Friday, June 29, 2007

06 29 07 They Become a New Family

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife,
and they become a new family.”
(Genesis 2:24 NET)

Marriage: a unique family unit instituted by God involving one man and one woman in a well-defined covenant relationship of love, sacrifice, commitment, loyalty, protection, provision, pledged by solemn oath. It is lived from the heart and that love is reflected outwardly as we live out the covenant. Husband and wife become a new family, unique and complete, even before the children come along! I realize that in the imperfect and lust-filled world we live in, we all have had a part in messing up the perfect plan of God. Without digressing too much here, let me clarify one item: husband and wife are still the primary relationship in a family! It’s His grace that allows us to function within His imperfect will. That’s another topic however!

In Genesis we read that a man leaves his father and mother. Sometimes that’s the hardest part is getting a man to physically and emotionally leave, especially his momma! Too many men today are looking for a new momma, not a wife and family partner! A real man unites or cleaves to his wife in marriage. (“dabaq” in Hebrew; joined together, or stuck, as in concrete!)

“....... joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great---
but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the Church.”
(Ephesians 5:31-32 NET)

Paul re-emphasizes this relationship in Ephesians saying a husband is joined to his wife (“proskollao” in Greek or glued together). Remember the crazy glue commercial some years back? It would glue flesh together if you weren’t careful (I did it more than once). Nothing (no one) should separate, or come between a husband / wife relationship! When it happens, it tears at the flesh, even the hearts of the family.

Paul goes further to talk about a mystery. While the covenant of marriage can be mysterious at times, Paul is relating marriage to our relationship with Christ as a body of believers. We are His bride and we are to be one with Him, leaving the world and cleaving to Him like glue, joining with Christ. Our relationship with Him and each other should show the world His redemptive and unconditional love toward us. May our marriages, our families, reflect the Lord’s relationship with us. Don’t stand for lies and excuses. Where sin abounds, let’s show the truth with grace. God’s love covers a multitude of sin, yet we all must be willing to do our part in the covenant. We need to be willing to repent, obediently follow after Him, and turn from our pasts! We also must be willing to help and encourage one another along the way!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

06 28 07 Trading Reputation for Integrity

“Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you?”
(James 4:1)

So many differences and disputes could easily be avoided if we would just realize how selfish and arrogant we become. I want… I want… I want… How many of us have overheard our own voice whispering, “How in the world did they get that?” or “Why are they in that position and not me?” Oh it’s so nice to say how unselfish we are, how we give to this charity and that shelter, and how glad we are that our friend received the award; on the outside. Inside we may be seething! These feelings often boil over into harsh words, lies, gossiping, backbiting and at times a break-up of friendships, even family bonds.

"Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters.”
(James 4:11)

This was and is happening in the Church! I heard it said that ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people. I feel sorry for that gentleman. I still love working with people, but people, yes even CHRISTIANS, can be challenging! If I had a dime for every time I was misunderstood, accused of false motives, or just plain talked about, I’d have a few more dimes for sure. But people will be people. We still should not talk evil about them, especially our fellow family of believers!! We can and should confront sin in a loving and yet convincing way. But condemnation has no place in our walk, since we ourselves have not been condemned. Where sin abounds, grace must too flourish!

Oh that we can reflect the Savior in our relationships, especially within the Church. It’s not about me, but Christ and others. I have no reputation (what others may think of me), but my integrity (what God knows about me) is vital to my effectiveness for the Lord.

Lord, allow me to see others with spiritual eyes, the way you first looked upon my wretched soul!
06 27 07 ‘Nuff Said

“Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak…”
(James 1:19)

There are many words being spoken all over the place in today’s world. A fresh word from God, a new prophecy, someone may even have a word from God just for you! With so much talk, I have been doing my best to listen more. I have been guilty of having too much to say on many occasions and have the teeth marks in my feet to prove it! It’s hard for me, but I am giving this one to the Holy Spirit: help me to know when to speak and what to say, so that the words will glorify and honor God!

“With it (the tongue) we bless the Lord and Father,
and with it we curse people made in God’s image.”
(James 3:9)

Many times I have found myself regretting what I have flippantly said, thinking I was right in speaking up. I will tell you this: it is better to have said nothing than to say things that were worth nothing, but pain to someone else. How can I possibly just finish speaking to my DADDY in heaven (blessing Him) and five minutes later lose control and blow it with my wife or children (cursing people)? It’s simple: I have not allowed the Spirit to control my tongue! Out of my mouth come the things within my heart. More importantly, I must allow the Spirit of God to have complete control of my heart at all times!

