Christopher Mynheir’s Testimony

Christopher Mynheir Testimony
(Senior Year – High School)

My faith is what holds my life together; without it I would be nothing. However, being surrounded by Christianity my whole life has made living my faith a struggle, simply because I grew comfortable with it.

I was saved at the age of six in Kindergarten and had been raised in church my whole life, so believing in Jesus came naturally. Both of my parents were Christians, and my mom came from a Christian home, and I was, essentially, smothered with church. I knew what to believe, I knew what to say, but I just didn’t truly live my faith. I failed to understand the gravity of my sin and what had been done for me. God certainly had a hand in my life from the beginning moments of it, and I thank Him for what He has done in it.  Something, however, was missing.1463013_10151780235828807_1839232935_n

I thought that I was fine. My life was going great, and I had not had any major problems. I was brought up in Covenant since Kindergarten, so I had never experienced any sort of crisis of faith. That might’ve helped me more than the apathy that I was feeling. I was just coasting along. I had accumulated knowledge about God, but I was far away from Him emotionally.

When Life Action Ministries came to CPC, I didn’t necessarily think it was stupid, but I felt that it was for others, not me. But throughout the course of that week, I felt God knocking on the door of my heart, and I responded. The main speaker made me rethink my original position. I rededicated my life to Christ and vowed to start over, and I confessed to just about everything I could think of that I’d ever done. It was a turning point in my life; I now knew my faith was stronger. Apathy was still in my life; I was still afflicted by an apparent lack of zeal for the incredible grace I had been offered. I was still thinking Christianity more than feeling its effects in my heart.

After the revival, I felt closer to God emotionally, but I lived in fear that it might not be enough. I thought that my sins were still too great for any Christian to bear, but I John 1:8-9 enlightened me. It says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This verse showed me that while Christians should strive for holiness, we aren’t perfect.

God continues to help me in regard to my faith, and since the revival, I have felt stronger in my belief. God will hold on to all of us, when we stumble and when we fall. And Psalm 94:18 says “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love, O LORD, supported me.” God has had to initiate my participation in my relationship with Him at times, but He has never stopped loving me.

My faith is not anything that comes from me; God is the creator and sustainer. He has brought me through every trial, and He has strengthened me. I know that God has a plan for each of us, and since we’re seniors, we may just find out within the next few years what that means. Whatever might happen, though, God will see us through it.

*Chris passed away on July 11, 2017, and he walks in the presence of the Lord today.

Of Dreams and Visions . . .

Since our oldest son, Christopher, passed away last year, I’ve dreamed of him often, as I’m sure you can imagine. Most of the dreams are random events of Chris with our family as if everything was back to normal or fleeting images of him passing through the haze of my subconscious. Nothing too deep, detailed, or extraordinary—with one exception.  535859_10150926184188763_2086401244_n

Lori and I were in Connecticut a few weeks after the accident helping our daughter, Shannon, move into her new apartment. While we were there, I had a powerful and vivid dream in which I saw Chris in an enormous, multi-story room with rows of fully stocked bookshelves running the length of the walls, very much like an elaborate library. The room was radiant with ornate gold trimmings all around, and I had the sense that the room was considerably larger than I could even see.  Chris stood in front of me, holding a thick book. He didn’t say anything but turned toward me and smiled. It ended nearly as quickly as it started.

I woke up and was overwhelmed with an incredible sense of peace and comfort. Chris loved reading, and if there are libraries in Heaven, I have no doubt that he is hanging out in them.  In Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven, Randy points out that in Heaven, we will continue to learn because, as finite beings, we can never know everything about an infinite God and that many of the things that gave us joy on Earth will be present in Heaven in a perfected state. So, seeing Chris with a book in Heaven made complete sense and has served to strengthen and encourage me during some pretty dark days since then.

I can’t say for sure if the dream was a vision from God or the product of my grieving mind, but either way, I’m thankful for the poignant reminder that Chris is not lost but has reached the ultimate destination—in the loving presence of his Savior in Heaven, a place of indescribable beauty, joy, and peace.

