I recently took on a lengthy Summer project of renovating an older house, in a college town where my son attends. This is probably the largest undertaking, outside of my on residence, I have ever attempted. My father, while nearing his eighties, has come along side of me to offer his encouragement, insight, and support.

Over the last few weeks, while working with my father and my son, I began thinking about many of the life lessons my father taught me. I have compiled some of the more significant here. It seems appropriate for me to release this blog post on Father’s Day.

  1. Being a model father is about the Father, not the model.

My Dad is a model father.

Of course, we all know what a model is. A model is a smaller imitation of the real thing. That’s right, when it comes to being a father, my Dad is a smaller imitation of the real thing.

Before you think I’m being too harsh toward my father, let me explain. When it came time in his life to be a father, Dad did not look to the example of his own father. Nor, did he look to the example of the earthly fathers he knew.

Instead, he sought the Scriptures to learn everything he could about how his Heavenly Father nurtures and cares for His Children. From there he learned and modeled unconditional love, passion, sacrifice, wisdom, instruction and so much more about raising and releasing his son.

I am not sure I truly understood this until I became a father myself. In one particular conversation, shortly after my first child was born, Dad put his arms around my shoulders as I held my new born daughter and said: “Son, I would much rather know that you are following God’s example than mine.”

That is when it hit me. Being a “model father” is all about THE FATHER, not about the model.

2. How hard you work is a reflection of your character.

Dad worked hard all his life. He knew the meaning of work, hard work. Often he would leave our house before I got up in the mornings and many times not return until after I was in bed. Even with working long hours and sometimes two jobs, Dad was still fully active and working around the house, or somewhere, during his off time.

I remember as a teenager and young adult realizing my Dad could and would work circle around me. He would not leave until the task was finished. Even today, with the physical limitations of age and life, he can still outwork many men half his age.

In 1 Corinthians 10:31, we see the instructions in “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Your work should be a reflection of God’s glory. In that respect, how hard you work is a reflection of your character.

3. Providing for your family is not only meaningful, it’s Spiritual.

Like I said, Dad worked hard all of his life. He worked hard to provide for the needs of his family. We did not have everything we wanted, but we had everything we needed.

Dad recognized the positive side of 1 Timothy 5:8 meant that providing for his family was as much a Spiritual endeavor and a physical one.

4. You are never too old to learn. The earliest you can ever begin learning something new is now.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is sitting in a crowded auditorium, as an eleven year old, watching Dad walk across the stage to received the College Degree he had earned. It was not until I was a little older that I realized how much of a challenge this was.

For much of his early life, Dad’s formal education had been somewhat limited. In fact, it was after he was married and became a father that he was the first enrollee and graduate from a new community technical college in our area, learned a trade that ultimately provided well for his family, and after working many days from before sun rise attended university in the evenings to earn his degree. He has lived out, the earliest you can begin to learn something new is NOW.

It is still amazing to watch how he enjoys learning something new. Even as a senior adult, he purchased his first computer and continues to learn about the technology that has passed by so many of his generation.

5. Knowing why things work the way they work is important.

For as long as I can remember, Dad has had a strong mechanical aptitude. For much of my young life, he did almost all of his own mechanic work on any automobile we had. As a young teenager, he would have me with him changing the oil, rotating tires or otherwise servicing whichever vehicle was due for maintenance. He taught me the importance of maintaining our assets. Understanding why things work (or should work) the way they work is important. This understanding helped him draw the line between doing it himself and seeking more professional help.

I have really come to appreciate this aspect of my Dad while working on my recent house project. As he has come along side, Dad encouraged me to not just replace what is broken, but to look at everything structurally connected. He has taken the time to explain how structural systems should work and how they interrelate within the construction of a house.

He has given me a greater appreciation for the importance of understanding why things work the way they work.

6. It is only failure if you quit.

Growing up, Dad required me to finish any activity I started. No matter how I much I like or dislike a particular activity, if I committed to participate, I had to see it through to completion. This was not only school, sports, or extracurricular activities. This included everyday things as well.

My first trip to the emergency room for sutures came not long after learning to ride a bicycle on two wheels. I drove off our drive way on to the tar and gravel road we lived on only to have a patch of loose gravel shift under by back wheel, sending me face first into the street. After a few sutures to close the wound on my chin and we were back home, the first thing Dad did was repair the damage to my bike and that afternoon he made me get out and ride again.

Falling down after taking the training wheels off is part of the process. Every result is something you can learn from. It is only failure if you quit.

7. Responsibility is something you live, not something you take.

I never once remember hearing Dad say he was “taking responsibility” for anything. Oh, he was responsible. He was a very responsible person.

