Posts Tagged ‘Legacy’

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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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.

My daughter is the Valedictorian of her graduating class for 2014.  During her Graduation Address, she gave some great advice for her classmates. I asked her permission to include the transcript of her speech as a guest blog.


Family, Friends, Faculty, Staff, board members, and Mr. John David Phillips, thank you on behalf of the class of 2014 for coming and celebrating with us on all of our accomplishments.  Thank you, Mr. Phillips, for your inspirational message.  If it were not for all of your love, encouragement, and support through the years, we probably would not be at this point in our lives.  To the Class of 2014, it is my honor and privilege to be among the first to address you as GRADUATES of Faith Christian School.

Now, classmates, over the years we have experienced many changes through teachers, staff, and classmates that have come and gone.  We have also seen the school grow and the campus change.  When we were in elementary school, we played on a playground which is now a parking lot and were picked up by our moms where the office is now.  We have seen our long hope of finally eating lunch in a lunchroom be fulfilled.  We have adapted through all of the changes and have become closer together.  Especially in the last few weeks, we have begun to notice that “Sometimes we are all too quick to count down the days that we forget to make the days count.”  But now this is the night we have dreamed about and thought would never come.  It is here we complete our mission at Faith Christian and must head on to become doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, military leaders, or whatever career we choose.

Like a jigsaw puzzle contains many pieces and is not complete unless all pieces are put together.  We are a class and when one is absent; it is like a piece is missing from our class.  In a puzzle all of the pieces must be arranged correctly to reveal the picture which is its sole purpose.  Looking at you I see athletes, artists, some who are laid-back, some who are highly motivated, friends, and most important of all; I see family.  All of us are unique individuals –or puzzle pieces– that have come together to form our small, unique class of twenty three.   Our entire life and career at Faith has had one goal which was to prepare us to go on to adulthood.

I know that everyone is trying to give us advice and it is probably confusing us more than helping, if most of us have even listened to it at all.  We have been like a chain where each link represents every one of us, classmates, our teachers, family, and administration.   A chain can be used for many purposes, but all the links must work together to be successful. Our ‘chain’s’ purpose has been to prepare us for tonight, High School Graduation.

But I have one thing to tell you before we complete our journey at Faith.   Just like we have been like a chain for all these years, we are still a link even as we go our separate ways.   Even though the chances of all of us being together again are slim, we are still a link in that chain.  The chain is our high school career and each of us is still a link in it.  Tonight seniors, I have a gift for you to help you remember what I am telling you.  This is the surprise I have promised you.  I have a set of carabineer clips for you and your parents, like the chain has many purposes.   It can be used for hiking, holding your keys, hooking ropes together, and many other purposes as well. These clips can be linked together to form a chain.

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You are probably wondering how this clip relates to me.   Well, like a carabineer clip has many purposes, we each have a purpose that is unique to each of us.  In Proverbs 16: 9, the Bible says, “In their hearts humans plan their course but the Lord establishes their steps.”  God has created us with a special plan and purpose for each of us.  But it is up to us to discover our purpose and to follow it.  Most of us have an idea of where we would like to be whether it is owning a business, working in a hospital, or working for a great company far away. That may be our plan, but God may also have another idea which will be greater than any of our selfish wants or desires for our lives.  We must remember what we have been taught for the many years here at Faith, and follow God’s plan for us. Like Mr. McDaniel said Tuesday at Baccalaureate, Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “   Each of our plans is unique.    I have given each of you seniors a carabineer clip so that you can remember not only our special class, but also to fulfill your purpose.  You can use this clip however you choose, even though I do not suggest using this one to climb with it.  I challenge each of you that every time you see this that it will remind you of our class and to follow your purpose.  Always remember you are a link in the chain.

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Now, classmates, we have spent most of our lives in one place.  If nothing else, we have learned this year that time flies by quickly.  This past week as we were hanging out at the lake and working around school we all realized that we could not spend enough time together.  Do not take time for granted.  Do not miss an opportunity to fulfill your purpose.  I am not saying it will be easy all the time, but as E. E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”  We cannot fulfill our purpose on our own.  We must rely on God for help, but that also requires work from us.  We must always strive to do our best at everything.  As one of the fastest runners to ever live, Steve Prefontaine, said, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”  Do not sacrifice the opportunity to fulfill your purpose, you may not have another chance.

Now, classmates, we have spent the many hours of studying and preparing ourselves for the next stage of life. We have turned in our final tests, quizzes, papers, and assignments to Faith.  We have spent the countless hours together in class, sports practices, athletic games, club meetings, choir concerts, and the many other afterschool events.  I urge you to not forget the great times together and all of the sweet memories this school has brought to us, like singing and jamming out with all of the teachers.  We are off to continue our lives and fulfill our perfect purpose planned by God.  Remember to rely on Him and He will reveal the way to go.  Classmates, Dr. Seuss says it best

“You’re off to great places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,

So… get on your way!”

