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Monday, September 19, 2011

"Power to Cure, Power to Kill" - (09/18/11)

James 3:1-12 (Message #7 in James Series)
September 18, 2011

            Many of you know that I am a staunch defender of the American citizen’s right to “keep and bear arms.”  Moreover, I believe that this Second Amendment Constitutional right is in danger here from those who would seek to take away our right to own and use firearms.  They scream, “GUNS KILL PEOPLE!” and people like me yell back, “NO, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE!”
            The truth is that a gun is a tool, like a hammer or a screwdriver.  In the hands of a responsible person with morals, convictions, and training a gun is of no danger to anyone.  On the other hand, there are many things that can be used to injure or kill people.  Any Corrections Officer will quickly back up what I am saying.  In prison, people fashion the strangest, most unlikely things with which to hurt one other.
            In fact, nearly anything you can think of can be used both for positive and negative purposes.  For example, a moment ago I mentioned a hammer.  A hammer is a very helpful tool for pounding, driving nails, or prying on things.  However, a hammer is a deadly weapon if someone hits you in the head with it.  A hammer has the power to build, and the power to destroy.
            Or take a knife… in the hands of a woodsman, a hiker, or a cook a knife is a very helpful tool.  However, in the hands of an armed robber it’s a very different story.  Or think of a doctor’s scalpel… in the hands of a skilled surgeon in the operating room it is a life-saving tool.  However, that same scalpel held to the throat of a pilot by a terrorist can bring down a whole airplane and kill all of the passengers.  That same tool has the power to cure and the power to kill.

            We could, of course, give many other examples of this duality but in our text for today, in James 3:1-12, the writer tells us of something that is potentially more lethal than any of these things I have mentioned.  Turn with me to that passage.

Verse 1: Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. 
  • James starts this section with a warning to all those who aspire to attain a position as a teacher of the scriptures.  While to be a teacher or preacher of God’s Word is a noble calling, it also bears a greater moral responsibility before both God and man.  A person who knows the scriptures can never use the excuse, “Oh, I just didn’t know that.”
  • Notice too that James puts himself into this category: “…knowing that as such WE will incur a stricter judgment.”  He recognizes that he too must one day give an account before God of what he did with his knowledge of the Word.  A pastor’s sevenfold job is to feed, guide, love, protect, train, heal, and correct the sheep that God has placed under his care.  Moreover, I believe that every shepherd will one day stand before God to have his ministry evaluated.  The writer of Hebrews was speaking of that day when he wrote this in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account.  Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

Verse 2: For we all stumble in many ways.  If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. 
  • Here James begins to get into his subject—the tongue.  He recognizes that we are all imperfect in every category.  We all make mistakes and mess up in many different ways.  However, the tongue has incredible power, and can do untold damage in a heartbeat, and is very difficult to tame.
  • He says that if a person can manage to control his tongue, his words, then he will be a truly “perfect person” meaning complete or mature, and will find it relatively easy to control the other parts of his anatomy.  For example, if you know how to tame a Bengal Tiger, then you won’t have any trouble taming the family’s cute little housecat.
  • The language that James uses has been used by skeptics and scoffers to say that Christians are just a bunch of uptight, obsessive, self-hating, prudes.  He talks about “bridling the whole body,” while the world says, “let it all hang out.”  He talks about muzzling our mouths (see also Psalm 39:1), but the world says, “Express yourself, no matter whether people like it or not.”  The Bible speaks of reining in our sexual passions, while the world advocates getting all the sex you can, wherever you can, with whomever you can.  They cry out, “No rules, no regrets!”
  • But it’s not that Christians are repressed; it’s just that we believe in biblically placed boundaries, put there by a loving God for our protection.  The world wants to throw off every boundary, especially moral fences of any kind, believing that will make them truly free.  The truth is, without God’s boundaries, man quickly becomes the worst kind of slave, a slave of his own passions and lower nature.

Verses 3-4: Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.  4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 
  • James uses two examples to show that little things can control big things.  First, he points to a horse’s bridle with the bit that goes inside the horse’s mouth.  That little bar of steel, when placed in the back of the horse’s mouth behind his back teeth, can control a huge war horse.  Pulling on the reins puts pressure on the sides of his mouth.  That makes him turn his head to relieve the pressure.  By turning his head you make his body go in the direction you want to travel.
  • The same principle works with a ship’s rudder.  Relatively speaking, the rudder is very small compared to the ship itself, yet it can make the ship go wherever the helmsman leads it.  Even in rough seas and with strong winds the little rudder forces the ship to go wherever the captain wishes.

