Exploring a Potpourri of Biblical Ideas and Godly Living

Greetings once again friends!

This is Episode five of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Some Gave All.”

Today’s episode is a special recognition of Memorial Day, 2021. Click here to listen to the audio podcast.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia

Today, also, I am thinking about two of my great-grandfathers whom I know were Civil War veterans, and my father who was a veteran of the United States Marine Corp during WWI.

Thomas W. Fenton, 1832-1901
My father’s paternal grandfather
Wounded in the Battle of Marks’ Mill
Cleveland County, Arkansas, April 25, 1864
Prisoner of War, Camp Ford, Tyler, Texas
My Father
Claude C. Fenton, 1896-1972
Adolphus A. Stuckey, 1838-1915
My father’s maternal grandfather
Emigrated to America from England, 1857, age 19
Enlisted in Illinois to serve in the Union Army
Honorably Discharged
Naturalized as a United States Citizen, August 24, 1865

I’ve put together a few thoughts to share with you today related to this holiday. I hope they will be meaningful for you as we remember loved ones who are no longer with us—plus toward the end of today’s episode I’ve included some important lessons we can consider.

Quite frankly, I don’t think I became aware of Memorial Day until I was about 13. That’s when I discovered that the Indianapolis 500 race was always held on Memorial Day. When we turned on the radio that morning in 1959, we discovered that the opening ceremonies were underway — and being broadcast live on our little local station KREW in Sunnyside, Washington.

Our family wasn’t really very race car oriented, but the Indy 500 was a pretty exciting event. We listened until the the race got underway. The announcers brought everything alive with their descriptions, and we could hear the sound of those powerful engines screaming around the 2.5 mile track.

But, we had other things to do that day, so we turned off the radio and headed out the door. When we returned a few hours later, I was amazed that the race was still on—although they were nearing the end.

I have no recollection of who the winner was—I suppose I could look it up—but somehow, listening to the Indy 500 back then brought an awareness of Memorial Day to me which I didn’t have up until that time.

And, even after that, it wasn’t until quite a few years later that the Memorial Day holiday began to take on a deeper, far more important meaning for me.
Eventually, I looked up the history to understand the reason it was part of our annual national calendar of events.

It seems there are several versions of how the holiday began. But, all historians agree that the movement to recognize a “day of remembrance” was an outgrowth of the American Civil War. In that terrible conflict over 620,000 Americans lost their lives. There was no community—large or small—that was not affected by the war, and fallen soldiers were buried in cemeteries from tiny church yards to huge tracts of land.

Suffice it to say, great grief touched nearly every home, every family, every city, town, and village in America.

Following the war, a movement sprang up—led largely by women, war widows and mothers who had lost their sons, daughters left without a father, and others who also sensed a deep loss of loved ones.

This movement was originally called “Decoration Day.” The graves of the fallen were decorated with flowers as symbols of love and appreciation for their efforts and sacrifice.

Out of all the stories telling how “Decoration Day” began, my favorite comes out of Charleston, South Carolina. Near the end of of the war, thousands of Union POWs were herded into makeshift camps near the city. Living conditions rapidly deteriorated, making life truly miserable for the prisoners.
One of these camps was on a former racetrack, where things got so bad that over 250 prisoners died from exposure. They were buried in a mass grave located behind the grandstand.

The end of the war began on April 9, 1865 when Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant’s Union Army of the Potomac.
Just three weeks later, on May 1 of that year, more than 1000 people—the vast majority of whom were recently liberated slaves—gathered at the Charleston racetrack to consecrate a new, proper burial site for the fallen. The assembled group sang hymns, gave readings, and placed flowers around the cemetery, which they designated for the “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

“Martyrs of the Race Course”
Charleston, South Carolina
May 1, 1865
Recently liberated slaves gathered to honor Union soldiers
who died as Prisoners of War in Charleston.

Three years later, General John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of Union Civil War veterans, issued a decree that May 30 should become a nation-wide day of commemoration for all soldiers killed in the conflict. General Logan was the one who gave the name “Decoration Day” to the holiday. Following the 1880s, the day was also often called “Memorial Day.”

May 30 then became the designated date for each annual “Memorial Day” for remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their military service. In 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect, which moved Memorial Day from May 30 to the “last Monday in May.”

Over the years, observance practices have expanded to not only to remember casualties of the Civil War, but to further include those lost in all American wars. Plus, many families now also decorate the graves of loved ones on Memorial Day—regardless of whether the deceased individual had any military experience or not.

Our Memorial Day holiday today has become a special time to pause for reflection, honor, and appreciation for the legacy of those we loved, and must not forget. I’d invite you to meditate for a few moments now, by listening to this simple bugle solo of “Taps.”