A Year in the Valley

A year has passed since our oldest child, Christopher, died in a car crash and our family was launched into the valley of grief and sorrow. This year has, at times, seemed like it has been stuck in fast-forward, one event blurring into another like a disjointed nightmare. Maybe that was God’s way of helping us endure and process our loss while trying to move forward. The shroud of grief has clouded my memory of the first few Valleymonths after Chris’s death, but the days were filled mostly with getting out of bed, often only by God’s strength, drifting into work (if you could call what I was producing then “work”), and forcing interaction with our family and friends in a thick haze of existing more than living, enduring each day like a sorrowful, tear-filled reproduction of “Groundhog Day.”  The same-same for quite a while.

In those early days, I didn’t “feel” God with me. No moments of comforting warmth and peace came or the overwhelming sense of His presence, as I had experienced many times in the past. Perhaps I wasn’t ready for God to speak to me in that way because my emotions were so raw and frayed.  Regardless of what I felt, I did see His hands work in amazing ways. When I would be at my brink and didn’t think I could endure one more minute of anguish, a friend or family member would call or text with a message of encouragement exactly when I needed it. I’d switched radio stations and hear a Bible teacher who seemed to be speaking right to my situation. On one occasion, on my first visit to the crash site, a friend just happened to be driving by (from 45 miles away on a day and time she wasn’t supposed to be there) saw me on the side of the road, stopped, and prayed with me through that difficult moment. God orchestrated countless situations to comfort and strengthen our family, and He placed so many loving people in our path, dozens of times in inexplicable ways.

Chris’ death has impacted every area of our lives, from sweet memories of the past to planning for our future. I recently heard a speaker say that you never recover from the loss of a child; you can only recalibrate.  At this point, I would agree. Losing a child at any age feels very much like a spiritual and emotional amputation—a part of yourself has been ripped away forever from your innermost being.  The pain is all too visceral, aching deep in the soul like extreme phantom pains from a missing limb. And, like a physical amputation, your life is altered forever. You can never navigate the world in the same way, and the experience changes you. Hobbling forward is a very slow, painful journey.

Some of the lessons from this year haven’t been entirely bad. Losing Chris has stripped all the pretense from my life, teaching me what’s important right now—my walk with Lord, serving His purpose, and loving my family. I simply haven’t had the bandwidth to focus on any of the other noise and nonsense going on in the chaotic world around us. My prayer life has gone to a level I never imagined. I’ve been in survival prayer mode, praying all day, every day, just to make it through. I’ve screamed, wept, questioned, doubted, repented, thanked, praised, and gone back through the cycle again and again. I have discovered the meaning of the scriptures saying we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).

I’ve been amazed at the strength and faith of my incredible wife, Lori, and our children, Shannon and Justin. We’ve all had to walk through this valley together, yet each in our own way. Again, in God’s providence, when one of us would be having a bad day, another would be there to console or lift up. I’m ashamed to admit that Lori, Justin, and Shannon have had the lopsided job of keeping me upright and functional, but I am so very grateful for them.  I’ve witnessed the horror stories of families who are ripped apart by a tragic loss.  We have been so blessed that, by God’s grace, He has drawn us closer through this.  I think Chris would be proud.

We’ve experienced some great days as well. Shannon got engaged, then married to a godly, wonderful young man, and she began her teaching career. Justin completed his first year of college and published a short story, finished writing a book. Lori and I celebrated twenty-eight years of marriage.  Our life has inched forward, but Chris is ever-present in all these things.  We do the awkward dance of trying to remember and celebrate Chris’ life for all the joy and blessing he gave us while staving off the sorrow and depression that often accompanies those memories.

