Uncommon Wisdom


The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. – Psalms 19:7 (NIV)

Most of us have heard the euphemism “Common sense isn’t so common.”  We laugh or snicker, but the truth of the saying pricks just a bit.  As a culture, we share the same sensibilities with our neighbors less and less.  We have become diverse not just in the characteristics closer to the surface of who we are, but deep down in the core.

Cultures go through these eras of tumult and transition and they are rarely without difficulty.  In theUSAwe have gone through our share – the Revolution, the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement – where combating groups held their sensibilities to those which were common.  Christians took their stance on both sides of all these issues, so even we did not hold things in common all the time.

There is something common for all of us.  We can take our opinions or feelings and use them to define reality, to determine what is true.  Maturity is no longer allowing our weaknesses to define the world around us, but to allow the truth of God’s word to define the way we see ourselves and the world.  His law is perfect and allows us to see things perfectly, but we must see the world through that lens.

We need to begin this with our children before they are increasingly exposed to the worldliness around them.  We need to expose them to the truths of God well before they are inundated with the lies of the world.  This means that we and our children will be at odds with our culture, even at odds with our family and neighbors.  The hope is that standing our ground will turn others to look at that perfect law.

Lord, help us to live according to Your word and not according to our will.  Help me to increase in wisdom and knowledge of Your statutes.  May my children be prepared to meet the foolishness of the world with Your wisdom.  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.

Prepared for God’s Timing


When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.  For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:12-14 (NIV)

There is a short list of things I would like to accomplish in life and near the top is raising children who are prepared to do the will of God.  Esther was raised to be more than a bauble on the arm of a pagan king.  She was raised to be a daughter of Israel; being Queen was about location, not vocation.  Esther was called to be a deliverer, an instrument in God’s hands to save His people.

I do not know where life will take my children, but I do know that decisions will come that will not be easy.  They will have a choice between serving God and serving themselves.  It is my responsibility to help prepare them for those moments.  Day by day, my vision needs to be clearly focused on leading them towards Christ.

Mordecai had the right words at the right time, but he was calling to something that was already in Esther’s heart and mind.  She had been raised to believe in her people; raised to be a Jew.  When Mordecai tells her that she is in her place for a reason, it is not said in a vacuum.  I can’t expect to wait until the moment of decision comes for one of my daughters to dispense some wisdom and expect it to act like a magic wand.  Laying the foundation always gives them something to rely on.

Lord, help me to disciple my children to be Your children.  Give me the wisdom to teach them all they need from me to live according to Your will.  May I raise children who are prepared for the opportunities You will place in their path.  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.

Leadership Can’t Wait


Joash was seven years old when he began to reign. – 2 Kings 11:21

There is a movement today, similar to other movements through the ages, where the youth are being told that they are going to be the ones to change the world.   Often this message comes with the idea, whether overt or with subtle manipulations, that the old is bad, outdated and ignorant.  These ideologies and philosophies come from politicians, groups and even churches and see that new is better.  This develops an attitude of disdain for those things that have come before and undermines the heritage that could otherwise inform their views and actions.

There is a different perspective put forth in Scripture.  From Genesis on there is a reminder to each generation to not forget; to remember God’s goodness, the blessings of obedience and the consequences of disobedience.  This gives someone like Joash something to work with and the ability to lead his people to the ways of their ancestors.  When leadership is disconnected from heritage and history, it is misleading.  When leadership is rooted in who and what has come before with God’s people, it produces a better outcome.  For Joash it resulted in this summary of his reign: “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” (2 Kings 12:2)

Joash was a leader because he followed God.  Our children will be leaders if they are doing what is “right in the eyes of the Lord.”  We cannot wait until they are in the circumstance where they need to lead to teach and prepare.  Our children need to learn how to lead before they are required to lead.  We need to be providing opportunities for them to be responsible, self-controlled and disciplined.  We need to be laying the foundation for leadership before the structure is built.

