gone forever. It is a bitter lesson, and one that leaves guilt and regret in its wake. The only solution is to ask God to open our eyes to things we need to do, and then give us the courage and wisdom to do them.

What should you do? First, seek God's forgiveness for your sins -- not just this one, but all of them. God loves you, and the greatest discovery you will ever make is that He wants you to be His friend forever. By a simple prayer of faith ask Jesus Christ to come into your life. He will forgive your past and give you hope for the future.

Then ask God to help you learn from this experience, and to give you a new love and a new concern for others. Jesus said, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34).

As always I welcome your thoughts or ideas on this topic that certainly has wide reaching effect to many.

In Him,

Steve Riddell

Thursday, December 17, 2009

3rd Response from "Anonymous"! You have to read this!!!!

Dear Fathers,
This is the third response from Anonymous which I was grateful to receive and it might be an encouragement to those of you who struggle with decisions regarding your daughters. This letter really sums up the reason why I started this forum in the first place. I appreciate the debate, where iron sharpens iron. My commentary will follow his letter!
Anonymous said...

A third response needs to be added as I have been finally convinced, after reading more about you and your family. It is evident that your daughters have done well in the faith and that God has blessed them immeasureably!

I hereby humbly concede wholeheartedly regarding your admonition to fathers in the upbringing of their daughters. I have reacted out of fear that is within my own heart and not out of wisdom and faith. Your enemy has now become your advocate! I am not only convinced but convicted and encouraged to return to true doctrine in regards to protecting my daughters and to the leave the results to the Lord, of which I have faith that, as good as God is, He desires to impart blessings upon my family as well. God is faithful to me, regardless of my finances, so I must remain faithful to trust Him! I must recognize that through my meager income, there is protection from the Lord. I have found freedom and I am now grateful to God for providing the opportunity to be reprimanded! Thank you for being patient and it is my hope that some other father like me can benefit from my folly and coming to wisdom.

Please pass on to us regarding the raising of sons in relation to learning a trade-skill/college. I have a couple of sons as well and would appreciate your view. Do you have sons and if so, what have they done regarding careers?

Dear Anonymous:

I sincerely appreciate your response and rejoice in your renewed trust in the Lord who is anxious to do a mighty work in you and your family.

For me, fear has always been a struggle to deal with. Fear, at its core, will almost always lead to poor decisions and usually results in "paralysis of analysis" and feelings of inadequacy. What I find interesting is that we fear the things we do not know. The interesting part is that if we knew certain things....we would be more fearful (for example...if we knew when we were going to die...we would be almost paralyzed with fear).

While I am not always good at dealing with it, I have learned over the years to channel fear into prayer. Prayer lays fear at the feet of our Lord and once fear is removed, we become open to the Lord's leading and direction. It is only when we walk with the Lord that are eyes and ears are open to the way in which He would have us be as husbands, fathers and believers. The following song says it all:

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

May God bless you abundantly as you seek and serve Him!

Steve Riddell

PS. Check back soon as I am working on an article that will address issues with sons. No, I only have daughters, but I have spent a good amount of time working with fathers of sons and teenagers in general.

sr

Saturday, December 12, 2009

2nd Response to Anonymous

I received a reply from "Anonymous" which has been posted here! Here are my comments which you men might find valuable.....sr

Dear Anonymous

Apology accepted. Now if we can just get past the name calling (pride, arrogant), we might just be able to achieve "honest" debate. Those interested in searching for answers rarely cast stones in others directions simply for what they believe.

Your choice to remain anonymous is your right, but anonymity and anger always results in saying things you regret later.

Here are some questions and commentary for you to carefully consider and if you can lay your anger and thoughts regarding what you perceive as "arrogance" towards me on the table, you might see things that currently blind your thinking.

1. How is my approach "arrogant" when I say over and over again that these are my beliefs, thoughts, etc. I even write that..."Thoughts and beliefs are molded by healthy debate and substantive input. Wisdom comes from our creator. As I attempt to give answers, share insight and provide thoughtful essays on a variety of subjects, I will leave it to you to decide for yourself if there in any wisdom in what is written."

2. I cannot change nor alter my current state nor my financial state. I have had periods in my life when I had "need" and I have had other periods when life was free from "financial" concern. Your remarks regarding my ability to "pay" for music lessons when you are not able to do so seem "bitter" to me. Incidentally, the majority of lessons that my kids have had over the years was paid for by my father-in-law. My heart aches for others who hurt both financially and in other ways. That said, my experience and observation has been that when finances are strained, people always still find a way to learn and pursue the things that they are passionate about. Passion always trumps the lack of finances.