All through this year, I’ve been forced to examine my faith in ways I could not have before. I’ve had to ask the difficult questions: Did I still believe in the goodness of God even in this horrible circumstance, and did I still believe all the things about Him that I believed before July 11, 2017?  This walk through the valley has taught me that two seemingly conflicting ideas can both be true: I can be crushed and brokenhearted by God and still believe even more that He is good and all of His promises are true. Not that what happened to Chris was good—it surely was not. However, God uses “all things for the good of those who love him” (Rom 8:28).  God did not stop being God because tragedy struck our family, and we know that despite our pain and loss, God is using this situation to bless many others. We’ve seen evidence of that already.

As Job said when he lost his family, his wealth, and his health: “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.”  The Bible clearly teaches that our world is terminally broken, and we will face many trials and tribulations (John 16:33). When our pain and afflictions here are compared against the vast splendor of eternity in Heaven with Jesus, well, there is no comparison.  “’He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:4).

With the Lord’s strength and guidance, I hope to continue to limp along with Him through the valley until one day when I enter those gates and meet my Savior face-to-face, and I am reunited with my son again. What a glorious day that will be!

God in the Pit of Despair

Five months have passed since the tragic events of July 11, 2017, when our beloved oldest son Christopher was killed in a car crash on the way home from work. Those first moments and hours were chaotic, confusing, and excruciating as we struggled to come to grips with what had happened. Nothing can adequately prepare a parent for the loss of a child. The closest I can come to describing it is this: I liken it to being cast headfirst into the deepest, darkest pit imaginable—and then your soul implodes. I never knew there could be that much pain in this world.

I had told my children many times from an early age that if something ever happened to me, I didn’t want them to be angry with God. As a police officer and Christian father, I felt I was doing my due diligence preparing them for a fallen, broken world and to the realities of police work. We talked often that tragedy, adversity, and trials don’t change the fact that God is still God (John 16:33). The essence and core tenants of our faith in Christ were not dependent on our situation, and, yes, sometimes bad things, horrible things, can happen to good people—but, of course, it was all theory until that day. Reality had come crashing down hard on us. I never dreamed my words would boomerang back to me with the loss of one of our children.

Almost immediately after receiving the news, I was overwhelmed with the sense that Chris was standing with Jesus, watching us and wondering if we would remain faithful through this tragedy. The fact that Jesus was watching should have been enough, but the added pressure of Chris, our amazing son who loved the Lord, looking on from Heaven shook me. I did not want to disappoint or embarrass my Lord or my son by crumbling under such a catastrophic trial and abandoning everything I had believed or said I believed, but I could only muster the guttural cry of my heart, “God help us.”

Family and friends arrived at our house that night to console, grieve, and pray with us. I would love to say that God immediately lifted us out of our pit of despair and gave us instant peace and clarity. He didn’t. He did, though, reach his loving hand down into that pit and held fast to us, as He has been doing every day since. He anchored us during the emotional storms of anger, sadness, and anguish. He gave us the strength to rely on Him and pray, thanking Him for Chris’ life and praising Him amid gut-wrenching sorrow. We witnessed God’s power displayed in Justin and Shannon as they stood at Chris’ Celebration of Life, honoring their brother and God with passion and authority that can only come from the Holy Spirit.

I’ve wondered a thousand times if I could continue to press forward, endure, and walk in faith. At each juncture, when the pain and doubt were at their worst, Jesus would show up at just the right moment in miraculous ways, and He gently restored me when my faith faltered or waned. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful” 2 Timothy 2:13.

We are still in the pit, although more and more light is piercing the darkness with each new day. Waves of grief wash over our family at different times and in different ways, and the spiritual battles have been real and intense. But the Lord’s hold on us has not wavered one iota. I don’t know if we’ll ever be drawn from this pit, but the one thing that has made it bearable is knowing that the Creator and Sustainer of All Things has been and continues to be with us, here, in the darkest, most challenging time of our lives.

