Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Not just His life as recorded in the Bible. Think about the fact that this man walked through the same stages of life as every other human being in history.
Mostly I find myself thinking of his younger life (especially since I have two young kids myself). He needed to be fed in the middle of the night. He had to learn how to walk. He ran around and played games.
God chose to send His son to save us. He was willing for His son to be born in a stable in order to save us.
God bless us, every one.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
This has been a tremendous experience for the both of us. He's learning Bible stories. Actually, we're both learning them. Some of the details that come out even in this simple paraphrase are new to me! He also takes advantage of that time to ask questions and figure things out.
What puts the biggest smile on my face is when he makes references to the stories during the day. He's actually learning this stuff!!!
Today I read Explaining the Gospel to a Child from Pulpit Magazine. Then I realized that as good as our Bible story time is, I can make it better. These paraphrases are wonderful, powerful tools, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. -- 2 Timothy 3:16-17These paraphrases of God's Holy Word still have power, and are still effective when spoken in Faith. God gave His message to His messengers thousands of years ago. This message has been faithfully passed down and translated from one generation to the next. I am now determined to read a few verses from "the grown up Bible" as a part of our Bible story time from now on.
Why is this so important, you may ask? Because I was dangerously close to forgetting the whole point of reading these stories to him in the first place. It's not my focus that he learns how Jacob stole Esau's blessing; or that Baal was a pretend god; or even that God pursues us like a shepherd after a lost sheep.
These are all pieces to the puzzle. Building blocks to the ultimate goal. He needs to learn that, as my two favorite vegetables say, "God made you special, and He loves you very much." I have to teach him about sin, Heaven, Hell, forgiveness, repentance. It is my job to show the Gospel to him as often as I can; to live it out.
Reading an English translation of scripture not only shall accomplish that which I purpose, but it instills this Gospel into my own heart. It makes it more a part of my own life. It helps me to live it out.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
When we having lunch today, and we were pointing to words around the restaurant. I pointed to his shirt and asked "What does this say?"
"Trouble," he said with a smile. Then he gets that I-need-to-know-everything-in-the-Universe look on his face. "Why does it say trouble?"
"Because you can be trouble sometimes. Are you trouble sometimes?"
"No," he said, still smiling. "That would make sin. I will be good forever."
Now I'm smiling! [T]o such belongs the kingdom of heaven.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
A recent article from Focus on the Family reminded me of an important truth. A person's earthly father colors their perception of the Heavenly Father. This gives me two important things to consider, both as a father and as a son.
As a son, I need to see how my opinion of my earthly father affects my thoughts about my Heavenly Father. It is so difficult to break free from human perceptions. God is spirit, so we cannot see Him with our human eyes. We can feel Him, we can see His work, but we cannot actually see Him. At least not on this side of Heaven.
The clues about who God is are written into the fabric of the Universe. But these are only clues. They do not (and cannot) tell us everything about God. These are hints, provided on the level that we can understand.
God was gracious to provide the perfect man to be my father. Obviously, he is not perfect in every way. But he is perfect for me. While I cannot find a single thing about my Dad to complain about, I have to realize that God is way more than simply a magnification of my father. If I see God simply through the view of what my earthly father is, then I will miss out on important aspects of His character. Even worse, I might take my Dad's flaws and ascribe them to God.
I have to be diligent to take the clues about God's character that I see in my Dad, and stack them up against Scripture. Hold them in the light of my own experience, and the relationship that I am building with God.
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.As a father, I need to be keenly aware that I am perhaps the biggest clue my kids will have to God's nature. I have to be diligent to be the best example of God that I can be. This is a responsibility that is way more than I could handle on my own. Thankfully, God's power is made perfect in our weakness.
-- Galatians 4:6-7
I would love to go on about this, but this post is already getting too long. The insanely important depths of fatherhood will have to wait for another post.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
-- Ephesians 6:4
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I heard someone the other day speaking on Isaiah 40:31.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
They spoke about what WAIT means in this verse. Does it mean to just sit back and wait like you are in big waiting room? Does it means to be anxious like waiting for a Baby? The NIV uses the word HOPE. The speaker put emphasis UPON in the King James. He got the image of a servant.