(P.S. Listen carefully to hear the birds also singing in the background. (Love it!)

USMC Bugle – “Taps”

So, let us consider a few lessons we must plant deep into the soil of our hearts.

  1. Freedom is not free.

The cost is dear—literally millions of lives have been lost to gain—and then preserve—our freedom. Rivers of blood have been shed for this sacred cause. The sacrifices have brought unspeakable pain and suffering. We stand today in the shadow of their wings. We must never forget:

“Some gave all, for Freedom is not free.”

2. The cost of our spiritual freedom is also beyond measure.

One of the early Christian “fathers,” Tertullian (c.155-c.AD 220) famously said, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of [of the church].”

In the Christian era, hundreds of millions of believers who stood firm, unwavering in their faith in Christ, paid the ultimate price with torture, persecution, and death.
Our heritage of faith has been delivered to us at the cost of immeasurable personal sacrifice by our spiritual forebears.

Our freedom in Christ must never be taken for granted. Let us resolve therefore—in the power of God’s grace and the risen Christ—

  • To never forget the cost of our freedom (both spiritual and political);
  • To live with integrity, dignity, and honor, regardless of challenges, persecutions, or personal pain;
  • To cherish the ultimate promise found in Revelation 2:10 —

“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

Next week I’m going to tell you about a hugely popular author I’ve come to enjoy over the last few years, and share some glimpses into several of his books that I have found quite profound and thought provoking. I think you will enjoy knowing about them, too.
I hope you can join me for that.

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode four of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “My Life-long Friends.”
This is the third of a three-part series focusing on and exploring our understanding of God—including thoughts about the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

In the Fall of 1951, my parents enrolled me in First Grade at Outlook Grade School, which was located less than a mile from our house. I was pretty excited to start school. My older siblings were already in school, and I was anxious to join them. During the two years after my brother Beryl started, Mother “home-schooled” me, teaching me to read, so by the time my turn came I was primed and ready to go!

Outlook Grade School
Near Outlook, Washington, USA
Circa 1940s-1980s

I’ve always been an outgoing, social person, so I loved being with the other first-graders. Other kids my age from around our farming community were there, and we quickly formed bonds of friendship—some of which still continue to this day.

There were other boys, like Billy, Alonzo, Robert, Larry, Paul, and Leon. Some of the girls were Linda, Judy, Lois, and Renee. A lot of our first-grade classmates are no longer with us. Others I’ve lost all contact for them and have no idea if they are even still living. But, there are a few others with whom I’m still friends all these years later.

Plus, we added some classmates during those early elementary school years, too—kids like Raymond, Phil, and Tony.

Quite a few years back, Ruth and I were living in Ohio, and I got a letter announcing a planned reunion for my Outlook class. I was excited! I really wanted to go, but it was on too short of a notice, and I was unable to change my schedule.

I decided, however, that although I couldn’t be there in person, I could record a video and send my greetings to all of them that way. It worked! And I was delighted a few weeks later to get a return tape from the group with a personal greeting from each one present. That was pretty cool!

The next year, however, when the class planned another gathering, I determined to go. I did, and it was wonderful connecting in person with each of those friends from our childhood days.

There’s just nothing quite like being there!

I have to digress here for a moment to share a story about the value of “being there.”

Back in the 1960s, Dan Hanna, Sr. was a legend in his own time in and around Portland, Oregon. Dan was the person who developed the idea of a drive-through car wash. He began in 1955 with one unit in Milwaukie, Oregon—a suburb of Portland. Four years later by 1959, Dan Hanna’s “Rub-a-Dub” Carwash locations had expanded to 31 in and around Portland.

Dan began to get national attention and was able to start marketing his systems to other places. In record time his company was selling and installing “Rub-a-Dub” equipment nationwide. He far outsold and outpaced every other competitor in the field.

Although there were many reasons someone would want to by “Rub-a-Dub” equipment, Dan Hanna had one winning factor his competitors lacked.

He owned a Learjet.

An early-model Learjet 23, similar to the one in the story.

When a phone call would come in with someone inquiring about purchasing a “Rub-Dub” carwash system, Mr. Hanna would take the call himself. A typical conversation might go something like this:

Hanna: “Where did you say you are located?”

Caller: “Fargo, North Dakota.” (It could have been anywhere in the country.)

Hanna: “Great! Let me see . . . I see your main airport there is Hector International. I could meet you there in about three hours. Would that work for you?”

Caller: “Sure! I can do that.”

Hanna: “Okay. I’ll see you at the airport this afternoon!”

