Family Foundations

Provide, Protect, Prepare

July 2, 2023 • Jason Corder

Professional baseball has been played in America since 1875, but I’ll never forget September 14, 1990. Baseball which is a game of statistics had something happen which had never happened before or since. Late in his career, Ken Griffey, Sr., who had been a key member of the World Series champion Cincinnati Reds years before, was signed by the Seattle Mariners. His son Ken Griffey, Jr. was just starting his major league career. In the first inning of a game against the Angels, Griffey, Sr. hit a home run to left center field. His son followed him to the plate and hit another home run to almost exactly the same spot.  We often hear people talk about following in others' footsteps or paving the way for the next generation, but what does that really mean? How can we equip others to follow us without creating dependencies or resentments?  General Douglas MacArthur wrote this following statement “By profession, I am a soldier, and take pride in that fact, but I am prouder, infinitely prouder, to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; a father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentialities of death; the other embodies the creation of life; and while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me, not from the battlefield, but in the home repeating with him our simple, daily prayer, our Father Who art in Heaven.”

Communicate Like Christ

June 25, 2023 • Jason Corder

At one point in time, you couldn’t walk 30 feet on a New York City block without encountering a pay phone. In the early 2000s, there were around 30,000 public street pay phones registered with the city. But in May of 2022, a curious crowd gathered in Times Square as a power saw cut through the base of a pay phone on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 50th Street. That was the final New York City public pay telephone. In the age of the smartphone, it may be hard to recall the importance of pay phones in the daily life of New Yorkers. New York is a dense, pedestrian city. It wasn’t until the 1940s that even half of Americans had a phone. If you need to call on the go, the pay phone was necessary. “I hate to use the word nostalgia,” said Mark Thomas, who has been documenting pay phones in New York City. “But I think people miss a period of time when a call meant something. When you planned it and you thought about it, and you took a deep breath and you put your quarter in.” We certainly live in a world today with more communication options than ever before, but are we better communicators? Research says no, in fact, some say we are in the midst of a loneliness epidemic. Just having the ability to talk isn’t communication. Good communication is the thoughtful preparation of thoughts and feelings to influence or inform another person and is something of an art. This Sunday we will see how God's word helps us become better communicators, in our families and in a lost and broken world.

Fatherhood & Marriage

June 18, 2023 • Jason Corder

Mount Everest, the earth's highest mountain, has two standard routes used by most climbers. Both routes present a number of dangers, including frigid temperatures and hurricane-category high winds not to mention that climbers have a limited number of months in the year to make their attempt and very tight time periods during the day to safely ascend and descend the mountain. It's not surprising that even the most experienced climbers don't try to tackle Mount Everest alone. They hire special guides called "Sherpas." The Sherpas are a unique people who, for generations, have inhabited the Khumbu Valley and have developed a genetic ability to function in very high altitudes. Whereas most people start to have oxygen problems above eight thousand feet, they have an amazing endurance up to about twenty-three thousand feet. Since the Sherpa guides have trekked Everest many times, they are experts when it comes to knowing the weather patterns and the best time to climb. But these gifted guides can do something else: with their uniquely trained and experienced eyes, they can help those in their care pause and take in the beauty of Mount Everest. This mountain is not all danger, it's a delight as well, with many breathtaking peaks, vistas, and valleys that one can only see from its heights. That's why so many are drawn to it and would risk life and limb to plant their personal flag on its summit.  Fathers are called by God to be such guides, not only do they help those in their care avoid the dangers of life but they also point to all the good that we encounter every day. They teach others to walk in the way of the ultimate example our Heavenly Father.

Marriage United at the Top

June 11, 2023

One of our time’s most compelling love stories involves a couple who initially lived an ocean apart. He was a scruffy old Oxford bachelor, a Christian apologist, and an author of bestselling books for children. She, an American, was much younger and divorced with two sons. After meeting during her visit to England in 1952, C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidson fed their relationship by mail. Intellectual sparks from the minds of each ignited their appreciation and respect for each other. When Joy moved to England with her boys, the relationship enjoyed the benefits of proximity. And when her departure from England seemed imminent because of a lack of funds and an expiring visitor’s visa, C. S. Lewis decided: If Joy agreed, they would be married. Early in the marriage, Joy’s body revealed a secret it had kept hidden. She had cancer—and it was terminal. The well-ordered life of C. S. Lewis suffered a meltdown. But in the process, the English man of letters realized his deep love for Joy. Moving on with their lives, the Lewises sought and received the added blessing of the church on their marriage, which had initially been formalized in a register’s office. They gave Joy the best treatment available. Then he brought her home and committed to her care. It is not surprising that Joy’s body responded. However, her remission was short-lived. Near death, Joy told him, “You have made me happy.” Then, a little while after, “I am at peace with God.” Joy died at 10:15 that evening in 1960. “She smiled,” Lewis later recalled, “but not at me.” If there is a lesson to be gained from this unique love story, it must be that partners without a spiritual depth of oneness can never compete with the fullness of love that soul mates enjoy. When it is healthy, marriage has a mystical way of revealing God and bringing a smiling peace to our restless hearts.