Like work, Dad saw responsibility as a reflection of his character. He recognized that if responsibility was something he could take, that meant that it was something that could be taken away. But, if he lived responsibly, God guided him in his areas of responsibility. Therefore, Dad never “took” responsibility, he just quietly lived it.

8. Being a man is biological. Being a gentleman is optimal.

Growing up, Dad always taught me, you don’t have a choice being a man but you do have a choice being a gentleman. He modeled for me the importance of being kind to those who could do nothing for you in return.

Even now, I cannot help but inwardly chuckle as I watch him open doors for people significantly younger than himself. He is absolutely beaming and smiling as they walk through. Many appreciate his effort, but even when some do not, the blessing still belongs to him. Being a gentleman is optimal.

9. When more of your days are behind you than ahead you realize the importance of legacy.

Dad has really embraced this in the years since he became a grandfather. I am almost envious of the relationship he has with his grandchildren. He is one of their biggest fans and cheerleader. He has embraced teaching them at every opportunity he can. More than anything he desires their lives to be richer and more vibrant because of the investments he makes in each of them.

More than anything, he is living our Proverbs 13:22 by building an inheritance for his children’s children.

10. A Godly father nourishes his family tree for branches he will never see.

More than ever, I believe Dad realizes the direct impact he will have on future generations is limited. Time and age have a way of making one realize that. Dad has embraced this realization. With it he has recognized that he can have a positive influence in his family tree for many generations to come by how he invests in and fosters the relation with the generations he knows. Dad has taught me: A Godly father nourishes his family tree for branches he will never see.

Thank you Dad for these and many more life lessons.

From a son and a father, to all the fathers’ children reading this, Happy Father’s Day.

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As a parent, I have at times told my children “no” when they made a request. Sometimes, they would continue to ask for the same thing, as if thinking I might change my answer. As their father, I have always tried to answer “yes” but occasionally “no” is the answer that is for their best benefit.

Occasionally, I would feel the need to say: “‘No’ is a perfectly acceptable answer.” They understood that my “no” was not changing and it was time to stop asking.

Our Heavenly Father, in much the same way, may tell us “no” when we pray our requests to Him. Unfortunately, I don’t always readily accept that “‘NO’ is a perfectly acceptable answer” when I pray. I’m guessing I am probably not alone in this regard.

We do not always like it when God tells us NO.  It can help to realize a couple things.

We are in good company:

Job: Job was a Godly, faithful man. He refused to curse God. He lost his children, his wealth, and his health. He was covered with boils and sores. All he asked God for was some relief from his suffering. Job’s comments on God’s answer, (Job 30:20) “I cry out to You, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You regard me.”

King David: David was a man after God’s own heart. David is an ancestor to Jesus Christ. He was the King of Israel and a writer of Psalms. When his son was sick, David fasted and prayed for seven days. He was so intense in his prayer, his servants feared for the King’s life. But, God said NO and his baby died. (2 Samuel 12:16-23)

The Apostle Paul: Paul wrote most of the New Testament. He experienced miracles from God and was able to perform miracles. On many occasions God saved Paul from death. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul writes about his “thorn in the flesh.” We know the thorn was painful, evil, chronic and frequent. Paul was desperate for relief. But, God said NO. When God tells him why, Paul was able to handle it.

When God tells us NO, we have His promise of Grace.  It is reassuring to realize we are in good company, with people like Job, David and Paul.

God knows what is best for us:

God has promised that he has a plan for us. His plan is for our good, not our harm. God’s answer to our prayers will always be in agreement with His plan for us.

Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” says he Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God knows the results of both His “yes” and “no” to our requests. God only desires the best for us. His answer to our prayers will always lead to His best for us.

This morning, I’m thanking God for some of the “NO” answers. Because, I can now see in hindsight what He knew in foresight. His “no” really is for my good.

Reading Genesis 3 this morning and noticed something interesting.

Genesis 3:17-19New King James Version (NKJV)

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.  Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”

God did not curse Adam and Eve because of their sin. God continue to show love for them. God continued to provide for their needs. God continued to have a Divine relationship with Adam and Eve.

God did not curse their work. Indeed, God’s calling on Adam and Eve never changed. Their work was still a scared and Divine calling to care for creation and populate the Earth.

There were still consequences for their sin. Because of Adam and Eve’s sin, God cursed the ground.

God’s love for Adam and Eve never changed. God’s provision for Adam and Eve never changed. God’s calling for Adam and Eve never changed. Yet, the consequences of sin changed their environment. When their environment changed, life became more difficult.

