A New Post? Stop the “Madness"!

Ah.. the blog. I have figured it’s about time for the obligatory, “I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, months, years” post.  I felt at the very least I should post that this past October my son Lincoln William was born. That brings the kid count up to 3. That’s a lot of children. And besides the oldest Jackson (now seven and a half), that’s a lot of poopy diapers. Josette (three next month) and Lincoln (now five months) produce a lot of crap. Josie is what I would like to call potty-trained inclined. She knows what to do and the concept, but sadly enjoys the laziness and attention that changing her diaper brings. Don’t worry. Today is March 20.. the end of tax season is in sight and Lindsey and I will conquer this. Josie will be three on April 18th. I’m putting it out there right now. On that date we stop buying diapers. There I said it. Wait.. can’t do that. There’s Lincoln still. Dangit!

Well, that was a pretty pathetic re-introduction. I just stopped a two year hiatus of my  blog to catch you up on my children’s poop and pee history. Lovely! But oh.. ha ha.. isn’t that just a perfect explanation for the blog’s inactivity? Life has changed. But oh.. how life is good! I am a new man in Christ – and growing every day. As I prepared to blog today I was looking at some of my older posts. Obviously though not consecutive at this point I have kept this blog up for 14 years of my life! That is an insane accomplishment.  My first post was on November 28, 2012 when I was nineteen years old! Throughout the last decade and half of this blog I have shared intimate details on my life, my college years, my ups and downs, my struggles, multiple whiney posts about wanting a girlfriend, several innuendos about my dating escapades, to ultimately finding the perfect relationship in the One who brings me all joy (that’s Jesus), to meeting, dating, and eventually marrying the second love of my life – Lindsey Howell. It’ll be eight years of wedlock in October!

I have no clue what I’m going to write about here or if there will be another post. I invite you to read the archives though. There’s plenty there – my testimony and more if you look far enough. I have mainly stopped blogging because blogs are so last decade, right? It might have been enjoyable to read a college student’s story about life and its tribulations. But who wants to read about an old guy who’s hairline is receding and is married with kids? Ok, maybe there are some of you. :-). I do miss writing though. I miss the audience I once had. But times have changed. I also don’t find it that appropriate to document my drama in a public forum such as this. For some reason I felt I could get away with that in college. Besides, I find drama a waste of time and it brings me no joy. Since I became a new creation I have an everlasting peace that is unexplainable to the hard-hearted. I count my trials as blessings because I know where my Hope is. To quote author Randy Alcorn, I  live not for the dot but for the line. I invest no longer in earthly things that will wither away and pass, but eternal treasures offered to me in Heaven, which is spending eternity with the one who showed me so much grace and love when I turned my back on Him again and again.

Wow.. you’re probably reading this and saying – this guy must be crazy? He’s got to be off his rockers? I wouldn’t argue. I am crazy in love with the One who Saves. Who or what are you in love with? Where do you find joy? In your possessions? In politics? In other’s approval? Do you seek something greater than what this world has to offer? The good news is you can. It’s freely available. Jesus Christ is my Everything. He’s why I wake up in the morning. He’s why I breathe. Not for my myself, not for my wife or my kids, not for my family –  (although those things are important). But Jesus is Everything. Is He your Everything? Do you know Him? Would you like to know Him? He might be knocking at your door now – all you have to do is repent from the ugliness of your sins, believe in Him, call on His name, and you too will be saved. You too can experience the unceasing joy that He so so graciously offers. A free gift none of us are worthy to receive but  are offered anyway. That’s true love, folks!

Ok, I told my self I wouldn’t go on a tangent about Christ, but once again I can’t help myself. If I haven’t lost you yet, here’s a bit more of where things are at age 32. Life is great. I can confidently say that. It’s not easy. It’s been stressful. I’ve been told I take this Jesus thing too seriously these past two years. But that’s ok. If none of this makes sense open up your Bible and read. Try to read every day. You will stumble. I stumble often in that area. Anyway – family is doing great. My career is going well in Customer Service. – I am blessed. I’ve also taken on a new job at my church as their media coordinator. I’ve been handing Cornerstone Bible Church’s social media for the last year and that has expanded into other areas of the church including designing church media, helping grow communications, and running their website.

