|Posted on August 21, 2021 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
There has long been a lot of controversy about women in ministry and their ‘appropriate’ place. Of all the important topics we could debate, I’m not sure why this one gets so much attention. Is it really an issue of order and biblical integrity, or one of territory? One thing I know for certain is that if we try to keep someone from working within their God-given talents and calling, there is going to be a problem.
Make no mistake, I believe in order in both the home and the church. And while there are several passages of scripture written by Paul that seem to say women should have no place or voice in ministry, we need to keep digging. To really understand the full picture of what scripture is saying, we must understand the background and meaning behind every passage. There is compelling evidence that God not only intended for women to have a place among the leaders, but He specifically equipped them for that role.
In Judges 4 and 5 we find the saga of Deborah. She was not only a judge, so someone with a powerful voice in ministry and politics, but a warrior called into battle. And not just because she was the only one willing, but because God had a specific task that she was uniquely qualified for.
Before that we’re told of Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron. God placed her in a position of authority with her brothers. We know this because in Micah 6:4 she is named as a leader of the nation right alongside them.
Ester was called to risk her life to save the Jewish people. She didn’t just act as a sacrificial lamb, but with Godly direction she led her people into a time of fasting and prayer, then demonstrated her faith in the Almighty by stepping forward with courage and intelligence.
Even during Paul’s ministry, we read of Phoebe who is named as a deacon of the church. In Romans 16:1 we’re told of Paul’s introduction of her to the church – calling on them to give her a ‘warm welcome and every support.’ She was given the pivotal role of taking Paul’s letter to the church in Rome where she not only read it to the believers there but was likely called on to explain its meaning - certainly not something that can be done by someone who doesn’t have a voice and the authority to use it.
No one is disqualified to be used by God. There’s never anyone so young, old, damaged, different, disease-ridden or sin filled that He won’t clean up and call on. If we are willing, God is able! In fact, He uses our very differences to reach a world that is populated by the different.
So, to think that there is any segment of our human population that God can’t work through simply says we don’t understand the enormity of His strength and grace. He will use anyone, no matter who or how broken, to rescue all His children. He has one goal – to save every sheep in His flock.
In the 2nd chapter of Joel, the prophet tells of the Holy Spirit dream given to him, citing what God spoke, “…I will pour out my Spirit upon all of you! Your sons and daughters will prophesy; your old men will dream dreams, and your young men see visions. And I will pour out my Spirit even on your slaves, men and women alike…” And on the day of Pentecost documented in Acts, Peter tells us that vision was fulfilled.
Not just on men, not just on the rich, not just on the pious, not just on the Jews, but on everyone who would accept the gifts of the Spirit. Because God is not a Father of distinction. We are all His adopted children, and He doesn’t qualify us by our abilities He equips us for His call.
We need to remember that we aren’t in charge of the ‘order’ of things, God is. We all have the right, responsibility, and privilege to declare His word and His works, and to testify of His promise of grace and salvation. Let’s not get so caught up in religion that we forget that we must allow God to set the stage for His work, and to use whatever and whoever He feels is best suited – not unilaterally eliminate someone based on human perceptions and prejudices.
The harvest is great and the workers are few. We can’t afford to disqualify anyone from the arduous work we have ahead of us. And if you’re wondering if you’ve outlived or out sinned your usefulness, I can assure you that God has a plan and a purpose for us until the very last breath we draw. Until we’re celebrating in heaven, we are all called to soldier together.
Be blessed, my Friend. God is on the throne.
|Posted on August 14, 2021 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
The Roman military has been known throughout history to be one of the mightiest and most powerful. During the time of the Gospels, Rome controlled most of the Holy Lands so it is no surprise that they are often mentioned in scripture.
When we think of them, we recall the scenes in the New Testament where they crucified Jesus. We cringe when we think of the soldiers twisting the crown of thorns on His head and beating Him until He was hardly recognizable as a man. We read many stories of the Roman soldiers killing and persecuting the Israelites, or their godless Government profaning God’s temple and trying to paganize the Jews.
It’s hard to ascribe anything at all redeemable to the hated warriors, with their formidable training and impenetrable armor. In our heads, we likely think of a soulless automaton who mindlessly follows the bloody orders he’s given. What we don’t often take into consideration is that if a soldier was given an order to guard someone and they escaped, that soldier would be killed. And we need to remember that the Roman Empire was merely a political machine that God ultimately used to prepare the world for the birth of the Messiah and the spread of the Gospel.
