devos from the hill


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 10

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Ten

“How does a person know when it is okay to separate oneself from the Lord’s anointed – especially if the Lord’s anointed is after the order of King Saul?

David never made that decision. The Lord’s anointed made it for him. The king’s own decree settled the matter!

‘Hunt him down; kill him like a dog!’

Only then did David leave. No, he fled. Even then, he never spoke a word or lifted a hand against Saul. And please note this: David did not split the kingdom when he made his departure. He did not take part of the population with him. He left alone.”

And so begins the next chapter of our book. Saul’s jealousy and madness have finally progressed to the point that he is demanding David’s death. David, knowing that he has been anointed by God to be the next king at some future time which has yet to be revealed, chooses wisely to flee and hide. David could have fought back. He had garnered enough fame and support that he likely could have persuaded many in King Saul’s court and army to turn their allegiance to him instead. But David knew that it is God who makes kings and appoints times, and God had not yet given the go-ahead for him to be king. The only thing left to do then was to get out of Saul’s way.

This sets the stage for our discussion using the following questions:  Sometimes God leads us into a situation which turns sour; how do we know when it is okay to leave that situation? And, what should our exit strategy be?

The kinds of situations we talked about included those such as jobs, churches, volunteer commitments, and the like. Things usually look pretty good when you commit to a church, but after some time the leadership may start to take you in a direction you don’t want to go. Perhaps the worship style changes or the leaders demand that you take a more active role in engaging the community.

We should not leave a situation because we have become uncomfortable or unhappy. Like David, we leave when we are no longer capable of fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives in that situation. And, like David, it may take a while to come to that realization …and we may go through a season of having spears chucked at us before the full intentions of the king are made known.

This is not to say that we should stick it out in situations of actual abuse! But there are times when our situation may actually be one of being tested like Job rather than hunted by King Saul. The point is to seek God’s leading rather than cater to our own discomfort. God may be using discomfort to draw out or build up something in us.

Lastly, when you see that it is time to depart, don’t try to take an entourage with you! Don’t gossip about it. Don’t work others up into a frenzy. Just be obedient to your call and go. We are each responsible to follow God’s leading and we should not want to lead others away from what God may be doing in their lives.

Below are two excerpts from Psalm 18, written by David, in response to his tough situation. Think about the heart of David and the mindset that he had in trusting God so completely that his relationship with Saul did not undo him.

I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.  – Psalm 18:1-3

For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.  – Psalm 18:28-30


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 5

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Five

From the time we are born, our most basic goal is to grow, learn, and mature. This happens on a physical level, an emotional level, a mental and intellectual level, and a spiritual level. While much of our learning is concrete and can be easily acquired through parents and education, there are other aspects of becoming the people God means for us to be that require a different kind of schooling.

In our devotional today, the author suggests that God has a sacred school of submission and brokenness. It is not a school that many sign up for willingly because being broken can be a painful process. What does it mean to be broken? The kind of brokenness we are talking about here is similar to the breaking of a horse. As a wild animal, a horse has much potential and power, but no discipline or true direction. And if you think about it, a wild horse has the “appearance” of freedom, but it is only the freedom to be wild and live for self. Continue reading


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 1

A devotional from Gene Edwards book, A Tale of Three Kings

Chapter One

Our lesson today begins with the young boy, David. He is the youngest of 8 boys and at the bottom of the pecking order, he is relegated to the most menial duties of taking care of the family’s flock of sheep.

As the story in the book unfolds, we see that young David spends a lot of time on his own with his charges. He fills some of his time playing his harp and singing. He has much time to ponder the world and think about the God of his ancestors.

Additionally, he takes up the art of slinging stones with increasing accuracy. This proves to be a most excellent skill when he sees, one day, a bear about to attack one of the sheep. He is able to take down the bear with the precision acquired from so much practice! In another incident, David also killed a lion who threatened his flock.

Is it any wonder that when faced with the challenge to come up against the giant Philistine, Goliath, David feels physically, mentally and spiritually prepared?

All of that time spent alone, tending sheep, left to his own thoughts and devices, David could have become bitter and angry or filled with self-pity and fear. He could have rebelled against his lot in life and run off on his own. He might have developed a victim mentality and given himself over to slothfulness. Instead, he embraced his circumstances and found ways to develop useful skills that would give him aid at many times throughout his life. Even his musical ability was used to soothe Saul’s troubled spirit seen in I Samuel 16.

By working in and through David’s circumstances, God could be seen preparing him for some very great accomplishments, ultimately ruling a nation. Likewise, God is preparing in us, what he has prepared for us! It may not be by the means we think it is and it may not be for the reason we think it is; the important truth is to keep our hearts tuned to praising God and our minds fixed on learning what He has for us to do in each and every moment. When our time comes for action we will be ready.


