Posts filed under: Life

Happy Father’s Day

I thought I would share some “Happy Father’s Day” wishes with all the dads out there. Being a dad is one of the most demanding yet most rewarding roles that a man can have. 

Lord, I pray that you would bless the fathers today. They have a difficult yet vital role to play. It is far above each one’s pay grade, but with hearts humbled and turned to You, great things can come. Give them courage to stand… Boldness to speak up… Patience for the journey… and wisdom for the decisions and directions that lie ahead. There’s no way we could do this without the example You have provided. You are truly a good, good Father. Amen.

A little song for Father’s Day…

We Need Teachers

This year, I have had the privilege of coaching my oldest son’s “Coach-Pitch” baseball team.  It has been a blast.  I have loved baseball from the time that I began playing back at the age of 5.  I always thought that if the opportunity came around to coach my children’s teams, that I would jump at it.

While I record is not what I would have wanted, I believe that we have had a great time.  I have seen some of the guys (and one girl) come a long way this season.  I told them at the beginning of the season that we were going to focus on the two F’s: fundamentals and fun!  We’ve tried to do that.

Tonight is our team’s final game of the season.  Since school has let out around here, we are running into family vacations.  I got a message from a parent that let me know that their child was not going to make this last game because they won’t be back from vacation in time.  I completely understand.  Family time is important.

The last part of this parent’s message is what got me though.  They thanked me for a good season.  They were very appreciative of the work that we had done with the team – especially taking the time to actually teach them the game instead of expect them to just know it.

I have dwelt on that statement since I received the message.  The appreciation that someone took the time to teach their child how to do something instead of just letting them “live and learn.”  It got me to thinking about other things in life.

We need teachers. We need those who who are farther down the path that we are to come alongside of us and teach us the things that we need to know.  It is not going to “just happen.”  It will take deliberate action and time.  It will take celebrations and frustrations.  While it may be rough, the end result is great (and often greatly appreciated).

Thank you to the parents of our Hitmen this year.  Thank you for the opportunity to have fun with your children and hopefully pass on some of the things that I’ve learned on this journey.

Better Than Sacrifice?

I was reading through the Bible recently and came across a passage that I have read many times before.  This passage is where Samuel and Saul were having a discussion about the Lord’s displeasure in how Saul had been going.

But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice?  Listen!  Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better that offering the fat of rams.”   (1 Samuel 15:22 NLT)

Obedience is better than sacrifice.  obedience_dog-cat_350

I have heard that phrase many times before.  I have even used that phrase and passage in preaching and teaching many times.  This time reading through it, one thing stood out more than before: obedience over mindless rituals.

God desires our obedience more than anything else including our religious rituals that we perform. Sacrifices are events that were set up to show one’s trust in God.  As important as they are, God desires one thing more: our heart.

We can do all the sacrifices in the world – church attendance, giving, serving, – but if God does not have the loyalty of our hearts, then it is pointless.  We can walk through the motions of religious duty all day long and completely miss the whole point.  Any person can learn how to do the “routines.”  It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to change a person’s heart and get it involved in the acts.

Are we truly obeying the Lord today, or are we just going through the motions on a religious checklist?

Stuck in the Mud

Well it happened this morning. I had gotten up early to go into town and check out the condition of the baseball field that we had practice scheduled for. It has rained off and on the past two days. I knew that our team could use one more practice before games start next week. Sadly, the field was too wet still to practice.

As I tried to leave, I made my way through what I thought was some gravel… It wasn’t gravel. It was this gravelish slosh that was about 3ft deep. My Ford Explorer is not a 4-wheel drive… So you can guess what happened.

stuck!

Yep… I was stuck. The more I tried to get loose, the deeper I went. As I sat there in disbelief that I could be duped this badly, I began thinking about something else.

There are so many people that are “stuck” in the middle of sin. Many times we think that we can overcome the things that get us off track so easily. All we have to do is “work hard enough.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.

As I sat there and looked at my situation, I quickly began to realize that there was no way that I was getting myself out of this. I couldn’t smooth-talk my way out… I couldn’t “work harder” and get out. I was completely helpless on my own.