In Matthew 8, we read of a Roman Centurion (an officer) who loved his servant to much that he was willing to approach Jesus and request healing for him. In fact, the officer had so much faith that he didn’t even ask that Jesus physically examine the servant, knowing He only had to speak a word and it would be done. And his faith was rewarded. In Matthew 8:33 we’re told that “Jesus said to the officer ‘go your way; as you have believed, so let it be done for you.’ And his servant was healed that same hour.”
These frightening men were really just flesh and blood. They weren’t unreachable or without conscience and feelings. In fact, much of what motivated them was fear and training. And a lot of what made them so formidable was their dedication to the service they were called to. The truth is, they weren’t always the enemy. They had a job to do and often only took action against Christian at the instigation of the Jewish authorities.
The Roman army could win when others could not because they had a single-minded determination. Their shoes had curved spikes in them so once they dug their heels in, they were not going to be moved. If faced with a larger enemy, they would lock arms. Where one could have perhaps been knocked down, linked together they were impenetrable.
How much more could we accomplish if we would dig ourselves in and link arms? Satan uses whatever weapon is at his disposal, including banding together those who aren’t originally our enemies, and creating an army to harm us. We might not appreciate how he works, but there is a lesson in the relentlessness with which he pursues his goals. We can get as upset as we want about the Enemy’s self-serving and destructive ability to keep us weak, but we’re foolish if we don’t learn from it. And he only has the power and authority we allow.
We have all the armor we need in the authority of our Almighty God. Our strength doesn’t come from ourselves, it comes from the “power of His might” [Ephesians 6:10]. If we would just grab each other and hold on, dig our spikes into the ground and stand together, there isn’t an enemy out there who could breach our walls.
We are living in a time when there is a battle raging around us. There’s a reason why Paul writes about putting on the “whole armor of God in Ephesians 6. Satan is ‘the accuser’ and he stands ready to try to fool, divide and destroy us. In verses 11-12 Paul says we need to keep our armor on so that we can “stand against the schemes of the devil. We don’t wrestle again flesh and blood, but against the rulers of darkness of this age...”
If we’re thinking that the battle isn’t raging, we’re not watching the news, paying attention to the climate, looking at the economic picture that is becoming our reality, or allowing ourselves to understand the rate of homelessness and crime in our world today.
But we have an ace up our sleeve. Instead of cowering in fear, we can stand up fully shielded in the whole armor of God. Our waist will be girded with truth, our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, with a shield of faith that will allow us to quench the fiery darts of Satan.
In Deuteronomy 20:4 we’re promised that “the Lord our God is He who goes with us, to fight for us against our enemy, to save us.” Now that’s a weapon with punch! As they say, “buckle up buttercup.” There’s a battle going on, but we know who wins.
Be blessed, my Friend. God is on the throne.
|Posted on August 14, 2021 at 11:40 AM||comments (0)|
My three grandson’s mother was killed in a car accident when they were very young. They are now reaching adulthood, but I will likely always see them as precious young boys just starting out in life. In the past ten years since their mom died, I’ve done my best to try and fill the void for them. Their dad, my son, has done the same. But I think I’ve always wondered what their lives would have looked like had they had their mom around throughout their growing up.
For one reason or another, it has become common for our children to be raised in single-parent homes. Studies show that in Western cultures about 90% of people will marry, and about 50% of those will divorce. In families with multiple marriages that number grows exponentially.
It saddens me to know that many generations are affected by marriages being out of balance, with one parent or the other taking on most of the responsibility for the family. I’ve wondered if the brokenness around us isn’t directly related to this ungodly dynamic. But then I got to thinking about Jesus’ life, and the example it is to us.
If you love bible history and mystery, as I do, you’ll realize that scriptural references to Jesus’s earthy father end when He was young. Scholars believe that Jesus was likely somewhere between 12 – 19 years old when Joseph of Nazareth died - before Jesus’ ministry even started. We know that he wasn’t the Messiah’s biological father – but he was the one that God chose to raise Jesus and be the example He needed as He entered manhood.
We know that Joseph was a kind and compassionate man. When confronted with his fiancé’s pregnancy, certain that he hadn’t impregnated her, he chose to do the right thing and not shame her or put her in danger. More importantly, we know he heard from God. Matthew 1:18-25 tells us that an angel of the Lord told him to take Mary as his wife, and that she was blameless. Despite material evidence that would seem to contradict that, Joseph was obedient to God’s command.