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To Walk With God

Contemplating the Way in Which One Walks with God… One Step at a Time
A Mars Hill Staff Devotional by Ray Stedman and Fred Carpenter

Read the Scripture: Genesis 5:1-27

And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters… Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away (Genesis 5:22, 24).

This account says twice that, before he was taken up, Enoch walked with God. I love the story of the little girl who was telling her mother the story of Enoch. She said, Enoch used to take long walks with God. One day he walked so far God said, ‘It’s too far to go back; come on home with me.’ That is what happened to Enoch.

What does it mean to walk with God? Here is a man who, in the midst of a brilliant but godless generation, walked with God. What does it mean? Enoch did not literally walk with God; this is unquestionably a figurative expression, but a figurative walk involves the same thing today as it did then. First, it means he went in the same direction God went. He was moving the way God was going. God is forever moving in human history. He is moving now to accomplish certain things in human life, and He has been doing so for centuries. The person who walks with God is the person who knows which way God is going and goes the same way. Now, what is that? Perhaps we cannot indicate it positively, but we certainly can negatively: God moves always in unswerving hostility toward sin. He is opposed to that which destroys and wrecks human life. No matter how good it looks, no matter how attractive it seems, God is against it. And the person who walks with God is the person who walks in unswerving hostility toward sin in his or her own life and refuses to make up with it or permit it to rule or to reign. That is the first thing in a walk with God. Continue reading


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The Mystery of History – Ray Stedman

Read the Scripture: Acts 4:23-31
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. Sovereign Lord, they said, you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.  Acts 4:23-24

After being released from custody of the Sanhedrin, the apostles did not go out to organize a revolutionary committee to overthrow them. They did not even try to arouse a popular demonstration. The clear evidence of this passage is that they had popular support. But the apostles do not rely for even one minute upon political or popular pressure. They cast themselves upon the unique resource of the church in any age, which, when it forgets it, becomes nothing more than an instrument of distortion. They cast themselves wholly upon the sovereign power of God at work in history. That is the greatest force to alter a power structure that the world has ever seen. It has been ignored by the church many times and thus Christians have frittered away their efforts in relatively useless activities which make a lot of noise but never accomplish anything.

The apostles found encouragement in two things: First, the sovereignty of God, his overruling control of human events. The very first word of their prayer recognizes this,Sovereign Lord. God holds the world in the palm of his hand, and is intimately involved in every human event. They found great consolation in that, but I find many Christians have forgotten it. These disciples openly recognized that God had even predicted the very opposition they faced. Later, they quote the second Psalm in support of it. They had clearly been doing what Christians ought to do under pressure: They had gone to the Scriptures. They had found in the second Psalm the prediction of the actual opposition they were facing.

This second thing they saw is what we might call, the mystery of history. You can see it in verse 28 where they say of the Sanhedrin, They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. In other words, the God of history uses the very opposition to accomplish his purposes! That is what they saw. God worked through the free will of man. These people opposed the plan of God. They tried to thwart God’s purposes. They tried to derail his program. But God operates in such a marvelous way that he uses even this opposition to accomplish his will. That is the story of the cross and of the resurrection of Jesus.

That principle is what these Christians reckoned upon. They recognized a principle at work in human affairs which is the most powerful force known to man, and which the church frequently ignores to its peril.

Thank you, Father, that I can trust in your sovereign power and control even over those events which do me harm.

Life Application: What are two important principles we derive from God’s Word regarding our reactions to deepening moral decay and human suffering? Are we willing to act faithfully, while acknowledging the mystery and majesty of God’s sovereignty?

We hope you were blessed by this daily devotion.

From your friends at www.RayStedman.org

Copyright © 2014 by Ray Stedman Ministries — This daily devotion is from the book Immeasurably More: a year of devotions from the writings of Ray Stedman; compiled by Mark Mitchell. It may be copied for personal non-commercial use only in its entirety free of charge. All copies must contain this copyright notice and a hyperlink to www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.


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Contemplating the Omniscience of God

I recently read the following quote from Thomas Edison…

We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.

Conversely… He (God) knows everything. – 1 John 3:20 (ESV).

This week in our staff devotional time we read and discussed the following quotes and scriptures regarding omniscience (all-knowing) of God. I encourage you to meditate on these verses and ask yourself, “how do these truths about God affect how I live?”

A.W. Tozer wrote, “God knows instantly and effortlessly all matter and all matters, all mind and every mind, all spirit and all spirits, all being and every being, all creaturehood and all creatures, …all law and every law, all relations, all causes, all thoughts, all mysteries, all enigmas, all feeling, all desire, every unuttered secret, all thrones and dominions, all personalities, all things visible and invisible in heaven and in earth, motion, space, time, life, death, good, evil, heaven, and hell. 