With that, Mr. Hanna would take off in the Learjet and head for Fargo. He’d meet with the prospective customer, maybe even take him for a ride in his super-impressive plane, and return to Portland with another signed-and-sealed deal to deliver and install a “Rub-a-Dub” system, this time in Fargo, North Dakota.

There’s just nothing quite like “being there.”

So, what’s all this have to do with “life-long friends,” and our understanding of God?

It’s all in that one sentence: “There’s nothing quite like being there.”

If you want to have the greatest and best connection with friends—whether from recent times or from long ago—there’s nothing quite like being with them in person!

If you are a business person or in sales, regardless of your product, there’s nothing quite like meeting your prospective customer directly.

There’s just nothing quite like being there!

And, our God, the Great God of heaven and earth, knows that.

In the Garden of Eden the Creator came “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8) because He wanted to be with Adam and Eve in person.

Following the entrance of sin, Adam and Eve had to be separated from God because sin cannot exist in the presence of a holy God. They were expelled from the Garden in order to preserve their lives—and to make it possible for God’s already-in-place Plan B—the Plan of Redemption and Salvation—to go into effect.

Even so, the Creator still wanted to be with them, to fellowship with them, and to teach them so many things He wanted them to know.

To that end, God preserved Noah and his family from destruction in the Flood. He continued His presence in the human experience through the line of Noah’s son Shem. Centuries later, God entered into a covenant with Abram—whose name was later changed to Abraham. Abraham became known as “the friend of God,” and everywhere Abraham journeyed he built an altar to Yahweh.

Then, a few more centuries pass until some of Abraham’s descendants (through Isaac and Jacob—aka “Israel”) are led by God out of Egypt in the Exodus.
At Mt. Sinai, God instructs Moses, “Let them make me a Sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).

God wanted to be with His chosen people.

At the dedication of Wilderness Tabernacle—and later at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem—The Shekinah glory of God’s presence literally moved in and took up residence!

The very real presence of God was right where He wanted to be—living just next door to them, first in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle, then in the Temple.

It was God’s great desire to be and become Israel’s “Resident God.” There He could live in their “neighborhood,” and help them grow into His design that they should be “a nation of priests” to represent Him and His love, mercy, and grace to all the rest of the world.

Eventually, of course, the “Resident God” came to Earth in the person of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary. He lived as a man among men—one of US—not only living “next door” in the presence of the Shekinah glory, but actually walking in human flesh, fully God, but also fully man.

After Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection, He ascended back to Heaven where, as the Book of Hebrews tells us, He serves as our Great High Priest, representing Adam’s race to the Father, and sending the gifts of the Father’s love back to us.

Before Jesus left to go back to the Father’s side, He promised to send “another Counselor, the Holy Spirit,” to live—not only with us, but in us! For all who willingly open their spiritual heart, the Resident God will come and take up residence.

What an incredible prospect! The “Friend” who sticks “closer than a brother” knows full well, there’s nothing quite like being there!” And, through the Person of the Holy Spirit, the God who loves you, saves you, guides you with wisdom, and gives you strength, also gives you His promise, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say about this: “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law” (Galatians 5:22, 23).

And, writing to the Colossians, Paul says, “It has pleased God to tell his people (the Jews) that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory” (Colossians 1:27).

So, we see through the Bible’s testimony that the work of the Holy Spirit is to make the presence of God known at all times and places.

  1. At the time of Creation, the Spirit moved upon the face of the waters.
  2. At the time of the Incarnation, the Spirit moved upon Mary to bring forth her Holy Son.
  3. And, at the time of a “new birth,” the Spirit moves upon the sinner’s heart to bring forth new life.
  4. It was the Spirit who inspired the ancient prophets to write the messages of Scripture.
  5. It is the Spirit that gives energizing power for ministry and service in God’s Name.

Yes, God knows.

There’s just nothing quite like “being there.”

And, that’s really where we come into the picture. In the Name of God, and moved by the Holy Spirit, we are sent as ambassadors of grace to a world of ungrace. We are to be carriers of hope to a world without hope.

In the words of Jesus’s prayer, we are to be “in the world, but not of the world.”

For what purpose? Why are we to be “in the world?”


there’s just nothing quite like being there

accompanied by our life-long Friend, and carrying Him with us into a world He longs to redeem and save.

Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

Next week’s episode is scheduled to post on Monday, May 31—a day set aside to remember and honor the memory of deceased American military personnel. I will be sharing a special Memorial Day message in that post. Be sure you are subscribed to the podcast, then watch your email or text messages letting you know when it’s ready.

I hope you can join me for that.

