Thoughts from a Very Thankful Dad

Do you remember as a kid, when your teacher or some other adult would come into the room where you were sitting and call out your name, “Is there a Jane Doe here”?  You would quickly throw up your hand and shout “That’s me!”  You were so excited that someone was calling out your name.  Sometimes, it meant you were in trouble for doing something wrong.  Haven’t we all been there?!  Ha ha.  But regardless of the reason, this name-calling from someone in authority indicated he or she had something important to give or tell you…you were being singled out!

Or, I’m sure you recall flipping through the pages of an old family photo album (or flicking left or right on your smart phone for modern readers :) ), when suddenly, your mom comes across a baby picture of Little Johnny, and immediately you would exclaim, “That’s me, that’s me!!”  Your eyes would light up and a huge smile would pop out on your face when your mother recognized you as her darling little boy with the milk mustache. You were such a special child to her!

Well, Big Kids, listen.  Have I got great news for you!  If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you are identified by the Creator of the universe, our Heavenly Father, the Mighty God, as His child by faith in Christ!!  God tells us in His Word in John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”!!

Hey, guess what?  That’s me!  That’s me He is referring to!  It’s the scrawny kid with dirt on his face and mud all over his shoes that has been pointed out by the Everlasting Father as one of His very own children!  The tiny babe in the manger, Whom we celebrate this Christmas season, Nativity came to earth to die for my sins, to take my place, so that I could become a part of His holy family!

What a glorious thought, that the King of Glory would want to acknowledge such a sinful person as I!  But because of His sacrifice at the Cross, I can flip through the pages of the Holy Scriptures and wave my arms high in praise to the Great I AM and shout “That’s Me! That’s Me!”  He made ME a child of the Living God!  And He’s waiting to save You too.  Believe in Christ today!

A Chilly Day in Hot Springs

My wife and I had the privilege this year of spending Thanksgiving in Hot Springs, Arkansas with our kids. As you may recall from an earlier blog post, our son Jordan is a student at the Bible college in town, so our eldest son Seth came up with the notion a while back to drive down and spend the holiday with him. And what a wonderful idea it was!! We had a blast, enjoying great food and family fun with our sons and daughter-in-law! While we certainly missed the usual November holiday feast at “Grandma’s house”, it was such a blessing to share a lot of close-knit moments with just our grown children at a rented condo on Lake Hamilton.

Although the air was quite chilly compared to the balmy 100-degree temps we basked in during the initial trip to the Spa City back in the summer, we didn’t care at all. Being together as a family was all that mattered. While we were there, we returned to the National Park, and, along with all our children, once again enjoyed the sights and feel of the amazing natural wonder of nearly-boiling water gushing out of the rocks! Even the extreme coolness of the Autumn air could not overpower the warmth of the mountain springs. Seeing the rising steam reminded me of this fact even more.

Shortly after this scenic adventure, as He so often does, the Lord showed me another awesome lesson in His greatness. The breathtaking sight I described above reminded me that when we experience periods in our Christian life in which the air feels cold, and sometimes even dark and lonely, knowing Jesus as our personal Savior can bring the glow of his grace to our hearts! Salvation’s consuming fire can drive out the biting chill of depressing thoughts, and its assuring embers can rekindle the flame that may have unexpectedly become frozen by the fierceness of life’s wintry breath.

So if you suddenly find yourself in the midst of frosty days in your walk with Christ, whether self-inflicted or due to no fault of your own, please take heart…the all-sufficient One promises in His Word that He will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5).  The warmth of the Water of Life flows on forever!

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Why Fear Not?

Here it comes again! This time it is from the other side, where we least expected it. This nightmare called fear has struck our heart yet again. We said we would be ready the next time we faced it, but once more, it has caught us off-guard, leaving us shaking like a leaf.

For you, it may be the concern of having enough money to provide meals for your family, or for some, the dread of a new day dawning, and what it may bring to an already downtrodden spirit. Fear is a real thing, and nobody understands how realistically it affects your daily living until faced with it oneself. However, there is good news…we don’t have to live each day in terror! God’s Word tells us many, many times to “Fear not”. Old Testament and New, the Prophets and Jesus Himself encourage us frequently to not be afraid.

As believers in Christ, we know those two simple words are strong enough to defend us against the Enemy, yet it’s not uncommon to question why it can sound so easy to do, yet be so difficult. But there is hope for our times of misgiving! One of my favorite Bible verses shows us a couple of reasons why we do not have to be afraid. In Isaiah 41:10, we at first see the familiar “Fear thou not”. Then, following this potent phrase are two powerful truths that can give us the courage to believe.

Why fear not? Because the Lord says, “I am with thee”. What Security! The great I AM, who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, promises He will not leave us all alone to face our fears. As He was with Moses, so He is faithful to stay by our side through any apprehension we face. Praise God for His promise to never forsake us in time of need!

And why else should we not fear? Because He also declares “I am thy God”. What Sovereignty! The Creator of the Universe cares enough about His creatures to encourage us not to dread the unknown. He is powerful enough to help us conquer each and every worry, no matter from which direction they come!