3. Where in my article do I state anything negative towards young ladies learning to have a good income? Its just not there. My counsel has always been that I think it unwise for young ladies to "go off to college" to pursue a degree. Colleges have one purpose and one purpose only...to help the student pursue a "Career" in the workplace, not to become a "Keeper at Home". This coupled with encouraging a spirit of "independence" and reliance upon "self" is the danger that I see and that the Bible warns of. If a young lady wishes to pursue a degree, she can do so from the home and can adequately prepare for a number of ways to make a good income.

4. Why agree with your wife that it was good for her to be a Keeper at Home, but change your mind when it comes to your daughters? Where does contentment fit into your picture? Doesn't it make sense that your daughters will attract men in the workplace who "value" their work and income they provide? To me, it is both inconsistent and naive to conclude that they will attract a man who values their desire to be a "keeper at home" when they are around men who are "in" the workplace with them.

5. Where do I pass judgement on people whose circumstances are different from my own? Are you not holding me to a different standard than you are willing to hold to yourself? You ask me to be more "sensitive" and then lash out at me calling me "arrogant", "prideful" and lacking in "humility". I can only write about the things that I know have had significance in my marriage, my raising of a family and in my life. I apologize profusely if that offends you or makes your feel inadequate. The Lord knows we have made our share of mistakes and we have paid a price as well in many ways for those mistakes.

6. Your own feelings or guilt of inadequacy will never be solved by lashing out at people who are trying to help. My intent is not to lift myself up by putting others down. I don't believe that my writings do that, but as you know, interpretation is individual. It would be best if you would read what was written, than to become so blinded by bitterness and anger that you see things that are not there.

Your comments will be taken to heart as I am sure that God has some work still left to do on me. I assure you that I do not believe I have done everything perfect and I have the scars to prove it. That said, scars provide reminders for us not to repeat the same mistakes. If we can help others avoid the scars, we then have a "true" fellowship of believers. As always, I leave it to you to decide if anything I have written here contains any wisdom....that is for you to decide.

My very best regards,

Steve Riddell

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Response to an Anonymous Post!

In my article entitled, “What Happened to Civility?,” I quoted from USA today the following, "American society is among the most informal in the world, and often that informality crosses over into incivility. Now, you add the informality of the Internet to this culture, and all bets are off.”
“The ability to comment about others from a distance and with anonymity is the Web's hallmark and its poison, says Jerry Bowles, co-founder of SocialMediaToday.com, which keeps tabs on the impact of social media on society. Bowles' recent blog post lamented the recent erosion of civility.”
“The Web seems to turn most people into adversaries, and in doing so, we tend to lose the ability to really talk to each other," he says. "This is particularly true for politics on the Web, where the comments tend to run to the extremes and sometimes can be downright seditious. I find it scary."
As a general rule, I don’t comment on “Anonymous” posts. Anonymous posts are usually written by people who say things anonymously that they would never have the nerve to say to a person’s face and I find debating with anonymous posters to be a serious waste of time as they tend to read what they want to read as opposed to reading what was written and attempting to understand both intent and content.
That said, I recently received an “anonymous” post with a bunch of questions which you fathers may find helpful as you study this most important topic of whether to send your daughter off to college or not. It is obvious that this anonymous poster has a personal problem with me (as indicated by how the letter is signed), as opposed to a real desire to know, but we will attempt to answer the questions posed. My answers are in parenthesis for clarity.

Dear Mr.R.

