Today is God’s Day


In attempting to make sure my daughters understand truths about themselves, I wrote this and say it with them on the way to school each day.  This summer we will say it on the days they are actually out of bed before I go to work or at dinner.  There are too many voices in this world telling them untruths to not give them the words to rebuke the lies. For Father’s Day, tell your children all the amazing things that are true about them because of who God is and who He says they are because of His love, mercy and grace.  Happy Father’s Day!

TodayIsGodsDay

Do Not Fret


Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. – Psalms 37:1-6 (NIV)

There is a lot in this world to get frustrated and angry about.  We see injustice, greed, meanness and a general sense of selfishness that can get us down. All of these have influences on how we perceive life.  We can get cynical and pessimistic about the world, but it can bleed over into how we see everything.  We can turn into sour and surly saints.

This keeps us from shining the light of God.  If we lose sight of God’s goodness, we become more defined by our surroundings instead of God transforming our surroundings through us.  We cannot look to the world for our happiness and contentment; we will be disappointed.  We must look to God, always God.

The Psalmist puts forth a great argument here: live life on God’s terms and let others live life on their terms and God will deal with us accordingly.  This less about worrying who is being bad and more about how we can be good.  If we keep our eyes on the Lord, we won’t have the time or inclination to monitor the fairness of life.

It leaves us with a choice between being fretting frowners or faithful followers.  Will we live life moving toward the love, light and beauty of God or will we wallow in the misperception of thinking we don’t have all we deserve?  God is all we really need, so I know what the answer should be, but there are days where I act like a wallower.  I want something better for myself and my children.

Lord, help me not to wallow in my self-made misery.  Give me the wisdom and opportunity to teach my children the importance of following after You alone.  Amen.

The Desires of Our Hearts


May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests. – Psalms 20:4-5 (NIV)

The desire of any parent’s heart is to see their children realize the desires of their hearts.  We want to see them succeed and we want to see them live victorious lives.  However, none of these things are under our control.  We have no power to provide these things for our children.  Ours is a different responsibility.

We prepare our children’s hearts to be open to the leading of the Lord so their desires are in line with the things of heaven.  We teach them the meaning of success according to the Word instead of the world so they will pursue God’s purpose for their lives. We discipline our children’s wills to be humble before God so that they are empowered to contend for the truth.

Parents have the blessing and privilege to prepare their children to receive all that God has for them, but we have to be cautious and not try to do God’s job for Him.  He fulfills desires.  He empowers and equips us for success.  He is the motivation and means of victory.  He is the provider of all good things.  We are the tillers of soil and He makes the seed grow and bear fruit.

If I want my children to experience the blessing from God in the Psalmist’s prayer, I have to be leading them to the depths of God.  I need to be educating them in the Word.  I need to be discussing the life of God with them each day so that, as much as it is in my power, my children are His to bless.

Lord, help me to set my children up for success with God.  Show me the ways I can till the soil of their hearts so You can grow the truth in their hearts.  May they be Yours wholly and happily to bless and to keep all the days of their lives. Amen.

Celebrating God


Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, the Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed.  These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants. – Esther 9:26-28 (NIV)

I think I want to start a family tradition.  We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and awards, but I don’t think we celebrate God’s provision and blessings.  When the Jews realized all that had transpired to rescue them, they wanted to celebrate and to remember again and again their reason for celebration.  I think I want to start celebrating God’s movements in my families’ life together.

It doesn’t require a party planner or a guest list, just a conscientious choice to recognize God’s providence, record it and remember it.  This used to be done in the family Bible.  All the key events in a families’ history would be recorded there and then remember each year.  Today, our Bibles get updated as often as the iPhone, so maintaining a history there can be difficult.  I think I will start a journal; a log book of God’s work in our midst to remind us of His constancy, mercy, grace and love.

It will be hard at first to remember to write those moments down, but it will be worth it.  When we sit together and walk through the year that He has brought us through, it will be worth it.  When we get a clearer vision of what He had laid out in front of us with patience and care, it will be worth it.  When we see His blessings listed one after the other day after day, it will be worth it.  I want to celebrate what God is doing in my family and I want my children to grow that habit in their lives with Him.

Lord, help me recognize Your work in my family.  Give me eyes to see Your hand move among us and a mind disciplined in writing it down.  Give us hearts that celebrate Your provision and blessing and action in our lives.  Amen.

The Blessing of Family


Family is an incredible institution.  The connections through blood and marriage are many and varied, each one carrying the possibility of friendship, fellowship and blessing.  This past weekend was one of those moments where I was reminded of this complex and beautiful blessing.  Nanas, papas, aunts, uncles, cousins gathered to give thanks and remind one another that, while the world may assail us, family gives us strength.

God has also given us a family that offers of friendship, fellowship and blessing.  The relationships we experience can remind us that the world holds no fear for us.  Together we give strength to each other and spur one another on to the good deeds of our good God.  It is good to have family.

I hope that you had time this Thanksgiving to consider the blessing of family, both the natural one and the spiritual one.  God has blessed us with both and has called us to be a blessing to both.  This year I hope that the way I live is reason for someone else to give thanks.  I hope I love my families with gratitude and grace.  I hope I don’t forget in the busyness and distractions of life in this world that family is a blessing and that I am to be a blessing to my family.  Lord help me to be mindful of these truths.  Amen.