Is it natural to be dismayed and cower down when life’s uncertainties present themselves unexpectedly? Absolutely! But Isaiah assures us why we don’t have to be afraid: Our sovereign God holds us securely in His arms. We can be courageous when we trust his unfailing Word!

Rejoice with me as The Collingsworth Family reminds us to “Fear Not Tomorrow”!

 

 

 

A Warm Send-Off

Recently we took our youngest son Jordan to begin his college days. It was one of the hardest things my wife and I have had to do in our lives. Yes, right alongside giving our oldest son Seth in marriage a few years ago, and her battle with suffering a massive stroke just a few months after the wedding.

Of course, take absolutely nothing away from the traumatic experience of her stroke itself, and the ups and downs of her continual but steady road to recovery since; yet, she herself has admitted several times that having to let go of our last son has indeed been nearly the most difficult struggle yet.

At least with the first goodbye, we gained a wonderful daughter in return!!  And, our eldest and his wife live only 80 miles away. However, this latest send-off landed the “baby” not 80, but 800 miles from our house!  Suddenly, the “Empty Nest Syndrome” we heard other parents talk about for many years had come to fruition with a flurry!

As tough as it has been the past several weeks now having NO boys at home, the Lord has brought us great comfort in knowing that His guiding hand has without a doubt been upon our sons. He has blessed their life-changing decisions, and has safely lead them to the places they need to be at this time in their lives. And this has warmed our hearts.

The college Jordan chose, after many months of prayer and Godly counsel, is Champion Baptist College, located in Hot Springs, Arkansas! Actually, God chose this school for Jordan, and there is no doubt in our hearts about it. Feeling called of God to preach His Word and sing His songs of Praise, the small school with the large heart and long distance from Home has turned out to be a perfect fit! God knew all along that the coldness we would feel inside of seeing our final child branch out on his own (at least temporarily), would be replaced by the snug feeling of knowing He is following God’s will for his life.

The city of Hot Springs gets its name from the literal steamy flow of water out of the surrounding hills…water hot enough to nearly scald your hand. Trip to Champion25

This has made this beautiful area one of the top tourist attractions in the country for many, many years. As we visited this historic town on our trip to release our son into this brand new adventure in his young life, we were able to enjoy the literal sweltering temperature of the natural fountains of water in that place, but more importantly, we were greeted with the warmth of Christian love, and the fiery presence of the Prince of Peace!

Yes, it was extremely difficult saying goodbye once again to our final eighteen-year-old, but what a warm Send-off, knowing that now both our sons are in the hands of Someone Who can take care of them much better than we ever could!

“They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.” – Isaiah 49:10

Singing in Chapel

Have you ever heard of Providence? Your first thought when you hear or see this word is most likely the Capital of the state of Rhode Island, right? It’s a really neat place, if you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit this city. My only trip there was way back in the year 2000, on business, and I was fortunate to also be able to take my whole family along for some sightseeing and a little getaway. We were able to split up the trip into 2 days, stopping off overnight in Jersey, just across the river from the mighty Big Apple, and were able to take a tour of the Statue of Liberty! What a beautiful sight to see, and a historical moment in our lives, with plenty of pictures as remembrances, especially the one I took of my wife and our boys with a backdrop of the Twin Towers!

Then onward we journeyed, after this magical day, to our final destination, for the main purpose of my trip….business in Providence. The meetings were great, as usual, and the family got to have some fun in this nostalgic old city. Two of the best memories I have of Providence, Rhode Island, were the family entertainment at a restaurant called “Dave & Buster’s”, and the visit to one of the many lighthouses that don the rocky Atlantic coastline in that area of New England.

I have not been able to return yet to that beautiful capital city in the Northeast, but I have had the blessed privilege of occasionally experiencing a Providence of another kind, and most recently, one also involving a road trip.

Instead of traveling northeast on this trek, our family was headed southeast….for a little mini-vacation to Myrtle Beach. And along this highway journey, again towards the Atlantic Coast, we encountered Providence yet again….but not the city. This time it was the mighty Providence of God; His awesome guiding Hand on our lives! On one stretch of Interstate 73, our car suddenly had a major tire blowout, so severe that the object I ran over punctured not only the tire, but also the aluminum rim it was on! I had never seen anything like this in all my fifty years. Praise God for his protection!

As defined by Webster’s Dictionary, “providence” means “divine guidance or care”. Our family definitely experienced God’s guidance and care on that eventful day!

Not only did He allow me to safely steer the car from the passing lane over to the berm of the roadway, he protected my son and I against high-speed traffic in rainy weather as we put the temporary spare on the driver’s side rear. After we returned to the interstate, and found refuge at McDonald’s at the next exit, I began praying about whether to carefully and slowly continue on to our destination with the spare, or seek a nearby tire and rim dealer that may still be open on this late Friday afternoon in early August.

Providence was there that day, not in Rhode Island, but in North Carolina. We searched and found several Hyundai dealers, and finally one indeed had the needed rim in stock! Divine guidance and care was at work, preparing the way. After purchasing the new rim at the dealer, the Parts guy was gracious enough to call around the city for an “open late” tire shop.