Verse 5a: So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. 
  • Here we have the conclusion, based on those last two illustrations.  James says, in the same way that the bridle bit and the ship’s rudder are both small yet can control something much larger, so also the tongue, though it is a small part of our anatomy, it wields a huge influence.
  • “…it boasts of great things.”  Our mouth is what we use to brag and boast.  It’s also what we use to tell lies.  It’s what we use to curse and carry on arguments.  It’s the instrument of gossip and slander.  Need I go on?  If we are honest we will have to admit that our mouth gets us in more trouble than any other part of our body.

Verses 5b-6: See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!   6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 
  • We are still in the 2011 fire season.  We’ve been watching the out-of-control wild fires in much of Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.  And right here in Oregon we have wild fires raging even today.  Though some of those fires were started by lightening strikes, many of them were ignited by a spark from a car or from a carelessly thrown cigarette.  We all know that a huge fire can be started from one tiny spark.
  • James says that the tongue is a fire, and though small, it can do a world of damage.  He says that it can defile, or make dirty, the rest of our life.  That’s because our tongue can verbalize every sort of sin including covetousness, idolatry, blasphemy, lust, and greed.  These all find expression through the tongue, and consequently, James says, “…it defiles the entire body.”  Moreover, he says that the tongue-fire comes originally from hell itself.  Picture this: the fire from hell lights up the tongue, which in turn, sets on fire the whole “course of our life.”  By the way, the word here translated as “hell” is actually the Greek word, “Gehenna,” which was the name of the smoldering, stinking, rotting, putrid garbage dump outside the walls of Jerusalem.  It was the constantly burning place where the carcasses of animals would be dumped, where all of the refuse of the city would be burned, where the filth of society would be dealt with.  The fires would never go out because there was always plenty of fuel to keep them going.  Gehenna is used in the Bible as a metaphor for the horrors of hell, and is the word that James uses here to describe the motor that runs our mouth.

Verse 7: For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed, by the human race. 
  • We read in Genesis 1:27-28, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  28God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”  Humans have been doing that ever since.  In fact, man has pretty well learned to subdue and control every creature on the planet (except for my dog, Bubba, of course).  We’ve trained falcons to hunt for us.  We’ve trained dogs to find lost hikers and sniff out drugs.  We’ve trained pigs to dig up truffles for us.  We’ve taught apes to talk to us using American Sign Language.  We’ve trained elephants to paint pictures for us.  We’ve trained giant tigers to jump through burning hoops to entertain us at the circus.
  • We can control big animals, but sadly, most of us still haven’t figured out how to control our own big mouth!  And just look at the results.

Verse 8: But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 
  • James makes it sound here like Mission Impossible.  But is that what he really means?  He says “no one can tame the tongue.”  Does “no one” here really mean “no one”?  Of course not.  What is impossible with man is possible with God.  Through Christ our tongue can be tamed but we can’t do it on our own.
  • James portrays the tongue as “a restless evil.”  That gives it a kind of built-in malevolence, an evil nature.  He says too that it is “full of deadly poison.”   I believe he is making reference here to Psalm 140:3, a verse well known to his readers.  It goes, “Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men 2who devise evil things in their hearts; they continually stir up wars.  3They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; poison of a viper is under their lips.”  The Carpet Viper and the Desert Horned Viper, both common to that part of the world, were the most poisonous creatures known in that day.  In both cases, their bite would usually result in a horrible, painful death, drug out over several days.
  • James’ point, of course, is that the tongue can likewise bring about death, and in very painful ways.

Verses 9-10: With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 
  • Here James shows that like the tools I mentioned earlier, which can be used for good or for evil, the tongue can also be a wonderful instrument for praising God and for blessing people, or it can be used for cursing and condemning.  We have a choice in how to use our tongues.
  • “My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”  Just because something can be done, doesn’t mean that it should be done.  You and I are free to use our tongues however we choose.  However, there is a right way, as God intended, and a wrong way, as our old nature prefers to do things.  God created man to have fellowship with Him forever.  He fashioned man’s mouth to offer up praises to Him.  However, like everything else that God meant for good, in our fallen state we use it for evil.  James says, “…this ought not to be,” because to use our mouth for evil is incongruous with God’s purposes.

Verse 11: Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 
  • The obvious answer to this question is, “NO, of course not.”  A fountain or a spring only gives off one kind of water.

