Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

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.

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.

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.

“Would you betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver?” that was the question she asked, as she laid the coins on the table.

We sometimes, with well meaning intentions, trivialize the message of Scripture.  In Matthew 26:15, Judas strikes a deal with the Chief Priest and the Sanhedrin to turn Jesus over to them.  They agreed on a price of 30 pieces of silver.

This afternoon, after a wonderful Easter Sunday at church, for some reason I found myself remembering this particular analogy from one of my childhood Sunday School lessons.

One particular Easter Sunday, my teacher asked the question: “Would you betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver?” She asked this while laying out 30 bright shiny new Kennedy half dollars on the table in our classroom.

She proceeded with:  “Judas made a deal to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.  Would you betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver?”

I’m not sure how old I was at the time, but I remember thinking to myself:  “For fifteen bucks?  No! I would not betray Jesus for fifteen dollars.  Shoot, I got more than fifteen dollars for my last birthday.  Fifteen dollars is not enough for me to betray Jesus. That Judas is really dumb.”

Funny thing is that analogy stuck in my mind for many years.  In fact, it stuck with me for more years than I remembered the name of the lady that taught that Sunday School class that day.

If you recall the rest of the story, Judas, after feeling remorse for his actions tries to return the silver coins to the Chief Priest.  After Judas throws the money on the floor and leaves the temple, we read that the thirty pieces of silver were used to purchase a piece of land to be used as a pauper cemetery.  So, the thirty pieces of silver were certainly worth more than the fifteen dollars from my Sunday School teacher’s analogy that day.

I chuckled to myself, as I first remembered this illustration from many years ago.  My first thoughts were we sometimes, with well meaning intentions, trivialize the truths of Scripture.  But, my smile began to fade as I thought more about the original question she asked.

“Would you betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver?”

Almost forty years later, the question weighs heavy in my mind.  Would I betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver?  Would I, really?

As I continue to think on this question, I recognized many times I have betrayed Jesus for far less than thirty pieces of silver.  Sometimes, I have betrayed Him for my own comfort.  I betrayed Him for my own convenience.  I betrayed Him for my own selfish desires.

If I were to ask the rest of you, I believe I may not be alone in this matter.

Oh, we love Jesus, but it’s a beautiful sunny day, so we’ll skip church this “one time.”  After all, Jesus understands. We need our family time.

Oh, we love Jesus, but the weather is so bad outside, I think we’ll just “stay home” this Sunday.  After all, Jesus understands. Besides, I don’t need to get sick and miss work Monday.

Oh, we love Jesus, but we cannot tell others about Him.  We don’t want to offend anybody.  After all, Jesus understands. Our Christian beliefs can be offensive to some people.

Oh, we love Jesus, but we cannot teach that Sunday School class.  After all, Jesus understands. We’re not good with “that” age.

Well let me remind us all… Jesus does understand.

Jesus understood Judas too.  Jesus understood Judas was about to betray Him.  Jesus understood the time had come for Judas to turn Him over to the Chief Priest.  Jesus understood the exchange Judas had made to betray Him.  Jesus understood Judas.

Jesus understood betrayal.

Jesus understands betrayal today, as well.

Today, it’s pretty easy for us to criticize Judas for betraying Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of silver.  Yet, we will betray Jesus for far less. Sometimes, our price is as cheap as our own convenience.

In my mind, I can still see that little table with those thirty Kennedy half dollars.  While the illustration seems to cheapen Judas’ price, the truth was not compromised.  Because, that teacher (whose name I cannot even recall) asked a question that resurfaced in my memory nearly forty years later.

“Would you betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver?”

If we’re all honest, our price is far less than the silver Judas received.  Often times, our price is even less than the fifteen dollars on the classroom table that day.

Today, I ask you:  “What is your price to betray Jesus?”

Now that your price has come to your attention, what are you going to do about it?

Does Hell Know Our Name?

Posted: March 23, 2015 in Christian
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I often read about the early church described in Acts. How God’s power and Holy Spirit seemed to be real and present in every believer.

That often leads me to wonder, “Why do we not see the church demonstrating God’s power in the same ways today?” What has happened between the day of Pentecost and today? When did the church move from being an influence in the world to looking like the world?

In Matthew 16, Jesus promises us: “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

Gates are defensive weapons. The only way that gates can prevail against us is if we (the church) continue to sit in the pews and do nothing to reach a lost world.

