Where Did All the Perfect Families Go?

Marsh Family Pic
 “I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.'” – Billy Graham


We all know there are no perfect families. Adam and Eve, the couple with the best opportunity to earn a perfect score, couldn’t do it. They wound up law breakers and evicted from their home. One of their sons eventually murdered his brother. Not even close to perfect. You’ll have a difficult time finding examples of any perfect families in the Bible.

With Billy Graham’s earthly journey now complete, there is rightly a lot of reflection and honor being given to his remarkable life. I consider Billy Graham one of the greatest men of all time, and personally put him up there near the Apostle Paul.

As great as God made Billy, he was far from perfect. As a husband and dad, he gave priority to his work and spent most of his time away from his wife and children. It took a toll on his family. Some of his children struggled with drugs and alcohol. Three of five children suffered through divorces. Understandably, plenty of imperfections.

Billy Graham’s life is a reminder to me of how God uses imperfect people with imperfect families for his perfect purpose. Billy gave his life to sharing the message of the saving grace of Jesus Christ because Jesus is the only One who can save and heal the world from its sin and imperfections. I’m glad God used and continues to use the less-than-perfect Graham family. And so are the millions of mothers, fathers and children that Billy reached for Christ.

Don’t be discouraged by your family’s faults. God can and will overcome those imperfections for his purpose as you continue to commit yourself and your family to him.

Taste and See—This is Really Good

Disney Pic

“Taste and see that the LORD is good… those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” –Psalm 34:8, 10

It’s difficult to teach children that they’re not lacking something good, particularly when comparing themselves against others or during times of suffering—especially since we struggle to grasp it ourselves. Nowhere does God teach us that those who seek him get everything they want or are exempt from the bad things that occur in the world. Jesus taught us that we will have trouble:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Despite the bad that afflicts every life, God is good and we have no lack of anything good, if we continue to seek him. (See Matthew 6:31-34)

God’s good character never changes during tragedy or heartbreak. There is never any deceit or evil inclination in him, his actions, or as we may perceive, his failure to act. Every evil or wrongdoing is from the evil one, not God. In fact, God has assured us that wherever evil works to do bad in this world, God works for the good of those who love him (seek him):

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” – Romans 8:28a.

God’s good character and purpose are always working on our behalf. Jesus is God’s proof of that to the world. God will always overrule evil because Jesus has overcome the world! For now, we accept this by faith. Someday Jesus will return and fully assume his rule over the world that he has already overcome. Until then, his good purpose is at work in us. We can know that because we know God is only good.

Teach your children to keep tasting and seeing (testing and experiencing) God’s goodness by seeking him. Those who seek him lack no good thing. Even in suffering? In illness?  In death? Yes. Yes. Yes. Those who seek him lack no good thing!

Where else can you find:

This and much more are found only in the One who is good. Keep tasting and seeking him.


But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (2 Corinthians 5:1)

This past week, I’ve been reminded how frail life is. One of our sweetest families suddenly lost their daughter. Other dear friends will see their little girl endure yet another surgery as she continues her struggle with CP.  One of our faithful seniors who serves children has been in ICU battling cancer.  The flu and cold outbreak has knocked the strongest among us off their feet for days.  All jars of clay.

The weakness of our earthly bodies provides a teaching opportunity for children and adults about the temporary life versus the eternal.

The Bad News: Because of the curse of sin, this earthly life is temporary. The body we now have and the time in it is fleeting.  The Apostle Paul describes our temporary body as a jar of clay or earthly tent. These aren’t suitable for permanent living.  As much as we may try to keep our bodies safe from germs, disease and decline (and we should to a point), they still have an expiration date. That’s a big problem.

The Good News: God has solved this big problem because he loves us. He sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, to defeat the curse of sin and death’s power (Hebrews 2:14). Through faith in Christ, God gives life that will never end. By faith, we trust that someday God will swap our failing, mortal body for a completely whole and immortal one. One that will never fail.

What does that mean for us while we live in our weak, short-term housing?

  • Our fragile bodies remind us not to rely on ourselves but on God. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9, 4:7)
  • God has counted the number of days we will live in this earthly tent (Job 14:5, Psalm 139:16)
  • We can trust him to know exactly what is best for us, because he created us for just his perfect number of days and for his perfect purpose (Psalm 139:14, Colossians 1:16)
  • Every day is a gift made by God. We should thank him for every one he chooses to give us (Psalm 118:24)
  • We can’t take this perishable tent or clay jar to heaven. Heaven is reserved for the imperishable. (2 Corinthians 5:4)
  • By faith in Jesus, we can know that we have a new, forever body awaiting us with God (2 Corinthians 5:1)
  • Because of Jesus, we can look forward confidently to the day we trade our failing body for our forever unfailing one (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)
  • Our goal should be to please God with every numbered day he gives (2 Corinthians 5:9, Psalm 90:12)

The Bible says that our earthly life is like a mist that appears for a little while and then it’s gone (James 4:14). Teach your kids that our hope is not in this temporary life but in the life that lasts forever in Jesus.