Christopher Michael Mynheir

 Christopher Michael Mynheir

October 29, 1992 – July 11, 2017

Our Eulogy for Chris at his Celebration of Life Service

* * * *

We would like to t13406924_10153656854638807_8089070120046181497_nhank all of our family and friends who are here today to help us celebrate the life of our son Christopher Michael Mynheir. Your love, support, and prayers have truly carried us through the dark days of this last week, and without it, I’m not sure how we would have managed. Writing a eulogy for our son was something we never thought we would have to do, but we feel it’s important to tell Chris’s story and to honor our son, his life, and his faith. Many of you know Chris through Covenant Christian School, University of Central Florida, Watermark Christian Book Store, or at his job at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, but I’m not sure how many people are aware of Chris’s early years and the trials he faced prior to even being born.

Chris’s very earliest moments of life were marked for us by fear, uncertainty, and fervent prayer. While still in the womb, Chris was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in his head that ultimately crushes down on the brain. The doctors gave us the grim diagnosis with outcomes ranging from possible severe mental and physical disabilities to death. The situation drove us to our knees. Lori was always a strong Christian. I was not. But we prayed, and I did a lot of soul searching. We asked God to at least give Chris the capacity to know joy. If Chris could know joy, we could give him a good and loving home, no matter his condition.

The day of Chris’s birth was stressful and frightening for us. He was to be taken into neurosurgery as soon as he was born to have shunt placed into his head to drain the buildup of fluid, and we were looking at a potential lifetime of challenges for him. As soon as Chris was delivered, he was given an MRI prior to his scheduled surgery. But to everyone’s astonishment, all the signs of Hydrocephalus had miraculously disappeared, leaving his neurosurgeon speechless. Chris had been completely healed, and the doctors had no answers as to why or how. It was clearly evident to us that the hand of God had touched our son and answered our prayers.

After witnessing God heal my son, I gave my life to Jesus Christ. Little did we know then that God’s healing of Chris would set the trajectory for the faith and blessing in our family for many years to come.

As Chris grew, we could see that our earlier prayers for him were answered far above what we had even asked for. Not only did Chris know “joy,” but “Joyful” would be the one word that would describe him best.

Chris was easily the happiest kid we had ever seen, even as an infant. His joy and enthusiasm were contagious and brought hours upon hours of pleasure to our family. Everything was new and exciting to him, and he would jump up and down with delight at the slightest provocation. His early years were filled with an abundance of laughter in our home, and he was always such a happy-go-lucky person. Once, while on the basketball team, he was put in the game and stopped mid-court to smile and wave vigorously at us in the bleachers as the rest of the players sprinted past him toward the basket. That was Chris.

Chris cherished his time at Covenant Christian School and the life-long friendships formed there. He thanked us repeatedly through the years for enrolling him there, and we appreciate the effort of so many teachers who helped shape and mold him.

IMG_0164_2Chris was also fiercely loyal to his family and friends. He would protect Shannon and Justin with his life, if need be, and wouldn’t even defend himself when Shannon would be dragging him around the living room by his shirt. Chris loved, protected, and cared for his brother and sister in a way that would make any parent proud. Shannon and Justin have followed in the path forged by their brother and the example he set, and they have been rocks of strength for Lori and me this week.

Chris had a special relationship with his grandparents and our extended family as well. We had regular family get-togethers, and Lori and I were blessed to have so many people in our family pour wisdom, love, and guidance into Chris, Shannon, and Justin. We had what we termed as “JBS” (Jacuzzi Bible Study), in which Chris, his grandpa, and anyone else there would discuss the bible, politics, and life while relaxing in the hot tub. Some remarkable conversations and insights came out of those studies, and Chris’s inquisitive and strong mind dug ever deeper into issues of faith and life with an understanding that surpassed his age.

He was an amazing writer with a gifted, creative mind. He ran his own video game review blog and could read a 600-page novel in an afternoon sitting and remember every word. He belonged to several on-line writing groups and had writing friends all over the world. He was the keeper of obscure facts about every character and storyline in the Marvel Universe. He had such diverse interests from video games to novels to deep theological debates.

