A Vigilant Community


From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me. – Nehemiah 4:16-18 (NIV)

Watchfulness can rarely be overrated.  Being prepared for whatever may come is a valued trait in soldiers and police, but it is also incredibly important for community.  Nehemiah knew that sometimes the best defense isn’t offense, it is vigilance.  He put into place the means and the manner for his community to be safe and secure.

In each community there needs to be a sense of vigilance.  There are enemies to every fellowship, family or congregation and they are waiting for apathy or infighting or corruption to set in.  The problem with community is that we can get so internally focused that we forget about the world outside.  We can become ignorant of the world’s allure and cruel intentions, or we can get an inflated view of ourselves in comparison to anyone outside our group.  These do not build healthy communities.

There is a tension in being a safe community that is still welcoming to those who want to enter in; vigilance against ill will and in expressing good will.  We need to look out for one another.  We need each other.  As a father, I need to be vigilant for my family, to watch for those things that may harm the ones I love, but I also need to be open to those who may enter into our community and lead with love.  It is less about looking for a fight and all about being prepared when the fight comes to our doorstep.

Nehemiah wanted to get the wall built.  He wasn’t looking for a fight.  He just wanted his people to be safe and secure.  Sounds like a good attitude for a father and a friend.

Lord, help me be vigilante to defend what I love and extend love to others.  Give me the strength of heart and mind to be watchful over the communities you place me in.  Amen.

Close To the Vest


I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do forJerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. – Nehemiah 2:11-12

There is something very comforting in the privacy we have with God.  There is someone who knows us completely, but will never break that trust.  Whatever we share with Him is sacred and safe.  Nehemiah uses that safety to give him confidence in his mission and to plan his steps.  The truth Nehemiah shared with God and God alone was the restoration of Israel’s security.  By inspecting the wall with that truth between him and God, Nehemiah didn’t open the door to argument or anxiety from those he was with.

This is a great lesson for us to keep in mind as parents.  As we are leading our children in their life with God, we don’t always have to let them know when we are parenting and discipling.  Sometimes we need to keep the truths that God has given us close to the vest so we don’t incite argument or anxiety.  Our children don’t always need to know what God has put in our hearts.  Nehemiah shows great wisdom in his restraint.

This is the kind of wisdom I want God to grow in me.  I want to know when to keep those works and words He gives me to do and say to myself until the time is ripe.  I want to know how to lead my children without them always knowing they are being led.

Lord, help me to have the wisdom of privacy with You.  Help me to know when the work you are doing in me or through me is for my eyes only.  Build in me the inner boldness to act on Your will in my life without fear. Amen.

Staying Ahead of the Chariot


And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”  So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.  “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”  The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.'”  Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.  The power of the Lord came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel. – 1 Kings 18:41-46 (NIV)

Went God set Elijah against Ahab, I don’t think Ahab was too worried at first.  Elijah was literally the only prophet of God left to challenge Ahab, so the odds were with Ahab, or at least that is what he thought.  But numbers are meaningless to an infinitely powerful God and His obedient servant.  I think Ahab’s first real wake-up call was when the prophet beat him on foot back to his own home.  Can you imagine holding the reins of the chariot, the wind whipping in your face, the horses galloping ahead when Elijah runs past you with a wave and a nod?  That is not going to be your best day if you are Ahab.

There are plenty of Ahabs around today.  Little kings of little kingdoms that want to rule us.  They are ideologies, philosophies and cultures that prop themselves up with catch phrases and sound bites.  They are pundits, politicians, and prophets of the religion of me.  They are dead set on having their way with us and our children, but they do not have God on their side.  They may have chariots, but we can outrun them.  They may have numbers, but God’s math always works in our favor.

If we want to run like Elijah and stay ahead of our enemies when they pursue us, we have to walk like Elijah in the midst of our enemies when they accuse us.  We need to be ready for fight or flight at God’s behest.  How can we expect our children to do what we ask if we are not willing to do the same for God?  How can we show our children the way to victory if we aren’t even in the fight?  Peter Marshall, the Senate Chaplain during the late 1940’s, once said in a prayer, “Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for – because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.”  Elijah had a clear vision of where to stand and who to stand for and so can we.

Lord, help me have the faith and wisdom to hear Your voice and follow Your commands.  Help me to be a man who stands for truth and righteousness.  Give me power in its proper time to stay ahead of the chariot.  Give me the words and the deeds to speak and act before those who stand against You.  May I live a life empowered by You before my children that they might seek You and know You. Amen.

God’s Mercy is a Father’s Mercy


“Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.  For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.  As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.  But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.  Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.” – 1 Samuel 12:20-25 (NIV)

The people of Israel had asked for a king and God had given them what they wanted, but Saul was not what they needed.  While God was willing to let them suffer the consequences of their disobedience and lack of faith, He also extended mercy.  Even though they had forgotten all of what God had done for them and their ancestors, put their trust in false gods and chosen a king over their heavenly Father, God still showed mercy.  This is a common thread in God’s relationship with His children.

