Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

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.

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.

Does Hell Know Our Name?

Posted: March 23, 2015 in Christian
Tags: , , , , , ,

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?

Created for a Purpose

Posted: September 17, 2014 in Christian, Woodworking
Tags: , , , ,

Four friends, each a craftsman, stand admiring a piece displayed in the gallery.

The first steps forward and says: “Gentlemen, this is a beautiful example of my craft of woodworking. Notice the choice of mahogany, maple and ebony expertly jointed and finished.  Look at the subtle curves and lustrous finish of this fine hollow form.  It is a talented woodworker that can make such an exquisite box.  This is truly a masterpiece.”

The second friend says: “I agree the woodwork is good, but what really makes this piece so grand is when the maker employed my craft of sculpting. Notice on this end the graceful scroll work and carving to form the handle.  The expert sculpting is what really makes this piece so special.  This is truly a masterpiece.”

The third speaks up: “Guys, the woodworking and sculpting are nice. But, the thing that really sets this piece apart from all the rest is the way the maker employed my craft of symmography.  Notice how the string work wraps around and beautifully completes the presentation by combining the woodworking and sculpting elements together to make a very beautiful display.  This is truly a masterpiece.”

The fourth man, a luthier by craft, says nothing. He steps forward, picks up the piece and admires it, as he caresses the beautiful finish with his hands.  Then, he nuzzles the beautifully exquisite sculpted stringed box to his cheek, takes another piece from the display and draws it across the strings producing a melodious sound.  After playing a beautiful concerto, the craftsman carefully places the creation back in its display.  He then turns to his companions: “Friends, I created this violin for the purpose of making beautiful music.  I placed that purpose within its design.  And, so it was waiting for my hands to fulfill.”

Three friends had looked on the same display, each through the bias of his experience. The creator knew the purpose and how to cause his creation to respond with that purpose.

A violin is basically a wood box with four strings. It requires the master’s touch to produce beautiful music.

My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.Psalm 139:15-16

God created each of us for a purpose. People may look at us through the bias of their own lives.  Yet, God knows the purpose for which He created us.  God placed our purpose within our design to be used by Him.  It is when we submit to the Master that we can truly become the masterpiece of His design.

The more I read and study Scripture, the more firmly rooted my Christian beliefs become.  For many years, I would describe myself as anything but liberal.  However, after many years of daily consistent Bible study, I have come to the conclusion; I might just be a liberal Christian.

That may come as a shock to some of you, who know me.  But, I am absolutely convinced.

Why? Because, as I read Scripture, I realize more and more how liberal God truly is.

  • God offers grace liberally. – 2 Corinthians 9:8
  • God offers eternal life liberally, to whosoever believes. – John 3:16
  • God gives wisdom liberally, to all who seek him first. – James 1:5
  • God shows mercy liberally, to those that fear Him. – Psalms 103:17
  • God gives strength liberally, to those that wait on Him. – Isaiah 40:31
  • God blesses liberally, all who honor Him first. – Malachi 3:10
  • God gives joy liberally, to all who abide in His love. – John 15:11
  • God gives peace liberally, to those whose mind is steadfast on Him. – Isaiah 26:3
  • God gives life liberally, to all that trust in Jesus Christ. – John 10:10
  • God gives Himself liberally, to all who worship Him. – Ephesians 3:14-20

Looking at it this way, I believe I am a liberal Christian, serving a Liberal God.

Some of you are disappointed “Liberal” did not mean what you thought it would.  Others are thinking: “I might be a liberal Christian, too.”

What other ways have you found God to be liberal toward His people?