Archive for Family

What We’ve Learned from Eileen Fehlen

Since the sudden passing of my mom, Eileen Fehlen, I and the rest of my family have received literally thousands of messages, calls, notes and…the most prevalent of all…Facebook messages! We love Facebook.

Each message and memory posted has been special, but there was one that really captured the essence of my Mom. If you knew her then you’d probably agree with this list. If you didn’t then it’s a great glimpse of a great gal. The following was on Mom’s Facebook page from a wonderful woman named Molly Holknecht, who is a leader at Stanwood Foursquare Church.

Here it is:

• Everyone needs Jesus

• Pie and prayer restore body and soul

• When you see a need, find someone to meet that need

• Meatloaf can be edible

• It’s OK to come to worship with pink hair and a leather jacket

• When in doubt, call everyone “Honey”

• Expect the unexpected, then watch God work

• Hugs are always appropriate

• Love never fails

• Buy yourself a red, Mustang convertible for your birthday

• If you have leftovers and a package of noodles, you have dinner

• The garage is the perfect place to butcher a deer

• We were created in a garden, so plant, grow, harvest and eat

• The Good Samaritan is not a myth or theory, but something to be lived out

It’s the Mormons. Don’t Hide.

I had an encounter that is fresh in my mind (as of only 10 minutes ago), so I want to jot it down in this blog post. It has to do with my conversation with two Mormon young adults at my front door. Before I go any further…I am making no statement (direct or indirect) regarding Mit Romney’s bid for the presidency of the United States. I have no comments to be made to that end. This is only a retelling of a simple story with interesting implications.

I saw two similarly dressed young men walking on my street while I was washing dishes (yes, my wife is away this week but that’s besides the point…I DO wash dishes!). Immediately my defenses rose up and I gave thought to hiding and ignoring the knock on the door. I even told my kids to not answer it (don’t judge me…we’ve all done it before). Minutes passed with no knock. I thought I dodged a bullet.

Then two figures darted in fronts of my kitchen window, bounding towards my front door.  They saw me! Uggg. Knock. Knock. I know who’s there.

Rather than ignoring it though, I opened the door and greeted them kindly. We talked about the erratic weather and then they introduced themselves as Elders So-and-So. If they are the “elders” then I don’t feel so weird being called “Senior” Pastor.

Before they could launch into their presentation, I invited them in for lunch (I was just making a sandwich). They had already eaten and declined. I then asked them if they were a part of the “Ward on Eola Drive” Yes, indeed they were. I went on to describe that my church is right across the street from that Ward and that I am the pastor. I love what transpired next.

They said: “You are the pastor of the Foursquare church?”

“We know that church. Wait, you’re the pastor?”

Yes.

“We hear that’s a fun church.” the young man said.

I replied: “Yes, it is. We kick it up.”

“That’s what we hear. There must be a lot of people that go there because so many folks we talk to on our walks say they attend that church.” said the other young man.

“Well, yah, lots of folks come to West Salem Foursquare and we do have fun together.” I replied.

Our conversation wrapped up with them asking if there was anything they could do for me. I should have mentioned that my wife is out of town visiting family, and that the laundry was piling up something fierce, but I didn’t.

I thanked them. Smiled, and then sent them on their way to knock on the doors of other West Salem Foursquare folks (ok, that’s wishful thinking…but we do want to reach our entire city, right?!?).

If they should knock on your door, keep these few things in mind:

• They are people loved by God.

• They want to serve and be helpful.

• They are on a mission to communicate a particular message. I believe that message is contrary to the whole of the Bible. But, they are not the devil so don’t treat them as such. Show love. Invite them in for a sandwich if you are comfortable and strong enough spiritually to have tough theological conversations.

• They are trained to refute, debate, and argue specific points and you and I may feel like we’re ill-equipped to do that without getting buried. If you’re new to Jesus, I don’t recommend getting into those discussions – you’ll probably loose or feel stupid.

• If you say “I’m a Christian” then they are told to say, “Us too” and attached themselves to a number of key tenants of our Christian faith. That’s all fine and dandy, but there are simply too many aspects that don’t line up with Judeo-Christian beliefs to say “We’re the same.”

• Be kind. They will know we are Christians by our love, not by the way we snarl and slam the door on them. I have to bet they get a bunch of them on any given day. Don’t be that person.