Although in manhood Jesus didn’t have a biological father present in the flesh, God provided everything He needed to prepare Him for the important mission that was coming up. The Father hand-picked His human parents, looking for a man of integrity and a woman of faith. Joseph obediently accepted the role as surrogate father, teaching Jesus the customs of His religion and providing spiritual training and nurturing love.
Families may not look exactly like we think they should, and our lives may not always turn out in a way that fits our preconceived notion. But all that really matters is that we acknowledge and accept that God is weaving the tapestry, and His ways aren’t our ways. Whatever the circumstance, He will provide – and He is the one who decides what a parent looks like.
Every child is intricately designed and formed with a specific purpose in mind. Psalm 139:16 says “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, everyone one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. And in Isaiah 49:1b we read “the Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother He named my name.
Whether our days here on earth are spent in a broken home, or with one parent absent through death, our real heritage comes from our Heavenly Father. And if we are the ones being called to be a surrogate parent, we need to remember that we were placed in that child’s life to be an example of the character of God, who is the real parent.
God entrusted Joseph with the earthly life of our Redeemer, His Son. And He has given us the sacred responsibility to teach the generations to come about the true nature of our Heavenly Father. So, when we step in as a step-parent, grand-parent, guardian or Sunday School Teacher, we must acknowledge the privilege and trust that God is bestowing on us. The eyes of the generations to follow are on us, and every step we take should be measured by that ruler.
In Deuteronomy 6 the children of Israel are told “teach [God’s commandments] to your children and talk about them when you are at home or out for a walk; at bedtime and first thing in the morning.” And those commandments are more than rules, they are loving instructions about who God really is. And the instruction is more important today than it has ever been.
We have a critical task -- to teach our children – whether they are ours by biology or God’s covenant trust. And we teach by example because our little ones are watching and learning whether they belong to us or not. Psalm 145:4 tells us “One generation shall commend His works to another and shall declare His mighty acts.” Let’s make sure the message is clear and seen in our lives, no matter the role we play.
Be blessed, my friend. God is on the throne!
|Posted on August 14, 2021 at 11:40 AM||comments (0)|
How easily do we say the words “love you?” And when we do, what does that really mean? With the advent of the heart emoji, we’ve sanitized the expression so much it’s almost a throw away phrase – easy to say, but hard to quantify.
We know there are different kinds of love. The love a mother has for her child is certainly not the same as our love of pasta or chocolate. And that passionate adrenal rush we feel when we first meet our future spouse is certainly different than the deep and abiding devotion we feel some twenty years down the road.
So, are they all love or should that word just be confined to a particular feeling or person? We know that love encompasses a range of emotions, some strong and some fleeting. But that doesn’t make it any less love. We tend to toss off “love you” pretty easily but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Really, is there a limit on how much or what kind of love we should show?
In all it’s forms it opens up the speaker and the hearer to the possibility of emotional attachment and acknowledges that there is a warm connection and understanding. Just because a word is said often, doesn’t strip it of it’s power. English has one word for love so we use it a lot. But in the Greek and Hebrew of Scripture there are really three basic ways to define it.
One is eros, which refers to the flesh and, while not specifically called out in the Bible, physical love is mentioned in the context of marriage so we know it has meaning and importance.
Then there is philos, which refers more to warm affection and deep friendship. In fact, this is used in Matthew 10 to refer to the love for a parent or child. Jesus used this word to express His love for his disciples and friends.
But then there is agape, which speaks to the sacrificial and unconditional love of God. This is the type of love we see in John 3:16 where it reads “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…”. It’s mentioned again in Matthew 22:37 when Jesus said “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And again in John 13:34 when we are told to “love one another; as I (Jesus) have loved you…”. The word Jesus used for love in these passages is the verb form of agape, so it describes an action not just a feeling.
Agape love is one that is stripped of all it’s pretense or need for reciprocity. I love you just because. It stands alone and unselfish, and is the love God feels for us. Romans 5:8 simply says “But God demonstrates His own love (agape love) toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It doesn’t get any less complicated than that.
And to take it a step further, this agape love is what we are commanded to demonstrate to the world. Remember Jesus command to His followers to “love others as He has loved us.” That means agape love… a word that requires action not just a heart emoji, a smile, an invitation to church or a gift in the offering plate.