In Ephesians 2, Paul shared some great truths with us. First, we are completely helpless in our natural situation (Epheisans 2:1-3). There is no “will-powering” your way out of sin. It does not make one sick; it makes you dead. Dead people cannot do anything.

 

Secondly, we need outside help, and God has provided that (Epheisans 2:4-5). While we were helpless, God provided our need through His only Son, Jesus. God didn’t have to help. He would not be any less holy or great if He chose to let humanity experience the full judgment for their sin. He chose by His grace to show mercy.

Third, Paul shares that only God can set us where we need to be – and where we want (Epheisans 2:6). Paul shares that not only does God give life to the sin-killed soul, but He sets him/her with Him in heavenly places.

“Only Jesus buys slaves and makes them heirs.” — @ThabitiAnyabwil #T4G2016

As I realized my helpless situation, I found myself humbled to reach out for help. Strangely enough, one of our young couples lives about a block or so away from my stuck position. As I called the guy and asked for help, I was truly grateful that our relationship was not just a Sunday morning thing.  God has placed people in our lives to be the conduit of His grace and mercy many times. It is important that you build and invest in those relationships because you never know when you will find yourself in need of a helping hand.

Gift or Giver

I am a fan of many different styles of music. Each type brings something to the table for the listener to enjoy. I have come to notice that one characteristic stands out to make a song a great one. It really has nothing to do with the instruments or who is singing. The one characteristic that I think makes a song great is the fact that it tells a story. Think about the great songs of the past: they all tell a good story.

When a person reads through the Psalms of the Bible, it is easy to just read through them like any other style. The truth is that the Psalms are songs. They are not to be read like a narrative. They are lines that are meant to tell a story. Each line is important because without it, the song (and its story) would be incomplete.

Psalm 103 is a song written by David that is talking about the many blessings of God towards His people.  He talks about everything from forgiveness of sin (v 3) to justice (v 6) to God being a Father to His people (v 13).  There are so many reasons to praise the Lord.

While this song has given us great verses like these:

“The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 103:8)

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12)‬‬

There is one verse that has intrigued me in this psalm that I have never paid much attention to before. It was verse 7 which says, “[The LORD] revealed His character to Moses and His deeds to the people of Israel.”  A casual reading of this verse, and you just might miss the whole point of the entire psalm.

David writes this song not to show off all the blessings God has brought His way, but he wants to show that we are to praise the Giver of all these good gifts. In verse 7, David shows two very different options.

imageDavid said that the Israelites experienced “the deeds of God.” They saw God do mighty things like bring the plagues upon the Egyptians, part the Red Sea for them to cross, and provide food in the wilderness. These are all really good – even miraculous – things. One problem was that the Israelites apparently had grown comfortable with the blessings. So much so, they did not seek after the Giver.

Not so with Moses. As this song goes, David shares that God revealed His character to Moses. God showed Moses His heart not just His mighty deeds.

Moses experienced the same mighty acts as the rest of the Israelites did. He saw the plagues, walked through the Red Sea, and ate his share of manna. What was so different between Moses and the others? Moses was not content with just knowing what God does. He wanted to know the Giver who was behind the gifts.

There are times when we may experience the blessings of God and totally miss the whole point. We may say something like, “thank You, Lord for these blessings. They are good. I will stay here in the comfort of these blessings.” By doing this, we show that we never understood the gift at all.

God does not bless us with blessings because He has nothing better to do. God does not even bless us for the sole purpose of us enjoying the blessing. Each time God blesses us, He shows us a little more of His heart. He opens a window of opportunity for us to experience Him in a greater way.

When was the last time this scene played out in your life: before you lies many blessings God has richly poured upon you. You back away from the gifts and make your way to the Giver. You say, “thank You so much for these blessings. They are great. But honestly, more than these blessings, I want more of You, Lord”?

The Holy Spirit uses David to show that there is a great difference between Moses and the children of Israel. The children were content to dwell in the blessings and never go further to actually knowing the Giver. Moses wanted the Giver more than anything.

Which are you more interested in: the gift or the Giver?