This is Episode three of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “My Brother’s Love.” This is the second of a three-episode series focusing on and exploring our understanding of God—including thoughts about the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

On the campus of Father Flanagan’s Boys Home near Omaha, Nebraska, there stands a small statue of one young boy carrying another on his back. It’s not entirely clear from the statue, but the reason for the one boy carrying the other is that the smaller one is crippled. His legs didn’t function well, and he had difficulty walking.

“He ain’t heavy, Father . . . he’s m’ brother!”
Located at Father Flanagan’s Boys Home
Boys Town, Nebraska, USA

One day, as Father Flanagan was walking across the campus, he saw this scene in real life with the older, stronger boy carrying his friend. The priest stopped and chatted with the two for a few minutes.

In the course of the short conversation, Father Flanagan remarked to the older boy that it must be difficult to carry someone else around on his back like that.

The young man answered, “He ain’t heavy, Father. He’s m’ brother!”

Those words are inscribed on the base of the statue commemorating that momentary, but profound statement.
Father Flanagan was so struck with the wisdom and attitude of this student, and his cheerful love for the younger boy, that he shared the story far and wide to illustrate the mission of Boys Town, USA. Eventually, that little encounter grew into a major theme for the ministry.

I have personally visited Boys Town and have seen that statue with my own eyes. Such a beautiful concept—expressed in real life for one young man for another!

“He ain’t heavy, Father! He’s m’ brother!”

Last week I shared a bit about my childhood home—a big old house in the farming community near Outlook, Washington. I mentioned that I was the fourth of four children born to Claude and Oral Fenton. I had two older sisters and a brother that was about 28 months older than me.

Beryl Dean Fenton, 1943-1986
Senior Photo, Sunnyside High School
Sunnyside, Washington, USA

I guess we had a fairly normal brother-to-brother relationship. We were totally loyal to each other, but between the two of us, we were pretty fierce, struggling competitors. We did “carry” each other—as brothers will—but we also had some pretty horrific fights!
Beryl was more athletic than me. He did much better in active sports, for instance, than I ever could. He loved basketball. I was more of a football lineman type.

He was also a much superior musician. He played the 120 bass, piano keyboard accordion very well, and he could tell instantly if I played a wrong chord on my guitar after I learned to play it in later years.
When he got married, Beryl asked me to be his best man. And, when my turn came a few years later I was proud for him to stand with me at my wedding, as well.

When I finished Seminary training with my Master of Divinity degree, I can still hear the admiration in his voice as he said, “Loren, I am proud of you!” You can’t imagine how much that meant to me then, and still means to me now.

Sadly, Beryl’s life ended far too soon. He died at the early age of 43 from liver failure. We never found the cause for his condition. It was a sad day for our family and his many friends when he breathed his last.

His life impacted the lives of people from all levels of society in the Yakima Valley, from bankers and businessmen, to fellow farmers and hired hands, to his Native American neighbors of the Yakama Indian tribe, to his high school classmates, as well as extended circles of family, friends, and loved ones.

My brother Beryl was well loved. And I know he loved me. If it would ever have been necessary for him to carry me for whatever reason, I know I could have heard him gladly say, “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother!”

And, yet, the Bible tells us that we have a “friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). That “friend” is Jesus. He even calls us his brothers and sisters!”

So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11 NLT).

The Old Testament Isaiah’s prophetic pen recorded these immortal words nearly 700 years before the birth of Jesus:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

The child of Isaiah’s prophecy was Jesus, who is also called Immanuel, “God with us.”

He was, in fact, the One who created the heavens and the earth. Colossians 1:16-17 says, By Him [Jesus] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible . . . And He is before all things and in Him all things consist.
Jesus was the “Word” of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-3).

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14).

Let’s pause just a moment and consider what it means for Jesus to be called “the only begotten of the Father.”
This expression is translated from a Greek word, monogenes, which, literally translated, means “the only one of a kind.”
In other words, because Jesus is both fully human—and fully God—he is totally unique. There is no one else in heaven or earth that is like him. He is completely “like us” in his humanity, but he is also completely “like God” in his divinity.

As a human, standing in for Adam, Jesus won the victory over temptation and sin where Adam failed, gave up his life as the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and ascended to heaven as our “Elder Brother” where he serves as our Great High Priest in the Heavenly Sanctuary.

The writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews says this:

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christian believers in Ephesus, [God the Father] seated Him [Christ] at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Ephesians 1:20).

Then, a few verses later, Paul writes, [God] raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6)

And Jesus himself told the disciples after his resurrection, All authority [power] has been given to me in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).

So, let’s summarize and review these few thoughts about Jesus:

  • Jesus is completely at peace calling you and me his brothers and sisters.
  • The child of Isaiah’s prophecy was Jesus, who is also called Immanuel, “God with us.”
  • He is the “Word” of God—the One through whom all things were created and are sustained.
  • He is the “monogenes”—the “only one of a kind”—the “only begotten Son” of the Eternal Father.
  • He is the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
  • He is our great High Priest in heaven today, representing our needs to the Father of grace and truth, and delivering the gifts of the Father’s love to us through the constant presence of the Holy Spirit.