• Lastly, I love how they defined our church as “fun.” That made me smile. Grace should look and feel like that.

At the end of Route 66

Here we stand at the very end(or beginning) of Route 66. Drive 2448 miles on this road and you end up in Chicago. This reminds me that life is a journey, and these are the people I want to make the trip with most!

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Solid Foundation

Luke 6:47-49 says “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.

Jesus equates the person that hears his words and does them to a well-constructed home on a firm foundation.

That person dug deep and laid the foundation of the home on a solid rock. The imagery is rich and clear: our life is the building and the foundation is Jesus Christ.

Will this kind of home be standing although it is blasted with wind and waves?

Yes! Why?

Because it is well built.

Here are a few questions for you:  Who is your foundation?  How deep did you dig?  What is the condition of your spiritual home?

I encourage you to dig deep into Christ. He is our solid rock…all other ground is sinking sand.

 

Merry Christmas from the Fehlens

Jesus’ blessings to you and yours.

Denise and I, along with Jordan (17), Joshua (15), Anna (12) and Isaac (8) wish you a very Merry Christmas and wonderful 2011.

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24

With Love,

The Fehlens

As Usual

Today I’m sitting at my local coffee shop reading my Bible and catching up on some work. My normal table top has the following items: Bible, phone, iPad, espresso drink and a couple of napkins.

While capturing some of my devotional thoughts, I got startled by a little boy that stood right next to me and asked: “Is that one of those iPads that you’re working on?” He was about 10 years old, but was pretty able to talk tech with me. We had about a 5 minute, highly engaging conversation. The entire time I kept looking around the room to see if he was connected to an adult. As a fellow parent, I didn’t want to cause another parent any concern as their son continued to talk on and on with me.

I saw two mothers having a coffee meeting with a handful of kids nearby – my assumption is that this lad was connected to them, but then they all gathered up and left the building. I said to my talkative new friend: “Is that your family? Do you need to go with them?” He replied: “Oh no, my Dad is over there in the corner. He’s texting, as usual.”

Texting, as usual. Obviously, the keys words here are “as usual.”

There is nothing wrong with texting. I do it often. I pretty much use each and every form of communication that exists. I’m waiting for smoke signals to come back into vogue ’cause I’ll make use of that medium as well. So, my point has nothing to do with the form. It has to do with the frequency.

“As usual.”

Minutes passed and I never saw the Dad look up from his phone to check on his son’s whereabouts. Even when the boy went back to his table and shared about “that guy’s iPad” I never saw him engage in conversation. Perhaps what he was typing on his phone was a pressing matter, I don’t know and can’t judge. But I can ponder on those biting words.

“As usual.” Those words were tough for me to hear. I’ve heard similar ones before from my own kids. “Dad, you have another meeting?” “Are you out of town again?” Like most parents, it’s not easy to juggle a family and heavy work-load. Balance is a bugger. But in the end, what do you want to have done well? Where do you want to have succeeded? Hopefully, your heart declares: “My family.” Mine does. Today my heart was reminded and challenged by a young boy that said two key words: “As usual.”

Are you challenged? How are you finding balance in these areas? Chime in and share your thoughts.

Some Assembly Required

huffy-52-polycarb-portable-basketball-hoop-with-helix-liftA couple days ago I did something that I “swore” I would never do again.

My son Isaac turned 7 years old this week so Denise and I got him a portable basketball hoop as a gift. We got it on sale at Fred Meyer and then I put it in the back of my truck and we drove home. About a mile or two from the store it hit me. I yelled out loud: “What have I done? I just bought another basketball hoop and I’m now remembering what a cursed time I had putting the last one together!”

Denise and I laughed a bunch, but down deep there was nothing funny about the situation. I would soon be called upon to assemble the hoop and that was not a happy proposition. You see, we used to have a portable b-ball hoop up in Stanwood. When we moved we decided to not bring it with us – it had too much pain and suffering associated it with. You see, when I put that one together years ago (for another one of our children’s b-days) I all but lost my sanity. What started out as a nice “bonding moment” with my kids turned into a sweaty session of extended rage. The directions seemed to be printed in some indigenous African dialect and the drawings were hieroglyphical in nature. I couldn’t seem to control my rapidly dissipating patience and it was coming out on my family.

Suffice it to say, “The sun did not go down on my anger,” but it get pretty close to dusk when I completed the project. Sadly, it was too dark for the kids to even play with it that night!