Verse 12: Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a [grape] vine produce figs?  Nor can salt water produce fresh. 
  • A second illustration with similar question, expecting a similar answer: “NO, a fig tree can never give olives and a grape vine can never produce figs.  Neither can salt water produce fresh water.”  Now don’t get hung up here.  No illustration ever walks on all fours.  We all know about desalinization plants that produce fresh water from sea water.  And we all know something about grafting on kind of fruit tree onto the stump of some other kind of fruit tree, but those things never happen in nature, without some kind of human intervention.

            So what does James want us to take away from this passage today?  What is the point, the bottom line?  Several things stand out to me.
1.       First, the warning to teachers jumps right out at me.  I believe that the job of interpreting and explaining God’s Word to others is a huge responsibility and should never be taken lightly.  All of us who teach or preach the Scriptures, no matter what the setting or the age group, need to take this seriously.  But before you write yourself out of the story, how about our job as parents to teach and explain God’s Word to our children and grandchildren.  I believe the principle applies there too.
2.      Secondly, in our flawed thinking about the relative awfulness of the sins we commit, we tend to put more emphasis on sins of commission—i.e. doing bad stuff.  For example, we all admit that stealing, killing, cheating, worshipping idols, and committing adultery are terrible sins.  However, we tend to put mouth related sins in a different category.  We don’t lie, we “tell stories” or little “white lies.”  We don’t gossip, we “share a prayer request.”  We don’t fight, we have “spirited disagreements.”  We don’t curse and condemn, we “tell it like it is.”  In general we downplay the negative things that our mouths can do and make excuses for our lack of control in this area, not recognizing that the tongue has the power to kill.
3.      Thirdly, on the other hand, we fail to see the power of the tongue to heal.  Our mouth, when filled with the Word of God and empowered by the Spirit of God has great potential for good.  With our mouth we can bless God and thank Him for all He is and has done for us.  With our mouth we can tell a person about the love and grace of God and lead him to put his trust in Christ.  With our mouth we can build up a person and make him feel like he matters to us and to God.  With our mouth we can bind up emotional wounds from the past, and give new hope, and tell a child he is loved, and make a friend’s day.  The tongue has the power to cure, and the power to kill.  How we choose to use it is up to us.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Show Me What You've Got" - (09/04/11)

James 2:18-26 (Message #6 in James Series)
September 4, 2011

            When someone truly believes in a cause, that belief will change the way that person thinks and lives.  For example, if I truly believe in our Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms”, then I’m not about to vote for any politician who is doing his dead-level best to take that right away from me.  If I am truly pro-life and believe that abortion is a terrible sin, then I am not going to send any money to Planned Parenthood.  If I truly believe that it is morally wrong to steal, then I am not going to go out and hold up a liquor store just because our finances happen to be a little tight this month.  My deeply and sincerely held beliefs will always translate into actions that are in keeping with those beliefs.  Actions always follow beliefs.

            In the same way, genuine saving-faith will naturally produce God-honoring good works; the two always walk hand-in-hand and complement each other.  When a person comes to truly believe in Christ as Savior and Lord, good works follow as the attesting marks that the conversion was genuine.  This is the point that James is wanting to make in our text for today.  He is defending the premise that faith, if it is genuine, never travels alone—it is always accompanied by good works that declare and model God’s greatness, love, and compassion and bring glory to Christ’s name.
            He was emphasizing this point in response to some in the Early Church who were saying that all you had to do was believe the right stuff and say the magic words and you were automatically saved, regardless whether or not there was any observable evidence of a changed life.
            But lest you think that this was just a problem way back then, I would point to the millions of people in this country who claim to be “born again Christians” because they said a prayer, or walked an aisle, or got baptized as a baby, or went through confirmation class.  Yet their lives give off no sign or signal of a person who really knows Jesus.  It’s all just talk and deception.

Verse 18: But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
  • Here James anticipates what his critics might say about what he has just written in the preceding verses.  But rather than running away from the debate like some others do, he charges right in.
  • Now before we can move on you need to know that the ancient Greek manuscripts had neither punctuation nor quotation marks.  Therefore, scholars have long argued about where we should place the quotation marks in this verse.  The KJV, NIV, RSV and others close the quote at the end of the phrase, “You have faith and I have works” (closed quote), treating this as a complete sentence.  Whereas, the NASV and a few others run the quote all the way to the end of the verse.  While in general I like the NASV better than the others, in this particular case I have to go along with the rendering in the KJV.  I believe that the phrase that follows in the second part of the verse is James’ challenge and rebuttal.
  • In other words, the objector might say in his own defense, “So you have your faith and I have my good works.  I think that one is about as good as the other.”  But James has a bone to pick with anyone who would make such a claim.
  • He says, “OK, show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  Let’s have some show-and-tell here.”  He’s confident to call them on this because he knows that there is no such thing as genuine faith that is barren of good works.  He knows that they cannot show him such a thing because it doesn’t exist.