I can almost imagine Jesus telling the Father about me, “He ain’t heavy, Father. He’s my brother!”

Indeed, friend. Jesus is our heavenly brother who loves us more than any cost or any trial. The Son of God came to Earth and became the Son of Man so he could take our place on the cross of sin and shame. In exchange for our record of sin, he gives us his own record of righteousness.

All we have to do is accept his invitation to join the family.

I’d invite you to do that right now, right where you are. Just say to him, “Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. I need your forgiveness, and I accept your gift of purity, righteousness, and your promise of eternal life. Please, come into my heart as you have promised. Amen.”

And I can almost hear the Savior say, “Welcome home, my brother! Welcome home, my sister! Welcome home!

Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

Next week we’ll conclude this short series focused on understanding more about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Our study next week will be about God the Holy Spirit. I hope you can join me for that.

Greetings once again friends!

This is Episode two of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “My Father’s House.”

This is the first of a three-episode series focusing on and exploring our understanding of God—including thoughts about the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

I thought I’d begin today by sharing a little bit about my childhood home.

As some of you already know, I was the youngest of four children growing up on our family farm near Outlook, Washington, located east of the Cascade Mountains in the farmlands of the Lower Yakima Valley.

Our house was a big, old farmhouse with a distinctive, almost classic structure.

Some of you might like to see a photo of the old house, although this shot is from a later time after our family no longer lived there. But, you can get a good idea of what it looked like.

Historic Fenton Family Home
North Outlook Road
Outlook, Washington, USA

Our family lived there for forty years! My parents and three older siblings moved in about two months or so before I was born. I grew up in that house and lived there until leaving for college when I was 18. My mother continued living there after my father passed away until she could no longer live alone. At that time the house was sold, and the Fentons no longer had a presence there.

In the minds of many community old-timers, however, the old house on North Outlook Road is still “the Fenton house.”
I’ve driven by it a number of times through the years, primarily just to take a little trip down memory lane. That house holds a truckload of childhood memories for me.

(A poem by Edgar A. Guest from a generation ago comes to mind—“It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house to make it a home.” And that certainly was true for our house.)

It provided shelter from the storms of life, both literal and social.

We experienced times of great laughter, and many tears.

That place quite literally became the Center of my World! It was a base for all the dreams of my childhood and teenage years.
In later years, wherever I was in some distant place—even overseas— I always figured out how far it was back home to Outlook. And, still today, whenever I chance to drive past, there is a tug at my heart because my roots grew so deeply there. Recently someone has begun some repair and restoration on it. I’m looking forward to how that turns out!

But, enough of nostalgia, let’s move on.

Truth be told—as much as I loved the place where I lived all during my growing-up years, from those early days of life until this very moment right now, I’ve been learning about another “home” waiting for me “just over the hilltop.”
Our Heavenly Father has a place prepared just for me — and for you, too(!) — in the beautiful Earth Made New that John wrote about in the Book of Revelation, chapter 21.

Here’s another wonderful promise I dearly love, found in the Old Testament:

1He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust’ (Psalm 91:1-2 NKJV).

In this verse, an unknown ancient song writer identifies the “dwelling place” of the person who believes in and puts his/her trust in God. That “home”—that “abiding place”— is in the “secret place of the Almighty.”

The word “Almighty” here is translated from the Hebrew language expression El Shaddai.

According to Strong’s Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary, the title Shadday (sic) really indicates the fullness and riches of God’s grace, and would remind the Hebrew reader that from God comes every good and perfect gift—that He is never weary of pouring forth His mercies on His people, and He is more ready to give than they are ready to receive.

(That quotation is from Strong’s word listing #7706, for all you Bible students who may be into dictionaries and concordances and similar reference materials.)

All I can say is, “Wow!”

I’ve always understood “El Shaddai” to simply mean “The Almighty,” indicating the great Creator God’s ability to accomplish anything and everything He wanted or decided to do.

Okay, all that might be well and good, but here Strong’s dictionary expands that basic idea with the focus on God’s limitless mercy and grace!

The “secret place of the Most High”—the very heart of God—is our spiritual home!

That “place” is the unquenchable fountainhead of everlasting agape love—the inexhaustible source of Creation, forgiveness of sin, restoration, and renewal.

No wonder the Apostle Paul exclaimed, I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).

And, again, By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV).

So, let’s explore a few more verses in the Bible that help us know even more about our heavenly home, and even more specifically, truths we can discover about our Heavenly Father.