Alright.. this is it for now. Lindsey just asked me what I was doing. I told her I was blogging. She asked me if it was 1999 again. I think that means I need to sign off. Till next time!

Who really won the Creation Debate? It might surprise you.

Wow.. two posts in one month? Incredible.

So, last Tuesday the much talked about debate between Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham took place surrounding the topics of Creation vs. Evolution. This event was hosted at the Creation Museum, by the group Answers in Genesis. It definitely peeked our family’s interest, as we have shared this group’s theology for quite some time and even were able to tour the museum ourselves last October with the kids.  The debate idea came about after Bill Nye had made a YouTube video in which he spoke out on his thoughts that teaching Creationism was a danger to children. Although it would be easy to assume, this wasn’t a debate of whether or not evolution is right or creationism is wrong.  But as expected that is how it was perceived by most everyone in the media. The actual topic of the debate was “’Is Creation A Viable Model of Origins in today’s modern Scientific Era?”

So did anybody actually win this supposed debate of the ages?

Even with the fact  that most people misunderstood the specific topic at hand, I think it’s fair to say we were far outnumbered by secularists in this world to call a clear winner – if you followed Twitter during the debate it’s easy to see what the majority of people felt about the evening.  Before this debate even started I’m sure Ken Ham and most Bible believing Christians realized this wasn’t a debate that was going to be “won”. If before this debate you’ve never considered the Authority of God’s Word, it’s unlikely (yet not impossible with God) that anything Ken Ham said could have changed your mind on the topic. And if you were already so hard hearted to God’s Truth – you were probably one of many who kept your foot outside the door at watching once you realized that the organization itself runs a museum that shows dinosaurs living next to Adam and Eve (something akin and familiar to maybe say.. The Flintstones), and proclaims that the earth is a mere young six thousand years old. If all you’ve grown up and been fed your whole life in science class is Evolution, I can’t say I blame you. I too once accepted Evolution as truth, and wrongly worked it out so it somehow made sense in conjunction with my then closed-minded view of God.

Therefore if you really want an opinion on who won, just pick your side, and read blogs that correspond with that view, and you’ll have your winner. I’m not saying I don’t think Ken Ham won the argument, in fact I do think his argument was sound and with it being rooted in God’s word I’ve had no problems with his view of the origin of life nor any issue with anything Answers in Genesis has produced in the last several years.  If you are indeed Bible-minded I think you will find Ken Ham’s analysis is right on and very convincing as his conclusions are rooted in the same observational evidence that evolutionists and creationists share in the first place.  We just have a different starting point – The Bible.

So, in my mind neither Bill Nye nor Ken Ham won this debate. However, I still believe victory is due. If I had to call a winner I think the obvious champion in the debate was God’s Word itself. Time and time again Ken found an opportunity to preach the “Good Word” itself, and wasn’t that the point of this debate all along?

Secularists will bark at this and say it proves their point Bill Nye shouldn’t have debated with Ken Ham in the first place, but to this camp we are reminded that they are blinded to spiritual things, blinded “to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4), showing that the debate in question was already a closed book for them before it ever began. Ken Ham knew this.

Though God can heal those hardest-hearted of unbelievers and give them the light they need to understand the Truth – the debate was orchestrated by God to save those whose unregenerated hearts were already conditioned and ready for that very moment on February 4th. Those unsaved that God prepared their hearts long ago for this very debate to hear from Ken, the need inside they felt that has dwelled for a Savior. The moment prepared where God finally opened people’s eyes to the Truth. It was for those that on that night or whoever will watch the debate in the future, who have already started to realize the depravity of their sin.