“So be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the Lord’s return.”
(James 5:7)

There is GOOD NEWS! Christ is coming back real soon. That DAY is closer now than it was yesterday. We brothers and sisters, believers, must live in anticipation of that DAY! It will make a little more tolerable in this day. The things I endure today will soon be over and forgotten the minute I see Jesus’ face. All I have left is today to honor Him, so I desire for the Spirit to give me the patience, the endurance, and the control not to blow another today!

“So confess your sins to one another
and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”
(James 5:16)

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of apologizing. That alone spurs me on to stop sinning so much. It’s embarrassing to me. But nevertheless, I am so thankful for my wife, children, and a few close friends in whom I can trust with my confessions, apologies, and continuous friendship of accountability. We simply can’t allow for sin to grow and mold within our hearts. We need daily healing (minute-by-minute in my case!). We need one another and we need the Spirit of the living God. ‘Nuff said?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

06 26 07 Down Doesn’t Have to Mean Out

“And do this because we know the time, that it is already the hour for us to awake from our sleep, for our salvation is now nearer than when we became believers……make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.” (Romans 13:11-14)

I want to think that invisible eternal work is being done in an otherwise thankless and fruitless segment of ministry. Our actions are important. We have to see the entire picture, not just our segment of life’s story.

One split decision can turn a family, a nation, even all mankind upside down. We know Adam’s decision all too well. Remember Achan (Joshua 6-7) and how his greed caused the annihilation of his family and God’s judgment upon Israel? The Bible is also filled with examples of those who have obeyed, stood their ground, and passed the test, bringing blessings to many.

We as a Christian race are indeed a community. Paul encourages us to have a sense of belonging to one another, devotion to one another, harmony with one another, and love toward one another (Romans 12-13). This is rather easy when things are going well!

I struggle when I feel down and out, invisible, and ineffective. My human nature is to recoil and stay within my comfort zone. I don’t want to face another failure, risk rejection, or having to prove myself all over again. I believe the lie that I am only effective when good things are happening. God tells me that down doesn’t have to mean out however!

Many of our most effective days are when we face doubt, failure, and unplanned occurrences. It’s how we present ourselves when things are going wrong is often the best witness of our faith that we present to people. When our work seems the most fruitless, when life is throwing one curve after another, when plan after plan falls through, others are still watching. The enemy would love to see us throw in the towel. I choose to press on! Not for me, but for others and for my Jesus!

Jesus walked the long hard road to the cross. Things looked bleak: false accusations, beatings, mocking, physical pain and weakness, and then------the cross. Oh, the CROSS! “Where is your God now?” they sill ask. My answer, “He's not on the cross. He’s on the throne!” It’s not my job to figure things out, just keep being faithful.

Monday, June 25, 2007

06 25-07 Distractions, Delay, Defeat

“……I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 3:14 NET)

Distractions cause us to lose focus. We delay doing what were had set our mind and energy to accomplish. Continue to wander off track and we find ourselves staring defeat smack in the face!

We need focus in life. We see it in the eyes of middle linebacker staring down an opposing quarterback. We see it in a batter’s eye as he anticipates the pitcher’s next offering. We see it in a young toddler’s sprint to his mom or dad. A Christian needs to focus on one thing throughout the day: the finish line! Every time we begin to stray out of our running lane, we face the possibility of disqualification, or at the very lest, having to go back and begin the race again.

Daily Scripture reading keeps us focused. Holding a day-long conversation with God tends to protect us from too much distraction. Being purposely surrounded with encouraging, Christian-based music, talk, and atmosphere prepares us for the sudden jolt of the carnality of the world, thus keeping our hearts and mind firmly planted. Too much distraction causes too long delays and we find ourselves losing our grip. A word here, an uplifting verse or two, a familiar melody of God’s promises, and we get re-focused and ready to do battle. Minor setbacks will not become major defeats if we have a firm foundation and realize the race is not for the swift or the mighty, but those who trust I God and His plans for each of us!

Distractions are merely a bump in the road. Delays don’t have to be detours, but simple rest spots and areas of restoration. Defeat is a simply a lie from Satan, because last time I checked, God gives me victory through Christ Jesus. He said, “Tetelestai” (It is finished) some two-thousand years ago! The debt has been paid and the victory over sin and death is complete. I am committed to stay in the race until He decides it’s over!

Friday, June 22, 2007

June 22, 2007 Stillness Around the Chaos

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 KJV)

What joy is brought to our soul when we are confronted with a problem which has no solution, and yet God works it out for our good and His glory.”[1]

The NET Bible puts it this way:
“Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!”