Luke 15:11-31 records Jesus’ parable about a lost son—commonly referred to as “The Prodigal Son.” Much of the story focuses on the arc of the son’s life—from restless farm kid to party animal in a “far country” to his tearful, repentant return to his father’s house.

However, I’m thinking this story should be labeled “A Father’s Unconditional Love.” My guess is that most of you listening to this podcast are already familiar with this story. It’s one of the most repeated stories of the New Testament.
If you happen to NOT know the story—and even if you HAVE heard it countless times—I’d encourage you to get your Bible, look up Luke, chapter 15, and read it again.

In my book My Seven Essential Daily Prayers I speculate in one place about the possibility that a young Jesus working with his earthly father Joseph may have become acquainted with the family of the two boys in his story.

Right during the time when Jesus was growing up in Nazareth, the regional so-called “king” of Galilee undertook the rebuilding of a city called Sepphoris as the capital city. It was a project that took many years from start to finish.

Sepphoris was only about five miles north of Nazareth, the home of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. A great construction project like this would certainly need skilled workmen—including carpenters and other tradesmen. If, in fact, Joseph worked to help build Sepphoris, it is not unlikely that his young son Jesus might accompany him to the job sites to help with the work and, in the process, learn the carpenter’s trade.

With the swelling population, there would also be a critical need for farm produce to supply the food markets in town.
We know from Jesus’ story about the young prodigal that his family were farm people. They had hired workers, servants, some cattle, and undoubtedly grew some food crops as well. We actually don’t know the location of their farm, but Galilee around the area of Nazareth and Sepphoris was rural, farm country.

And again, it’s only speculation on my part, but I like to think that perhaps the young Jesus working with Joseph, and the two boys of his parable accompanying their parents to deliver food to the markets in Sepphoris, may have become acquainted there—perhaps even counting each other as friends.

But, back to the story itself—and what it says about our Father God.

First, the father never gave up hope for his son’s return. When he saw the boy coming down the road—starving, filthy, and dressed in rags—he RAN to gather him into his arms.

Love and grace won the day, and lavish gifts poured from the father’s rejoicing heart. His own robe. His own ring. His own sandals for the barefoot boy. Strike up the band! It’s time to sing and dance. “This my son,” he cries, “was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” (vs. 32).

What a beautiful illustration of our Heavenly Father!

The Apostle Paul writes, Because you are [adopted] sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ (Galatians 4:6-7 NKJV).

And, Jesus instructed his followers, When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him (Matthew 6:7-8 NKJV).

A few chapters later Jesus says, Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31 NKJV).

Are you beginning to get the picture of how much your Heavenly Father loves you? I don’t know about you, friend, but as I think seriously and deeply about God’s immeasurable love and grace He has for me, I am just blown away!

“Wide, wide as the ocean,
High as the heavens above,
Deep, deep as the deepest sea
Is my Savior’s love.
I, though so unworthy,
Still am a child of His care,
And His love teaches me
That His love reaches me

Now, there’s one more thing we need to look at before we close out this little study about our Father God.
Reading through the Bible you will find many names for God. Twelve of these names in the Old Testament begin with “Yahweh” (or “Jehovah” in the old KJV). Then, each of these twelve names are hyphenated with another word which expands our understanding of God’s nature.

Being the curious person I am, I wondered—what might be the underlying root meaning of “Yahweh.” Again, Bible dictionaries and concordance prove their worth!

The ancient Hebrew word for God’s name is known as “the Tetragrammaton.” IT contains only four letters—all consonants. If you speak with someone well-versed in biblical languages, and mention the “Tetragrammaton” that person will know immediately what you are talking about.

The Tetragrammaton is often translated simply as “LORD” (using all caps) in our English-language Bibles. The purpose of using all caps is to indicate that the Hebrew source-word is the Tetragrammaton, rather than other commonly used words which are also translated “lord,” but are based on other Hebrew words.

In the English alphabet, letter for letter, the word is spelled “YHWH.”

Checking a Bible dictionary that indicates root words for individual listings, I discovered this: One of the underlying roots of YHWH carries the implication of finishing a task, or a job.

The very first time this name is used in the Bible is at the end of Creation week following the statement that God “finished” all the work of Creation, and then declared it “very good.”

So, for me, it makes perfect sense to paraphrase God’s name Yahweh into “The God Who Finishes What He Starts.”
God not only finished the work of Creation, but at Calvary Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” indicating that the divine plan of redemption for Adam’s fallen race was now completed. Christ had won the victory over sin, and the way of salvation was now permanently open.