We are blessed with so many memories of trips across the country, cruises, camping excursions, school functions, writers’ conferences, and countless family times with our son that are forever etched into our spirits. We got to say everything we would want to say to him and to let him know how much he meant to us.

Like anyone, Chris certainly wasn’t perfect, but he was an amazing son who made us proud with everything that he did. He always sought to honor his mother and father and his commitments, and he had such a sweet, kind, and gentle spirit. Chris became a true man of character, and we so enjoyed our relationship with him as an adult.

Our son regularly spoke of his friends from college and those around him who did not have a relationship with God. He hoped that God would someday use him to reach them with the Gospel. We never imagined it could be under a circumstance like this, but we would not be honoring our son’s wishes if we didn’t talk about Chris’s faith. Jason gave the message today, and our family’s hope is that those of you here who do not know Jesus or understand the Christian faith have at least lent an attentive ear and an open heart to words about a God who loves us so much that he sent his only Son to die for us. Those words have taken on an entirely new meaning for our family this week far beyond a simple theological statement.

We don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that somehow because of our faith in Christ, we aren’t hurting and grieving our loss. We are. Chris’s death has blown a hole in our hearts and sent ripples of unbelievable anguish throughout our family and friends. At times the pain has been so excruciating we can barely stand it. But when those waves of grief wash over us, we are brought back to what we know is true and the promises of God. We know, WE KNOW, that because of our son’s faith in Christ, he walks with Jesus right now and is in Heaven where there is no pain, evil, or grief, and the troubles of this world are not welcome. Chris is in a place where there is only overwhelming joy, peace, and love in the presence of God Almighty Himself. Christopher Michael Mynheir has never been better than he is right now. We’re the ones left here, hurting and seeking answers and relief.

We never dreamed that we would have Chris with us for only twenty-four years. But so many years ago, we were unsure if he would even survive birth. God gave us this time with Chris as a gift. Chris was only on loan to us, as everyone is. While we grieve and can’t begin to understand everything that has happened, we choose to praise God and thank Him for the time he gave us with Chris and the blessing that he was to us all.

Chris, you have fought the good fight, you ran the race well, you kept the faith. Enter your rest, my son. We love you so very much.

We, I, Need a Charleston Moment

Like most Americans, I feel like the last couple of weeks have been something straight out of a dystopian novel.  It started with two officer involved shootings that immediately exposed the deep rifts in our society, race against race, group against group. The crime scene tape was barely up before the social media wars were in full swing.  The law enforcement profession I love and the heroic men and woman I’ve worked with my entire adult life were being maligned with blanket accusations of systemic racism and institutionalized cruelty.   You couldn’t turn on the TV or computer with an immediate blast of anger and division.  As a Christian and a police officer, I felt the intense internal struggle between lashing out in rage at all the idiots who know nothing about police work, my colleagues, or me, and the gentle tug of the Spirit to be silent and follow Him.  Rage and disillusionment were winning out.

Then Dallas happened.

At the height of the tensions, a hate-filled racist ambushed and assassinated five police officers and wounded seven more. A catastrophic fissure had been ripped through the soul of our country. So many families are suffering through the unimaginable loss.  The country and law enforcement community were rocked again.

As I prayed for the families of the fallen and Dallas PD, I was reminded of Charleston.  A little over a year ago the racial and social tensions seemed to be nearly as inflamed as today, the Ferguson Riots and Freddy Gray’s death still fresh in everyone’s memory.  At that time another deranged little racist named Dylan Roof, also hoping to start a race war, entered the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, SC, sat through a bible study and prayer, and then systematically slaughtered nine African American Christians.  As the details of the murders were released, it seemed that Roof’s plan of mass civil war might loom just around the corner. But something happened that Roof could have not counted on.  The nine victims, their families, and their community were actually Christians, true followers of Jesus Christ. The Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, who was one of the victims, had thoroughly saturated his congregation with the Word of God, and, as promised, it did not return empty.  Within twenty-four hours of his arrest, in a miraculous and astonishing move, the victim’s families stood before the murderer of their loved ones and publicly pronounced, “We forgive you.”