Sometimes I am so busy doing things for Jesus that I don’t let the Lord do anything! I am so busy striving (contending, struggling, fighting) that I can’t even recognize where God is in it all. I am trying to do it all and wonder why there is really nothing getting done! I need to recognize, huh? I laugh at myself so often and ask, “Why do I think God needs my help? After all, He is God!” Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God) would stress with us to look for God at work around us and join Him. Many times we are (well I am) so busy doing, that we forget why we’re doing it and for Whom. We ask God to bless our work, instead of asking Him to bless us (Prayer of Jabez) in doing His work.

John Lennon (1940-1980) of the Beatles said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” It is still amazing to see God at work through all the chaos of life, even the chaos I create with all my good intentions! He has a way of creating a stillness around the chaos, if I’ll just take time to quiet down and seek after Him, realizing He is still God. At times, I need to relax a bit and give God back the reigns on my life and the work. Allow Him to be exalted! It’s all about Him anyway.

[1] King James Bible Commentary, Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1999, P. 557
June 22, 2007 Stillness Around the Chaos

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 KJV)

“What joy is brought to our soul when we are confronted with a problem which has no solution, and yet God works it out for our good and His glory.”[1] The NET Bible puts it this way:
“Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!”

Sometimes I am so busy doing things for Jesus that I don’t let the Lord do anything! I am so busy striving (contending, struggling, fighting) that I can’t even recognize where God is in it all. I am trying to do it all and wonder why there is really nothing getting done! I need to recognize, huh? I laugh at myself so often and ask, “Why do I think God needs my help? After all, He is God!” Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God) would stress with us to look for God at work around us and join Him. Many times we are (well I am) so busy doing, that we forget why we’re doing it and for Whom. We ask God to bless our work, instead of asking Him to bless us (Prayer of Jabez) in doing His work.

John Lennon (1940-1980) of the Beatles said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” It is still amazing to see God at work through all the chaos of life, even the chaos I create with all my good intentions! He has a way of creating a stillness around the chaos, if I’ll just take time to quiet down and seek after Him, realizing He is still God. At times, I need to relax a bit and give God back the reigns on my life and the work. Allow Him to be exalted! It’s all about Him anyway.

[1] King James Bible Commentary, Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1999, P. 557

Thursday, June 21, 2007

06 21 07 Learn From Mistakes

“Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven!........Create in me a pure heart, O God!......Then I will teach rebels your merciful ways, and sinners will turn to you……O Lord, give me the words!......O God,
a humble and repentant heart You will not reject.”
(Psalm 51:8-17)

Nothin’ but the blood! Only Jesus can give me the peace I need knowing I am secure in my relationship with Him! There is joy in being forgiven! Family can reject and ridicule me. Friends can “not believe how I have changed”. Even church family can hurt in subtle ways that only I can feel. My spouse can’t meet all my needs, however hard she tries (and she tries so hard!).

But Jesus, my Jesus, He always knows just what to say; always knows just what to give to me; always knows what to take away, and how long to make me wait! He also knows how to make me feel needed, wanted, and useful to His glory! He sees me for who I am in Him, not who I am in my flesh. Sometimes I feel like the songwriter, “I don’t know why Jesus loves me……Oh but I’m glad!” He knows my heart.

“But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness……But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One….”
(1 John 1:9-2:1)

God is faithful to wipe every thought of our sin away, if we truly trust in Jesus as our atoning sacrifice. While we still deal with consequences in many instances, our soul is secure in Him. God allows us to grow and learn and mature as we grow closer to Him and deal with our old nature of sin, increasing in faith and relationship with Him, strengthening the new nature His Spirit has indwelled within us. If not for the security of knowing I am God’s child, a prince in His Kingdom, fellow heir with the Savior, even a friend of God, I would be totally confused at times. I have an advocate in Christ!

