Our Deliverer


No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.  A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.  But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. Psalms 33:16-19 (NIV)

The power of the individual has become so overblown in our society.  We elevate individuals to a height that they don’t deserve and can’t live up to and so we are perpetually let down by our cultural heroes.  We see this in athletes, actors, singers and politicians.  We even do this with Christians, making them celebrities of the church.  But our hope isn’t in others, it is in the Lord.

We look to the wrong things too often to help us in our troubles.  We follow trends twitter accounts, but we miss out on following Jesus.  This certainly isn’t about whether we should be responsible people or not, but where we get our strength and comfort.  As God’s children we should do everything to the best of our ability, but when the world is against us we need to trust in God and not ourselves or our resources.

God is our deliverer.  He frees us from our worries and wounds.  He heals our brokenness and purifies our hearts and minds.  He gives us life that overcomes death.  He satisfies our hunger and thirst.  Nothing we can get in this world can do any of this, but the arena of the world is where our children live.  We need to draw their eyes and hearts to the one who gives them everything they need.  We need to teach them not to put their hope in hopeless things.

Lord, be my deliverer.  Remind me that my hope should not be in the things of this world, but in the one who created it.  Help me teach my children to trust in You instead of anything else.  Amen.

Praise His Holy Name


Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.  For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. – Psalms 30:4-5 (NIV)

One of the hardest things to do is to give your best to someone or something when you are not feeling your best.  When the day is long and patience is short and the pain of life seems overwhelming, sing to the Lord?  That’s what the psalmist is getting at.  Bringing the sacrifice of praise to God is not supposed to hinge on our mood, but that doesn’t jive with the ways of the world.

Too often we use worship and praise as personal therapy.  We look forward to Sunday mornings because we enjoy the music and hope it will help us feel better.  There is something profoundly important about worship being about God and God alone.  Being disciplined about why we worship – because God is worthy – helps us keep a longer view of things.  If we can worship God in the midst of our storm, it helps us hope for the sun to break through though we don’t yet see the light.

To develop this discipline in our children we need to ask ourselves on a regular basis why we worship.  What is it about God that we need to praise Him for?  Why is it important to praise Him even on our darkest day?  It is not that we don’t know the answers to these questions, but emotion is hard to overcome when our knowledge doesn’t go deep enough.  We and our children need to know why we love and worship God like we know the sun will come up in the morning.

Lord, help me to worship You as you deserve.  Give me the strength and discipline to give you praise, even on the worst of days.  May my children worship and rejoice in You all the days of their lives.  Amen.

Waiting for the Lord


I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. – Psalms 27:13-14 (NIV)

Heaven is going to be beyond anything we can hope or comprehend.  To be perfectly at peace with God in His presence, joining together with all the saints in praising His name is amazing to think about.  However, heaven is someplace we end up and there is a long road between now and then.  The Psalmist has confidence that life in this broken world is not something we muddle through without hope or happiness.

I don’t want to be one of those people who are just waiting for heaven.  I have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living and I have faith that I will see it again.  My arrival in heaven doesn’t really require anything more from me than the step I made at 9 years of age to surrender my life to Christ.  However, the life of Christ in this world requires intention on my part.  It is possible to get to heaven and miss the times that heaven touches down on earth.

The prescription laid forth in the psalm has three parts: be strong, take heart and wait for the Lord.  If we want to see the goodness of the Lord in the here and now, we need to grab a hold of these three disciplines.  To be strong is to be unshakeable and unbending.  It is strength in our beliefs and standards that take us through the wilderness to the land of promise.  But strength only comes with exercise, with increasing weight to bear.  To be strong one must bearing the weight of waiting for God’s goodness to break through.

Taking heart is what keeps our attitude in a place so we can be strong.  If we lose heart we lose our motivation for gaining and keeping the strength we need in this world.  Taking heart is about gaining courage from the truth of who God is and knowing how that changes everything in our lives.

If we can be strong and take heart it will help us to wait for the Lord.  We do not know God’s timing, but we do know His timing is right.  Strength, courage and patient trust in God’s timing – these are the disciplines that give us eyes to see His goodness and be His instruments of goodness in a broken world.

As a parent, there is comfort in the reality of a heaven to come.  The joy and wholeness we will experience in the place and time are beyond words, but I want my children to have those heavenly moments today. I am confident of this:  they can know the strength that comes from knowing the truth, take heart from experiencing the mercy and grace of a loving God and learn patient expectation for the goodness of God in this world.