The wicked plans of more racial schisms, ever-increasing hatred, and orgies of violence evaporated like the foul vapor of Satan’s breath with three simple words and the Spirit behind them.  Charleston didn’t burn.  To the contrary, the people of Charleston rallied around those amazing families at that blessed church, and the city began the process of healing and reconciliation.

Now as our nation, friends, and neighbors are once again bombarded with the negative, warlike voices from what seems like all sides threatening to tear us apart, we need another Charleston moment—a jolt of Truth in the midst of chaos where the Christ-like actions and words can once again extinguish the division and hate.  And that can only come from Christians standing up and acting like, well, Christians, where faith and allegiance to Christ takes precedence over stirring discord and divisiveness over social media or in our personal lives.

Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31-32) and to bless those who curse you (Matthew 5:44).  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of neighborly love going on right now, especially in my own heart.  The war in my spirit is still fierce and quite dynamic at times. The lure to fight the voices of hate and rage with my own anger (cleverly disguised as righteous indignation) is a seductive thought, but the call of Jesus Christ requires that we surrender our own hurts, frustrations, and grievances at the foot of the Cross, regardless of what we feel or think about it.

The issues in our country are real and not likely to disappear any time soon. The wounds and anguish many feel right now are equally as real.  But perhaps, with God’s grace, we can defend what we know to be right and true without contributing to the madness that seems to be gripping the world right now.   Or, perhaps still, we can follow the template laid out for us by Jesus Christ and His followers in Charleston in dealing with those who have caused us harm— we could chose to speak some of the most difficult words in any language: “I forgive you.”

We need another Charleston moment.  I desperately need another Charleston moment.



Reflections of the 2016 Florida Christian Writers Conference

Last week, my son Justin and I were able to attend the Florida Christian Writers Conference (FCWC).10408976_10153839086320295_5314415994649472648_n It was the first time I had been back in over four years. For nearly a dozen years prior, the FCWC served as my yearly spiritual retreat—a time to refresh, connect with other writers, and focus on honing the craft. I had forgotten how important it is to get away and be with other like-minded people, all seeking to serve Christ through writing.

Since I last attended FCWC, Billie Wilson, who ran the conference for over twenty years, passed the torch to Eva Marie Everson and Mark Hancock. I have known Eva Marie and Mark as fellow writers for a long time, but it was my first look at the conference under their direction. They, and the entire staff, have really ushered in a new season for the FCWC, while keeping Billie’s vision for the conference intact. The conference was organized, packed full of incredibly talented writers and teachers, and really, really fun!

Robert Benson was the keynote speaker and was nothing short of amazing. His insights, humor, and passion for writing were infectious and inspirational. He challenged us to give our very best effort in every word, sentence, paragraph, and page.

I attended Brian Bird’s screenwriting class, where we studied the hero’s journey and dug deep into story. We broke down movie clips and discussed the power of each scene. He brought a fresh and innovative way to look at storytelling, whether you write screenplays or novels. We were also given the privilege of viewing some of his past work. If you ever get the opportunity to attend a class with Brian, please do. I came away with a new perspective on the writing life.

I was also blessed to reconnect with many old friends and make a few new ones, and I attended some really great workshops to sharpen the skills.

Probably the best part of the whole conference was spending time with my son, talking about writing and worshiping together. You can’t put a price on something like that. I will not let that much time go by again between conferences. As a matter of fact, Justin and I are already excited for next year’s FCWC. Hope to see you there!

