Going Deeper at Chapelwood
by Fred Keinz
I am a family/event/commercial photographer originally from Toronto who has been in Houston for 30 years. I started attending Chapelwood 18 years ago because my children wanted to be in the same Sunday School as their friends. They’re grown now: my daughter is in school in Washington, D.C. and my son graduated two years ago and is now back in Houston.
I was raised by a single mom who loved God and had a heart to serve others. At night before I went to bed I would see her read and do her devotions. She would often say short prayers out loud. I knew she had a close relationship with God and she trusted him. Mom took me to church every Sunday (sometimes I would go kicking and screaming), but now as I look back, I’m so glad she stayed the course and encouraged me. Parents: please know that ear pulling is ok. Ears will go back to normal.
As a child, I had opportunities through church to attend summer camp and winter retreats. There I learned to enjoy the outdoors so much that later, I worked at a Christian sports camp. There were several camp counsellors and professional athletes there who left an impression on me. Their love for God and willingness to take time from their training made a difference by encouraging campers to develop skills and be the best they could be.
Time passed, and then a change in life circumstances happened. Thirteen years ago I went through a divorce.
A short time after that I went by the church office and asked about some of the programs that might be available for men. One new opportunity that was just starting up was Men's Life. It was a place were guys from all ages and walks of life could gather and talk about material on how we could each grow into the man that God intended us be. Each week we would meet, watch a video, and then break into small groups for discussion. That is where the growth happens – with realizations of where you are, what you want to move towards, and what you want to be more like. It was applicable to every man. We could share honestly in our small groups about situations we were in, about our worries about the future, and about how to deal with and lead in the present. Just when I thought I was in a unique place, I found out we all had similarities that we could share and learn from.
There were opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and adventure on men's retreats and ski trips.
It all added up to making men better dads, husbands, and friends to people meaningful in their lives.
Shortly after I started attending Men's Life another opportunity opened up - to join a men's Bible study. This group had been meeting since 2000. I was the "token single guy" but I loved how these godly men loved and served their wives and family. They had a heart and purpose to serve.
Not long after that there was an opportunity to serve on a Summit mission trip. I told some friends who knew me well what I was doing and I will always remember their comment: “Why are you going on Summit? You hammer like lightning – you rarely strike twice in the same place.” Despite the positive affirmation, I went anyway. It was exciting to clearly see God at work in the lives of students as they served on our project in the day and worshiped in the evening. The realization we were all serving as a team making a difference in someone else's life was encouraging. I think there we all got a chance to experience ourselves at our best.
If someone had told me 15 years ago that today I would be doing what I am doing and involved in what I’m involved in, I would have looked at them as if they had fallen off a turnip truck. Looking back now I realize that God was with me in the middle of it all.
Something I have done for myself is to create a playlist. I have several favorite sermons from years past, songs that are meaningful to me (I like good alternative Christian music), and devotionals. They are stored on my iPod so I can access them when I am driving through the day or am on a road trip. This is a resource that serves as a gentle reminder of who I am and what I want to become more of. I think of it as my personal mission statement.
If you decide to create a playlist, it is important to find verses that are meaningful. It can become a way you find comfort in a crisis. As for me, I am learning the benefit of having short conversational thoughts and prayers throughout the day. I pray for my family, my friends, and the day ahead, and am thankful for the blessings in my life.
One of the things I’ve learned from all these men is how important it is to live life HUMBLY and with YOUR EYES OPEN. Look for an opportunity to serve or do something that is kind and unexpected. Learn to live a life filled with LOVE, ADVENTURE, HUMOR and PURPOSE.
Don't forget to have fun along the way. :)
Another realization is how blessed I am to have a good, healthy network of couples that include guys who love their wives and have a desire to serve and make our community and church a better place. My dear couple friends have invited me to be part of their family during the holidays and through the year. I am so grateful for their friendship.
As you reflect back on your life, remember those who have influenced, encouraged, and loved you. God has always been there, sometimes in the background. As we move forward we are being shaped. It's important to be introspective every once in a while so you can measure growth and where you once were.
One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." It humbles me.
I am grateful to be part of the Chapelwood community.
With a grateful heart,