That’s truly wonderful, but there’s one more thing we also have to know.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi these encouraging words: He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

I don’t know about you, friend, but that promise brings me great courage! I love the string of letters that goes “PBPGINFWMY!” Which means, “ Please be patient. God is not finished with me yet!”

I’m so glad God continues to work with each one of us. The Father’s amazing grace, agape love, and unfailing providence truly declare to us that He is worthy of worship.

Once again, thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

The title of next week’s episode is “My Brother’s Love.” The focus will be on Jesus as the Word of God, the Second Person of the Godhead, and Savior for all of Adam’s race.

I hope you can join me for that.

Also, a reminder, the regular schedule for posting each weekly episode of the podcast is now every Monday.

O Lord of Heaven, Earth, and Sea
The beauty of your Creation is beyond expression.

Beasts of the forest roam the hillsides with untold majesty.
Towering trees lift their branches in testimony of your power, sheltering tiny birds within their leaves
The restless ocean waves break ceaselessly onto sandy beaches, but must ever recede at your command,

“Thus far and no farther.”

So, for this I praise you, O Lord!
When the relentless tide of evil threatens to overwhelm and destroy my faith, you declare its bounds, and force it back by your command,

“Thus far and no farther!”

Segment I

First, it’s a awesome to have you join me for EPISODE #1 of the GoodlifeNews! Podcast!

I’m so glad you are here! I am excited about where this little project might lead—because I really believe we can build a meaningful community growing together in understanding and experiencing the life God designs for us.

I read a remark somewhere that it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from—it’s where you are going that counts! And that’s true! Regardless of your background—good or bad—God has a plan and purpose for you! Moving forward in faith to follow His lead you can’t go wrong. He will get you to where you have always wanted to be in your heart of hearts

Our theme for this episode is “God’s Amazing Grace.”

In my personal spiritual journey the last few years I have sensed a constant deepening amazement at God’s amazing grace “that saved a wretch like me.”

About a year ago, I was struck by an expression used by the Apostle Paul in one of his early letters found in the New Testament.

Here it is:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Seriously, I have preached on this text dozens of times. I have written about it and quoted it more times than I can remember.

But, then while reading it again, this thought popped up in my head:

The primary purpose for the fruit is to reveal the truth about God through our connections and relationships.

That is to say, the gift of these fruits is not just to make us better people and get us ready for heaven!

The gift is not just about the transformation of our character.

Instead, the fruits are to equip us for truthful, faithful witness about God’s love and grace, enabling us to be loving and gracious as we discourse with others.

“‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen'” (Isaiah 43:10)

What do our daily lives reveal about God’s amazing grace? Just a question to think about and meditate on.

Here’s another: How do we get to the spiritual place where those “fruits” become part and parcel of who we are?

Let me offer a couple of ideas for your consideration:
The “fruit” of the Holy Spirit will not—CAN not—be manifested in a person’s life unless—and until—the Holy Spirit is actually present in the heart!
The Holy Spirt comes into the heart ONLY by invitation.

In the vision of Revelation Jesus tells John, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:30 NLT).

Obviously, Jesus is speaking here of the door to the spiritual heart. And how does Jesus come into our heart?

Well, here’s his answer in the Gospel of John:

Jesus told his disciples, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. . . . I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:23-26 NLT).

A few verses earlier in that same chapter Jesus said this: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you” (John 14:16-17).

Okay, so let’s review what we just covered:
1. God has a purpose for your life
2. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit produces spiritual “fruit” to empower your witness about God’s amazing grace
3. The Holy Spirit is sent to us from God the Father as the representative of Jesus
4. The Holy Spirit enters our heart by only our invitation

In the next segment I’ve got a very special guest to introduce to you. Together we’ll focus on ways to open our heart’s door to invite Jesus to come in.

Segment II

This segment is the live interview with my wife Ruth Fenton. It was not scripted.

Segment III

Thank you so much Ruth! Sharing your thoughts and experience will be a great blessing to many people, I’m sure!

I want to pivot now to share an experience I had several years ago while I was pastoring in Oregon.

Every year in the week following Thanksgiving, for 5 days the Oregon Conference sponsored a pastors’ prayer conference at Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast. These were always times of incredible camaraderie, relaxation, fellowship, and just awesome inspiration. The Oregon coast is always spectacular, and the stretch near Cannon Beach is no exception. A hike on the beach at low tide could almost be classed as an act of worship! It truly is a beautiful place.

One of the features of this retreat agenda was a full day without programming! No meetings after breakfast, then no group gathering until supper time. The entire day was intentionally set-aside for each of us to spend “A Day Alone With God.” At the end of the day we came together to share communion and an “agape feast.” Together we would sing, share testimonies of our experience, and pray both together as a group and as individuals praying for each other for personal needs.