We have moved from following the Divine process for Christ’s church (Acts 2:41-47) to seeking the next big program. Too many churches maintain shallow pulpits, with shallow sermons, filling shallow minds and creating shallow believers. We do all this in the name of progress while doing very little to change lives for Jesus Christ.

At times I feel we have gone too far to try to entice the world. Many of our churches have begun to look like the world trying to find Christ, rather than looking like Christ seeking the world. God forbid that we should become so seeker friendly that we forsake the One we should be seeking.

Before we give into thinking this is a new phenomenon, let’s take another look at a few “believers” in Acts. In the 19th chapter of Acts, we find seven sons of Sceva and a shallow preacher, they followed, who thought they could do the work of Christ without the power of Christ. They set out to confront evil “by Jesus whom Paul preaches” (Acts 19:13).

These men knew about Jesus, but did not know Jesus. As such, when they confronted the ambassador from Hell, he did not know them. He responded “Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15) He then proceeded to assault them and beat them until all eight ran away bruised, battered and naked.

The seven sons of Sceva found that a shallow preacher and a shallow understanding of God’s Word can lead to deep trouble. Perhaps if they had endured the sound preaching of Paul, instead they would have known the truth. Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.

I thank God for pastors that take deep dives into the Word of God and lead their churches to a deeper understanding and relationship with Jesus Christ. Pastors, that encourage their flock to study and know God’s Word, produce a church after God’s heart. The church that dives deeper comes out stronger and better armed for the battles.  A church like that produces strong Christians. A church like that rattles the gates of Hell.

Believers that rattle Hell’s gates, Hell knows… by name.

Ironic, isn’t it? Hell recognizes true Christians and knows them by name.

Which brings me back to the question… Does Hell know your name?

Naughty or Nice

Posted: December 20, 2014 in Christian
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Christmas is a few days away.  All around there is talk of a little guy making a list and checking it twice… the “Nice List” or the “Naughty List.”  Which list are you on?

All of us like to believe we are on the nice list, don’t we?  But, if we are really honest, we have to admit, we’re not always so nice.

Do you know someone who you are absolutely positive if there really is a naughty list, this person is one it?  We all do. But, do those “naughty” people receive Christmas presents?

Ever wonder why the naughty kids received presents too?

The legend of Santa Claus is based on a man, who lived a long time ago, named Nicholas.  We know him as St. Nicholas, because saint means someone who belongs to God.

In St. Nicholas’ town there were many poor children. They didn’t have enough food, clothes, or toys. St. Nicholas used his money to buy things for the children, they could not buy for themselves. He didn’t want them to be embarrassed by his gifts, so he gave secretly.

St. Nicholas also told everyone about Jesus and how much God loved them. Many people became Christians because of what St. Nicholas said and did.

St. Nicholas loved Jesus and he loved children. So, when it came to the naughty or nice lists, Nicholas chose to look at the lists the way God looks at these lists.

When God looks at the nice list, He sees People Who Need to Know Jesus.  When God looks at the naughty list, He sees People Who Need to Know Jesus.

Because of how much St. Nicholas loved Jesus, and because of the many gifts he gave the children of his town, we still remember St. Nicholas at Christmas time. All of the gifts he gave, and all of the Christmas presents we give, are to remind us of the very best gift anyone ever gave: when God the Father gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to us for our salvation.

We all know a lot about Christmas. But, many stop short of knowing the reason for Christmas.

The reason for Christmas is we needed something we could not give ourselves. The Bible says “All have sinned.” (Romans 3:23) Because of sin, we are all on a naughty list we cannot remove ourselves from.

The reason for Christmas is God provided a way for us to be removed from the naughty list. Because, while we were still sinners, God gave His Son to redeem our overwhelming sin debt. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8) We celebrate God giving His Son, by celebrating the birth of Jesus during the Christmas Season. But, if at Christmas we only remember Jesus as the Babe in the manger, we miss the whole Reason for the Season.

The reason for Christmas is the giving and receiving of gifts. My name might be on the biggest gift, with the prettiest wrapping and bows, under the tree. But, if I never accept and open that gift it will never do me any good. God has offered us the best gift we could ever receive, complete forgiveness of our sin. It is up to us to receive it. We can receive the Greatest Gift, the real Reason for the Season. (Romans 10:9)

May the Reason for the Season, the infinite gift of Christmas, be yours this year.

Merry Christmas!!!