I will never apologize for being that person that says “I love you” a million times a day, because I really do. I have a heart that is mushy and ready to be touched by a babies cry or the breath of a puppy, and will be moved to anger in defense of strangers. I’m glad God wired me that way, and I think that as the Holy Spirit works on us we all start to feel more of that for our human sojourners.
But I want to learn to go deeper than that and truly seek an agape love – not just for my family or those in my circle – but for the whole world. In our human form we can never be Christ, but we are Sons and Daughters of God, and can seek to be Christ-like in our compassion, self-sacrifice and agape love. And that means even caring for the one who hurts us or may never appreciate what we’re feeling.
Remember, ‘while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ That means He loved us, not knowing whether we would ever love Him back in the same way. That’s agape. To coin an old 70’s song… “what the world needs now is love sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”
|Posted on August 14, 2021 at 11:40 AM||comments (0)|
I was thinking about the name we have chosen for our church body –Grace Community Church.
“Grace” (from the Greek New Testament word charis) is God’s unmerited favor. It is the kindness and mercy of God that we can never earn, repay, or be deserving of. It is given freely, although it wasn’t free - it was paid for by the blood of Jesus – a sacrifice that we could never possibly understand with our human minds and hearts. An Acronym for Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I’m not sure who first termed that acronym, but it is incredibly true.
And then there is “Community,” which is defined as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common,” or “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”
I’m so humbled by the thought that what we share in common is God’s love for us. We are a family because we recognize that, although we are flawed and lacking within ourselves, through the blood of Jesus we are strong, capable, and redeemed!
It made me realize how much a want to open my arms and pull others into our community. I want the whole world to know that this special favor is available to everyone. I want to take a message to the world that no matter what they’ve done or who they are, God is available and yearning for them. And I want them to know that our doors are open to them in whatever condition they arrive. There is a Casting Crowns song that says:
Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
would care to know my name,
would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
would choose to light the way
for my ever wandering heart?
Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are…
Let’s take our message, and our love, to the streets this week. Invite someone to come and fellowship with us and join our community -- not because of who we are, but because of who HE is.
Be blessed, my Friend. God is on the throne.
|Posted on July 17, 2021 at 1:50 PM||comments (370)|
A few weeks ago I talked about 911 dispatchers describing themselves as the person that only gets called in the “worst moments of someone’s life.” What an overwhelming responsibility that is. Worse, while they are not physically present in the midst of the emergency as other first responders are, they suffer the same PTSD because of the overwhelming compulsion they feel to help.
Did you know that some studies indicate that first responders, including 911 operators, experience suicidal thoughts at a rate that’s more than double the general population? It’s no wonder the average time operators stay in their job is only 2-5 years. And for all that, they earn about $40,000 a year. Given the hours they put in, that’s less than what some get to flip a burger.
And the worst part is, they often don’t even get to know whether their life saving efforts worked. By the time the emergency is resolved, they’ve moved on to the next disaster.
We’re a bit like that in our own lives. We move from one disaster to another trying to help where we can, putting out fires, and hoping to make 24 hours stretch far enough to solve 4 days’ worth of trouble. And much of the time we can’t tell if an emergency has actually resolved, or if it’s just been buried under a bigger problem.
As Christians we’re certainly called to be the one that those around us cry out to for help, but we are not asked to figure out the world’s issues on our own. While we are challenged to bear one another’s burdens, Psalm 46:1 promises us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” We are the point of contact, but the real ‘fixer’ is always going to be our Heavenly Father.
When we’re in the middle of our own disasters or being called on to help others in the midst of theirs, we should keep our minds focused on the fact that if we try and make repairs to a situation with only our own strength, we will fail. We are simply too weak and too susceptible to bad choices to carry out the fix on our own.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Is the Apostle Paul suggesting that God is like a genie in a bottle and all we have to do is ‘wish’ for something and it will come to pass? No. He is telling us that even when we feel overwhelmed we can endure because the strength we need doesn’t come from us – it comes for God.
That passage goes on to tell us that the “if we do this, we will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep our thoughts and our hearts quiet and at rest…”.
We know we’re not promised perfect stress-free lives, filled with great blessings of material and physical perfection. In fact, many passages of scripture warn us that we must expect difficulties here on earth. John 16:33 says we will have trouble. But it goes on to tell us to keep our chins up because we might have “tribulation in the world, But God has overcome the world.” That is the message we need to share with those who come to us for help.