Lord, help me to be strong, take heart and wait for Your goodness.  Help me lead my children into these disciplines so that they can see heavenly moments in this world. Help us wait for You.  Amen.

The Fear of the Lord


Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. – Psalms 25:12-14 (NIV)

We hear a lot of sermons on the love of God, many on His grace and on His mercy, but the fear of Lord does not get as much attention.  Fearing God has become underrated.  We live in an age that lauds fearlessness and celebrates the brash.  It is not courage that we hold up as valuable, but a lack of fear and there is a difference.

Too often we equate courage with fearlessness, but it is fear that is a prerequisite for courage.  Fearlessness is a form of sociopathic behavior.  It is an indicator that someone also lacks love or hope or faith.  Even Christians can sometimes fall into this pitfall.  We need to remember that it is not our fearlessness that equips us to live good lives, but our fear of the Lord casting out all other fears.

Fear of the Lord gives us courage to overcome all other fears.  It is the beginning of wisdom according to Proverbs.  Fear keeps us humble before God instead of calling Him our homeboy, copilot or buddy.  He is the everlasting, ever present and all knowing God and we do right to fear Him, but it is not a fear without hope.

The fear of the Lord is not where we end up, it is where we start.  It leads to a greater appreciation and gratefulness for His love, mercy and grace.  It opens our eyes to the future hope of heaven and our present power to live life abundantly.  The fear of the Lord gets us places that our fleshy fears would keep us from.

The world wants to hold us in fear, hold our children in fear, and we have a God who is not okay with us living timid and fretful lives.  The challenge of keeping our children from giving in to their fleshy fears is a long road.  At every twist and turn of growing up a new fear is introduced.  As we walk them through this terrain, we will need to draw them back to the fear of the Lord so that all other fears diminish.

Lord, help me be a man that fears the Lord.  May I live courageously in this life, unafraid of what the world may bring against me.  Give me all I need to raise my children to fear You and You alone. Amen.

God of all Creation


The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. – Psalms 24:1-2 (NIV)

We hear in the news about the extravagantly rich, the exorbitantly wealthy, but even they have limits.  In history, kings and kingdoms have expanded across the globe, but all of them have come to ruin sooner or later.  The fights over what belongs to who eat away at our communities, neighborhoods and families.  Ownership is a funny thing, for it can help or hinder us depending on our perspective.

The world sees ownership almost solely in the context of rights. Scripture, however, sees ownership as stewardship. The one who owns something is responsible for how he handles that something.  The parable of the talents comes to mind.  The Psalmist understands this in the greater context and states it clearly, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.”

We are in a constant conflict with the world as it tries to convince our children that they have rights to certain things.  We will be hard pressed to instill in them a sense of responsibility and gratitude for everything they have.  Our lives will be marked not be spent in seeking ways to make more money, but investing more in our children and their life with God.  If we can plant in their hearts the seeds of truth about everything belonging to God, we will help them have much happier lives.

Lord, help me avoid the consumerism and greed in the world around me.  Keep me from striving after things that fade and rust.  Let me live my life with the knowledge that everything belongs to You and help me teach that truth to my children.  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.

Worship with Creation


The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. – Psalms 19:1-3 (NIV)

My family has the blessing of living in the scenic beauty of northernCalifornia.  Rugged, snow-capped mountains, pine forests, pristine lakes and a meandering river valley create a land that begs to be recognized.  The sunsets are breathtaking and the nights are filled with countless stars.  It is a place where God’s glory shines through so clearly, you would think it couldn’t be missed.  But it is.

The human heart can be severely near-sighted, focused on the things that are closest to it without concern for anything else.  When the heart sees the world this way, so much goes by unnoticed and unappreciated.  This can also happen with our physical eyes.  The text on the phone, the picture on the TV or the line on the page can sometimes draw our eyes from what God is saying outside our window.

I am trying to teach my children to keep their eyes open for the fingerprints of God; to see His handiwork and give praise.  We take time to watch the sunset.  We stop to look at a flower or a bird in quiet reflection.  We gaze at the night sky and see something great than the sum of the stars, but not often enough.  I still miss those opportunities to worship God with my children.

It is odd that my physical vision gets worse as I get older, yet my spiritual vision gets clearer and sharper.  It is not, however, a done thing.  Still pressing on.  Still learning to see the world with eyes wide open.

Lord, help me to see the opportunities You put before me every day to join with creation in giving you praise.  May I lead my children into these moments of worship and help them develop a clearer vision of Your creation.  Let me see the night sky and perceive more than stars.  Amen.