Verse 19: You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
  • Here James refers to the doctrine of the unity of God, which was a fundamental article of faith in Judaism.  (Remember the Shema of Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel!  The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”)  He says, “You do well if you believe that.”  However, his point is that unless their belief produces real spiritual fruit then their faith is no greater than that of Satan and the demons who are also monotheists.  The demons tremble when they hear the name of God but not out of love and respect.  Their kind of belief does not lead to reverence, submission, and obedience but rather to rebellion, hatred, and disobedience.  They know He is One but they still hate Him!

Verse 20: But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless [barren]?
  • James is talking about dead orthodoxy.  A person can know the truth and believe in it intellectually.  He can give mental assent to everything that Jesus ever taught, and tragically, still go straight to hell when he dies, because salvation is not based on merely knowing the facts, but also acting on the facts.
  • James calls the person who separates faith and works a “foolish fellow,” which means empty-headed.
  • This verse functions as a hinge, a lead-in to the textual support that James is now going to use to prove his point.  Like a lawyer building his case, the first piece of evidence he introduces is the example of Abraham.

Verse 21: Was not Abraham, our father, justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?
  • “Abraham, our father…”  Abraham was considered to be the father of the Jewish people, who were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s sons.  The apostle Paul, in Galatians 3:6-29 goes one to say that Abraham was also the father of all true Christians because Abraham staked his life on God’s promise of a Savior, Jesus, who was yet to come.
  • This verse has sent many for a loop because it sounds on the surface like James is preaching salvation by works.  But we know that isn’t true because of what he says down in verse 23 where he connects Abraham’s salvation, not with his works, but with his belief in God’s promise of a coming Savior.  To put it another way, Abraham really got “saved” up in Genesis 12:1-9 when he believed God’s promises about a Savior, a land, and a nation that would come from his loins.  Then later on, recorded in Genesis 15:1-6, this faith in God was solidified even more so that we read in verse 6: “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”  In Romans 4:1-5 Paul speaks at length about this very text.  He brings in the example of Abraham to prove that salvation by faith is clearly taught in the Old Testament:  1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?  2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  3For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  4Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  5But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness…” 
  • But observe, here in verse 21 James is referring to an event that took place many years after Abraham got saved, recorded in Genesis 22:1-19, when in obedience to the Lord’s command Abraham took his son, Isaac, up to mountain and prepared to offer him as a sacrifice to Jehovah.  You’ll note that James here is using the word justification in the sense of “proved” or “verified.”  He’s not using it in the judicial sense of being declared “not guilty” the way Paul uses it.  To paraphrase, James is saying: “Was not Abraham’s faith proven/verified by his actions when he offered up Isaac?”  In other words, his act of unquestioning obedience was the verification and attestation of his absolute faith in God.  His willingness to do such a thing was proof of the reality of his previous salvation experience.  Or to put it yet another way, Abraham’s sacrifice of his son was the “justification” (i.e. proof, validation—by James’ use of the word) of his previous genuine “justification” (i.e. declared innocent of sin in God’s sight—Paul’s use of the word).

Verse 22: You see that [saving] faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;
  • Saving faith co-labors with good works, not for the good works to provide salvation, but for the salvation to empower the good works.
  • Notice that James says that the works “perfect” the faith.  The word he uses means “to bring to completion, to fill in any gaps”.  Thus he says the good works serve as the completion of the salvation process, in the same way that the sweet, juicy apples are the completion/perfecting of the apple-growing process.
  • I know of no better scripture to use to show this than Ephesians 2:8-10.  In the NASV it reads, 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” 
  • Now listen to it in the New Living Translation: 8God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  10 For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” 

Verse 23: …and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called “the friend of God.”
  • Here James cites Genesis 15:6 to show that Abraham’s belief/faith in God resulted not only in his leaving his homeland looking for the place that God had promised to him, but also later in his willingness to trust God with regard to his son, Isaac.  In both instances he acted on his faith, thus proving its genuineness, and God put this act of faith to his righteousness account.
  • By the way, there are three places in the Scriptures where Abraham is referred to as “the friend of God” (cf. Isa. 41:8; II Chron. 20:7; and here).  I can think of no higher complement to pay to any human being.