How God Qualifies Us To Be His Comfort Agents

Sue and Dave with Masks

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The Apostle Paul describes the Lord as “the God of all comfort.” Paul experienced more than his fair share of trouble (see 2 Corinthians 11:22-33), so he knew something about comfort.

When my comfortable state is disrupted by suffering, the first thing I want is immediate return to my comfortable state. I long for the relative ease of my previous condition. However a comfortable situation of feeling chilled out or kicked back on the beach is not the comfort that Paul is referring to.

“The comfort that Paul has in mind has nothing to do with a languorous feeling of contentment. It is not some tranquilizing dose of grace that only dulls pains but a stiffening agent that fortifies one in heart, mind, and soul. Comfort relates to encouragement, help, exhortation. God’s comfort strengthens weak knees and sustains sagging spirits so that one faces the troubles of life with unbending resolve and unending assurance.” – D. E. Garland

When Sue was diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago, we experienced the fear and dread that everyone feels when given that news. Of course, we prayed and prayed that God would heal Sue and save her from our trouble. But equally important, we sought God’s comfort in our trouble.

God offers his comfort in two forms. He gives one level of comfort directly, and another from his qualified comfort agents. You and me.

How are his comforters qualified? Through experiencing trouble AND comfort. That’s why, in addition to calling on God directly, we called on our friends who lead the Cancer Care Ministry at Cottonwood Creek Church. They’ve been qualified by God—through cancer and comfort—to comfort others. As a result, they have been a great comfort to us during these past months.

So, through our trouble and God’s comfort, we are now qualified comforters tocomfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive(d) from God.” 

This is one of the great lessons for our children and grandchildren. God is qualifying us to be his comfort agents through our troubles and the comfort he provides, both directly (by calling and depending on him) and through his qualified comforters. Once we’re qualified, God expects to put our qualification into practice, by comforting others in their trouble.



How to Say “I Love You” without Cymbals


“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

I assume you have hopeful expectations for good things in 2018. Sure, hardships await in some measure. But I hope you anticipate some big things, some great things. With God, all things are possible!

Yet, no matter what we say, accomplish or give in 2018, without love, it amounts to noise. Without love, I sound like “gong and clang” when I speak (ask Sue). My efforts and works are meaningless, no matter how grand.

In chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians, we’re told that love is not only essential, but it is the ultimate Christian value. It never fails (quits or ends) (v. 8). Even faith and hope don’t measure up to the greatness of love (v. 13). This chapter provides God’s criteria to evaluate our love life, from which I’ve created a checklist. This checklist is worth referring to occasionally to help us hear what we really sound like when we think we’re saying, “I love you.”

“I Love You…”
“Gong, Clang, Gong…”
□ I’m Patient with you □ I’m Angry & Irritable with you
□ I’m Kind to you □ I’m Rude & Dishonor you
□ I Delight in Truthfulness □ I Delight in Wrong-doing
□ I Always Protect (on your Side) □ I’m Boastful (Protect me)
□ I Always Trust (Give you Benefit of Doubt) □ I’m Arrogant (Benefit goes to me)
□ I Always Hope (Want the Best for you) □ I’m Envious (Want Best for me)
□ I Always Persevere (in all your Failings) □ I’m Resentful & Unforgiving
□ I Endure All for You (Prefer you over me) □ I’m Selfish (Prefer me over you)

I hope 2018 will be a year of saying, doing and gaining great things for you and your family.

3 Ways Christmas Was Only Meant for Children


 “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-4

1. Christ Came as a Child: Christmas celebrates the day God became a child. Both Son of God and Son of Man, he was born to take away the sins of the world, by living and giving the only sinless life that the world has known. Yet, he took no short cuts nor assumed any special privileges for himself. He was born to humble people in lowly conditions. He required the same love and care that every helpless child needs.

2. Children Gladly Receive Free Gifts: Jesus is the greatest gift ever given. Unfortunately, as we grow, we become increasingly skeptical of “free” gifts. We eventually learn that “nothing in life is free.” There must always be strings attached. A gift, by definition, is free and so is forgiveness of our sins in Christ. Children have no problem with the freeness of a gift, especially the Gift of God’s Son.

3. Only Children Can Receive God’s Christmas Gift: God’s gift of eternal life in his Son cannot be earned. There’s nothing we have to offer to merit this gift. Thus, the only way to receive the gift of God’s Son is through childlike humility, freely by faith. God doesn’t turn away adults for adulthood. He turns away those who attempt to come with self-sufficient pride. God’s Christmas gift can only be received like a child.

This Christmas, I hope you can become like little children, putting aside any pride or self-strength, and freely accept the Gift that God has freely given.

 “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27-29