Friday, October 28, 2016

Expressions of Faith: Live


For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

(1 Peter 4:6 NIV)

Live

Peter reiterates that Jesus preached to those who lived prior to the first Christmas.

In the case of the imprisoned spirits, God provided a miraculous event to ensure all people had a chance at salvation.

The miracle we live with is the birth of our Savior and the knowledge of His message in the New Testament.

Don’t expect God to provide another miracle like Christ’s visit to the imprisoned spirits. He has a plan in place . . .

Today each of us as Christians has a responsibility to assist in spreading the Gospel message.


How’re you doin’ with that?
For that matter,
How'm I doin'?

Next Friday's Expression of Faith Series: The Will of God

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My website is: www.crdowning.com

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Timeless Truths Series: Body Building - The Choice


The next three weeks present excerpts from a series titled Body Building.

Timeless Truths Series: Body Building - The Choice

Series Theme: 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Ephesians 4:15-16

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:27
All Scripture quotations are from the NIV.

God’s Design: I am uniquely gifted…
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)

  • A spiritual gift is given by God, discovered and used by me, for the good of the Body of Christ.
  • We all have a passion for something. God wants us to be passionate!


My Choice: Will I believe it?
  • This is more than a mental understanding.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)

God’s Design: I am uniquely gifted for the common good of the church.
 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
  • This is the opposite of the worldly approach to giftedness.
  • We must all do our part or something’s that “supposed to happen” won’t happen.


And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
Ephesians 4:11-12
  • We are designed to be actively involved in the Body of Christ!


My Choice: Will I embrace it?
  • What is your motivation?


God’s Design: I am uniquely gifted for the common good of the church and my own growth in Christ-likeness.
  • As we impact the church through our gift, we grow in our spiritual life.

13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Ephesians 4:13-15
  • When we operate in our area of giftedness, we are slowly transformed into who God wants us to be.


My Choice: Will I be transformed by it?

Believe, Embrace, and be Transformed by God’s gifts to you.
  • What is your gift?


Today’s Body Building Principle:
God’s Design but Our Choice

Special thanks to Dr. Keith Newman for the primary teachings used in this post.

Next Thursday's Timeless Truths Series: Body Building - The Warm-up

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My website is: www.crdowning.com

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Monday, October 24, 2016

A Science Guy's Almanac - In Memory of My Dad


I know this is not the post advertised in the last Almanac. Coaching memories continued – Track and Field - Track Events will post in two weeks.


I promise.

Every day Liz at The Writing Reader - https://goo.gl/09yqCt - puts up a writing prompt with ideas for Fiction, Journaling, Poetry, etc. I use them periodically. Some fit into what I’m writing at the time—I wrote a short story, Freedom’s Just a Word, using three of the prompts as major plot points. Other’s just struck my fancy. Still others result in writing like this blog post—a fusion of old and new writing based on: 

Prompt #1881 – Dying at Home
Journaling: Write about an experience you had with someone who was dying.

Owen Edward Downing was born on October 23, 1919. He would have been 97-years old yesterday, but he wasn’t. He went home to heaven on September 21, 2002.

My dad was a do-er. If you needed help doing just about anything, he was you're your go-to guy. Yard work, plumbing, painting, driving a bus, if it was doing, my dad did it.

He and my mom bought a brand new Chevrolet Kingswood 9-passenger station wagon in 1960. Back in those days, seatbelts weren’t even optional—they existed only in racecars. On more than a few Sunday mornings we packed that station wagon with 15-16 kids picked up for Sunday School.

We used to drive back to Indiana where most of my mom and dad’s family lived. We’d drive back at least every other year because, apparently, Route 66 only allowed cars to travel from West to East and then back to the West. VERY few of our relatives made the drive to California from Indiana—East to West, although once the Interstate Highway system was up and running, we had a few more Hoosiers come to The Golden State.

After we bought the Kingswood, my dad built a toolbox that spanned the width of the station wagon. He wired a speaker from the AM radio in the dashboard into one end. Most of the time, the toolbox contained tools. On trips to Indiana, it served as the “demilitarized zone” between the folded down middle seat and the folded down rear-facing back seat. That barrier made the long hours on the road much less confrontational between my sister and me.

Throughout his life, my dad donated well over 30 gallons of blood. He had to stop donating when he turned 80. While there was an age restriction, he’d been granted an exception because of his physical health. The problem at 80 was a form of leukemia that manifests itself in males of his age group.

Before, during, and for some time after WWII, my dad cleaned the 5"/38 caliber guns on his ships with benzene—now a known carcinogen. In addition, nearly all insulation on the ships was asbestos. Dozens of other now-banned chemicals were in common use during most of my dad’s active duty.

I don’t know if any of Dad’s military activities contributed to his leukemia or not. It doesn’t matter either way. No one knew of the long-term effects of those chemicals at the time he used them. My dad just lived his life.

What ultimately caused my dad to go to his doctor was the combination of what the blood bank told him and his fatigue. He started a regimen of blood transfusions. Over time, the transfusions were required at shorter and shorter intervals.

When his primary care doctor suggested transfusing every other week, I suspected my dad was nearing the end of his life

During the latter weeks of the transfusion regimen, I went with my dad, mom, and sister to Dad’s oncology visits. I knew more biology than any of them, and I wanted to be able to ask a question or answer a question once we got home based on what I’d heard.