Let me tell you, every year this “day alone with God” was the highlight of our retreat experience! It was absolutely wonderful!

At breakfast, we were handed an outline of suggested activities for the day. Of course, we were truly on our own to do or not to do whatever we decided. But, the organizers knew that some simple instructions could be helpful.

If you would like to see the outline visually, I’d encourage you to visit the website list of blog posts and look for the entry “A Day Alone With God.

To finish up today, I decided to share a couple of original psalms I wrote on one of those very special days from years ago. These were originally dated Wednesday, November 30, 2005. I have made some slight revisions to share with you today.

Here’s the first:
A Psalm of Praise
O Lord of Heaven, Earth, and Sea
The beauty of your Creation is beyond expression.
Beasts of the forest roam the hillsides with untold majesty. Towering trees lift their branches in testimony of your power, sheltering tiny birds within their leaves
The restless ocean waves break ceaselessly onto sandy beaches, but must ever recede at your command, “Thus far and no farther.”
So, for this I praise you, O Lord, that when the relentless tide of evil threatens to overwhelm and destroy my faith, you declare its bounds, and force it back by your command, “Thus far and no farther!”

The second psalm is simply titled,
A Psalm of Supplication
I have long walked with you, O Lord. For threescore years my heart has been captive to your love.
Many have been the times of refreshing. Many have been the seasons of joy!
But to my shame, Lord, I know I wandered from your side. I chased pretty rainbows And found only dust and broken dreams.
Still, I rejoice in your restoration power!Your grace showers me with renewal and hope.
Lord, I long for the thrill of your touch. I hunger for that fire I felt in early years.
I am waiting, Lord.

I have long walked with you, O Lord.
For threescore years my heart has been captive to your love.

Many have been the times of refreshing.
Many have been the seasons of joy!

But to my shame, Lord,
I know I wandered from your side.
I chased pretty rainbows
And found only dust and broken dreams.

Still, I rejoice in your restoration power!
Your grace showers me with renewal and hope.

Lord, I long for the thrill of your touch.
I hunger for that fire I felt in early years.

I am waiting, Lord.

A Day Alone With God
(Thanks: Oregon Conference Ministerial Dept.)

  1. Why spend a day in prayer?
    1. For extended fellowship with God
    1. For a renewed perspective
    1. For catching up on intercession
    1. For prayerful consideration of our own lives with God
    1. For adequate personal preparation
  2. Suggestions on how to spend the day
    1. Get away from distractions
    1. Take a Bible, notebook, pencil, smartphone, etc.
      1. Keep a journal
        1. Record meaningful Bible texts, revelations, requests, expectations, impressions
      1. Write poems, songs, psalms
        1. Either for your personal reflection or to share with others
    1. Vary the day
      1. Read a while, pray a while, walk a while
    1. Divide the day into three parts
      1. Waiting on the Lord
        1. Don’t hurry—Isa 40:31; Ps 27:14; Ps 62:5
        1. Experience His presence—Ps 139
        1. Worship Him—Ps 103; 111; 145
      1. Praying for others
        1. Ask for specific requests
        1. Examine Paul’s prayers for others—Phil 1; Col 1; Eph 1, 3
        1. Pray specific Bible promises for them
      1. Praying for yourself
        1. For important decisions
        1. To understand Scripture—Ps 119:18
        1. Follow the Jabez prayer—1 Chron 4:10
        1. To follow God’s will—John 4:34
    1. Determine to act on the Holy Spirit’s promptings

Hey, everyone! Loren Fenton here letting you know about a new channel I’m opening soon where we can talk about God’s love and grace!

On Sunday, May 2 I’m launching a brand new weekly podcast called GoodlifeNews! Each week, for about 20 minutes per episode, I’ll share some thoughts on biblical themes, stories of faith, and living the “Goodlife” in Christ.

Sometimes we’ll talk about the really serious stuff we all face from time to time. Other episodes may be somewhat more light-hearted and fun. Occasionally I may share a link to a resource—like a book, or a website, or something like that—that I have discovered and found inspirational. Or maybe do an interview with a featured guest.

Whatever the topic, or tone, however, I promise everything will come straight from my heart!

I’d love to have you join me for the journey!

I’ve set up this dedicated website ( linked to the podcast ( A text version of each podcast episode will be posted on the website pages. To subscribe, simply enter your name and email address in the form located on the right-hand column of this page. Then, watch your email for the announcement that the Premier Episode of the GoodlifeNews! Podcast on Sunday, May 2, 2021 is live online!

Welcome aboard!

And, oh(!) . . . It’d be great if you would share this announcement with somebody else! That would be MUCH appreciated. TIA!
God bless.