And that is amazing. Because our God is unlike any other religion. Christianity is the one religion where God seeks sinners and saves them with no work of their own. People have already been or will soon be saved thanks to preaching of God’s Word. 

An understanding that dinosaurs lived with men? Noah actually being able to save his family and all animals in a global flood?  Believing that our earth is only six thousand years old?  The discernment to understand those topics will come, and will only come when God opens the eyes of the blind like He has been doing this past week. To that we owe all praise to Him!

Catching Up.

So a very quick random recap of the last year:

I’m thirty now. I’m officially old. It’s 2014. Is it still hip to blog in 2014? I have two children.. I ‘ve been married for more than 5 years. I still live in Indiana. I have been at a job at Roche for the last year that I enjoy. Lindsey works part time from home doing taxes for a small firm. It’s tax season. I love my wife a lot. She’s pretty awesome. It’s really cold outside. It snows every day. There’s 46 days till Spring. We are getting more and more involved in our church here. I was baptized last October. I love Jesus. The Seahawks just won the Super Bowl a few moments ago. Indianapolis is all upset about their quarterback loosing.. I mean Denver’s quarterback. It was a pretty boring game. Josette is making lots of fun noises these days. She has two teeth. Jackson is her number one fan. Jackson is in his last year of preschool. Jackson never goes to preschool because it snows every day. It snows a lot here. I already said that.

.. and that’s pretty much everything since the last time I posted.

I can’t lie – there’s something about blogging that seems odd to me at this point in my life. I have very little free time these days and the little amount I do have I enjoy spending with my wife, my kids, or my church family. Some people might call that boring, but I call that exciting! I really have no complaints. As for writing I’m going to try to stop making excuses and just write from time to time. I honestly don’t have the time, nor the energy to write or complete a full study anymore on here about why I’m a Christian. I’m disappointed I won’t finish that topic on here, but what I will continue is to just be honest and just post the Truth as I see it and post what’s on my mind throughout the weeks or months ahead. If I keep at it this site will become really what it was intended to be all along since I was younger – a journal for my thoughts. I don’t honestly think after twelve years of blogging nobody really cares to read what an old thirty year old has to say, but I will post about topics I’m compassionate about, and most of that is centered around my faith in Christ, which has matured greatly over the last couple of years. Why? Because honestly He is my everything, and it saddens me that not everyone has Christ in their life.

Thankfully though, while I haven’t been blogging, Lindsey and I have had oodles of interesting opportunities to evangelize in our own town. One of the biggest reasons I stopped blogging for so long was that over the last year and a half God put our family in a unique opportunity to evangelize to teenagers and young adult missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Since we’ve really told no one about that other than close friends and family, that might be somewhat of a shock to you. Though God has just recently closed the door on that ministry, He has brought over probably 20 or more different Mormon church members into our home on a weekly basis over that time period. Their intention was always to convert us, but our intention was always just to speak the Truth in love to these young people who are so lost. It was an incredible experience and we made lots of friends in the Mormon faith. It is my prayer every day that we planted seeds in their hearts. We know we can’t save them and only God can, so we just preached the Word and pray that God will continue to work in them.

While this was going on, we wanted to keep it as private as possible, hence why it was hard to blog about my life this last year, since that was such a big focus. Anyway, that’s it for now.  If reading about my faith isn’t your thing, this might not be the blog for you. But that’s ok. I’m also a computer geek and love gadgets and gizmos, so feel free to hit me up on Facebook. Good Night!

 

Now, where was I?

Josette Howell 027

A lot can happen in a year. And 2012 was no exception. 2012 was undoubtedly one of the hardest years for our family, and came right on the heels of what I was hoping to be a long in depth discussion on my family’s faith. When my brother-in-law Chris passed away last year around that time, it literately took the wind right out of me and took my focus off this blog completely.

However, God being the gracious one He is, has continued to bless our family in this last year. Most notably, the addition of our newest daughter Josette Elizabeth on April 18th!  As we are recovering from what has been another new season of our life, I’m thinking about finally continuing where I left off with this blog.

