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A Father’s Day Salute

Generally, on Father’s Day we celebrate our fathers, but today I want to provide a Father’s Day Salute to my father and my father-in-law. So, let’s get started.

A Father's Day Salute to my Father.
My Father

Dale Barlow Riddle

There are few written records pertaining to his life, but he made a major impact in mine. I probably didn’t communicate that fact very well to him, but I certainly admit it now. Here are a few facts:

  • He was born in 1912 (or thereabouts).
  • As a teenager he worked for a Goodyear Tire Store.
  • He taught himself how to drive (and never had a ticket).
  • He got saved as a young man (although I have no written proof of that; however, his lifelong interest in spiritual matters was evident).
  • As a young man he became a deacon.
  • As an adult he worked as a sales representative for Ford Tractor and was quite successful.
  • He backslid and married an unsaved woman (my mother, who may have gotten saved on her deathbed as she received a letter God had put on my heart which included the gospel).
  • Although backslidden, he kept us in church until the family left the church.
  • When I was yet a child, we left the Methodist Church.
  • He was very interested in spiritual matters and loved watching Billy Graham Revival Meetings. A little redheaded boy sat next to him.
  • He later worked for Bolens Tractor and then Lawnboy, and was a successful sales representative.
  • When I got saved at the age of 30, his continuous interest in the Bible was part of the reason I was already daily reading the Scriptures before I got saved.
  • My salvation and life may have been a testimony to him.
  • In his last days, he planned on getting back in church. He died of a stroke before he could make good on that plan.
  • It is with joy that I contemplate the possibility that when I get to heaven, I may meet my grandmother (who I led to the Lord), my father, my mother, and my Aunt Delores. I may also have other relatives, both living and dead, that I don’t know about. What a glorious day that will be!

As you may have noticed, it was dad’s continuing interest in the things of God that had a great influence on me as a child. I was yet a child when we dropped out of church as a family and didn’t come in contact with the church until I went to Navy Bootcamp. I don’t remember much about any conversations dad had with me at the time, but I know that when I went to bootcamp I had a little Bible in my hands. So, I imagine I got it from my parents.

Though he was out of the church, he continued to influence my life so that when I became an adult I was ‘religious’. God had a date with me that I wasn’t aware of until May 9, 1973, arrived. Looking back, I think my dad’s interest in church had played a major role in my spiritual life. His influence, the influence of my pastor, and my own interest in the Bible brought me to that date. And God pointed me to the Scriptures which said I was dead in my sins and needed a Savior. On that night I knelt by my bedside (at a Best Western motel) and asked Jesus into my heart.

I am so glad, that I had a father who never lost his faith completely. It is true he ran out of time for getting right and departed this world with few if any rewards. But I believe he is in heaven reunited with his Savior! And that is a great comfort!

More about this on the other side of this break.

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Now back to the article.

My dad was not the only man to play a role in my life. My pastor, Dr. Bob Shelton, preached sermons that led to my salvation, but my father-in-law lived the Christian life that influenced me as a young Christian (I was 8 years old in the Lord when I married Teresa). So, I think it is appropriate to talk about him for a few minutes.

Fathere's Day Salute to my Father-in-Law
My Father-in-Law

Carl Woodrow Wheeler

On September 19, 1981, Carl Wheeler became my father-in-law. Like my father, he got saved as a young man.

But Carl Wheeler continued on and grew in the Lord. By the time I met him he had already suffered his own crises of faith but was now a godly, faithful man. He served God in a verity of ways, including working in children’s church, and becoming a deacon.

When I met him, he was retired and a Snowbird spending half his time in Florida. Eventually he and his wife, Evalyne, moved to Florida full time. But whether living in Michigan or Florida, he remained a godly man who loved the Word of God.

I count myself fortunate to have a godly father-in-law and mother-in-law. In my imagination I like to think that my parents and Teresa’s parents have already met up there in heaven.

So, on this Father’s Day I am thankful that God gave me a father who taught me to believe in God and to read the Bible, and a father-in-law who demonstrated how a Christian ought to live. My birth father may not have been perfect, but he was a hero in my eyes and to this day I remember him fondly. Someday, we will be reunited and I look forward to that day!

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A NEW DIRECTION

You may have noticed that I have not been blogging since last January. The reason is simple: I broke my wrist.

The good news is I was doing something important: playing Table Tennis. How it happened is another story that I may relate some day in the future, but for now let it suffice that I was sidelined. All writing came to a stop for awhile (it is hard to type with only one hand).

While sidelined I have had the opportunity to re-evaluate this blog and, indeed, my writing career. Up to now I have been blogging about writing, publishing and marketing. In fact, my blog’s theme was: So You Want To Write? As you may have noticed that has now changed to: So You Want To Serve!

Although I love writing I have learned it is not my true passion. As I look back on my life there is one theme that continually surfaces: promoting the Gospel. Whether it be personal soul winning, church outreach, missionary outreach, or evangelism, I have been involved in some manner.

I want people to know the Creator God Who Died, Rose Again, and gave me eternal life! If you take a look at all my past blogging there has been that undercurrent. With my being sidelined the Lord was able to get my attention and point out what now seems obvious: I have an evangelistic passion.

Don’t get me wrong. The Lord has not called me to be a preacher. Rather, He has called me to fully use my talents for His service. Just as my books are Christian fiction based on the truth of the Bible, He wants me to use this blog in His service. That does not mean sermons, but rather a Biblical point of view of different Christian outreaches with the idea of provoking you to thought and action.

I hope you enjoy this new direction.

With that in mind I am writing today about our church’s Missions Conference. In cooperation with four other churches we have five missionaries coming in to present their individual burdens. Beginning Wednesday night at 7:00pm each missionary will visit one of the five churches. They will rotate each day through Sunday.

I’ll probably write more on this later, but right now I want to tell you about a special night, this Saturday. Saturday night starting at 5pm our church will be having a Missions Banquet. Different people within the church will have a table set up dedicated to some missionary field. Teresa and I have chosen the Bronx, New York.

My wife has been working hard on ideas for food, garb, and overall table presentation. Each table, I don’t know how many, will set up their table to represent the missionary of their choice. Our table will represent Ken Baker who pastor’s Victory Baptist Church in the Bronx.

This is our first year doing the Bronx. As it was with our previous table, the Arctic North, there is much research required. But in the end we will have a table with up to eight people dressed appropriately and dining on food representative of New York. It will be a fun time.

But not only is it a fun time it is educational for us (of course), those sitting at our table and everyone else in the Fellowship Hall. It is an excellent way of educating people about the many diverse missionary fields out there. It helps each of us understand and appreciate the missionaries we support. And of course, we will also have a missionary there to present his field.

All the monies collected are split equally among the five missionaries which historically has been very good for each missionary. As mentioned each of the five churches invites a missionary. Each church is then responsible for any travel and housing expenses that occur. The whole conference is a much looked forward to event plus one that truly benefits the missionaries. It is even possible that they might get one or more of the churches to support their work.

One of the great benefits for those of us participating is the acquiring of knowledge plus a real appreciation for missions work itself. It is often a moving experience felt by all.

Does your church do anything like this? If so, why not share?

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.