While the world, even organized religion, has their rules and sometimes legalistic customs and regulations, I am secure knowing I am alright with the God of the universe. I look forward to the freedom I’ll have one day to walk with Him, talk with Him, and work for Him one day for eternity. I’m just passing through this journey, trying to learn from my mistakes, and teach others along the way, as He allows! He is the only righteous One!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

06 19 07 Welcome the Little Ones

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” (Matthew 18:5)

Children really are special to the Lord. Here in chapters 18 and 19 of Matthew’s Gospel, we vividly see Jesus interacting with the paidior (Greek), the young children, the little ones, the damsels. Jesus calls a child into the circle for all to see exactly what He meant; an innocent, wide-eyed, and trusting little child. Remember what it was like to believe everything someone told us, no matter how crazy it may sound today? We thought we could fly like superman, run faster and jump higher because of our PF Flyers (or Jordans!), or make it to the major leagues. To trust Jesus, we need to have the innocence of a little child and remove the prejudices of the world. We need to reach the children at an early age, before the world (music, gangs, TV) gets to them.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin……” (Matthew 18:6)

Again, a little one (mikroteros, in Greek; little or small) is portrayed as one whom Jesus wants protected, warning us not to ever be the cause of their sin. It would be better to be thrown into the sea, with a concrete block attached to our necks. We’ll have to pay dearly! This can also refer to a young Christian being led astray by false teaching and deliberate attempts to keep them from growing in Christ. Children are so precious to the Lord and should be to us……all children!

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones….” (Matthew 18:10)

So let’s make it a priority in our lives to be on guard to look out for the children. Let’s go out of our way to care for them, teach them, and guide them. All children need to see a consistent example as they go through life. What they hear and see in the home should be consistent with what they see and hear in the church and in the schools. If not, questions arise. We need to be there to answer those questions with Godly wisdom and scriptural facts! We can’t despise, or ignore the children! Day and night we need to pray for them, nurture them, and protect them.

“Let the children come to Me……and He laid His hands on them….” (Matthew 19:14)

Let’s also make it a point to open our hearts, open our homes, ands open our arms to these little ones. We need to give to those who are caring for the children. We need to support teachers and ministry workers dedicated to coming alongside us parents in the rearing of our children. We need to have a home open to the neighborhood kids, so they can feel welcome in a Christian home, not scared away! We also need to open our arms and just as Jesus did, lay our hands upon them, bless them, and let them feel His love!

Monday, June 18, 2007

06 18 05 Keep on Using Me……Until You Use Me Up!

“…..but whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant……just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give His life a ransom for many.”
(Matthew 20:26-28)

Whether it’s the washing of a friend’s feet (as Jesus demonstrated), sharing a meal with a homeless man, or opening up our home for someone in need, we need to be servants. Personally, I know I look to receive more than I look for opportunities to give! Those of you who are near my age or older may remember a Bill Withers song years ago which stated the songwriter’s desire for his female companion to “keep on using me, until you use me up”. While I do not condone or recommend allowing anyone to be used in any relationship, I do want the Lord using me to His glory!

I may feel tired; I may feel a little desperate and alone; I may be feeling stretched beyond my belief; yet if it is the Lord using me, He may keep on using me, until He uses me up! I am growing in faith to experience God providing all our needs at the moment He decides we need them. I am also seeing that I can do much more than I ever imagined, as long as I allow Christ and His Spirit to do the decision making in my life.

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them;
for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 19:14)

In our work with at-risk children and their families, we have seen the innocence of a child; wide-eyed and searching, believing without doubt, just as we should be in our relationship with the Lord. Who are we to think a child is not ready, not knowledgeable, or not old enough? God holds us accountable to what we know and that begins with a basic knowledge of Him and Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross for a sinful human being like you and me. Upon that belief, we add more knowledge of Christ as we grow in our fellowship with the Father through Christ and the Body of Christ. We share with the kids to trust a God they don’t really know yet and yet we don’t trust Him? What an opportunity to demonstrate our faith in action, as we tell others about it.

When someone needs help and we can provide it, we need to do it. As God has graced us with provisions, who are we to hold back? Do I not believe He’ll open up the windows of heaven with His provisions for our needs, as I give, not only to the church, but to people in need? Bring on the kids. Bring on the families. Let’s meet their needs. Let’s be family once again and let DADDY have control of matters in our lives!

Friday, June 15, 2007

06 15-16 07 Man of Prayer
(How well do you know your DADDY?)

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16 NKJV)

One thing we need as a man is a living and real relationship with our Father in heaven. None of us have had a perfect father here on earth; some of us have had no relationship at all, some don’t even know their fathers. Not knowing God, however, is to not even know what love is! How can we possibly love our wife and children, not knowing how? It is essential to have a personal relationship with God, and the only way is through Jesus Christ! What makes us righteous; the blood sacrifice and atoning death of Christ, along with His rising from the grave and overcoming both sin and death, so we may have eternal life and an eternal relationship with our heavenly Father!

Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.........” (1 Peter 5:6 NKJV)

We as men need to be humble enough to realize we can do nothing without His help and His guidance. We need a daily and constant conversation with Him; that’s all prayer really is anyway, a conversation with our Daddy. A real part of that conversation is listening as well, not just talking! Do we hear what God is saying to us?

“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding; giving honor to the wife........that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7 NKJV)

As Godly fathers, we need to do all we can to be in the proper relationship with everyone in our life, most especially our wife. We never want our prayers hindered, or blocked, do we? We want all our needs, concerns, and fears to get to God’s ears right? Then check it out: Dwell with your wife in understanding in, honor, in protecting her.

Happy Father’s Day guys; let’s get to know our Father better every day!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

06 14 07 Be-getting or For-getting

“For though you may have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, because I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
(1 Corinthians 4:15)

Borrowing from Pastor John MacArthur ( ,“How to be a spiritual father”, June 14, 2007), living fathers are to be reproducing, or begetting offspring. Life reproduces life, according to its own kind. We fathers have a choice to make. Will we concentrate on begetting offspring, or find ourselves forgetting our offspring?

The New Testament Greek word gennao means to bring forth, or in one instance, in James 1:18 (“He gave us birth”) apokueo, to generate. Christ gave us a new birth, regeneration through His blood. As a father (and mother of course) gives birth to a child, we should be prepared to put the time in to nurture and care, and provide all that child needs to have a full life, including our presence in that child’s life. I am so proud of the many fathers I have witnessed spending time with their families: they go on field trips, coach ball teams, teach Sunday school, and even home school their children! My dad was tremendously involved in my life and it still impacts me today. In fact, I remember him changing jobs just to be home more often and sacrificing to provide a safe and secure home life.

Spiritually speaking, how many of us men have spiritual children? “What is that”, you ask? Very simply, it’s a young person we have led to Christ, beginning with our biological children of course! As we share the Gospel with them and they profess a knowledge of Christ as Savior, they have new life. Who will raise them? Who will feed them? Who will guard them from the wolves? We need to keep a special bond with those we have led to Christ and be willing to walk along life’s path with them, father to son, parent to child, teacher to student. We hurt when they fall short; we rejoice as they grow; we disciple (discipline) along the way; we love throughout the journey.

Are we begetting for the kingdom, or forgetting out of selfishness or laziness? Don’t give up Dads. It’s worth the struggle and sacrifice. I’m so glad my Dad did it! Our kids will one day remember the sacrifices we make. I know one thing for sure, God, my DADDY, will never forget. Only what we do for Him will be remembered in eternity anyway!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

06 13 07 Three Essentials for Dad

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6)

(1) A Godly man must have a heart reality; that is that God governs his heart, not merely ceremony or simple conformity.

“You shall write them on the doorposts of your house…….“(Deut. 6:9)

(2) A Godly man must allow God’s will and principles to govern his home. He teaches both formally and informally throughout the day concerning the things of God to his family.

“……and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:9)

(3) A Godly man allows God’s principles to be evident in his habits and conduct outside the home and the church as well; in his business dealings and social activities.

“……..then you shall say to your son: We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand…..then He brought us from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. And the commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day.” (Deut. 6:21-25)

Finally, as fathers, the more we give the Lord control of our personal and family activities, the greater testimony we have to share with our children of how the Lord brought us from slavery to sin (our Pharaoh/Egypt) and brought us to freedom in Him by the blood of Christ. It is so important that we share the blessings of God with our children, so they grow to depend upon Him and expect His provisions, as we trust Him and obey His will for us. It’s not just an Old Testament promise.

The Lord has a plan for us to succeed, not fail (Jeremiah 29:11). He promises us abundant life in John 10:10. (perissos in Greek, beyond measure). This is not a life of riches, but a life beyond measure; spiritually, mentally, and physically; far beyond what the world’s riches could offer. It’s a promise of eternal life with the Lord and His constant care for us.

Fathers; our hearts, our homes, our habits, (and as a result our history) need to all be devoted to God. What a life we’ll give to our families and what a legacy we’ll leave behind: Three essentials for Dad this Father’s day and every day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

06 12 07 Shepherd the Flock

The elders who are among you I exhort, I am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed.
Shepherd the flock of God which is among you,
serving as overseers, not by compulsion, but willingly,
not for dishonest gain but eagerly. --- being examples to the flock---.”
(1 Peter 5:1-4)

I realize this passage is for pastors and elders of the church, however I agree with writer and speaker, Pastor Crawford Loritts, Jr. in his book Never Walk Away (Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1997), when he writes, “I think a good secondary application has to do with the role of a father in the home. Leadership in the home has both to do with direction and protection---creating the environment in which they (the children) can have a relative degree of safety.”