The question is though, do you care? Would you read? Am I wasting my time? With a new job and a bigger family I’m busier than I’ve ever been. But, I have a lot to say. I’ll leave it up to you. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Any specific things you would like discussed? I’ve got plenty of material, but I’ll leave it up to you if I decide to jump back in this thing. One this is for sure, I’ve continued to grow in my relationship with Christ this past year, and He has opened incredible doors and circumstances to give my family to share the good news. My hope is that this blog can continue to be one of these avenues.

So, let’s put it up for a vote. Should I start posting again?

The Authority of The Bible.

theholybiblecloseupeo2Earlier I outlined my statement of faith, focusing on several areas including Scripture, God, Creation, Angels, Man, Salvation, Maturity, and the Church. My goal is, over time, to explain in greater detail most of these topics. Some topics might overlap, but for the most part this will be a good way to keep the flow of this series intact. I do find it very important that I explain why I believe in the authority of Scriptures. To remind ourselves where I stand, here is what I quoted from my last posting:

Scripture
I believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the 66 books of the Old and New Testament. The Bible is the very Word of God without any mixture of error and is therefore our only authority in all matters of faith and conduct (II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:21; Matthew 5:17-18)

If you cannot accept the Bible as the sole authority on spiritual matters, it would be next to impossible to try to examine the other areas of my faith with seriousness. The Bible is simply that important and really becomes the foundation from where we find all of our answers and beliefs in Christianity. I am well aware there are many critics of the Bible, but I for one believe it to be absolute truth and the Word of God, given to us as a gift so that we have the opportunity to learn about the message of Christianity and the Bible as a whole – which is Jesus Christ. But, why? Why believe a book that was written centuries ago? Why place my entire self and beliefs taught from a book, and not in myself? I am a smart individual, I do listen to logic and reason. Is it possible I can have these attributes and have belief in the Bible? Yes. I’ll try to explain why and how I’ve come to the realization that I can depend on the Scriptures and have no doubt in its integrity.

Continue Reading…

My Faith, Stated.

I am writing this series to inform people what I believe to be absolute truth. It is my hope that through these postings that I will be able to give a better idea of my beliefs and be able to offer encouragement to others who are seeking out Christ, or to provide at least some perspective on why I hold so strong to my faith. To Christians and Non-Christians alike, I ask that you please read in the months ahead with an open mind. I realize their might be some differences in opinion or specific doctrine that I dwell on, but ask that we can carry on this discussion in a respectful manner. My intent here is not to save you – only God can open your eyes and ears to the truth. My goal is just to inform you the best I know how, about the grace that God can provide in your life.

I wanted to start by showing part of the church’s constitution that I attend, as its Statement of Faith aligns perfectly with mine. I’ve replaced “We” with “I” to make it a bit more personal. This might seem a bit mundane, but I feel it is important that I showcase this, as I will use it as a foundation for the rest of my posts and will be something that I reference back to continually on various topics.

Continue Reading…

Format Change coming. Christianity, examined.

It is my hope that 2012 has been great to everyone so far! It’s been great to us. As we’ve entered into the last tail end of this winter, I’m reminded again how much has changed for us in a year. It was about this time last year when we were getting ready to move to Indiana. Though 2011 hasn’t seen as quite of a whirlwind of change that 2010 saw in our adoption of Jackson, it is quite obvious our family has a lot of new blessings to look back on from this past year. We have a new home, a new church family and we are making some new friends as well. I tend to sometimes take things for granted, so it is nice to kind of sit back and reflect on things like this from time to time and realize how fortunate we have been. All of these things of course have been a blessing from God to which we owe all praise!