Stumbled to this website and appreciate it for what it is but have a question...(Hardly anyone stumbles across this site, but nice try!)
If Christian girls should not become nurses, then are you saying that you desire ungodly women to be the only caretakers of your family members? (This is an example of reading what you want to read not what was written. Christian girls are free to do, become and be anything they want to be and nowhere in my article do I say that Christian girls should not become nurses. I invite you to go back and read the article. Last time I checked, this was a free country. The reference is listed as an example of a true situation and the whole point of the story is that “all decisions” have consequences. Fathers who ignore this point do so at their own peril and the peril of their families. I see danger in encouraging our young ladies to work outside of the home and the Bible warns us that women are to be “keepers at home”. God said it…I didn’t! Here is what I said, “I then asked, so….let me get this straight…you are going to send your virgin daughter off to nursing school, to learn how to take care of patients, give sponge baths to guys, see other husbands in various stages of undress, learn to take care of herself, earn her own income and be self-sufficient, etc. and then honestly expect that when Mr. Right comes calling that she will instantly have her heart “turned” towards the home and be interested in him and him alone? Besides, wouldn’t it make sense that the very things that attracted Mr. Right to her, would be the very things he values in a wife (independence, career, money, etc.)? It would be a rare man who met, found and became interested in a woman in the workplace that would find value in a woman whose interest was being at home! The logic of this would be inconsistent at best. We live in an age that encourages women to work “outside” of the home and Christians who have bought into this model are deceived. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” If you sow independence, self-sufficiency and discontentment “in” the home with your young ladies, you will reap exactly the same thing and to think otherwise, God says….you are deceived.)
And are you saying that Christian girls that do become nurses cannot have a truly pure relationship with their husbands because they have cleaned the bedpans of ill gentlemen? (This is another example of reading what you want to read. I never said nor implied that a “pure” relationship could not be achieved. I think it would be difficult for a young woman or a young man to see others in various stages of undress and then have “eyes” for his/her spouse and him/her alone. A person either gets aroused or de-sensitized, both of which is bad for the intimacy of a marriage.)
Why should your daughters even bother to learn to supplement income from the home? (Because the Bible says it is wise to do so. Read Proverbs 31.)
Do they not trust that the Lord will send the perfect man that has sufficient income? (Again, you are asking questions about things that my article never states nor intimates. The sufficiency of a man’s income has nothing to do with trusting the Lord. The bible says to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6))
What about the many nurses that you do know who, when they became wives and mothers, stayed home and properly raises their children? (What about them????? The article is not written about them. Its scope is directed to fathers who are trying to decide what to do with their daughters. Trying to stretch the comments and make them say what you think I am saying is neither fair debate nor honest in intent.)
Did you really struggle financially whenever your wife decided to stay home? (Yes!!! The nature of the question infers that I am not being honest….was that your intent?)
Do you believe that the girl in your post who was unable to finish nursing school is now living in sin with her husband and that her husband was not God's will just because she, in your opinion, should not have gone to school whatsoever? (How ridiculous! I am not sure how to even go about commenting on this question. Where do I state that going to college is sin? ….Becoming a nurse is sin?...etc. etc.
I Corinthians 3:18 suggests, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.”)
I know several young ladies (and some not so young) who met their husbands through e-harmony, what do you think of that? (All decisions have consequences…some work out, others don’t, but that doesn’t make the decision a wise one. That said, I pass no judgment, but I fail to see how this relates to “anything” in my article.)
Training our children to love the Lord first, love their families and serve them, love others in the world and serve the lost should be the plan here! (Who said it wasn’t?)
What about those missionary nurses who had to get training to minister with their missionary husbands? (The article was not directed at Nurses, the nursing field, those who got training to be a nurse etc.)
Did they really sin whenever they went to school but somehow God just forgave them enough to use them on the missionary field? (Really now, it is obvious that you did not read the article….please read it as this question is really reaching at something that is not there!)
What missionary work have your daughters served in? (Serving the Lord comes in all forms and fashion. The answer is yes, they have been involved in many forms of ministry with our family, and they are doing what the Lord has called them to do. One does not have to serve in a “foreign” land to do missionary work. According to scripture, Paul told Titus that “older” women are to teach “younger” women…That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:4-5.)
How do they serve the Lord through reaching a lost and dying world? (The same way any Christian should, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. The idea that a woman who becomes a keeper at home cannot serve God through reaching a lost and dying world is absurd. It is through her relationship with her husband, her family and her Lord that people will see her testimony and be drawn even more to Jesus.)
Oh, teaching music lessons in a comfortable home to Christian students, yes, that's it. (Now…sarcasm here shows the intent of your heart. Who said they only teach “Christian” students. In fact, over the years many of their students have not been Christians. My daughters have reached many young minds and hearts for the Lord through teaching music and in many other ways. God has blessed them with amazing ministries right from our home. I won't tell you all about it and we'll save some rewards for heaven. Following Biblical principles and commands will always yield good fruit. The Bible says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” When you demean work in the home and raise up work “outside” of the home, you demean mothers and daughters who have found fulfillment and contentment by leading a quiet life at home.)

Signed,
A parent who is tired of prideful men telling others what to do all the time but leaves out serving the Lord Jesus Christ through ministry. (Whew!....This is what anonymity does! It emboldens people to say things that they would hardly say in person. I am terribly sorry you feel this way, but your argument is with God, not me and you sure don't know me very well!)
Steve Riddell (yep…this is the real me, not the anonymous one!)