That gave me an idea. We don't use the term waiter any more do we? They are servers. Perhaps this gives a clue to what it means to wait. Waiting is not passive. Waiting is active. Waiting does something FOR God during the course of the wait. We serve God. We go about his business while we wait. We don't sit back until something happens. We don't become anxious about what is not happening. We keep doing one of the most important things that Christians do. We serve God.
Have a great evening!
My evening will indeed by good. Thanks for the encouragement.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
The Ramsey plan is straightforward: change your behavior. Pay off your debts, build up an emergency fund, pay off the mortgage, start storing up money for... Well, he doesn't spend a lot of time talking about what you want all of that money for. I guess for most people it's obvious.
He has a tremendous focus on getting out of debt. The Truth is, the borrower is the slave of the lender.
I realized over the past few weeks that my debts are not strictly financial. My biggest debts are temporal. Whenever I promise to do something, I'm spending time that I have not yet received. A time debt. What a thought.
In the same way that you cannot live off more than you make, you only get so many seconds in a day. By promising them out, even promising them to good and noble efforts, I am squeezing what precious little time I have with my Savior. And with my family. And that's the time that truly matters.
God, help me to spend my time wisely. Especially the time I have yet to receive.
This isn't the first time I've written about time management. It surely won't be the last. Spending my time wisely is one of the biggest struggles that I face.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Jason Fried of 37signals recently posted about how 37signals plans for the future. Put simply, they don't. They focus on the reality of where they are today. They "[f]ocus on the things that won’t change."
Here's a company that gets Matthew 6:34. I won't pretend that the 37signals founders had some deep, spiritual epiphany that led to their corporate philosophy (maybe they did, I don't know). But they get something that we don't. They noticed a truth that God built into the fabric of the universe. The same thing that Jesus tells us about in Matthew 6: "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
What if we as Christians took the same attitude toward living our lives as they take to running their company?
Let's put aside our plans and programs. Let's stop fretting about how we are going to do this or that. Let's stop spending every dollar we get before we get it. Let's stop spending every breathe we get before we wake up in the morning.
Instead, focus on what doesn't change. Focus on Jesus. Focus on God's glory. Focus on lifting up Christ.
Stand where you are today. Focus on Jesus. Take a step. Do the same thing tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. Don't try to map out the path between you and Jesus. Don't plan the waypoints between here and Him. God's got the map; He's got the plans. Plans "to give you a future and a hope."
Press on. Day by day.
I cannot close this post out without a warning. Do not read Matthew 6:34 in isolation; out of context. Read the whole chapter. Read all of Matthew. Heck, read the whole Bible :-) This is not a command to empty your 401k and start living la vida loca. This is a command to change your focus.
God commands us to be prudent, to invest our time and money wisely. But more than that, He commands us not to worry about it.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I have two boys (one is almost four; the other is about three months old), and I can soooo relate to Sean's posts about Lillie. I cannot wait for the day that I'm singing and high-fiving about my kids' salvation. I'm like many Christian parents; walking the tightrope of raising kids up in the way of the Lord, and allowing them to find their own way.
Last night, at prayer time, my oldest said he wanted to pray for his boo-boo (a scratch on his leg from a few days ago). We've always had a hard time getting him to pray on his own, so I didn't expect him to pray on his own. I said "Prayer hands; repeat after me."
Well, off he went:
Thank you for boo-boos, and making them better. Thank you for healing it up. Watch over me tonight, and keep me safe, so I don't get more boo-boos. Amen
Couldn't have said it better myself.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
This is an amazingly simple yet profound fact. It is not enough to avoid impure thoughts, but we must fill ourselves up with whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.
I was immediately reminded of a story in Luke 11. An unclean spirit was cast out of a man. It later returns to find "the house swept and put in order." It then goes out and gets seven other spirits to possess the man together.
It is not enough to empty ourselves of evil. In fact, I would say that's not even the first step. We have to fill ourselves up with The Way, The Truth and The Life. We have to fill ourselves up with Jesus, and God's Holy Spirit. Only then will evil be driven from our hearts.