Honoring the Word


Then the king called together all the elders ofJudahandJerusalem. He went up to the temple of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people ofJerusalem, the priests and the prophets–all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD–to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. – 2 Kings 23:1-3 (NIV)

The cycle ofIsrael’s history is a reflection of man’s history and even the lifecycle of many individuals: realization of God’s existence, walking in God’s protection and will, growing apathetic and worldly, open disobedience toward God, suffering the consequences of bad choices, repentance and revival.  The passage today is part of the repentance and revival movement in the cycle and is tied to the discovery of God’s Word and a revelation of their history as a people of God.  While this cycle does not reflect God’s desire for His people it does reveal some important things about His character.

First, God is merciful.  After initially introducing Himself to the people ofIsraelthrough Moses, God runs into rebellion upon rebellion from a stubborn and cowardly element in the ranks.  Instead of abandoning the Israelites and starting over with another group of people, He is merciful.  He relents in His anger.  He withholds His wrath.  God is merciful.

Second, God is patient.  With miracle upon miracle and sign after sign, God revealed Himself toIsraelas powerful and true to His promises.  And yet His power is forgotten quickly when things don’t go the wayIsraelwants them to go.  They fall easily into fear and worry and begin finding solutions of their own, which inevitably gets them into trouble.  Despite the overwhelming evidence of God’s providence and power, the people ofIsraelput their trust in other things. But God gives them opportunity to find redemption.  He sends His messengers to bring truth and warning.  He sends signs and wonders to show His power.  He waits for them to turn to Him in repentance and humility.  God is patient.

Last, God is unchanging.  Each time the Israelites go through their broken cycle, God is still the same when they come around to obedience.  He never did change throughout their cycle, whether they were following Him or in the midst of rebellion, but they did not know it until repentance brought them back to wisdom and truth.  He was merciful and loving and patient and kind every step the Israelites took through their checkered history.  God is unchanging.

DoesIsraelremind you of anyone?  I seeIsrael’s painful cycle every time I look in the mirror.  I know first hand the insipid weakness of my human condition and have cried out to a merciful God to raise me from my rebellious mess.  Gratefully, I have learned from my own failures and the cycle is less often repeated in less severe fashion.  God is merciful, He is patient and He is unchanging and He asks us to pass that along to our children.  As He has done to us, He wants us to do to others, especially our children.

This is something I am working on.  It was one thing to accept God’s mercy, patience and unchanging presence, but trying to emulate that for my children is a challenge.  The question arises, “How can I reflect the mercy, patience and constancy of God to my children?”  Good question and I think the life of God’s people gives us the answer: honor His Word.  Every time the people ofIsraelfell out of good graces, it was because they ignored the Word of God or at least became apathetic toward it.  If we want to help our children avoid the broken cycle, we need to be people who honor the Word of God.

This is more than reading the Bible everyday and more than being involved in a Bible study, although those things can inform what is important.  To honor the Word of God requires that the Word is more important than us; more important than what we think or feel, more important than what is popular, more important than our fears and worries.  To be people who honor the Word of God, we must place it as something more than a reference on how to fix our lives.  It is the living and active Word of God.  It is not a tool in our hands, it is a sword in the hand of the Holy Spirit to divide truth from untruth and set us right.  But we cannot expect it to keep us from the broken cycle if we only see it as something that gets us out of trouble.

The Word is what keeps us from trouble, but we must be in and it must be in us.  There should be less and less difference between what the Word says and the way we think.  In this way we honor the Word and if we honor the Word we will honor the God who gave it to us.

Lord, help me be a man who honors Your Word.  Keep me from the broken cycle that leads to shame and hurt and pain.  Help me lead my children into a right relationship with Your Word that they might follow you all the days of their lives. Amen.

Love That is Bone Deep


Elisha died and was buried.

Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet. – 2 Kings 13:20-21 (NIV)

I don’t know what it would be like to be so immersed in the love of and life of God that your bones could raise the dead, but it is something to shoot for.  How awesome is it that your remains, the evidence of death, mean life for someone else?  I want a bone-deep love for God.  I want the life of God to sink into the marrow and make me wholly His.  Do I think that someday my bones will bring someone to life?  I will leave that to the perfect judgment of God, but I do think that the “bones” of my life can count for something even after I am gone.

The “bones” of my life are the things that don’t decay after death.  The time spent with others, the actions done in God’s service, the words left in the ear or on the page the changed a mind or heart – these are the bones.  If our time and talent are immersed in God’s will and Word, they will become treasures to those we leave behind.  If they are not, we can suffer from a sort of spiritual osteoporosis that takes the firmness out of who we are and how we are remembered.  Even today, the bones of Elisha’s life are bringing life to others and that possibility exists for us.

Our children need to be taught how to love God with a love that is bone deep and provides structure and strength to their actions and words.  They need to see that love at work in us and experience what it looks like in practice.  Our lives need to be steeped in the presence and power of God until it sinks into the deepest parts of us and we need to take our children with us.

Lord, help me to live a life of depth and meaning with and through You.  May I and my children be pierced to the bone by Your love and transformed by it.  Bless us with lives that will touch the lives of others for Your glory even when we have gone to be with You forever. Amen.