Verse 24: You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 
  • This verse is really the answer to James’ question that he posed up in verse 14: “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works?  Can that [kind of] faith save him?” 
  • Here I’m quoting from the Wycliffe Bible Commentary in their note about this verse: “Bare, unproductive faith, cannot save a man.  True faith will demonstrate itself in works, and only such a faith brings justification.”
  • But I would warn you not to read too much into this verse.  James is not building a case for a doctrine of salvation by works.  He is not speaking here about justification in the salvation sense, but rather, the vindication and verification of Abraham’s faith by his willingness to act upon it.

Verse 25: And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
  • As another illustration James pulls a story out of Joshua 2 to show that real faith will result in good deeds.  However, this second scriptural example stands in stark contrast to Abraham.  Rahab was a woman, a Gentile, and a prostitute.  Yet James chose her to show that his argument covers the widest range of possibilities.  His point is that she, like Abraham, evidenced her saving faith in God by action.
  • Rahab’s story is found in Joshua 2:1-21.  There we learn that despite her evil past she came to believe in the God of Israel, and she committed her faith and trust to Him for her salvation.  Then when the opportunity arose she hid and protected the Israeli spies that had been sent to spy out Jericho, saying to them: “The LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”  Her faith in the true God led her to act upon that faith and perform a deed of kindness that resulted in the saving of her whole family when the city was later destroyed.

Verse 26: For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
  • James points out that the relation between faith and works is just as close as that between the body and the spirit.  The two things are inseparably linked.  Life is the result of the union in both cases.  When the two elements are separated, death results.
  • This verse sort of encapsulates James’ whole argument from verses   14-26: namely, that genuine faith will always be evidenced by genuine God-motivated good works.  In the absence of those attesting works we can rightly conclude that the faith is not genuine, but rather a counterfeit faith, dead as a doornail.  Dead faith produces dead works.  Living faith produces living works.  You can judge a tree by its fruit.  It’s as simple as that!

            I want to close this study by reading an explanatory note found in the Nelson Study Bible.  It is a short essay entitled, “Faith and Works.”
            The great reformer Martin Luther, champion of the doctrine of salvation through faith alone, never felt good about the Epistle of James.  He called it an “epistle of straw” in the preface to his 1522 edition of the New Testament, and he put the book in the appendix.  He preferred Paul’s wording of the faith-works equation: “A man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28).
            In a sense, Luther had little choice.  He was surrounded by men who said that good works could save you.  He knew that God alone could save through faith alone, and his mission was to tell them.
            But Luther went too far when he put James in the appendix to the New Testament.  Neither faith nor works can be cut off and thrown away.  James was taking aim at freeloaders, those who claimed to have no need for good deeds since they had faith.  The reality is that if you have faith, works will naturally be a product.  You cannot get rid of works just because they do not save you.  You cannot sever the effect from the cause.  Just as an apple tree will bear apples, so faith will produce good works (see Luke 6:43-44).
            Paul had the opposite problem in view when he wrote Romans.  His letter targeted those who placed their faith in the Law of Moses.  Their trust was in their own good works, and not in God.  That is why Paul wrote a defense of faith, and that is why Luther preferred it to James’s defense of works.
            Faith and works are not enemies.  True faith and righteous works go hand in hand.  They are two parts of God’s work in us.  Faith brings a person to salvation, and works bring that person to faithfulness.  Faith is the cause; works are the effect.  James believed it, and so did Paul.

            So what do we take away from all this?  How will this text change our lives this week?  Why is this teaching so important for “Christian” people today?  Do you know anyone who claims to be a believer yet shows no evidence of the presence of Christ in his or her life?

About Me

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Since 1994 I have been the pastor of Sellwood Baptist Church in Portland, OR. Before that I was a missionary in South Brazil for many years. Until just recently I have also served as a police chaplain with the Portland Police Bureau. Now, however, God has a new assignment for us. My wife and I have been appointed with WorldVenture and are preparing to move to Ireland to help plant a new church in Sligo, a small city in NW Ireland. I'm married to Ramel, a crazy, beautiful redhead that I love more than life itself. We have three great kids, Jonathan, Chris, and Simoni who have given us ten wonderful grandchildren. We are truly blessed.

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