21 Names

These are the names of the 21 Coptic Christians slaughtered by ISIS this week:

1. Milad Makeen Zaky
2. Abanub Ayad Atiya                                                  Coptic Christians
3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
6. Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
7. Somaily Astafanus Kamel
8. Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
9. Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
11. Mina Fayez Aziz
12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
14. Samuel Alham Wilson
15. Worker from Awr village
16. Ezat Bishri Naseef
17. Loqa Nagaty
18. Gaber Munir Adly
19. Esam Badir Samir
20. Malak Farag Abram
21. Sameh Salah Faruq

As best as I can tell, none of these 21 men were world leaders, or famous athletes, or movie stars, or immersed in wealth, prestige, or privilege. They were ordinary men from all walks of life, much like Jesus’ disciples, who shared a common bond that became their death sentence—a love for and faithfulness to Jesus Christ. Their last few minutes on this earth were recorded in a stylistic and yet utterly diabolical video, set against the surreal background of the Mediterranean Sea. Their Radical Islamic captors—decked out in appropriate black outfits that match perfectly with their charred souls—beheaded each of the men in an orgy of blood, violence, and hate.

While it’s incomprehensible to understand at times, the visceral hate we see worldwide for Jesus and those who follow Him should not surprise us. Jesus himself said: “If the world hates you, keep in mind it hated me first” and “No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” Persecution against the Followers of Christ is certainly nothing new. Satan has been attempting to extinguish the voice of the Gospel from the moment Jesus rose from the tomb. Tertullian, a 2nd-century Church Father, once wrote: “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.” That Seed has sprouted and bloomed worldwide for two-thousand-years, driven by agents of persecution from the Roman Empire to those who claimed to represent the Church itself. But now those early inquisitors look like rank amateurs compared to the zealous demoniacs of ISIS, who are slicing and burning a bloody swath through the peoples of Iraq and Syria.

Ironically, the ISIS ghouls don’t even realize they are actually fulfilling, however unwittingly, the biblical prophecies of John 16:2 and Revelation 20:4 among others: “[T]he time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God” and “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God” (Emphasis mine).

What many people don’t realize is that these 21 men could have saved their own lives. All they had to do was renounce Jesus and convert to Islam. But that was impossible for them. They could not turn their backs or their hearts on their Lord who had given his own life for them. God, like He did with the original disciples, transformed these ordinary men into extraordinary giants of faith, so that they did not love their lives so much to shrink from death (Rev. 12:11).

In time, their names will most likely be forgotten by the world and probably even by most Christians, though their courage and faith in the face of unspeakable evil should not be. Their martyrdom should serve as a clarion call to all who claim Christ as Savior to hold fast to the faith no matter the cost, no matter the threat. It should also serve as an omen for things to come from the ever encroaching darkness in this present age.

On that day which Satan meant for so much evil, we know that Jesus turned it into a victorious celebration in Heaven, crowning the 21 with a Victor’s Crown and embraced them with the words every believer yearns to hear, “Well done good and faithful Servant.”

Those 21 names are now forever written into The Lamb’s Book of Life.

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation from 1789

I’ve posted George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation from 1789. It’s an eye-opener for those who have been taught that Founding Fathers wanted a purely secular government, devoid of any acknowledgment of or dependence upon God.  Can you imagine any politician submitting this today?   

Have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving!  Hope you enjoy this and let me know what you think:

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.” – George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789

Dads Matter

I’ve posted an interesting video commentary from Molotov Mitchell about the movie The Place Beyond the Pines, starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper.  The movie depicts the devastation that can be wreaked on children, especially boys, when fathers are absent, weak, or abusive.  I found the piece both challenging and convicting, as well as true to life from my experiences as a police officer.  

After years of continually witnessing the damage done by absent and/or abusive fathers, I came to this conclusion about my own life—my work, books, and other accomplishments will all be washed away by time, but my children and their children’s children will remember and bear the consequences of my decisions, actions, or inaction as a father.  That’s a sobering and downright frightening realization.  I do confess that I certainly haven’t always lived up to that ideal. But God’s grace is good, and He is the ultimate Father and Healer. His grace can bless us and teach us even in our mistakes. However, I would caution young fathers to the prioritize life well and be there for your families.  Generations depend on it.  Let me know what you think of the clip.  God bless!