You won't be able to clean up your own heart. Evil will find its way back, and things will be even worse. Run to Jesus now, before it's too late. Let Him fill you up, and make no room for anything less.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
You were once dead and lifeless, living amongst the toys in the nursery. The clockwork toys thought themselves to be Real, but they were not. Not really.
Then the Boy chooses to Love you, and you choose to Love him in return. From the world's perspective you get shabby. Your eyes fall out; your seams rips; your fur fades. Love is like that; it's hard on you; it wears you down.
But it is so worth it, you don't notice. You don't care. Without even knowing it, you have become Real! You are still shabby and worn (getting more so every day), but to the Boy you are Real. And that's all that matters. You Love the Boy; going wherever he may go. Loving him as best you can.
In the end you face the fire. But because the Boy Loved you, and you Loved him in return, you are saved from the fire. The same magic that made you Real to the Boy has now made you Real to everyone. You've been freed from the sawdust filled body you once had!
Douglas Hofstadter's book Gödel, Escher, Bach contains an interesting statement based on Gödel's incompleteness theorems: "In short, Gödel showed that provability is a weaker notion than truth, no matter what axiomatic system is involved." In plain[er] English, in any formal system there exist truths that are unprovable.
I'm sure Dr. Hofstadter will be appalled by my lack of understanding of his book, the parallels that I make to his statements, and links to a Wikipedia article that "kind of depresses [him]". But I'm not about to let that stop me :-)
Reading the statement of incompleteness gave me sort of a thrill. There are few things in science that match the rigor and thoroughness of a formal system. And yet, they are fundamentally incomplete.
I had a stunning epiphany about this: the idea of mystery is so deep that it's ingrained into the fabric of the Universe! It's the way everything is designed; you cannot escape it. No matter how tall we may try to build our modern tower of Babel, there will always be a Heaven above it. There will always be something beyond our grasp.
We are not built to know everything, we are designed to learn. There's always some new truth out there waiting to be discovered.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Anyone can go and do. Anyone can help rebuild impoverished neighborhoods. Anyone can give money. Anyone can work hard to make the world a better place.
But we are not called to simply make the world a better place.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.It is our call to allow God to change the world. We get so focused on the material actions we forget our responsibilities.
-- 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."What we so often forget is that it is God who does His good work through us. We are supposed to focus on Him - worship Him, lift Him up, tell the world about Him. He'll take care of the rest.
-- Mark 12:29-31
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.The most amazing thing is - we will continue to go and do. We will feed the hungry; we will clothe the naked; we will care for the fatherless and the widow. But even more than that - we will bring them life.
-- John 14:15
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
God is working in us, and through us! We are stuck here, living right next to evil. God has set us free from this evil. But it's right next door, always knocking, always tempting. It's so easy to forget the freedom we have; to live like we are still slaves to sin.
Romans 6:6 says "our old self was crucified with him". A friend of mine pointed out years ago that crucifixion is a slow and painful death. It takes time.
We are free, but it takes time to break the habits of slavery.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others. - Saint Augustine
I heard this story on Marketplace yesterday. The short summary is:
- Zambia is an incredibly poor African nation
- Zambia has had a large portion of its national debt written off, to help make poverty history
- Prior to being written off, an American financier bought a portion of the debt for $3 million
- He is now suing Zambia for $55 million - the full face value of the debt
- If successful, this would drain away any benifit Zambia would have received from debt relief.
This just boggles my mind. Buy from the rich, sue the poor.
God help us.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Take several English translations of I Thessalonians 5:17:
- NIV - pray continually
- NASB - pray without ceasing
- NLT - Never stop praying
- AMP - Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]
- YLT - continually pray ye
The picture that always comes to mind is when I think of this passage is Tevye, from Fiddler on the Roof. When you see him alone, he's not really alone. He's talking with God. A free-flowing conversation, just as if he's talking to a companion on the roadside.
And he's honest! Look at this quote from the movie: "Sometimes I think, when it gets too quiet up there, You say to Yourself, 'What kind of mischief can I play on My friend Tevye?' "
How often do we think things like this? How often are we honest enough to admit that to God?
