Worlds Apart: Responsibility

We, the Speckhals family, make our homes in Red Lion, Pennsylvania–in the south-central part of York county.  The closest city of any size is, of course, York, then a few nearby cities are Harrisburg and Lancaster–each about 40 minutes away.  However, we are also in the middle of it all!  Most would never guess just how close we are to the epicenter of our American government: Washington DC.  In fact, Camp David is only about a drive worth 45 minutes through the rolling hills.  Washington is two hours away on average–give or take some time with traffic.

I promise you, the county we live in is one of the most conservative in the nation!  We almost never hear anything about Democrats unless it’s in jest or in the news.  The average person in York County is either a fifth-generation PA Dutch farmer, a suburbanite transplant who moved up from the Baltimore area for quietness and a lower cost of living, or a non-unionized contractor.  All of our elected officials are conservative, and this county has not voted for a Democratic president since Andrew Jackson.  Really, the only liberal bastion of this area is the inner-city of York.

“Just around the corner” one of the largest partisan debates is being held in our nation’s capital over “healthcare.”  When the town-hall meetings were happening across the country last August, I desperately wanted to go to one.  The funny thing is that our district is  so conservative that there weren’t any meetings for miles around.  Then, there was the big gathering in Washington on 9/12.  We thought for a second about going, but ended up not going.

We are a conservative district in the midst of a somewhat liberal state.  All you have to do is look at Pennsylvania’s two senators: Arlen Spector (a once liberal republican recently turned democrat) and liberal Bob Casey.  Our governor is an Obama-lover too: Ed Rendell.  Thank you Pittsburgh and Philadelphia!

From what I see about this healthcare battle, I am glad that the country has stepped back and taken a big breath…and looked at the proposals.  The more we hear about this government run “option” the more we dislike it.  We, as Christians believe in benevolence and love, but also for personal responsibility and choice.  When someone who is able to work and provide for himself (anyone without a SERIOUS mental or physical handicap).  Our tax dollars are not to provide a living for anyone else.  Our tax dollars are for our protection.  They are not to pay for anyone else’s insurance/health.  “What about single mothers with multiple children?,” some may ask.  First, it was their responsibility to not get into the situation to have children in the first place.  I answer the last question with this question: “Why does my responsibility have to pay for someone else’s irresponsibility?”  I believe the only true welfare for the unfortunate and irresponsible is the Gospel of Jesus Christ: just the way the Bible says.  The only true hope for all of mankind is the Gospel.  Providing healthcare for the irresponsible will only breed more irresponsibility.

Then their is the issue of the House bill that will force me into the same irresponsible system.  I will have to be under the government-run plan over the next several years.  Basically all of us will.  It’s just one step closer to a single-payer system: our President’s goal, according to his own words (on the record).

What can I do?

Vote and pray!

Giving Thanks

665A0514Happy autumn to everyone!  I love fall, and the colors here in Pennsylvania are just about to peak!  My favorite are the reds since that is my favorite color.  And I love Thanksgiving.  It is a shame so many jump from Halloween to Christmas without thinking much about the Thanksgiving holiday in between.  What a blessing they miss!

Recently I was in a ladies’ class and was touched by a singular truth which was presented.  The lesson was about murmuring and complaining, a weakness which I am sure, all too many of us struggle against.  The teacher mentioned that usually, ‘the things we complain about are trivial things’…we could not go shopping as we planned; we were not able to buy that sweater we wanted; dinner did not turn out; or our family member dirted the freshly-cleaned floor.  She went on to explain however that, “We complain about the little things, when God has given us big things!”  The health to live, work, and even go shopping is an undeserved blessing itself.  We have a wonderful place to call home, and even more than that, A FAMILY; that must certainly be a gift from Heaven.  Beyond that, we have friends…a true friend is a precious thing.  We have our church family, and a pastor who cares for us and prays for us.  We have THE TRUTH of GOD’S WORD!  We could never comprehend what a blessing that is.  And through that precious book, the Bible, we have SALVATION!  Salvation from all our sin, from the punishment of sin, and from fear and eternal damnation.  Then, we have the ASSURANCE of that salvation from God’s Word (I John 5:13 –“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life,…”).  And we could go on forever about the BIG things God has given us while our small complaints pale in comparison!  So, this Thanksgiving, and all the year ’round, let us not “…complain about little things, when God has given us big things!”  Thanks be to God!665A0519

Psalm 111:2 –“The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.”