We are creatures that want an immediate pay off, and we want to be the hero of our lives, and that of those around us. That’s not a bad desire, so long as we keep in mind that our only superpower comes from God. It doesn’t matter how smart, strong, prosperous or hard-working we are, we are still weakened by our own sinful nature. In our own strength, we will never be able to throw enough money or time at something to make it just go away.
We may not be able to solve every single issue for those around us, but we can love others into the knowledge of God’s desire to work in their lives. Like the old saying goes “give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, he can eat for a lifetime.”
Like that 911 operator, all we can do is send help… and show others where their real permanent answers will come from.
Be blessed my Friend, God is on the throne!
|Posted on July 4, 2021 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
Tomorrow we celebrate Independence Day as a Nation. Across this country people will be marking the occasion in one way or another. Why? Because back in 1776, the first 13 American colonies were declared free and independent States from Great Britain and an oppressive king. Those early Americans took their freedom seriously.
These days we still mark the day with fireworks because on the first Independence Day anniversary in 1777, people gathered to watch as the sky illuminated at dawn over their newly freed nation. Today, some 315 million people will be enjoying a holiday from work, 150 million hot dogs will be eaten, and those fireworks will light the night skies across the US. Folks will trek to the lake, gather for parades and barbeques, and honor the holiday that marks the freedom that had been so long fought for.
But freedom was an elusive thing for many. People of color weren’t given the right to vote until the Fifteenth Amendment was passed in 1870 – and even then, many were denied by state constitutions, poll taxes, literacy tests, the “grandfather clause,” and outright intimidation and discrimination. And women weren’t considered US citizens, with a right to cast a ballot, until 1920.
If you ask most people today, I’m sure they will tell you that they feel their freedom is restricted in one way or another. We live with closed mind sets that have been developed over generations. Even when we claim that we have liberty in our lives, we are bound up by ‘stinkin thinkin', fear, personal prejudices, traditions that have no meaning, entitlement, and just plain laziness.
It’s much easier to stick with what we know than it is to break those chains and allow our eyes to be opened to what is real. Like an old pair of shoes, old thinking can feel comfortable, but over the long run it destroys the alignment in mind and body and can cause permanent damage and pain. So where is the freedom in that?
In John 8, Jesus was speaking to the Jews who were following Him. He told them that if they believed in Him, “they would know the truth, and the truth would make them free” (John 8:32). But they argued back, saying they were already free as descendants of Abraham, asking how Jesus could set someone free who wasn’t a slave.
In verses 34-36, Jesus answers them simply. “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
We live in a world where it’s all about personal freedoms and equality. Not that we’ve achieved it, but I believe we are finally coming to realize that we must seek it. Not just because we’re being forced to, but because it is the way God intended us to live. We should absolutely be the frontline soldiers, fighting for the liberty of everyone, and acknowledging our own misconceptions.
And beyond all that, we must understand that even if perfect equality is achieved, we are still slaves until we are set free by our salvation. We are chained up by our own sin and mortality. Romans 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
We want freedom and equality for everyone on earth. Christians should be a moving force in the world that acknowledges that it doesn’t yet exist, while insisting that it becomes reality. And beyond that, we need to be the voice that loudly proclaims that only in Christ is true and permanent freedom already offered. And that liberty is immediately available to everyone who seeks it and is the only lasting freedom we will ever need. Now that’s a cause for celebration.
Be blessed my Friend, God is on the throne!
|Posted on June 26, 2021 at 11:40 AM||comments (58)|
Much of our lives we struggle with the misconception that old age is going to come on gradually and gracefully. We believe we will elegantly come to accept the fact that our hair has turned silver, we’re a little slower than normal, and we tire more easily. When someone we love begins to show the signs of age, including a bit of crankiness, we aren’t exactly sure what to make of it.
So let me help, as a person standing on the other side of the timeline. First of all, imagine your surprise when you realized it isn’t gradual at all. One morning you’re putting on your makeup and overnight, while you were innocently sleeping, lines have appeared where previously there was unmarked and very tight skin. From nowhere jowls have grown and the shape of your face is one you don’t recognize.
Upon further examination you find you have chin and nose hair! How does that happen? Is your body growing a fleece to keep you warm as the destruction of your cells makes you feel the cold more strongly?
You spend the morning mowing the lawn and get your normal sore back as a result. Except it NEVER GOES AWAY!!! You go to the phone to call your best friend and suddenly can’t remember why you walked into the next room – let alone the name of your friend.