A Grace Filled Home

May 21, 2023 • Jason Corder

 One day, a fishing man noticed that the fisherman behind him threw the big fish he had caught back into the water while keeping the small ones. This continued until the first man couldn’t hold his curiosity any longer. “I don’t understand,” he asked the other fisherman. “Why do you keep throwing the big fish back and keeping only the small ones?” “It’s simple,” the other man answered. “My frying pan is too small to cook the big ones.” A lot of us are a little like that fisherman… Our understanding of God’s grace is too limited, so our growth is stunted.  Physical stunting in early life, particularly in the first 1000 days from conception until the age of two, profoundly affects lifelong growth and has adverse functional consequences on the child. Some of those consequences include poor cognition and educational performance, low adult wages, lost productivity, and, when accompanied by excessive weight gain later in childhood, an increased risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adult life.  Similarly, God has designed us to grow and develop as believers by utilizing an unrestricted flow of spiritual nutrition. Much of that spiritual development happens through grace! Just as God’s grace has a justifying and sanctifying effect in our lives, through which we learn to seek to advance God’s kingdom agenda, children and marriages flourish in an environment of grace. If we fail to allow grace to do its work, we will end up with underdeveloped relationships with others and, most importantly, with our Heavenly Father.

Godly Habits

May 14, 2023 • Jason Corder

Poet Maya Angelou was asked in an interview for Harvard Business Review what one of the most important lessons she ever learned was and from whom she learned it. She pointed to a critical skill her mother had imparted to her as a young child, the desire to develop courage. “And she taught me by being courageous herself. And after years of leaving her and, I think, becoming courageous, I realized that one isn't born with courage. One develops it. And you develop it by doing small, courageous things in the same way that one wouldn't set out to pick up a 100-pound bag of rice. If that were one's aim, the person would be advised to pick up a five-pound bag, and then a ten-pound, and then a 20-pound, and so forth, until one builds up enough muscle to pick up 100 pounds. And that's the same way with courage. You develop courage by doing courageous things, small things, but things that cost you some exertion-mental and, I suppose, spiritual exertion. We learn every good character trait through the same process: laying aside bad habits in favor of small yet life-changing new ones. This Sunday, as we honor motherhood, we will explore how those little choices lead to a life of tremendous impact.

Build Your Home On Truth

May 7, 2023 • Jason Corder

https://forestparkchurch.org/media/foundation-of-truth.pdfTruth is a confrontational subject in our world. All too often truth is used like a club to beat down and oppress opposing ideas on a particular subject, but it may be that our reactionary path of insisting that there is NO objective truth may be even more dangerous and damaging. At the end of the Battle of Britain, British vice-marshal Alexander Adams was driving to a meeting at his headquarters when he came upon a sign: ROAD CLOSED -- UNEXPLODED BOMB. Adams called over the policeman on duty, hoping he might be able to suggest an alternate route. "Sorry, you can't go through," said the policeman as he approached the car. "The bomb is likely to go off at any minute now." Then he caught sight of Adams's uniform. "I'm very sorry, sir," he said, "I didn't know you were a wing commander. It is quite all right for you to go through." That policeman, who was trained to respect rank, momentarily allowed his deference to a vice-marshal to overcome his good sense. Fortunately, Adams had better sense than to follow his advice but their interaction illustrates the fact that humans are terrible at being objectively honest, especially in circumstances where there is social pressure. Winston Churchill said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” That may be a typical response to truth, but it places those who respond that way on the road to tragedy and destruction. There is no way to love and follow God without loving and following truth as well. The two cannot be separated. Truth should be shared not to win but to set free.

Bring Jesus Home!

April 30, 2023 • Jason Corder

I probably don’t have to tell you, but the pillars of our society are crumbling, and if radical changes are not made, our society will fall. The pillars of the church are also crumbling. Although Christ’s Church will never be destroyed, churches will fall. Those pillars, the church, and the nation depend on our families in many ways. When families are strong, praying, worshipping, Christ-focused families, the church and nation are strong. Our institutions are in trouble because our Families are in danger. God's truth on marriage and the family is under relentless attack. According to scripture, a home or family is built. It does not just haphazardly happen; it is not accidental or coincidental—it must be deliberately constructed. “Proverbs 24:3-4  By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. The growing secularization of the Church is due, in part, to changes in the larger culture. However, a humbling portion comes from the declining strength and integrity of the family and Biblical family values. The recent history of American Christianity highlights an unwritten law: The fortunes of the American Church rise and fall with the fortunes of its families.