As my life has been nothing but ongoing changes throughout the last year, I’ve felt it’s come time again to revaluate the purpose of my blog. Though I’ve only been at this web address for part of the time, I have been blogging for nearly a decade. Throughout the years if you’ve been with me for that long you’ve watched how I grew into an adult after graduating high school and entering college, how I thought I would forever be cursed to single-hood, to being able to witness watching me grow in my faith alongside my wife Lindsey as we took a big step in following God’s will and adopting our first son. Since then we’ve had our move, as well as myself making the big change from the world of business to the world of a homemaker and kid chaser as a stay-at-home parent.

Continue Reading…

One Glimmer of Hope.

October 18th has become a very special day for our family. Today Lindsey and I celebrate our third wedding anniversary. I am thankful to our God for such an amazing wife and I love her so much! Yet today’s anniversary is shared with yet another exciting celebration as it was just one year ago today that we met for the first time our son, Jackson Scott Howell, on the other side of the world in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Though so much has changed since then, it is hard to believe only a year ago we were just a family of two.

I’ll never forget our first interaction with Jackson. He was excited, yet shaking from nervousness, as one of the nurses introduced us to him on that Fall morning in a small office of his orphanage. At the time he had no clue his entire world was about to be flipped upside down for the better. At the time, he was probably just excited to get out of music class or whatever activity was normally going on in his strict day to day schedule. He had a huge smile on his face when he met us and was happy to pose for pictures with us. (Something we can’t quite seem to get him to do today, as he’s much too busy now!).

That day changed our lives in a special way and showed us God’s amazing love and grace. I won’t go into the specifics in this post, but if you are a new reader to my blog and are interested you can read our entire Ukrainian experience at this link.

However, there was one story we chose not to share publicly on our blog last year.  Since that point in time most of our family, friends, and past church family in Ohio have had the opportunity to hear it. I’ve held back from mentioning it because my goal has always been to share it with a humble heart and in person if it was at all possible, as the story is a great testament of the intricacies and amazing wonderment that makes up God’s will. I want you to know that thanks to our experience in Ukraine last year I know without a doubt that God’s will is perfect. Everything he wills for your life, whether painful or in joy, means something and has a powerful purpose. Most of the time we as humans don’t always get to fully understand why things in life work out the way they do, but God revealed one example to us while in Ukraine that has forever changed my perspective and devotion to Him.

Last year we came in contact online with a family from North Carolina who traveled to Ukraine shortly before us to adopt as well. Craig is a pastor of a church in his hometown along with his wife Jenny and daughter Moriah. They unfortunately did not have success in finishing their adoption process, which sadly is more common than most most people know. International adoption is a complex and complicated endevevour. You are never guaranteed anything will work out and you sign several documents with your agency agreeing to this prior to your trip.

When adopting in Ukraine you are not given a referral usually until the day of your SDA appointment with the government. (This very well might have changed by now – the Ukraine adoption system is re-organizing this year). To give a little background on this family’s trip, they went through two referral processes. After meeting and then declining their first referral, they returned to the capital of Ukraine for a second chance referral appointment, where they were shown the same book of unhealthy children we also were shown prior to accepting our own referral to meet Jackson.

It takes a special type of person to adopt these kind of children who are prepared and willing to adopt children with special needs. But praise the Lord that these children are getting adopted by those who feel called. I have met these kind of people before and they are amazing.

After making the difficult decision to decline their first referral after meeting the child, they were presented with with no further healthy children that they felt they could handle as a family. This family unfortunately had to live through the pain that comes with returning home without a new child.  But through the pain they were reminded of God’s great miracle of life, that at least they would be returning home with their daughter of age 8 at the time.

Below is the sermon Pastor Craig gave to his congregation upon returning home.  His sermon explains the details of their trip more eloquently than I ever could. So I will leave it to you the reader to decide if you would like to  listen and hear for yourself one of the greatest stories of God’s will my family was able to be a part in. We never have met Craig and family in person, but as Craig had explained to me in an email we are ‘mended to your hearts as a reminder of how God does His miraculous work through our steps of faith.’