Those million details you kept in your head are gone in a flash, and you find yourself writing little yellow sticky notes and putting them in various places around your house as reminders. But of course, you won’t think to look at them, and if you do you’ll likely not be able to read the writing or remember what your cryptic note means.
Aging is not particularly graceful or slow. It’s sneaky, unexpected and frightening. I’m not trying to freak you out or anything, but it can happen at any time, so you need to be prepared. Suddenly a stranger will be looking back at you in the mirror, and you’ll realize that it’s you. I don’t know if it works this way because God is kind or because we are blind. Either way, life as you know it will change.
What never changes though, is the love of our Father for us. We see our children as forever young, dreading the day when they won’t need us anymore. But God views us realistically, knowing that the older we get the more we need Him. We have this idea that mature Christians require less of God than baby Believers, but nothing could be further from the truth. And He, fortunately for us, will never age out of the parenting business.
My favorite scripture, Isaiah 46:4, says “Even to your old age, I am He. And even to gray hair, I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry and I will deliver you.” The older I get the more that promise has meaning for me. Everything inside us is changing, and everything around us feels foreign. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. And more than that, when we’re feeling too weary to move down the road, He will pick us up and carry us to wherever we need to be.
To my younger friends, just so you don’t get too afraid of the future, I can tell you that there is also great joy in being able to act goofy without care, dress crazy without thought of fashion, and go to the store without your make-up or your partial dentures. If someone notices, we can always blame it on old age.
And the added benefit is that we grow into an understanding of what’s really important. It’s hard to weight the importance of our decisions and treasure individual little moments when we think that life will go on forever. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn to prioritize the beauty of life when we are young? But I supposed we’d miss a lot of adventures if we did.
The gift of age is in the memories of little milestones that have marked our lives. Those little victories and defeats are what we will chew on when food no longer tastes good, or our teeth don’t work like they used to. The really lovely thing about aging is that we have the opportunity to appreciate all the precious things we’ve enjoyed, and the many times our Father has sustained us.
My prayer for the young is that they intentionally build those memories. And to the old I say be kind to yourself. We must let go of anything in our past that causes pain or regret and make the firm decision to give ourselves grace. Because that’s what God does. There is joy, even in aching joints or a bit of loneliness. Because even to our old age, God is there to carry us.
Be blessed, my Friend. God is on the throne.
|Posted on June 19, 2021 at 2:40 PM||comments (67)|
Father’s Day is upon us. There are few more precious celebrations, although it seems that these days it’s a little less marked than it used to be. Perhaps that’s because we have so many different family dynamics and mixes. But when you think about what it means, we should absolutely give it more than just a passing nod.
While studies indicate that the most influential person in a child’s life is their same sex parent, I can tell you that having a strong and steady dad in my life has informed everything about me as a woman. A boy wants nothing more than to be instructed by a father that he can look up to and model, and a girl’s every male-female relationship is a reflection of how her father treated her. Mothers generally nurture our emotional side and dads help teach us what to think of ourselves. While there’s a lot of give and take in that dynamic, it is still basic to how God created the family unit.
I heard an author say once that ‘it’s not about the memories we make with our children, because we are the memories.’ I know from personal experience that a child doesn’t remember or see all the faults in their parents because what holds the most value is all the little moments of attention that they receive. A man can be a productive bread winner, an accomplished musician or a great athlete, but what will stick in a child’s mind is the morning he got up early to make pancakes before the big math test in school.
Parenting looks a lot different in 2021 than it did in 1957 when I was born, I’ll give you that. But what hasn’t changed is that what a man models to his children, and the attention he demonstrates to them, forms their first idea of how they believe God will treat them. That’s a huge responsibility.
We know that God is steady and unchanging. And more than that, we know that He is a constant source of support and love, no matter how haywire we might go. Zephaniah 3:17 says “For the Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Those are the qualities that a true man of God demonstrates to his own family.
In the midst of turmoil, it’s not whether he can stop the storm, it’s the fact that he’s willing to keep one arm on the wheel, and one arm wrapped around his family to help them weather it. That may happen from a distance, given the dynamic of our culture today, but it must happen. Dads must be present. If not in body, then in support and love.
The most important thing a dad does is bring peace and quiet – not necessarily exemption from pain, but stabilization at every victory or defeat. In fact, some of the best fathering comes when a man can step back and let his children make a mistake. That’s how our heavenly Father models good parenting to us, and how a strong dad makes even stronger children.
