Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Daddy



I already have tears in my eyes when I just say the word, "Daddy." So many memories come sweeping through my mind. I am a visual person, so my thoughts are also pictures, videos if you will, of times I spent with my Daddy. Some memories include sitting on his lap and trying to breath in the same rhythm as he did. I remember him spending countless hours in our front yard trying to grow grass in the hard Arizona desert clay. He was the "cool preacher" that went out and recon-ed amazing day camps for our young people's church group during the summers. I remember two of his three returns from Viet Nam. He looked awesome in his uniforms! I remember that terrible haircut I got just a week before senior pictures and how he let me sit on his lap and cry-again. I like to remember the caring, loving times because I know that above all else, my Daddy loved his children. There were five of us, but he was known to say that he wouldn't give away any of us. He served his country with honor and zeal, he served his Lord Jesus with honor and zeal, and he led his home with honor and zeal.

Was he perfect? I suppose not. I choose not to remember the imperfect times because God was always so evident in his life that any imperfections were covered by grace quickly.

Lately my mind has been really camping on the role of Daddies in our society. I don't watch sit coms for many reasons, but one big reason is the way men are portrayed. Have you noticed? Spineless, whipped, beer-dependent idiots. Men who do stand up for Christ are usually seen as predators or radicals in the media or in shows or movies. With so many absentee fathers out there, it is no wonder our sons are confused about their roles.

Dads, the way you treat your children is going to be their view of the Heavenly Father. Do you understand that? Think about the meaning behind these verses:

“What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:9-11)

It was natural for Jesus to liken the way we see our earthly fathers to the way we can view our heavenly Father.

Consider this: "And fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord," Ephesians 6:4 and "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged." Colossians 3:21.
It would be a heavy burden to know that your children may have a harder time walking to the cross because of something we have done. Let me ease our guilty minds a little here by saying that this certainly is not referring to one (or a few) moments of out of control-ness. Jesus and Paul are referring to habitual actions that anger children and turn their hearts away from their dads. Out of control tempers, alcoholism, neglect, passive fathering, spiritual dehydration, emotional distance, you fill in the blanks.

My Daddy was not a perfect man. If he were still here, he would tell you this himself. But he was known for trying to serve Christ each day, each moment, of his adult life. He sought out the Lord and His ways, and in Dad's imperfection, he paved the way for his children to seek that same Lord. I have had the blessing of returning as an adult to some of the places he pastored when I was a child. People have told me:
"I still have notes in my Bible from your Dad's sermons."
"What I know about Scripture, I learned from your Dad."
"I still remember the things he taught us in Mission Workshop."
"All the sermons Granddad ever preached are right up there on that shelf."

The enemy of our souls really wants to take our families and make them into something different from God's plan because then it will be harder for our children and grandchildren to find Christ and eternal life. Take it seriously! I am SO GLAD my Daddy did! I hope my heart beats in time with his...and HIS.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Text: Fanny J. Crosby
Music: William J. Kirkpatrick



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love
I'll shout with the millions on high.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lord Jesus

As I lay my head down to sleep a couple nights ago, I began to say my prayer like I always do as I drift off at night. I give God the last few moments of my day and all my cares and concerns, my thoughts about the day just completed, and my thanks for blessings and grace go into our final discussion of the day. I have found that I sleep much better when I drift off listening to His replies.

So, this night, I began like always, "Lord Jesus..." and my thoughts just came to a stand-still. It was as if He was saying, "Yes? I'm here..." And He led me in a discussion about what I was saying every night in that simple greeting.

First, I call to Him as Lord. The first dictionary definition says Lord is a noun that means "a person who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief, or ruler." As I thought about my Lord, I realized that it has been just recently, within the last 7 years as a matter of fact, that I have actually given God the Lordship over my life. I trusted Him as my Savior a long time ago, and once in a while, I would give Him temporary charge over my life, but it was too easy for me to take back control or authority and try to find a better way on my own. Until my "better ways" turned to "bitter ways" and I finally realized that only by letting God have complete control of my life, letting Him be Lord, would I find true release.