Genuine fatherhood is ignored today. Have sex---have a baby---boom---you’re a father! That’s neither God’s intention nor his definition. A father should first be a husband, but as the result of sin and a downward spiral of our society, we have many issues to deal with and many actions we need to repent of and now move on by the grace of God. It does not stop a father from being a leader, a role model, and a shepherd of his flock! Men need to once and for all step up and be strong, confident, and (like their DADDY) be leaders, protectors, and providers. It’s hard however, without knowing the God who created us or seeing a Godly example to follow.

That’s where the rest of us step in! We need to be a light; a shining beacon of light set upon a hill so other young men and boys can see what a Godly man is: not perfect, but strong in character, humble, willing to serve his family and others, possessing a power and strength from within, and unashamedly living for Christ in everyday life!

Our fatherhood mantel doesn’t come from muscles, wealth, or titles. It comes from knowing and doing the will of our DADDY. Each day we humble ourselves before Him and ask for Hs help and guidance. Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” to our spouse and children; what a way to exemplify our dependency upon our God! REAL Daddies never walk away, but rather run after the things of God and the things of their families. A shepherd would never leave the flock uncared for, even going after the one who is most lost. He keeps a gate of protection around the sheep (our prayers). His rod wards of enemy attackers and reels back in the strays (God’s Word is our sword!). He’s willing to stay up late and get up early (willing to sacrifice). Our begging question men: “Will we shepherd the flock?” I Wanna’ be Like My DADDY, was a favorite song of my daughter as she grew up. I loved it to. In fact, I still hum it from time to time to remind myself, I still have work to do!

Monday, June 11, 2007

06 11 07 God Alone

And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong,
whom you see now.
Yes, the faith which comes through Him
has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”
(Acts 3:16)

Are you ever amazed at how God works, especially through you? Have you ever finished speaking with someone and wondered within your heart, “How did I just do that?” “Was that really me speaking?” Have you ever finished a huge task and remarked, “I never thought I could accomplish such a task!” I am often in this situation!

Peter was somewhat shocked himself at why the people at the Temple were so amazed at the lame man now walking. He reminded the Jewish audience that it was not Peter or John who heals, but faith in the same Jesus they recently crucified: the One sent by the God of their father Abraham!

Knowing myself better than anyone but God, I know for a fact who I was, my limited physical and mental talents, and how unqualified I am to ever represent the Gospel and the God who wrote it. It’s only because of Jesus, and my faith in Him, that I am even able to move and breathe right now. To be able to call Him my Savior and Lord is in deed a privilege. To be able to communicate with Him is totally beyond my wildest imagination, yet so real and appreciated! Any work I am able to accomplish, any help I am able to give, any joy others receive because of me is ONLY because of what Jesus has done for me and is doing through me!

I am not amazed at what He does! I am still amazed and eternally grateful that He did choose to save me from hell and count me able to serve Him now. Like Peter, once a rough and worldly fisherman, even denying the Christ He lived with for years, I realize who I was and what Jesus has done to change me. I can’t do anything unless He allows me to at this point in my life. What a place to be! Thank you Lord. What a marvelous thing You have done!

Friday, June 8, 2007

06 08 07 Better Not to Vow at All
(Keep Our Promises!)

“For I assure you that for every idle word men may speak,
they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment.
For by your words you will be justified,
and by your words you will be condemned”
(Matthew 12:36-37 NKJV))

We say a whole lot don’t we? It begins with the first day of every New Year: I’ll do this better; I’ll change this about me’ I will commit to do this or that. Resolution after resolution goes incomplete and not even attempted. James, Jesus’ brother and early leader of the church, indeed had it right:

“No man can tame the tongue.
It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
(James 3:8)

How many promises have we made our spouse to establish a date night with our spouse (and keep it!), spend more quality time with the family, or plan a weekend outing? How many times have we made a promise in church during a sermon, only to break it before we leave the parking lot? How ‘bout this one: “If you give me this Lord, I’ll___________.” You fill in the blanks.

It’s time to be real promise keepers. It’s time to be men and women of our word, as well as our deeds. Has God ever lied to us? We then, made in His image, need to commit to be honest with God, ourselves and others. Don’t say what we can’t do. Don’t promise what we know we can’t follow through with. I know my wife would rather me be honest than sorry! It’s rather easy to be sorry and apologize. It frees me up, but the disappointment in my wife or child’s heart can last a lifetime! Imagine God’s heart ache over our “idle words”!

