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.

A Father’s Resume

LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken. – Psalms 15:1-5 (NIV)

I have turned in my resume for different jobs several times over the last two decades.  It has changed because my experiences, skills and technical knowledge have changed.  The resume reflected what I had already lived up to and it was my hope that those hiring would have like what they read.  Father’s have a different kind of resume.

Our children are the living resumes for the world to see. The way they live their lives will reflect how well we are living up to God’s commands.  The psalm above is a description of who we are to be as men, and therefore, fathers.  I have to ask myself if my children’s lives are beginning to reflect the characteristics listed.  Am I striving daily to live up to that kind of standard, or am I satisfied with just getting by?  Do I live a life that cannot be shaken?

My children need a father who seeks God above all else; a father who abides in the sanctuary of His love and righteousness.  They don’t need a best friend or a cool dad. They need someone who will lead them to that sanctuary of God’s love and righteousness.  I have to have more than me in mind in the choices I make, the actions I take and the words that I speak.  They need a Godly man.

Lord, help me be more and more like you every day.  May I be an example of integrity to my children.  Let me lead them to the sanctuary of Your love, grace and righteousness. Amen.

Growing from Season to Season

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

My daughter and I have grown to love the stream where we live, even as it changes throughout the year.  Whether it is sitting on the beach skipping rocks with dragonflies perched on the cattails in the spring, or the mist rising off the water into the crisp morning air of fall, it has become a place of community and celebration for us.  In each season, we have experienced beauty and pain, either in our own lives or by observing the changes experienced by the landscape itself.  I have come to appreciate the seasons equally for their amazing differences and subtle commonalities.

It has been fascinating watching the trees next to the stream, especially a large mimosa, as the seasons pass by.  There are several other mimosas on the property, but only one next to the stream.  It is definitely larger and tends to get leaves earlier and lose them later.  In other words, its proximity to the stream helps it handle the seasons better, but it does not eliminate the seasons.   So the tree grows stronger, produces more fruit and sinks its roots deep into fertile soil, but the world around it is still the same.

We are in the same situation.  We may grow strong in our understanding of God and His Word.  We may produce good and plentiful fruit through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  We may sink our roots into the rich soil of God’s love, mercy and grace.  But the world around us remains the same; the seasons still change, the weeds still grow and the storms still rage.  The difference is not in what we experience in this life, it is how we experience it.

For those who root themselves in Christ, each season is a time to grow stronger for the season to come.  This is why we can come to cherish each of the seasons of life.  We are no longer defined by those seasons as they come and go, but by the One who gives us a life abundantly in the midst of every season.    In Him the winter is as rich and full of purpose as the summer, and the shedding of leaves just as meaningful as their bursting forth in spring.  This, however, is not an easy reality to grasp in a world that values change for its own sake.  The question we need to ask ourselves is “Am I handling the inconsistencies of life better today than I did last week, last month or last year?”  If not, it may be a matter of moving closer to the stream and sinking your roots deeper and deeper.  If so, don’t settle for where you are; keep digging deeper.  If we don’t look just like Jesus, there’s still room to grow.

Skipping Rocks: Getting Life from the Source

This is the second in a series this week on spiritual growth.  May we help our children sink their roots deep into the truth of God’s word and way.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. – Psalms 1:1-3 (NIV)

Trees depend on two critical sources of energy and life; water and sunlight.  Having one without the other can be devastating to a tree and an absence of both is deadly. I believe this is why so many passages in scripture are clear about trees growing near streams. God has seen fit to give us all life, but He has also made eternal life available to us as well.

The life that is given to all of us is like the sunlight to a tree.  It is readily available and there are no pre-requisites – if you are a tree, you get sunlight.  “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians  1:15-17 NIV) This doesn’t require belief in God anymore than a tree has to believe in the Sun.  The Sun provides light to the tree because that is what the Sun does and God creates living things because that’s what God does.

The tree that is planted by the stream, however, has another source of life that it must be connected to in order to grow even stronger.  Just as the water in the stream brings life and strength to the tree, so the living water brings newness and strength to our souls as it flows from the Father.  If we want to grow strong, we must stay connected to the source of water. It is ridiculous to picture a dry and weary tree making its way from a barren land to the stream for a quick drink, only to return to the barren land.  And yet that is exactly what we do in our own lives.

Too often we live in the dry places and difficult landscapes because that’s where the other trees are hanging out.  From time to time we grow thirsty and edge ourselves near the stream to rejuvenate, but we never truly connect to the source.  This makes for fragile trees that do not bear the burden of seasons very well and produce little fruit.  It is the tree that sinks its roots into moist soil of the banks that will thicken its trunk and strengthen its limbs.

Our relationship with God has been compared to being plugged in, like a cord into a wall socket, but that breeds the idea that we only need to have the connection when we need a charge.  The truth is that we need a constant connection with God like the tree has with the stream.  It is the life that is rooted in God rather than the infrequent religious jolts that will grow strong, weather the seasons and bear much fruit. The question for all of us is where are your roots sinking?  Are they digging into the rich soil of the stream bank or tangled up in the dry soil of a dead forest with other lamenting trees?  I may not be at the stream just yet, but I’m certainly going to try and get there because the stream is calling.

Sons of Adam, Daughters of Eve

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”  So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:26-27 (NRSV)

In the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, the Pevensie children, and others from our world, are referred to as Sons of Adam or Daughters of Eve.  It is an interesting address to greet someone with since Adam and Eve’s story tends to be a downer.  There is an upside, though; it is good to remember where you come from and who you come from.  We can get along far better if we admit we are descendants of forbidden fruit pickers, then blaming it on genetics and environment.

As fathers we have the privilege of helping little sons of Adam and daughters of Eve overcome their heritage.  For those who call God father, a new heritage is available.  We can overcome our forbidden fruit picking tendencies by living as children of God instead of children of sin.  We move from the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane; from rebellion to surrender.  If we keep moving in this direction, we cut a clear path for our children to follow.

It is good to remember where we come from, but we are also a people that have somewhere to go.  We are heading to a place beyond paradise and we have the blessing of taking our children along the way.  Pray today that you will have a better sense of your identity as a child of God.  Pray that you will see the opportunities to teach your children the way that leads to heaven.  Pray that you and your family can move from forbidden fruit picking to spiritual fruit bearing.


Chris Yeager