Upcoming Events This Fall

This is not necessarily a post about current things going on in our lives, or recent newlywed experiences–but of what you will be hearing about over the next several weeks. This week kind of starts a busy season off…
First off, everyone knows that Lindsey, Andrea’s sister, is coming out here to visit for two weeks. I can imagine you (or “yous” as they say in York County) will here a good deal about fun things that happen while she is with us. We will be seeing Lindsey in just an hour or so…believe me, Andrea is counting down the milliseconds!
This week also begins Mt. Zion’s missions conference. We will have at our church missionaries from the Arctic, Mexico, and South Africa. I want to write about that a few times also. We will be on our way to a staff luncheon with them in just an hour too. We pray that God will speak to our church as we seek God’s will about giving and service this week.

Around Thanksgiving time, my family will be here to visit for a few days. Black Friday is just after that, of course, too…

Then we are in the Christmas season all of the sudden. I guess my poor wife is the Grinch now, according to my sister-in-law and her blog post!  The Leslie side of the family will be making there way out to Pennsylvania to celebrate Christ’s birth with us.  May the time fly!

Life at Fairhaven Baptist College–Senior Year

Where shall I begin?  Most of the events I’m going to describe happenend less than a year ago, so they are fresh on my mind.

To start things off, I have to speak about last summer.  After I got back from a missions trip to Canada, my family moved to Kalamazoo, about an hour and a half from Lansing.  The m0ve was different for me; yet I knew I wouldn’t be at home much longer either.  Plus, that put us an hour and a half (it cut the driving time in half) from college and of course: Andrea.  In the last days of June, Andrea arrived back from Mexico for good.  She had been gone for almost a year, yet we still did not completely know eachother as much as we wanted.  Thankfully, I had the same two days off in a row every week at work, and the driver distance was now half of what it was.  That all translated into me being in Chesterton two weekdays a week for most of the summer.  Our relationship truly grew into love that summer.  Andrea’s mother, Mrs. Leslie, was becoming weaker, but she was still able to enjoy the blessings of God very much.  I really got to know Mr. and Mrs. Leslie very well last summer–the rest of the family too.  I am truly greatful to God for giving me that time to spend with Andrea and her family before school even started.

So Little Time

In early August, I received a call from Andrea who was at a Fall Push bus meeting at my bus captain’s home.  There she told me that I was going t0 be leading a bus for the month of September.  “Wow!  Me?,” I thought.  It was quite overwhelming to hear all of that, and know that I would be responsible for a bus full of children from a depressed inner-city.  At the same time, I was very excited.  What an incredible learning experience that was going to greet me when I moved back for the school year!

And that it did.  I was able to head up Bus #95 for five weeks: Fair Day, Skate Day, Candy Drop Day, Zoo Day, and Patriotic Sunday.  I have a ton of stories from each week, but I’ll highlight a few here.  Fair Day went extremly smooth for us (they had changed the name from Circus Day after 30 years of it being that).  Skate Day is a story and a half!  It downpoured for three days straight, and Sunday was the worst of it.  But, praise God, all of the busses had a great week despite the flooding that made nation-wide news.  Anniversary Sunday was a lot of fun for everyone, and no real obstacles came about.  I think I had 12 parents ride my bus that day too.  Then their was Zoo Day–our biggest day, and with no lost children at city zoo for the third largest city in America!  I am grateful to God for giving me a ministry oppurtunity last September where I was able to see new familes accept Christ and become regular attenders.