I think that we need to remember that no matter how old a man gets, he’s more than just a dad. He’s also a son. That’s why he can celebrate the many milestones of his children but can also understands the mistakes they will inevitably make. We don’t need superhero dads, perfect in every way. We love our father’s because their imperfections make them ours. We need to thank them for their love, pray for their continued wisdom and strength, and continue to look to them for guidance even when they might slip up a little.
So thank you to all the dads out there. We do celebrate you today. And we hope that you know we aren’t looking for you to be perfect, just in tune with the prompting of your own Heavenly dad. We will pray for you every day and this holiday in particular, and we acknowledge your great influence in our lives. No matter who we are, or how old we get, we will always need our dads.
Be bless my friends. God is on the throne.
|Posted on June 12, 2021 at 10:30 AM||comments (39)|
My sweet old dog Sissie has been under the weather lately. Nothing specific beyond the ravages of time. At 18 she’s deaf, nearly blind, has arthritis in every joint, and just generally wants to sleep and eat more than anything else. In spite of all that, she has moments of real joy, and I know that in her mind she’s still a puppy running through the fields with her big brothers.
But while I was researching some things to make her more comfortable, I came across a vet’s article about deafness in our pets. The Doctor said we need to remember that our animals don’t have any idea what hearing loss is, so they don’t realize they can’t hear us anymore. They just think we’ve quit talking to them. That makes me incredibly sad.
But it also made me realize that there are many times in life when we become deaf. Not physically, although it seems time has that on the agenda for us eventually, but spiritually. When the pain in our body or in our situation seems unbearable and we feel like we’re screaming out to God for relief, we start to ask ourselves WHERE IS HE? And if we don’t hear from Him immediately, we start to ask ourselves why He’s not responding - why He’s quit hearing us.
The reality is that God never stops listening, is never unaware of our cries, and never stops responding to us with loving words. We have simply become so wrapped up in the pain we are deafened by it. Our spirit becomes defeated, and head down tail tucked between our legs, we can no longer hear His voice.
With Sissie I’ve learned to spend time every day with my arms wrapped around her. I hold her close and whisper into her ear, just as if she could hear my voice. She may not be able to make out the actual words, but I know she feels the vibration and senses that I’m holding her and loving on her. In those moments, she remembers what safety is.
I have this picture in my mind of God doing the same with us. Just when we’re feeling the most isolated and lonely He stops and wraps His arms around us, stilling our agitation and whispering into our souls. We may not always hear the Father’s words, but we can rest assured that He is there. And His loving arms are available even when we don’t feel any need at all.
Psalm 23 says “thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” He is always there trying to keep us on the right path. That rod isn’t a stick that He’s just waiting to beat us with. It’s there for directing us even when we walk through those shadowy canyons that are filled with death and evil.
In 1 Kings 19, the Prophet Elijah was looking for an answer from God. In Verses 11-13 he was told to “Go out, and stand on the mountain… The Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rock into pieces… but the Lord wasn’t in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake; and then a fire, but the Lord wasn’t in the fire… but after the fire a still small voice.” And that is where Elijah finally heard God.
We can spend so much time looking for the big manifestations and miracles, we forget that God is present in our everyday moments. He is not just for us – He is with us. We get so accustomed to His presence in our lives we start to think that we’re doing everything on our own. Then some big disaster happens and we realize we haven’t heard from God in a while. But it’s really not that we haven’t heard from Him, as that we haven’t heard Him. Spiritual deafness.
I was watching a television program about 911 Dispatchers. One seasoned veteran said, “Can you imagine if everyone in the world had your number and they only called on the worst day of their life?” I can’t help but wonder if God doesn’t feel that way sometimes. He never leaves us, but we tune Him out so much we simply can’t hear Him even when He’s speaking words of love to us. Then something happens and we wonder why we don’t recognize His voice in our lives.
Our relationship with the Lord isn’t one that was created to only be developed and honed in our moments of great need. Our knowledge of God’s real character and love must be grown by recognizing His presence in the everyday moments. And acknowledging Him keeps us attuned to the sound of His whispered words.
Our real growth as Christians will come when we hear His voice in our daily lives, our biggest triumphs, and in our most profound needs. Remember, it’s not always a roar – sometimes it’s a whisper.
Be blessed my friend, God is on the throne!