Classmates, let’s get on our way to finding our purpose and living the rest of our lives. Do not forget that our chain does not break tonight because we are all going our own ways, but instead each link is fulfilling its purpose. Remember you are a link in this chain and now, we must get on our way.


Now it is your turn. What words of wisdom and great advice do you have for the Class of 2014?

Today (April 3, 2014) is the 18,262nd day of my life on this Earth. When you consider I have completed my first half century, it seems like a long time. The Bible equates a full life to 70 years. That is approximately 25,567 days. That means I have something slightly over 7,000 days remaining to fulfill the mission God has given me.  Anything beyond that time is simply His grace and favor.

As I sit here this morning, I am filled with the memory of my quiet time journey, a decade ago, during my 40th year.  See, at 40, I was perfectly willing to accept that I had crossed over into “middle age.”  So, the every day of my 40th year, was highlighted by a common theme during my morning quiet time.  That theme:  “God:  How do You want the last half of my life to look?”

During that year, my life focus began to shift… from practice to purpose… from success to significance… from life to legacy… from generalities to generations.

There are many great lessons and memories from those morning devotionals.  One that probably stands out above most was the morning I came to Psalm 90.  The thoughts of that day impacted me in such a way that this has become a recurring theme each year on my birthday.  Psalm 90 is a Psalm of Moses.  As we approach verse 12, Moses voices this prayer to God:

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (NIV)

At first, it appears that Moses is asking God to let him know the number of days he has to live so he knows how long he has to learn. As I meditated on this passage, I began to realize that Moses was not asking God to show him how to count the number of his days.  Instead, he was asking God to show him how to make the number of his days count.  In making the number of his days count, he will gain a heart of wisdom and leave a legacy for future generations.

As Believers we are challenged to live our lives is such a way that when the number of our days is complete, the numbered days count. We are given many examples of people who have done just that.

Noah was over 100 years old when God called him to build the Ark to save the human race from extinction.

Abraham was 99 when he realized God’s promise to make him the father of many nations, through the birth of Isaac.

Daniel and his three friends were young teenagers when they entered Babylon captivity and stood up to King Nebuchadnezzar.

Joshua and Caleb were in their eighties, and the last of their generation, when they fought in the final battle of Jericho.

Esther was a young lady when she married the king and saved Israel.

Moses lived 40 years in Egypt and another 40 years in Midian before God called him to free Israel from Pharaoh. It was another 80 years before he wrote what we know as Psalm 90.

Each of these examples teaches us we are never too old or too young to fulfill God’s call.  Regardless of their age, these people knew that fulfilling God’s call to leave a legacy required diligence and purpose.

There are countless other examples, even in modern history, of people who have made a major impact on the world.  All because, they had a vision beyond their own lifetime. They choose to leave a legacy bigger than themselves.

Our family recently had the opportunity to visit Spain.  In Barcelona, there is a basilica, La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family).  The church was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (1852–1926).  Construction began on this church in 1882 and continues to this day.  The stark contrast of the massive ancient design and the modern construction equipment and processes is interesting to behold.  Project leaders now hope to complete this construction by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.  How great of a visionary did Gaudi have to be to envision something so massive that it could never be completed during his lifetime?  In fact, many of the tools currently used in the construction of the project were not even conceived at the time of the building’s design.  Gaudi certainly had a vision and desire to impact a world beyond his own life.

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La Sagrada Familia

In my life, I have wasted too much time on things that won’t last.  I have no idea how many days I have remaining, only God knows.  Today, as I enter my second half century, my prayer is the same, just more fervently, as Moses taught:

Lord, I trust you to count the number of my days. Please teach me to make the number of my days count.

At 40, I prayed I would be a role model for my children.  I prayed that God would specifically call and equip each with everything each needed to fulfill the purpose He has set before them.

Now, at 50, I am amazed to see how God is using and equipping each of my children individually.  I am thankful for and affirm the calling God has placed on their individual lives. My prayer is that I will be the coach and councilor each needs to continue to grow in His likeness and fulfill His purpose.

When life is over two dates will define the number of one’s days, the date born and the date died. The dash in between will measure the number of days. Whether the number of those days counts for anything more than a dash on a tombstone will be determined by the legacy one leaves.

I want the legacy God allows me to leave to far outweigh the dash on my grave. I can only do that if I allow Him to give me a heart of wisdom, a vision of His kingdom and a love for His people.

As long as God continues to give me days to number, I want to make the numbered days to count.

Let’s go make this numbered day count for something bigger than ourselves.