The rest of the story is Adam and Eve never outlived the consequences of their sin. They also never outlived the love of God, the provision of God nor the calling of God. Even after their relationship with God was restored, the living environmental consequences of sin remained.

Even in forgiveness, sin changes our environment. Yet, the love, provision, and call of God never changes. Restoring the relationship changes us within the environment.

Does God Really Keep His Promises?

Posted: September 16, 2015 in Christian
Tags: , ,

The church I attend recently began a chronological reading through the Scriptures. This week, the reading included the fifteenth chapter of Genesis. In Genesis 15, we find one of the oldest recorded promises God personally makes to any man.

Chapter 15 of Genesis ends with God making a personal promise to Abram (Abraham). God promises a certain parcel of land to Abram and his descendants. Here is the promise in Genesis 15:18-21.

On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—  the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,  the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”

That is a very specific description of the land mass promised to Abram’s descendants by God. The “river of Egypt” is the Nile River, near current day Cairo. The great river Euphrates is just east of current day Bagdad, Iraq. If we look to the beginning and end of each of these rivers, we can define the boundaries of the land God promises to Abram and his descendants.

I started thinking; exactly what does the land mass of this promise look like? I googled a map of the Middle Eastern region and marked out the boundaries described in Genesis 15.

The land mass described has the Nile River as its Western boundary, the Euphrates River and Persian Gulf as its East boundary, the Great Sea (current day Mediterranean Sea) to the North and the Arabian Sea to the South. All of this land is promised to Abram’s descendants for as long as Abram has descendants.

This is a tremendous amount of land included in this promise. Today, in 2015, that land mass includes:

  • Part of Egypt
  • Part of Sudan
  • All of Yemen
  • All of Oman
  • Part of Iraq
  • All of Saudi Arabia
  • All of Jordan
  • All of Israel
  • All of Lebanon
  • Part of Syria
  • All of Kuwait
  • All of Qatar
  • All of the United Arab Emirates
  • Part of Turkey
  • All of Eritrea
  • Part of Ethiopia
  • The West Bank
  • The Gaza Strip

That is all or part of sixteen different modern day countries plus two recognized treaty regions.

Looking at this map, with a current day geo-political mindset, we may conclude that these are eighteen different distinct boundaries, with eighteen distinct peoples and cultures.

What about my original question? Does God really keep His promises?

Here is the interesting part of this entire geographic region of the Earth. Each of the people groups, who refer to one of these sixteen countries or two treaty regions as home, traces their ancestry back to one of two people… Ishmael or Isaac, the two sons of Abram.

Does God really keep His promises??? God is still faithfully keeping His promise made to Abram, thousands of years later in modern day 2015.

Does God really keep His promises? Absolutely, He does.

Abram trusted God to keep His promise. We can see, today, God is still keeping His promise.

We can trust Him to keep the promises He has made for us.

Yes!  God really does keep His promises.

I like old tools.  My favorite old tools to collect and rehabilitate are probably hand planes.  With hand planes, having a Cap Screw Screwdriver comes in handy for a properly fitted driver to adjust the plane iron cap screw.

Online retailers sell their version of these little tools for upwards of $20.  I decided to make mine from some of the things I had laying around the shop.

Here are the two versions of the Cap Screw Screwdriver I made.  One is hooded; the ferrule extends the length of and surrounds the blade.  The other has an exposed blade.  Both have turned hard maple doorknob style handles that fit nicely in the palm of the hand.  {I apologize now that this blog post is picture heavy.}

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In this blog, I will walk through the process of making the hooded version of the cap screw screwdriver.  The exposed blade version follows a similar process.  I will include notes with some of the differences when making the two versions.

I selected a 11/16” spade drill bit to make the blades for both drivers.  I marked a line across using a permanent ink marker to indicate where I will cut the bit to make the two blades.  The point section will be used to make the blade for the hooded version and the shaft section will be used for the exposed blade version.  Note: I also marked a line on the shaft where I will cut it for the exposed blade driver.

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A Dremel tool with a diamond wheel makes nice work of cutting the spade bit.  After cutting, we have the blanks for both driver blades.

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The spade bit is slightly thicker than the width of the cap screw slot.  A few seconds at the belt sander works nicely to thin the blade to the necessary thickness.  Be careful not to let the blade get too hot while sanding.  We do not want to lose the temper in the steel.

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Check to confirm a nice snug, but not too tight fit.

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Selected and trimmed hard maple blank for both drivers.  This blanks is just over 2” square and approximately 7 ½” long.  We will make both handles from this blank.

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Check each blade with my drill index to find the appropriate sized hold for each.  The hooded driver (point blade) will need a ¼” hole.  The exposed blade (shaft end) will need a 9/32” hole.