Our word is our bond. In a day when children especially need to trust someone, I pray they can trust a man or woman of God. Our walk is all about relationships---trusting one another. If a person, especially a child, can’t trust you and me and our words, how will he ever come to trust a God he cannot see? God gave us two ears, two legs, two eyes, two feet, pairs of many things. He gave us one mouth for a reason: He knew it would give us trouble! Our words speak volumes about each of us and our relationship to the Lord. Many times, it’s better not to vow at all, but when we do so, lets’ keep our promises!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

06 07 07 And Then the Floods Come……

“When a flood came, the river burst against that house
but could not shake it,
because it had been well built.”
(Luke 6:48)

Safety, security, serenity: is it a reality in life today? Every day we step out of bed, we face danger lurking around the corner. So how do we live in peace? How can we have joy? How can we attack the day, knowing the fan is blowing and things will definitely hit that fan sometime during the day? Whether it’s an issue at work, our children, our parents, even the once simple commute to work, stuff happens! We are cruising through the day and BAM; THEN THE FLOODS COME!

As Jesus was in the process of choosing disciples from among His followers and instructing them how to be “blessed”, or happy, in life, one thing stands out: being in the will of God gives us a sure foundation, able to withstand any physical or emotional storm. It’s one thing to have peace knowing we are secure for eternity, but to have peace while here on earth is quite another experience. In the middle of a storm, I want Jesus right there with me, holding onto me as I hold onto Him. I want the One who created the sea and calmed the sea to be calming and controlling me!

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’, and don’t do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)

So how do I stay in His will and stay safe, secure, and serene? I must not say, “Not so Lord” as Peter did (Acts 10:14). I must not say “I can handle this Lord” when a matter arises, but trust Him in small and big issues alike. I must respond as Paul did in Acts 9:6: “Lord, what wilt you have me to do?” Nothing less than obedience will keep me grounded!

I want to leave a legacy that is written somewhat like this: He trusted the Lord throughout his life, caring for others and wanting for nothing, and THEN THE FLOODS CAME: and he stood firm in His faith and trust in His Lord. I desire to respond as Job did and continue to trust Him matter what I’m going through, as difficult as it may be? Who else can say, “Peace be still!” and everything is suddenly still?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

06 06 07 Keep Workin’ for Jesus!

“So they departed from the presence of the council,
rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name---
they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
(Acts 5:41-42)

Have you ever been misunderstood, misquoted, or accused of something you know for sure you never did or intended to do? Has it ever happened to you while actually doing His work, actual direct ministry? What about direct or indirect actions by others to disrupt or even destroy your work and plans? It hurts! It causes pain. We suffer harm. Many times there isn’t a thing we can do about it either, except to keep on keeping on! Keep workin’ for Jesus anyway!

The apostles felt this during the growth of the early church, yet they were actually threatened, beaten, imprisoned and martyred for their work for the Gospel. They rejoiced however, that God saw fit to have them suffer shame, pain, and humiliation because of Him! It didn’t stop them, but in most cases gave them even more incentive to preach and teach. They would pray for more boldness (Acts 4:29)

What about us? When ridiculed, falsely accused, even disciplined, or fired from a job because of our boldness for Christ, what will we do? As the days approach of persecution for a faith in Christ, will we cower down or covet the chance to keep workin’ for Jesus? Are ashamed of the Gospel or boldly proclaiming it in everyday life? Are we satisfied customers or confident sales people? Do we love the Lord and proclaim His Word or simply carry our insurance card safely in our pocket, for the fire to come? Are we quietly waiting or boldly working?

I know I have often said it and many of you agree: “As for me and my house, we WILL serve the Lord”, no matter the consequences. So let’s go get more for the sake of Christ and throw caution to the wind---the harvest is plentiful!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

06 05 07 The Way They (We) Should Go

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.”
(Proverbs 22:6)

I have heard many teachings on this verse, but one thing it does not mean is to raise up a child in the way they would go, but should go! As soon as possible, every child should be led to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.[1] A child, as many of you know, will quickly choose lying, cheating, and other ways in life!

God would not desire for any of us to be lost spiritually. His desire (and ours as well) is that everyone knows Jesus as their Lord and Savior. That being said, we as parents and even as disciplers, should be aware that those we are instructing should also be going along life in the manner of life for which he is intended, according to his physical and spiritual gifts, so he or she may have the most success, in God’s eyes!