Providence was found again. A tire facility was located in the same local area that not only had the size of tire we needed, but the business stayed open untll 8pm. Because of divine guidance and care, we were able to have the work done soon, and continue on to our beach destination for a late-night, but providentially safe, arrival. God had amazingly granted every need we had due to that unexpected event. When things looked precarious, Providence prevailed!

The Bible may only mention the word “providence” once, and that referring to the kindness of a Roman politician (Acts 24:2), but there are many verses which speak of our Father’s divine care and guidance in our lives. One of my favorites is Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” What a comforting truth!

Although I would love to return for an evening at “Dave & Buster’s” and other fun sites in that great northeastern Capital city, I am thrilled that we as believers in Christ can enjoy a visit to spiritual Providence any day, especially when we least expect the trip!

Isn’t it very easy to get down in a world full of negative words and phrases?  It seems discouragement thrives amid the pressures of daily life, causing many people to make statements like “Hopelessness Abounds”, “I’m against impossible odds”, or, one I’ve said many times myself when a situation looks bleak:  “There is no way possible!”.

The fact is, these quotes have a lot of truth in them.  Truth, that is, if we try to trust only in ourselves, and seek a path that leads us away from the Hope of the world.

However, quite the opposite is true when we decide to trust God for our daily living.  We can overcome despair by filling our hearts and minds with the positive promises in His Word!  Countless things are achievable when we trust God.  “The possibilities are endless” when we allow the Lord to fill our hearts with His truth.

Saving Grace

More than anything else in this world, we need salvation from our sins.  This is impossible to earn by our own merits, but God provided the Way to have our sins forgiven through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ.  The Bible says, “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” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  About this saving grace, Jesus Himself told His disciples, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Superior Faith

After we are saved by God’s grace, we can then experience faith that exceeds any other on earth.  Jesus told his disciples, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed… nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20).  When the troubles of this world are trying to drag us into a negative attitude, we can keep positive by exercising extreme faith in the Creator of the Universe.  When we trust fully in Him, what looks impossible becomes very possible.

Supreme Guidance

Although this journey of life is filled with ups and downs, and often we cannot seem to clearly see the path ahead, we are positively assured from God’s Word that by trusting the Lord wholeheartedly, acknowledging Him in all we do, “He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  The difficulties of the road may seem impossible to bear, but we can confidently trust our Faithful Guide to lead us onward and upward!

 Supernatural Blessings

Not only will trusting Almighty God carry us through life’s storms, we can expect to receive an abundance of heavenly blessings even when it appears we have lost everything.  Although we feel totally worthless, and so undeserving of any good thing from the Lord, He assures us in His Word He has forgiven us, and He delights in lavishing us with His goodness.  What a wonderful Savior!

So beginning today, don’t let the gloominess of this world send you spiraling into the depths of defeat.  All these things and more are possible for the child of God who places his trust in Him.  “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

Yes, the possibilities are endless for those who believe!

Tonya & Me1

“Best of the Class!”

Yesterday, my “verythankfuldad” self-proclaimed nickname took another step forward in a major way.

Our youngest son Jordan, who will be graduating May 22 as Valedictorian of the Elk Valley Christian School class of 2014, had the honor of participating in the Charleston-Huntington TV station WSAZ’s annual “Best of the Class” program. Together with more than 200 other top seniors from the Tri-state area high schools, he donned his cap and gown for this pre-graduation ceremony in front of TV cameras and news reporters…and needless to say, some very proud parents…including me.

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First, I should say I’m quite thankful he even asked me to tag along, let alone to drive him to this prestigious event more than an hour from our home. After all, tons of the soon-to-be graduates came “stag”, pulling up in their own cars, or perhaps borrowed from their folks. But this very thankful dad was invited as the guest of an Honor Graduate, and he let me know quickly what a privilege for his old man it was. Ha ha. Of course, he wished his Mom could’ve joined us, but she wasn’t “up to” the crowds…which she predicted very accurately! So, Dad alone it was, his least-favorite parent, that got to enjoy the colorful scene of high school academic all-stars from West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. Jordan was named earlier this year to the WV Christian School basketball all-star squad, and now has earned a spot representing his school with the best of the academic talent across the area as well!

Not only am I (and certainly his mother as well) extremely proud of my son’s accomplishment, being included in this once-in-a-lifetime elite group of high school seniors, I am also grateful for what God has done in his life, and the desire he has shown to serve the Lord with his divinely-bestowed talents.

And not only am I thankful for Jordan’s being named to this academic award, I am also overwhelmed with joy to think that all we who have trusted Christ as our Savior have been included in God’s “Best of the Class”! Can you imagine that?
The seniors I watched yesterday gathered for that special event were there due to their merits of outstanding achievement, hard work and hours of studying. But we? We have done absolutely nothing to earn favor with a Holy God…to be named in a group with other undeserving senior saints such as Moses, David and Paul. Yet God sent Heaven’s “Best” to give His life for our filthy rotten sins, so that through His grace and mercy, we could be so unworthily named to His “Best of the Class”. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (I John 3:1)!

Now that’s the Best of the Best!!

 

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