Because God knows all things perfectly, He knows no thing better than any other thing, but all things equally well. He never discovers anything, He is never surprised, never amazed. He never wonders about anything nor (except when drawing men out for their own good) does He seek information or ask questions.” (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, NY: Harper, 1987, pp.62-63).

“He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.” – Job 28:24

“His understanding is infinite.” – Psalm 147:5

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God…” – Deuteronomy 29:29

“He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.” – Daniel 2:22

“In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” – Colossians 2:3

“To Him belong counsel and understanding.” – Job 12:13

“He knows the secrets of the heart.” – Psalm 44:21

“For I know the things that come into your mind.” – Ezekiel 11:5 (ESV)

“Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” – Matthew 6:8

“The LORD know the thoughts of man, that they are a mere breath.” – Psalm 94:11

“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

 


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Man’s Thoughts – God’s Thoughts

The following is a list of thoughts and attitudes, common to us all. But, each and every discouraging statement is countered by a glorious truth from God and His Word. If you are struggling or downhearted, read His words; let His declarations wash over you and renew your perspective.

 

“It’s impossible”
All things are possible with Me.
“The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27

“I’m too tired”
 I will give you rest.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

“I feel unloved”
I love you.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“I can’t go on”
My grace is sufficient.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, So that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” –2Corinthians 12:9

“I can’t figure this out”
 I will direct your steps.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5,6
“Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” – Isaiah 30:21

“I can’t do it”
You can do all things.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

“I’m not able”
I am able.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” – 2Corinthians 9:8

“It’s not worth it”
It will be worth it.
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” – Galatians 6:9

“I can’t forgive myself”
I forgive you.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” –1John 1:9
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

“I can’t resist this temptation”
I have provided a way.
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” – 1Corinthians 10:13
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7

“I don’t have enough to make it”
 I will supply all your needs.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

“I’m afraid”
 You do not have to be afraid. I am here and I’ve got this.
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. – 2Timothy 1:7
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

“I am anxious and stressed”
You can cast all your cares on Me.
“. . . humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. – 1Peter 5:7

“I don’t have enough faith”
I have given you all the faith you need.
“God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” – Romans 12:3

“I’m not smart enough”
 I give you wisdom and the mind of Christ.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – James – 1:5
“Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:16

“I feel alone”
I am with you.
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
“I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU” – Hebrews 13:5

“I feel inadequate”
You are complete.
“. . . in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority” – Colossians 2:10


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What is Holding You Back?

In Philippians 3:13-14, we finds these words written by the Apostle Paul: “13) Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies  behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

From this passage, let’s focus today on the phrase “forgetting what lies behind.” But before we do that, let’s be clear about the “it” Paul is referring to when he says, “I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet.” Paul is not referring to his inheritance of eternal life in Christ. The overwhelming weight of Paul’s testimony throughout his letters is that he was chosen by God (Eph. 1:4) and that God will complete the work He started in Paul (Phil.1:6).

The “it” that Paul is speaking of is the fullness of spiritual maturity in Christ. More specifically, it is the three things he identified in verse 10, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings . . .”

Now, with that behind us, let’s consider what Paul is getting at when he says, “forgetting what lies behind.” From the context, one must conclude that whatever Paul is referring to must be forgotten, because it is holding him back from reaching what lies ahead – “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (v14). But what is it that Paul must forget?

As we find so often in scripture, God gives us enough to get the principle, without giving us so much that we might say, “Well, that example doesn’t really describe me.” For example, when we read about Paul’s thorn (2 Cor. 12:7), the scripture is not clear as to what it might be. It is very inclusive, leaving open the possibility that Paul’s thorn could be very much like my thorn. Ouch! Continue reading


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How’s Your One-on-One Time with God?

The need for a regular quiet time for personal prayer and feeding on His Word…

In a 2013 poll of its readers, Leadership Journal (a publication for vocational Christian workers) reported that 91% of the respondents admitted to some form of burnout in ministry, and 18% said they were “fried to a crisp right now.”

For today’s Mars Hill staff devotional, we read and discussed the following thoughts concerning our need to have a regular quiet time for personal prayer and feeding on God’s Word – a daily time to be refreshed and nourished by the Living Water and the Bread of Life.

“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” – Mark 1:35

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” – Luke 5:16

In the book “Directions,” James Hamilton writes:

Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen into silver-gray pathways, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with golden sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch in this sawdust while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile.

A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. The boy replied, “I closed the door, laid down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.”

Beloved, often the question is not whether God is speaking but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear what He has to say to us. Be still and get God’s direction for your life!