What happened at Dad’s last visit to the oncologist is worthy of reporting. It occurred within a week of the suggestion to go to twice-monthly transfusions.

Dad’s oncologist was a retired Navy doctor. As such, he always called my dad Chief, although by this time Dad had been retired for 40 years.

“Chief, you’ve got to make a decision.”
My dad nodded.
“We can put you in the hospital and give you chemotherapy treatments. If we do that, you’ll die in the hospital from the treatments.”
My mom inhaled sharply. My sister looked shocked. My dad leaned forward, ready for the next option.
“Or, you can go home, not take any treatments, and die there, in a place you know and with people you love and who love you around you.”

While the reactions of my mom and sister remained pretty much the same, Dad’s entire body relaxed. He sat back. I can’t say for certain, but I remember a visible cloud of peace settling over him. There was only one choice in his mind.

The last time my dad left his house was Labor Day, 2002. He, my mom, sister, and brother-in-law were there for grilled burgers. Dad started strong, but he tired quickly and had to be helped to the car.

For a week, my mom and my sister took care of Dad in his home. When it was obvious that there would be no rallying at this point, they contacted Dad’s primary care physician. The next Monday, hospice came to my parents’ house.

During the initial visit, hospice explained that Dad would not want to eat.
“It’s not that he doesn’t like your food, Mrs. Downing,” the hospice worker said. “And, he’s not being mean. He’s not going to eat because he’s not hungry. As his body begins to shut down, it doesn’t need food.”
Dad nodded as he reached out and grasped my mom’s hand.
Mom didn’t react to the news. Mom’s cooking is legendary among family and friends. People often “stopped by” around meal times for that reason. She’d already tried to get him to eat more.
I knew Mom had heard what was said, she didn’t pull her hand away.
“Probably within a week, Owen won’t feel like getting up out of bed, either,” the hospice worker continued. “Don’t worry about that either. We’ll be by to check on him. We’ll put a mat on the bed in case there’s an accident. Once he starts staying in bed, there aren’t many of those issues.”
By the time the hospice worker left, everyone was more relaxed. The mood of the living room softened. It felt peaceful.

Two days later, a hospital bed was delivered to the house. The day after that, Dad had the hospice worker help him onto the bed for the last time.

It was weird visiting the house after that. Dad was still “there,” but not as a participant. He became an observer, responding only when we went to him, and then only in a minimal way.

On September 21, a young woman whose family had unofficially adopted our family as their own asked if she could come and sing a song to Dad. Mom said, “Of course.”
She was singing the third verse of “Thank You (for giving to the Lord)” when he became agitated.
The singing stopped. The “adopted” family gathered their things and left. 

Not more than half and hour later, with the nuclear family gathered around him praying, my dad gave a deep sigh. That was followed by what has been dubbed the “death rattle.” I thought the “death rattle” was a myth. It isn’t.

I checked for a pulse, on Dad’s wrist.
Nothing.
I checked again on his carotid artery, but I knew he had died.
The lack of pulse confirmed my suspicion.
My dad was a Golden Glove and Navy boxing champion. His body was muscular his whole life—more than mine, even when I played football.

Owen "Demon" Downing after winning the Asiatic Fleet Heavyweight title. He beat a Marine, which made the victory sweeter in his eyes.

That night, I distinctly remember how gaunt his arm looked but how heavy it was. Odd memory.
I said, “He’s gone,” or something like that.

I don’t remember exactly what we did after that. I don’t think I cried then. If my mom, sister, and wife didn’t, I’d be surprised.
Someone called hospice. I suspect it was my brother-in-law.
They contacted the Medical Examiner.
An ambulance arrived.
One of the attendants was a young woman whose family had been part of our church.
That made the situation less surreal.

I think my mom spent that night at my sister’s home.

My final memory is the empty hospital bed in the living room.

I hope your take away from this blog is a sense of comfort or completeness. Do I miss my dad? You bet! But,

I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 (New International Version)


I choose to believe that I’ll see Dad again. We’ll greet each other in heaven some day.


Next Almanac: Coaching memories continued – Track and Field - Track Events

Follow me on Twitter: @CRDowningAuthor
My website is: www.crdowning.com


Friday, October 21, 2016

Expresssions of Faith: Imprisoned Spirits


After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits
(1 Peter 3:19 NIV)

Imprisoned Spirits

Many non-Christians consider God as a harsh autocrat.

They ask.
  1. How can Jesus be the only way to salvation?
  2. What about all the people who lived and died before Him?


Peter is very clear about Christ’s actions after His resurrection.
  • Jesus took His message to the souls who had died before His ministry.
  • They all had a chance to accept Him. 


What must it have been like to spend thousands of years in the torment of uncertainty? There’s no indication that these souls were in hell. But, they were not in heaven either.

What must have been the relief to feel God's love as they accepted Christ's message and invitation.

What must be the torment be if they rejected Christ’s message and FOREVER exist completely absent God's love?

  • You must choose to accept or reject Christ’s offer of forgiveness.
  • I must choose to accept or reject Christ’s offer of forgiveness.


Each human has to make that choice.


Why not choose to accept Christ right now?

Next Friday's Expression of Faith Series: Live

Follow me on Twitter: @CRDowningAuthor and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CRDowningAuthor
My website is: www.crdowning.com

I'd appreciate your feedback!

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