Coming swiftly at the heels of the Fall Push is the actual season of fall (ironically, the Fall Push is mostly during summer).  In late October–one year ago–the engagement event was starting to be in play for Andrea and I.  We went to S6303544-1an apple orchard together with her family, while enjoying all of the sights, smells, and treats of the season.  Then on November 1, I took a day off of school to visit my parents…as well as buy a ring!  Then on November 14, we were engaged.  Some of you may wonder what the “whole story” of our engagement was, but that’s not what this post is about.  This is supposed to be about college!  But after we were engaged, life began to move extremely quick.

In late November, Christmas lights came and went.  Andrea and I went with my junior year roommates and their respective others to the Weber Grill in downtown Chicago.  It was there that I discovered HUGE pretzel rolls with cheddar cheese spread.  Glory!  Anyways…  Something else that determined where Andrea and I are at now  happened that same night.  I had an interview with Assistant Pastor Chris Starr of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Brogue, PA about working at the church as an intern.  I had heard great things about Mt. Zion from plenty of people at Fairhaven, so I felt confident that this could be God’s will for us.  Pastor Chris is now one of the biggest mentors in my life (whether he believes it or not!).  God would pave the path plainly over the next few months.


Early in the first semester, I had the opportunity to preach alongside of one of classmates at Fairhaven Baptist Church’s New Years service.  I was so nervous, even if I didn’t look it!  God led me through that whole process!  It was such a blessing for me to preach about having a thirst for God in front of the church which I had grown to love and admire.  It was one of the highlights of college–not just because I was able to preach, but because God had changed my life through men behind that same pulpit I was preaching from.  I remember listening to men like Bob Kelly as  a sophomore in high school from that same pulpit.  It was then that I knew that God wanted me at Fairhaven.  And then I was somehow preaching to the same church.  What a humbling experience!

Wedding planning seemed to dominate the second semester of school.  I was finally beginning to realize that college was not going to last forever.  There is a life outside of Fairhaven Baptist College.  Reality really began to hit when I met with Dr. Voegtlin about what I was going to be doing after graduation.  He told me that Pastor Starr was probably going to be asking me to come to his church, and that I should prayerfully consider.  His words to me were, “I don’t know of a better place for a church planter to train and minister.”  Just a week or so after that meeting Pastor Randy Starr called me–another huge mentor in my life now.  I accepted the offer after truly finding God’s will in the whole matter with much prayer and seeking God.  My new bride and I were going to Pennsylvania in early June!  Then there was even more preparation…

Classes during my senior year were eventful to say the least.  Two of my “interesting” ones were Articulatory Phonetics and Second Language Acquisition Methodology.  Both are linguistics courses for future missionaries that help develop tools for language learning.  We all had a great time in those classes, and learned a lot from them.  My favorite though was Systematic Theology.  I just loved digging into the Bible and seeing all about God and his plans for us.  Especially the doctrine of salvation–we learned about all of the terms: justification, sanctification, redemption, adoption, atonement, regeneration, etc.  It all can sound so complex and “deep” to the average Christian.  And it is true that salvation is very deep.  The greatest truth I learned from that teacher is that salvation is so simple that a small child can understand and be born again: not even knowing what one of those terms I just mentioned means; but also so deep that we can enjoy our “so great a salvation” even more the more we discover the richness of God’s love.