So, now I had another assembly project awaiting and the memories of days gone by were haunting me. With resolve and a hopeful demeanor I began the process (and even invited my boys to join me). I’d like to happily report that two hours later the hoop was assembled. My limbs were still attached. My family still loves me. And I am still SAVED.

I wrote this on my Facebook status: “Just put a basketball hoop together for Isaac’s birthday and I am still saved.” I got a number of great responses on my Facebook page but the one that has had me thinking all week comes from one of my Bible College professors, Ron Williams. Ron has been a missionary, a pastor, a professor, a leader of our Foursquare movement, and a writer of biblical commentaries. Basically, an all-around brilliant man of God. He wrote in response: “Just like the hoop…never-ending eternal security.”

Now, I’m not wanting to debate the theological merits of “once saved – always saved” (eternal security) but I do have some observations that I think apply to us all today.

Difficult times seem to have an acute way of keeping us closer to the Lord.

God will often use trying situations to both reveal the character of our hearts and remind us of our intense need for a Savior.

Just like the hoop, we have a never-ending need for God’s salvation. He is available to us in our most difficult times. Look to him for assistance. Call on his name for help.

You see, tough times will come and go (never-ending hoop) but our God is so powerful. He is mighty to save.

I’d like to say that I will never assemble a basketball hoop again (or any other Some Assembly Required item). But I know better. God knows better.

Article in Rethink Magazine

email03Check out an article I wrote called “Father Matters” in a great local mag called Rethink Magazine. This is a great resource worth picking up and/or subscribing to. Look ’em up at www.rethinkmonthly.com.

Change Required

change-1It has been said that only a baby with a wet diaper likes change. Without a doubt change can be difficult. Starting a new job, playing with a different team, or experiencing the physical and emotional changes that come with growing older can all be a struggle.

For example, I have just moved to a new state and took on a new job…in a nutshell: huge change. I just assumed the lead pastor role at West Salem Foursquare Church. After 16 great years at another church, my wife and I sensed a change in our hearts, and so we leaned wholly into God – who, by the way, is strong and sure in times of flex. With this new assignment there is so much excitement, and yet with it comes so much change…and that can be intense. Intense for my marriage, my kids, both churches and for me personally. Often we would rather have things stay the same for as long as possible to minimize the adjustments and the corresponding season of awkwardness.

God is all about change though. The Bible calls us to “repent and turn” (Acts 3:19) and demands that we become a “new creation in Christ “ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are even challenged by Jesus to be “converted and become as little children” (Matthew 18:3) in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Perhaps my favorite biblical example of change is found in Saul/Paul in the Book of Acts. The road to Damascus can be called the “highway of change” – both as a place and as a prototype of conversion. When Saul was knocked off his horse, he experienced the initial point of spiritual change. The ripple effects are visually found in the scales falling from his eyes, his baptism, the regaining of his strength and the subsequent season of learning and ministry (see Acts 9).

Alan Roxburg in The Sky is Falling writes, “On the road to Damascus, his [Paul] world was radically undermined. The experience literally blinded him, and that blindness was a metaphor for his sudden separation from his world framework and liminality. It was in that state that this defender of Judaism had to trust the very people who, up to a moment before, had been his sworn enemies. What emerged…was a new man – Paul the bondservant of Jesus Christ.”

What we see in the Apostle Paul could not have been possible without significant change. Change was, and continues to be, required. Change is good. Change keeps us fresh. It cultivates a dependence upon God. It sure keeps things stimulating, rather than life-less and boring (and who really wants life to be that way?). It’s important to commit to an ever-growing, ever-changing and ever-blossoming relationship with the Lord.

Here are some “change concepts” that I have considered (and ask those I lead to consider)…
• Listen to a different style of music for a month.
• Read the Bible out in the middle of an open field or empty parking lot.
• Sit in a different place at church next weekend.
• Eat some food that have never tried before.
• Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know
• Go on a short-term missions trip or a vacation to a new area of the world.

Change is good. As a matter of fact, it is wonderful. Jesus went to the cross so that we could experience the greatest change of all…salvation…a change of heart.

What’s Up Oregon?

The Fehlens are moving to Oregon.  Talk to me.  What’s up?  What MUST we do in Oregon?  What are the hotspots?  The sites?  The barely known good-eats?  The undiscovered stuff that must be experienced?  Tell us?  We’re listening.