Our children will beg for things that aren’t good for them and occasionally we will relent and let them suffer for their choices.  We will watch them struggle through the pain and humiliation of failure and defeat.  We will hear their complaints and appeals for help and we will extend mercy.  As parents, we extend the mercy that has been extended to us.  Here is a discipline I am working on to put this mercy into practice: each day waking up with a clean slate in regard to my children’s bad choices.

This isn’t some touchy-feely memory wipe, but a conscious choice to treat every day as a fresh opportunity for my children to succeed in righteousness.  It is too easy to see our children with the hindsight of judgment instead of the foresight of vision and hope.  Our privilege and responsibility as parents is to see a future for our children through the lens of mercy.  This helps us to see all of their potential and promise even on their worst day.

Lord, help me to show the same mercy to my children that you have shown me.  Give me eyes to see all the promise they hold and the wisdom to guide them into it.  Help me grow a discipline of starting each day with a clean slate. Amen.

Believing in our Children


Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” – Genesis 12:1-3 (NRSV)

One of the great blessings of fatherhood is watching your child realize and comprehend the love you have for them.  It comes at different times for different reasons, but it always changes the way they see you and relate to you.  When a child understands the love you have for her, she knows you believe in her and the potential she has in this life.

The amazing thing about God’s statement in this passage is the unquestionable belief God has in His child, Abram.  There are no “ifs” in his statements.  God has a vision for Abram, that will bring him from Ur to the Promised Land, from Abram to Abraham, from childless to being the father of nations.  What an incredible source of motivation and encouragement – to know that God believes in you.

It is a gift we can also give our children.  Critical moments will come into our children’s lives, and we need to be prepared with the voice of motivation and encouragement.  We need to give them a vision of who they can become and what we will do to help them get there.  Our voices need to call our children out of Ur into the Promised Land of living in God’s will.

Pray for eyes to see a clear vision for your children.  Ask God for insight, wisdom and knowledge to speak words of motivation and encouragement into your children’s lives.  Pray for the faith to believe great things for your children and the discipline to do what it takes to lead them there.  Amen.

A Vigilant Community


From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me. – Nehemiah 4:16-18 (NIV)

Watchfulness can rarely be overrated.  Being prepared for whatever may come is a valued trait in soldiers and police, but it is also incredibly important for community.  Nehemiah knew that sometimes the best defense isn’t offense, it is vigilance.  He put into place the means and the manner for his community to be safe and secure.

In each community there needs to be a sense of vigilance.  There are enemies to every fellowship, family or congregation and they are waiting for apathy or infighting or corruption to set in.  The problem with community is that we can get so internally focused that we forget about the world outside.  We can become ignorant of the world’s allure and cruel intentions, or we can get an inflated view of ourselves in comparison to anyone outside our group.  These do not build healthy communities.

There is a tension in being a safe community that is still welcoming to those who want to enter in; vigilance against ill will and in expressing good will.  We need to look out for one another.  We need each other.  As a father, I need to be vigilant for my family, to watch for those things that may harm the ones I love, but I also need to be open to those who may enter into our community and lead with love.  It is less about looking for a fight and all about being prepared when the fight comes to our doorstep.

Nehemiah wanted to get the wall built.  He wasn’t looking for a fight.  He just wanted his people to be safe and secure.  Sounds like a good attitude for a father and a friend.

Lord, help me be vigilante to defend what I love and extend love to others.  Give me the strength of heart and mind to be watchful over the communities you place me in.  Amen.

Close To the Vest


I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do forJerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. – Nehemiah 2:11-12

There is something very comforting in the privacy we have with God.  There is someone who knows us completely, but will never break that trust.  Whatever we share with Him is sacred and safe.  Nehemiah uses that safety to give him confidence in his mission and to plan his steps.  The truth Nehemiah shared with God and God alone was the restoration of Israel’s security.  By inspecting the wall with that truth between him and God, Nehemiah didn’t open the door to argument or anxiety from those he was with.

This is a great lesson for us to keep in mind as parents.  As we are leading our children in their life with God, we don’t always have to let them know when we are parenting and discipling.  Sometimes we need to keep the truths that God has given us close to the vest so we don’t incite argument or anxiety.  Our children don’t always need to know what God has put in our hearts.  Nehemiah shows great wisdom in his restraint.

This is the kind of wisdom I want God to grow in me.  I want to know when to keep those works and words He gives me to do and say to myself until the time is ripe.  I want to know how to lead my children without them always knowing they are being led.

Lord, help me to have the wisdom of privacy with You.  Help me to know when the work you are doing in me or through me is for my eyes only.  Build in me the inner boldness to act on Your will in my life without fear. Amen.