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Mark the center and drill ¼” hole, approximately 1” deep for the hooded blade.  We will use this center drilled hole to index out live center on the lathe.

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Using a four jaw chuck to secure the blanks and a 60 degree live center, indexed in the hole we just drilled.  Rough turn the blank round.

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Mark a pencil line approximately middle of the blank.  Use a thin parting tool, to mark the divide between the two handle blanks.  We will turn from the live center back to this dividing line for our first driver.

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Mark the length for to turn our tenon.  We will turn the tenon to ¾” diameter to the length indicated.

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Instead of a caliper, I used an open end ¾” to help size the tenon.

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Next, we will remover the blank and clamp in the bench vice so we can cut a slot through center of the tenon for the blade to fit into.  I used one of the pencil marks from when we found the center of the blank as a guide for cutting the slot.

Before removing the blank from the chuck, I marked one side with the jaw number, so I can make sure to return it to the same orientation after cutting the slot.

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Test fit the blade, using a soft mallet to seat it firmly in place.  Remove the blade and return the blank to the lathe.  I marked two lines to indicate the length to extend the tenon and turn a shoulder to transition to the handle.

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We will be using a piece of ¾” copper pipe for our ferrule.  After turning the tennon to the desired length, mark the pipe for the desired ferrule length.  This ferrule will extend the full length of the blade.  For the exposed blade screwdriver, mark the ferrule the same length as the tenon.

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Let’s go ahead and turn down the shoulder to remove some of the material out of our way so we can polish the copper ferrule, we just cut.

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The ferrule should fit snug on the tenon.  Using 1500 grit sand paper, remove any scratches and markings from the copper pipe.  After sanding, I polished with jeweler’s rouge polish.  Then removed the ferrule and set aside to finish turning the handle.  (Be careful.  Ferrule may be hot after polishing.)

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Now we will begin turning the handle to our desired shape.  We are only roughing in the design here.  We will part this handle before finish turning.

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Found a hidden crack in the middle of our handle blank.  It should not interfere with the function of our driver, so I will fill it with a little thin CA glue and wood shavings, then finish turning.

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Decided the original marked length was a little much for our handle.  Turn down the hand to its rough form, then part off the material for our first handle.

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Looks like our little fissure runs through our blank.  This driver is not intended to endure much force, so this fissure should not present a problem with our finished driver.  We will fill it with some thin CA and turning dust, then return to the lathe.

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Switched over to a collet chuck with a ¾” collet.  Our tenon fits nicely in the ¾” collet and is tightly secured in the chuck for final turning and sanding.  Sanded from 100 grit through 220 grit, then using a wire burned a line for added decoration.  After burning our line, I we return to sanding from 22 grit through 400 grit sand paper.

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Finished by applying friction polish, using a soft cloth.  Use the lathe to turn our handle creating the speed needed to create friction and build the desired level of polish.

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I like marking my shop built tools by inlaying a penny for the current year.  This gives me a historical reminder of the year the tool is made.  Rough up the underside of the penny with some 80 grit sand paper.  A drop of medium CA glue will secure the penny in our inlay.  By the way, a United States penny is ¾” in diameter, so a ¾” forstner bit is perfect for this inlay.

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Now, it is back to the work bench to insert the blade in the handle.  A few drops of medium CA glue in the center hole will help secure the blade.  A soft mallet provides enough persuasion to seat the blade completely.

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A little five minute epoxy on the tenon will secure the ferrule in place.  The epoxy gives us enough time to work the ferrule around and make sure we have complete coverage with the epoxy.  Clean off any excess epoxy then allow the epoxy to cure.  Be sure to clean any epoxy off the tip of the blade.

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This beautiful tool is ready to go to work.

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The process to make the exposed blade version of this tool is similar, so I won’t waste your time with the step-by-step.

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I hope you find this blog useful.  Please feel free to add any comments or suggestions for improvement.

Many years ago, Mama Bird and I made a commitment that we would strive to celebrate and enjoy every stage of our baby birds’ lives.  Having two baby birds as close as we do has caused each major mile stone to come back-to-back like a series of one-two punches.

Recently, there has been another rustling in the nest. Mama Bird and I are again (seemingly all too soon) feeling a rustling in the nest as another baby bird is spreading his wings and learning to fly.

There is a sense of restlessness.  Mama Bird and I are sensing another rustling in the nest.  It is the rustling that seems familiar, yet different.  The rustling is comforting yet confusing, exciting and exhausting. It is the rustling that reminds Mama Bird and I our days are drawing near to having our baby birds fly and leaving us with an empty nest.