While this passage does indeed refer to parents in the raising of our children I would like to believe we can use the same methods in training one another and in our discipleship processes. We find ourselves in circles with believers and non-believers alike, new-born babes in Christ and those who have known the Lord for years, even decades. The unsaved and newly saved need to learn how the Lord has wired them and learn “the way they should go” in Christ, much like an infant, toddler, and teen needs to know. As we grow in Christ, regardless of our physical age, our spiritual maturity comes in stages. As we mature, we need help at times to continue in the way and not depart from it! I don’t believe any of us are sinless, though we strive to sin less and less! I need help now and again!

We need to partner as parents to encourage one another in raising our children, as we and the children alike face peer pressure to relax our standards, give our kids a break, and enjoy life a little. Our kids need to know they aren’t the only one’s struggling, that we struggle too! So let’s commit to train one another up as we should go as we attempt to raise our own families. It is to God’s glory that we stay the course and not depart from it. A lost and dying world is in need of the Savior and we have a job to do!

[1] Henry, Matthew, Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible , 1997, Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN

Monday, June 4, 2007

06 04 07 God’s Dream---God’s Plan--God’s Opinion

“Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it,
they hated him even more.” (Genesis 37:5)

When Joseph related the dreams he had, they weren’t too excited for him. In fact, they “hated him even more”, the Bible says. They already knew that their Daddy loved Joseph the best and now they felt as if he was rubbing it in, saying he would be great one day and they would bow down to him and serve him! Joseph would face so much suffering in the future (physical abuse, slavery, imprisonment, false accusations, and probably more). His brothers didn’t see it. His father Jacob didn’t see it. I don’t believe Joseph understood it all either. It was God’s dream, God’s plan, and only God’s opinion mattered!

Not only will others attempt to sabotage God’s dreams for us, we can mess them up ourselves! I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten in the Lord’s way by trying to speed up plans, change plans, or tell God I need a bigger role. I pray I can be more like Joseph and just live out His plans for me, so He can get the glory He deserves. If His dream is for me, if He has planned things out perfectly, and if His thoughts and opinions are all that really matter, then why do I worry what others think and then let me get in the way? I let my old nature get too active! I worry about what others think of me. I try to please and appease other’s wishes. I simply need to be the clay, not the potter! The old song rings true, “What God has for me is for me!”

“As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose,
so He could preserve the lives of many people…” (Genesis 50:20)

My Pastor said that “when people become contrary, God is about to do the extraordinary”. I have to believe that a little suffering, some challenges, and a few adversities all help to mature me and perfect me for His work. I must remain steadfast and unmovable, knowing His will for me and my work for Him is important. People may try to kill the dream or even the dreamer, but they can’t kill my GOD!

Just before sitting under my Pastor (Robert Wingfield) on June 3, 2007, I heard Pastor Tony Evans earlier that morning on TV quote Romans 8:31: “What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Why then, do I doubt God? God’s favor far outweighs that of man. We all must remember: it’s God’s dream, God’s plan, and only God’s opinion matters! We have to live in obedience to His will so He may get all the glory as others see it’s not us, but GOD!

Friday, June 1, 2007

06 01 07 Supporting the Work of the Gospel

“Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come,
that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
(1Timothy 6:18-19 NKJV)

“Seek first the kingdom of God.”
(Matthew 6:33 NKJV)

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

The Lord continues to attempt to beat into my stubborn soul the basic message of trust: trust Him to provide as I trust Him to use me. As I wonder how effective I am for Christ and how I will possibly be able to do anything without His direct intervention, I am reminded to keep working, keep serving, keep supporting, even from my need!

Who am I to decide enough is enough? Who am I to think I can do better than God or think He made a mistake? If I am to do my part in supporting the work of the Gospel, then I must allow His Spirit total control of every aspect of my life. No matter what I do not have, I am “rich” compared to most and have something to give. What do I need to save? Can my God not provide for me later? I must be focused on His agenda---“His kingdom” first! As I “delight” in giving to Him and His people, He shall give me what I really “desire” (His will).

I must be careful to “guard” the things He has entrusted to me; my faith, my life, my salvation, my ministry. I can only do this by entrusting my heart and will to Him as well!

“Oh Timothy, guard what was committed to your trust.”
(1Timothy 6:20)

Oh, by the way, what has the Lord entrusted to you as far as supporting the work of the gospel? Are you I compliance, or waiting until when it is convenient? The harvest is SO ripe, yet the workers are few and are being beaten up and worn down!

Search our hearts, try our thoughts: Lord, convict us to do Your will first, without complaint or whining! Help us to see that we need to trust you more each day!

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...