“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” – Psalm 5:3  . . . ” Your ears will hear a word behind you, this is the way; walk in it.” – Isaiah 30:21. . . Let God order your morning prayer, and He will show you how to order your day.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” – Matt.4:4 . . . Daily feeding from the Word of God is vital to prevent spiritual malnourishment.

“If we are weak in communion with God we are weak everywhere.” – C.H. Spurgeon Continue reading


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Broken but Redeemed

God has blessed Mars Hill with an incredible team of men and women who love Jesus – the risen, reigning, and returning King. Together, we passionately pursue Him as we work to see the Great Commission fulfilled. Together, we study the Scriptures. We embrace and celebrate the mystery of faith and the magnificence of our AWESOME God. And we long for our Savior’s return, when we will know fully as we are fully known.

The Holy Spirit has breathed unique wisdom, discernment and gifts for service into each member of our staff. That said, we are delighted to commence a new series of devotionals, in which each member of our staff will be sharing insights from their inimitable journey with our Father.

We hope that God’s redemptive work in our lives will resonate with what He’s doing in yours.


Today’s Devotional is from team member, Randy Templeton.
Randy is a Marketing Executive who is currently doing some
volunteer research and consulting on our internet ministry.

It was the week before Christmas and I was over visiting with several of my life-long single friends, including a new person I had never met, my future wife.  Sandy had with her a 6-month old baby boy, my future son, Michael.  For some reason, I was drawn to him, especially odd for a single guy, who was the baby of his family, and someone who rarely held a baby in his life. Michael as a baby had a great gift for crying, so I held him for awhile and then a while longer and eventually until he fell asleep. Sandy, I know was sure by now I was unusual.Randy1

I knew of Sandy and her story from my friends, but this was my first encounter.  It had only been a little more than a year since she lost her first husband and soul mate Mike in a tragic car accident.  Not knowing then, she was only weeks pregnant with Michael. So I met her a few more times in the following months and then asked her if she would go on a date. Not my best judgment call.  I now moved from “unusual single guy” to something three steps below.  Sandy and I did not talk or see each other for the next five and a half years.

It’s now summer 2001, one of our mutual friends Lori is leaving the country for mission work in Asia. Nancy, the host of the Christmas party where I first met Sandy, and I have put together a going away week in Estes Park, Colorado.  Unknown to me Sandy and Michael are headed back to Houston where Sandy has taken a new job and they have been added to the short list of Estes Park attendees.

Michael is nRandy2ow six years old and as history goes he does not like new people and has a notorious reputation for growling at them.  After two days, Michael and I were best friends. He who likes no one likes the unusual single guy. Once everyone got back to Houston I asked Sandy if I could spend time with Michael, closely supervised by spend time with Michael, closely supervised by mom of course.  Motives are always mixed in my human experience; I really liked Michael and had come to the conclusion at that point in my life I would never have a son and enjoyed being a father figure, but I also still had a thing for Sandy as well.

I hung out for the next couple of months, Michael and I played… Sandy and I talked. Michael and I bonded instantly, Sandy took a little longer. Michael looked like my son, he was an introvert who thought and had feelings like my son would have. Interestingly enough, Michael’s birthday is 6-20-95, mine is 6-02-59.

As school started that year Michael quickly became best friends (as they are to this day) with one of his classmates Trey. As weeks passed we met Trey’s parents and not long into our life stories Trey’s mother shared that she had heard through a friend of a woman in California who had found out she was pregnant just weeks after losing her husband in a tragic car accident. Terry was also pregnant at that time with Trey, and she was deeply moved by the circumstances and continually prayed for the unknown mother and child a world away. It was just another affirmation of God’s work in Sandy and Michael’s life.

Sandy and I went to lunch together once, had dinner once, and then we were engaged.  I will forever deny that I proposed to her at McDonalds, she might argue differently, but if so she will have to admit that she accepted the proposal of marriage to a guy who did.  We set the wedding for three weeks away, she was to find a dress and show up, I took care of the reRandy3st, which after two days I outsourced to a good friend who was starting an event planning business. It was a perfect wedding, except for the pictures. Never hire a photographer who is available on two week’s notice.

Then we had to tell Michael the news, not really knowing what his real reaction would be. He had real issues with the kissing thing.  It was after church one day when we were going to let Michael know. We were driving to lunch and asked Michael what he learned at church that day, (which at age six most every day would be “I don’t remember”).  This day he remembered the Old Testament story of Ruth who had lost her husband and how a distant cousin Boaz offered to marry her and redeem her family.  Our seemingly difficult task was done.

Sandy later in the week asked Michael what he was going to call me and he said what every son does, “Dad”, but not until after the wedding.  He stuck by his principle and called be Mr. Templeton for the next three weeks.  It was a story we could never have imagined, that has progressed to see the further addition of sons Blake and Carter to our and Michael’s life. Continue reading