This past year seems to have past extremely fast. Having one baby bird away in college and another grinding through his final college decisions, we have learned a few lessons about trusting God with our (almost) adult children. These lessons have not always been what we have wanted to accept or learn, but each has been real nonetheless.

  1. Mama Bird and I dedicated baby birds to God. We have no right of recall. – Deuteronomy 6:4-7 – Mama Bird and I promised to raise young adults.  Starting with baby birds, we committed ourselves to teaching and molding our baby birds toward maturity and spreading their own wings as young adults.
  2. God promises to make Baby Birds’ paths straight, as they continue to commit their ways to Him. – Proverbs 3:5-6 – Mama Bird and I have watched as each of our baby birds has committed their lives and eternity to following God’s plan.  Mama Bird and I are rejoicing as we see God make their paths clear.
  3. A Baby Bird’s path is not going to always look like the path Papa Bird would have chosen.  As long as they are following God’s path, Mama Bird and I will celebrate the milestones.  We will trust God and rest in knowing His ways are far better than anything we would design. – Isaiah 55:8-9 – Mama Bird and I have to understand God’s ways are better than anything we could conceive for your baby birds.  God’s ways are higher than our way, so Mama Bird and I are going to trust Him with the plans He has for our baby birds.
  4. As our youngest Baby Bird begins to step out of the nest along the path God is opening before him, Mama Bird and I are confident knowing he is walking in truth. – 3 John 1:4 – Baby Bird is secure in his relationship with Jesus Christ. He has committed his ways to an all powerful God, who always keeps His promises.
  5. Baby Birds are confident that God is mindful of them and God has a plan specifically designed for each of them. – Jeremiah 29:11

Yes.  There is another rustling in the nest. Mama Bird and I are not finding it much easier this time around.

Like many others, of a certain age, I was introduced to the Latin phrase “Carpe diem” by the movie, Dead Poets Society (1989, Touchstone Pictures).  In the movie, English teacher John Keating (played by Robin Williams) inspires his students to discover their love for poetry and seize the day.

Taking his students on a tour of the school grounds, Keating pauses at a display of classical poets.  It is here that he introduces his students to this inspiring phrase.  As the class stands looking at the memorial displayed, Keating makes a profound comparison of the poets and his students:

“They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? – – Carpe – – hear it? – – Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

Carpe diem, seize the day. It was and is an inspiring reminder to make the time we have worth something.

Carpe diem is not circumstantial, happenstancal, or even accidental. Carpe diem is intentional. Carpe diem is an intentional attitude of making every moment of every day matter.

More recently, while reading some of the devotional writings of R. C. Sproul, I was introduced to another Latin phrase Coram Deo.  Coram Deo literally means in the presence of God.  Coram Deo is another intentional action.  Coram Deo means an intentional movement toward and within the presence of God.

Now, I have not thought about Dead Poets Society in many years.  When I read this Latin reference in Sproul’s writings, it triggered something in my memory.  I began to remember the challenging words of John Keating inspiring his students. Carpe diem. Carpe diem!

I continued to think on these seemingly different settings, I began to put these phrases together:

Carpe diem – Seize the day

Coram Deo – In the presence of God

Carpe diem Coram Deo – Seize the day in the presence of God.

Seize the day in the presence of God.  Carpe diem Coram Deo.  How interesting that sounded as I rolled the phrase around in my head.

Could I find examples encouraging us to live it out? Carpe diem Coram Deo.

How about these:

Psalms 91:10, 12 (a Psalm of Moses) – The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Ephesians 5:15-17 – See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Luke 9:62 – But Jesus (referring to the costs of discipleship) said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Philippians 3:12-14 – Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 – Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

So, here we have the words of the Prophet Moses, the Apostle Paul, Doctor Luke, King David, King Solomon and our Savior Jesus Christ encouraging us to seize the day (Carpe diem) in the presence of God (Coram Deo).

Carpe diem Coram Deo. Carpe diem Coram Deo!

Are there other references?  I’m sure there are many.  Feel free to add more.

But, let these words encourage, inspire, empower and propel you.  Carpe diem Coram Deo.

Carpe diem Coram Deo.  Seize the day in the presence of God.

What is God calling you to seize from this day? Take hold of it.  Seize the day, while it is still here. Grasp it for everything its worth.  Take hold of its full potential.  This is a day like any other, it has the potential for extraordinary things.  It is up to each of us release the extraordinary from the ordinary out of this day.

As Keating inspired his students and our heroes of Scripture inspire us as well:  Make your life extraordinary…                             for the glory of our Lord.

Carpe diem Coram Deo.