It's called submission: not a very contemporary idea, but nonetheless, necessary toward maturity. At the end of each day, by addressing my Lord, I am reminding myself and reaffirming with Him that He is the Lord of my life. Phillipians 3:12-16 "Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not yet consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also. In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained." Once I realized the freedom in submission to Jesus as my Lord, I have desired to bracket each day in recognition of this truth.

After acknowledging my Lord, I call Him by name: Jesus. As I lay there that night, I found myself overwhelmed with all that the name of Jesus means to me. Since I was a small child, I have loved Jesus. He has been my friend, my confidante, my teacher, the lover of my soul (even when I didn't). He chases away fear, evil, doubt, and guilt just by the saying of his name. Jesus is the specific, unique, only Son of God (John 3:16). He is The Way to reconciliation with the Father (John 14:6). Jesus is strength when I am weak to do the things He asks me to do (2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 4:13).

Jesus is the One Who commissioned me, called me to ministry. Whatever form that ministry takes, in whatever season my life is in, I answer the call because of my love for Him. When I consider all that He has carried me through, all that He has shown me, the things we have faced with grace because He was leading, I have no other choice but to serve Him. John 14: 21 & 23, "The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him. Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."

So, one night, not so long ago, I addressed my prayer to "My Lord, Jesus," and He replied, "Enough said."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Walking As a Freed Man

Moral Failure: What Now?

When people fall into moral failure, they have two choices. They can remain in their sin or they can repent and climb out. I’m noticing a trend in the Christian community these days to not only stay in that sin but to allow even more sin to enter. I’ve been curious as to why this is happening and what I have observed is disturbing.

Whether they like to admit it or not, many Christians are legalistic. We have a certain set of rules that we feel we should live by and for the most part, if we follow these “rules” we feel we are “okay.” But if just one of these “rules” is broken, we justify it with the covering of grace and let sin have it’s foothold.
We also have given sin degrees. Some sins we see as “bigger” than others. Visual sins we hold at a very high degree—sexual sins, relationship sins, sins of commission. You know, the sins we warn our youth to stay away from: premarital sex, divorce, adultery, etc. I’m sure you could add to the list. My point is that when a legalist sins, he or she tends to wallow in the failure. The way I see it, this is a very self-centered reaction.

Legalism is self-centered, though. The Pharisees were legalistic and we know how Jesus chastised them. When we focus on the sin, we are placing our efforts in the wrong direction. When we focus on our involvement or on our allowing the sin to enter our lives, we are being self-centered. Rather than making our sin list and checking it twice a day, our focus is supposed to be directed on God. No additions to that. Watch:

Luke 10:27: “Jesus answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

I see nothing in there about a list of rules. I see no if-then clauses. I am not saying that sin is unimportant, but focusing on it is the opposite of what we have been told to do. I propose that if we focus on loving God with all we have, sin will not be allowed to enter our hearts. Will we never sin? You know better than that. But again, when we focus on God and not ourselves, the sin will be noticed early, seen as something ugly to get rid of, and left behind.

So you have fallen into moral sin. Focus on God and deal with it as you must. If your sin involves someone else, you still have to focus on God and take care of that relationship. He will lead you and hopefully the other person involved into repentance. If the other person doesn’t repent, you are not “off the hook” or “out of favor” with God and thus free to continue in sin or add to it with a new sin.

I am just processing what I am seeing in the Christian world today. I do not want to sound dogmatic or uncompassionate. However, when we stand before God, He will deal with how we were obedient to His call and our “He did this” or “She did that” will not be accepted as an excuse for sin. We stand alone before our God—how did we deal with our sin? 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sin, HE is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Would you be described as “Condemned man walking” or “Cleansed man walking” ?