In 2005 an article came out in TIME magazine about a new trend in American culture – the development of a new group called the Twixters.  This article states that “The years from 18 until 25 and even beyond have become a distinct and separate life stage, a strange, transitional never-never land between adolescence and adulthood in which people stall for a few extra years, putting off the iron cage of adult responsibility that constantly threatens to crash down on them. They’re betwixt and between. You could call them twixters.”  This is the atmosphere that we are raising our children in and we can do better for them and for the world.

In Paul’s well-known passage “When I became a man….”  It should be noted that his manhood came somewhere in the early teens.  We need to rebel against a culture that thinks adulthood comes at 26 years of age.  We do a disfavor to our children, God and our culture if we continue putting off manhood and womanhood.  Our communities would be transformed if teenagers had the same level of maturity that we now expect of a college graduate.  Joash wasn’t a twixter, he was a leader and our children can be too, but we need to lead them in to adulthood purposefully and in step with God’s timing, not our culture’s timing.

Lord, help me to teach my children to lead.  Help me to guide and direct them into adulthood with purpose and patience.  May they be used by You to lead their generation in doing what is right in Your eyes. Amen.

What Would You Do for a Miracle?


When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch.  He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD.  Then he got on the bed and lay on the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out on him, the boy’s body grew warm.  Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out on him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.

Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite.” And he did. When she came, he said, “Take your son.”  She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out. – 2 Kings 4:32-37

The prophets of the Old Testament were asked to do some odd things in order for God’s power to be released, and this ranks up there in the weird category.  I am not sure how I would feel if an old bearded man in robes came in and lay down on my recently deceased child, but I am sure I would feel grateful and amazed if it brought that child back to life.  It is the idea of “normal” that gets in the way of us experiencing God more than a lot of other distractions in this life.  I would rather be weird and see miracles than normal and expect nothing.

If I expect God to show up to answer prayers, to provide for my needs, to guide and direct my path, then I have to accept how He decides to show up.  You don’t invite the king over and then complain about what mode of transportation he rode in on; just be happy that the king showed up.  This is something I need to grow in and help my children understand.  They need to have an expectation of God’s power working in and through them without an expectation of how He chooses to do so.

God has given us power through His Holy Spirit to heal the sick, cast out demons and, yes, raise the dead, but He has not boxed in the details of how that gets done.  This indicates that we need to be guided and directed by Him on the process.  It provides another opportunity to be dependent solely on Him rather than some legalized system of healing or exorcism.  Are there rules or guidelines? Absolutely, but there is also a lot of room for God to work in those boundaries, and I want my children to experience the freedom to work with God within His will and ways.

Lord, help me be open to the ways You want to work through me to bring Your miracles about in other’s lives.  May my children grow with an expectation of Your power and an adventurous anticipation of how You want to express Your power in and through their lives. Amen.

Godly by Association


“What!” exclaimed the king ofIsrael. “Has the LORD called us three kings together only to deliver us into the hands ofMoab?”

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here, through whom we may inquire of the LORD?”

An officer of the king of Israelanswered, “Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.[b]”

Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the LORD is with him.” So the king ofIsraeland Jehoshaphat and the king ofEdomwent down to him. – 2 Kings 3:10-12

Elisha was requested by kings because of who he hung out with, not because of anything he had done.  While God had worked through him a few times up to this point, he had not built up a very big resume yet.  Jehoshaphat jumped (pun intended) at the chance to hear from the man who had attended the prophet Elijah.  It is good to have a good name behind you.

So what kind of name are we making for our children?  What do people think when they hear who our child’s parents are?  Are we living in such a way that people will have a good opinion of our children because they know us?  The mistake for us is to try and make a reputation for our children with the world’s rules.  Our world is about status and clout and manipulation, but all of those will inevitably bring ill-repute.  We need to trust God to decide what ours and our children’s reputations will be.

If we want our children to be thought well of, we need to live lives in obedience to God and teach them to do the same.  This is why Elijah had his reputation; he lived for God.  This is not an easy task in the politics of modern life.  We will need to remind ourselves with great frequency that seeking a good opinion from God is far better than seeking a good opinion from men, and that the first often leads to the second, but the second never leads to the first.

Lord, help me live a life beyond reproach.  May my life be a positive influence on how others see my children.  Remind me to live to please You and not mankind. Amen.