In the process of discussing our wedding and honeymoon plans, Andrea and I decided that she could go back and visit her friends and ministry in Mexico once more before we were married.  The airfare was fairly cheap at the time, so it seemed worth it to both of us.  However, Andrea’s mom was becoming extremely weakened through her battle with cancer.  We all knew that it was terminal, which made us give this little trip for Andrea a second thought.  After gaining some wisdom about the situation, we decided that Andrea should still take the trip.  Looking back now, we realize that God was in that whole process, even though it may be hard to explain to someone not directly involved.  So Andrea left the Tuesday of Volleyball Marathon, and was going to be back the following Thursday.  That Friday because there was no school, I took a trip home to visit my family.  It was  early that Friday afternoon in March that I heard that Mrs. Leslie had passed away.  I knew that my main responsibility was to get Andrea back home as soon as possible.  She was able to be back the following day, praise the Lord.  The funeral was uplifting, to say the least.  It was joyful: how a funeral should be.  It was the kind of joy where some sadness was shown, but overall God received all of the glory in the life of a  sold old Christian servant: twenty years as the “dorm mom,” with countless  “daughters”  serving God with their husbands all over the world.  The college girls sang “So Little Time” and “Let the Lord Have His Way” as two specials for the service: perfectly fitting for Mrs. Ellen Leslie–now my mother-in-law in heaven!

As my final year was coming to a close, God continued to work.  Preaching Conference came at the end of April as normal, and spoke to my heart about something.  David Cloud preached a message about the “Emerging Church” and the effects that it already has had on fundamental Baptist churches.  After the sermon, Dr. Voegtlin challenged all of the graduates of Fairhaven Baptist College to stand.  I believe it was sad to him that some graduates fall into the temptations of changing things and making churches more like the world, and less like Christ.  What a message!  I think I am going to write an article to summarize all of this sometime in the future, and what it meant to me…

Graduation was speeding up on us!   Cap and gown fittings, graduation testimonies, finals, and rehearsals were all common words during those last few weeks.  Then one week after that, I was going to be married.  And two weeks after that I was moving 500 miles away to “Countryville”, PA–fully involved in the ministry in which I was trained for.  Exactly six days before graduation, myself and another college student were soulwinning on our bus route in Gary.  We knocked on one door when a lady who looked extremely familiar to me answered the door.  I couldn’t place her, though.  She said that her children used to ride the bus to Fairhaven every Sunday.  But both of her sons were killed in a car accident about 2 1/2 years before.  Then it all clicked to me…and her!  This was Joseph’s mother; the boy I had led to Christ during the Fall Push of my sophomore year!  That’s why they had suddenly stopped coming to church!  She told be that he and his brother were riding in the bed of a pickup when they were rear-ended on the corner of 23rd and Garfield.  They both died instantly.  She couldn’t stand to be in the house where they had lived with her only two children, so she moved to where we knocked on her door that afternoon.  I knew that he was saved, though.  He was in heaven!  Because of me?  Of course not.  God had miraculously led our paths together so that Joseph could be redeemed!  Praise the Lord!  I told his mom that, and she started to cry tears of joy.  She said, “He told me that he was a Christian all the time, and knew that he was going to go to heaven some day.”  This was all of the Lord’s working!  “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”

My class graduated on May 14, 2009 at 7:00pm.  Pastor Wilbur Unger preached the commencement–the same pastor who I had helped for two weeks the previous summer.  He preached a message on standing and working.  Everything seemed to be perfect that night…except college was completed for me.  It seemed a little sad to me, believe it or not.  There was going to be no more living in the dorm, Christmas Lights, cafeteria dining, snack shop, college basketball, passes, chapel…now its on to real life, I guessed.  It’s hard to believe that all of this was just five months ago–to the day, actually.  It seems so long ago.  I can’t even express in words how much I love Fairhaven Baptist Church and College.  I owe so much to God for leading me there.  Andrea and I both have huge responsibilities also, to stand and to be instant. We have been given far to much to just throw out and say, “Well, yes, we graduated from there, but let’s not talk about that right now.”  Instead, we owe a huge debt, spiritually speaking.  In any ministry we are involved in from now until the day we die, God’s Word must be the cornerstone.  We are not to be pleasing men, the world, or ourselves; but the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are to be zealous and hardworking in everything that we do, defending the faith in every step.  That’s what I got from Fairhaven Baptist College, and that’s what Andrea and I will continue to stand on.