There are certainly those times when we must approach the Throne of Grace with reverence. We are, after all, approaching the King.
But we must also be mindful that God is our Loving Father; Jesus is our caring Brother. Our Redeemer. Our Friend. And we should approach Him as such as often as we can.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Ephesians 5 gives a very high standard for how any Christian man should Love his wife: "just as Christ loved the church".
Think about what Christ as done for you. He has met our needs; provided for us materially (Matt. 6:25-27), emotionally (Psalm 46:1-3), eternally (John 3:16).
We should show such Love for our wives.
Surprisingly, it's easier to think about dying for the Love of our lives than it is to live for her.
Could I take a bullet for my wife? Absolutely!
Could I do the dishes? Probably. Every day? Well, that's not fair!
Think about the Love that Christ has given you. Love without condition; withouth merit; without end. That is how you should Love your wife.
That is how I should Love my wife.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
This always works against him. He starts kicking and screaming, he gets a time-out. He starts knocking over furniture and tearing up his stuff, he gets in big trouble.
How often do we act that way with God? He has His plan; something better for us than we can imagine. Yet like a kid who can't get his way we kick, scream, and break stuff.
Thankfully God is a loving Father. He may give us a time-out. He may smack us upside the head. But He is patient, and will guide us back into His will.
Monday, February 05, 2007
We are so bombarded with worst of the tragedies that happen every day, it doesn't even faze us any more. Some tragedies are real, but many of them are fiction; entertainment.
The line between fact and fiction blurs to the point that we lose the ability to feel for our fellow man.
Two thousand years ago, we have Paul. He is making a personal connection with a body of believers he had never met. He is struggling, praying, hurting for them. And he had face real tragedy in his day. He had seen murders, poverty, cruelty. And yet he had enough compassion to agonize over people he has never met.
We must find some way to work past the numbness. To see the nameless, faceless masses as the people they really are.
Friday, February 02, 2007
This, plus the recent north Alabama snowfall, has reminded me of my own disbelief and ingratitude toward God.
My wife loves the snow. It makes north Alabama a difficult place to live in the winter time. It gets cold enough to be miserable, but rarely snows.
Every winter we pray for snow. We might get a dusting here or there, but most years there isn't a flake.
Last year in February we were planning a family trip to Disney World. Wouldn't you know, the day of our flight the weather forecasters were predicting all sorts of winter weather. Normally we would have loved some snow - but this was just the wrong day for us. We were worried, fretting, praying the snow would not come.
God was gracious, and our flight went on schedule and without issue. But looking back, I've learned something. I had a serious lack of faith over something incredibly minor - the family vacation. I should have trusted that either God would work out our vacation, or He had something better planned for us.
God will do what He wishes to do. He Loves us, and "in all things [He] works for the good of those who love him". But His will and His ways sometimes don't make sense to us. And many times we will not see His reasons this side of Heaven.
This is all well and good to talk about getting pregnant, and going on vacation. It's easy to look on these minor inconveniences and say "You just need to have faith." But what about really bad things. People do get murdered. Children do get abused. Wars; famine; strife. Where is God in all that?
Hopefully I'll never have to find out.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Why is it that each day seems to have fewer minutes than the day before? It's an illusion - there are still 1440 minutes in the day. Maybe the minutes themselves are shorter?
I've had a real time management problem lately. I've started a new Bible study last week that meets at 6:00 AM on Fridays. Yes, that's AM - as in before dawn. So now five days a week I've got to take time out for a new study (theoretically - the minutes budgeted this week were spent on sleeping).
And I'm toying with the idea of starting an entrepreneurial venture with a friend. It's an exciting project, with much more promise than my day job. But yet one more thing to budget out of my 1440.
And, finally, there's my family. The wife and son are so incredibly important, and yet their slice of the 1440 seems so expendable.
God, help me focus on my day. Show me where I'm wasting these precious minutes you've given to me. Give me a true sense of Your priority, so that I can spend my time on what's important instead of what's urgent.