The sermon is 42 minutes long, but if you are a reader of this blog – Christian or not, I highly ask that you consider giving it a listen. If you’ve ever questioned God’s will in your life, know that God always gives one glimmer of hope.

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Lord, Thank You for my incredible wife and my wonderful son Jackson.

Looking Back, Moving Forward.

As the leaves have mostly changed colors and begun to fall and summer slips away, it’s a reminder of how drastically our lives have changed since last year when Autumn came our way. A year ago today we took our comfortable life style, free evenings to ourselves and typical schedule and threw it out the window as we jumped on a plane from Columbus, OH headed to Ukraine into the world of the unknown. Back then we didn’t know the exact outcome of our trip. Although we now know Jackson was destined to be with us (who is now 3 years old and full of life), at the time we didn’t know if we would end up with a boy or girl as we had just days before been informed that our agency upped our age limit from 3 and under to 5 and under!

But everything worked out and here we are a year later and a lot has changed. A lot of unexpected things have happened and some surprises down the road but it’s safe to say I think we’ve been following God’s word and will the best we know. I’ll speak for myself, but it hasn’t all been easy and has been stressful at times. We are settled into our new life in Indiana, but Lindsey has been very busy at work these last few months which have turned into long evenings with Jackson and I alone holding down the fort until 8 PM or later. So as I’ve been a little exhausted from it all, I’ve took some time away from here and have tried to spend my free time utilizing every minute I have to myself efficiently.

There’s a lot of good to report though – we have indeed found our church home and forever grateful for being around great new friends and influences. The church we attend is very biblical based with no if, ands or buts, and it’s been encouraging to hear our pastor Kirk get so enthusiastic in teaching the Word. Though we started attending in June, they’ve been hitting the Book of Mark since we’ve been here and I think we are on chapter 9. The associate pastor mentioned the other day that they started Mark well over a year ago, so it gives you some context just how detailed the teaching really is!

One of the biggest things we missed when we moved to Indiana was being part of a life group, and within the last month they started up at our church. We are in a great group which meets Friday nights with lots of kids and a manageable amount of families where the discussion is intense and fun at the same time. We are reading a book right now called “Radical” by David Platt and it really encourages you to pick up your cross and stop living a watered down version of American Christianity that is very prevalent in today’s society.

Something different we do that we didn’t at our last church is that the men and women meet separately once a week for coffee to just catch up on each others lives intermixed with Bible reading and prayer. It’s a real intentional way to encourage one another and keep ourselves accountable during the week and I think our new friendships have grown stronger because of it as well. I really like the men in our group and am so happy to have met them! It makes all the difference in the world being surrounding by other men in Faith.

On a personal level I feel God working in my heart and growing in me. In the past few months I’ve really come to appreciate my relationship with Him and with my own son, Jackson. Staying at home has been great, some small hardships aside. As I watch Jackson grow it’s becoming so much fun to raise him and be such an important part of his life. The kid is on the go all the time now and is full of words now and always singing, dancing and laughing. It’s hard to believe just a year ago we were starting our adventure to bring him home. It seems like he’s been with us longer than that. Earlier this month we submitted our first post-adoption report and it was a lot of fun to look back at all of the memories and photos from that time as we prepared it!

As we approach the year anniversary of meeting Jackson a week from today, it’s become a constant reminder of how great our God is. I ask that you pray that in the next week that God can reveal a way for me to explain just how incredible this adoption really was. For those reading that don’t know us personally there were some “details” we left out of our adoption blog journey last year while we were in Ukraine. After a year I think and hope it is the right time to share with everyone how mysterious, yet perfect God’s will is.

Jackson isn’t with us by chance (even with the coincidence we met him our second wedding anniversary!). The story is personal and I just want to be careful when I explain it that it doesn’t come off as prideful. I pray that God would humble my heart as I try to find a simple and short way to explain how God touched the lives of not just our family, but another American family we never had the chance to meet in person, but whose lives we will be intermixed forever in a very special way. Without out a doubt, we serve an Amazing God!