Thursday, January 23, 2014
God, Your word describes David as a "talented harp player." (1 Samuel 16:18) But, not only that. He was also a "brave warrior." (1 Samuel 16:18). In my mind, those two things do not seem to go together ... playing the harp and being a mighty warrior ... but Your word shows me that one of the greatest men mentioned in the Bible was both of these things. You show me that I can be tender and compassionate, yet brave and strong all at the same time. I believe You call me to be both of these things for my wife. Help me to be tender enough to listen to her day and strong enough to not allow anything to come between us. Help me to be tender enough to hold her hand and strong enough to always provide for her. Help me to be tender enough to cry with her and strong enough to fight for her. Help my shoulders always to be soft enough for her to fall asleep on and strong enough to help carry her burdens. Keep me balanced, God. Help me never to be so tender that I become too soft to fight. Help me never to become such a hardened warrior that I become too hard for my wife to lean on comfortably. Teach me how to be tender and strong. Amen.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
God, I know there will come a time in life when my kids feel rejected by someone. Maybe a friend will turn their back on them. They may experience a break-up. A job they really want, they may not get. Someone they trust may let them down. I don't know the specifics, but I believe that You do. During any time of rejection I pray that they will find hope in you, Jesus. Help them to understand that You, Jesus, know exactly what they are going through. (Hebrews 4:15) Help them to understand that You experienced rejection when You came to Your own, but Your own did not receive You. (John 1:11) In their times of rejection and of feeling unnoticed, help them to see that they are incapable of going unnoticed by You. You have said time and time again in Your word that "I will be with you." May those five words comfort them. May those five words give them courage and boldness. May those five words be a foundational truth that leads them through life. And, may my kids always say of You, the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:2)
Monday, January 20, 2014
Some friends of mine made this video to help raise awareness of the need for clean drinking water around our world. 4000 children a day die because of a lack of clean drinking water. We showed this video to our kids today and they immediately wanted to do something to help. Our 6-year-old spent his evening sorting our his LEGO figures to get ready to donate them. You'll understand more about that if you watch the video below. You can be a part of the solution!
Jesus, you have said, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you." (John 14:27) I pray that my wife will experience Your peace. You have already said that You have given it to her. I'm holding You to Your word and now asking that she will experience Your peace every day. You, Jesus, were always the most peaceful One in every crowd. You slept in the midst of a storm (Matthew 8:24), You calmly walked through crowds of people wanting to kill You (Luke 4:29-30), You looked demons in the eye and didn't flinch (Luke 4:33-35). The peace that You had in every situation is the peace You now give in every situation. I pray that as my wife walks through her day, that she will experience Your peace. I pray that our home is a home of peace. I pray that our marriage is a marriage of peace. And, when the kids are crying, the demands are increasing, and the stressors of life are adding up, I pray that her heart will not be troubled (Luke 14:27) but that she will experience the peace that only You can give. Amen.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
God, in Your word You have told me that I should be "quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." (James 1:19). Forgive me for the times when I have done just the opposite with my kids. My anger will never produce the "righteousness You desire" (James 1:20) in my life or in the lives of my children. I pray that I will always be willing to listen to them first and to take an interest in them. I pray that I will never be so quick to tell them something that I neglect to hear what they have to say. I pray that I will be cautious with my words to them and realize that my words can "bring death or life." (Proverbs 18:21). Please allow my willingness to listen to them help them feel important and please allow my words only to breathe life in to their souls. Amen.
Friday, January 17, 2014
God, you have told me to "share love only with my wife." (Pr. 5:15) and that we should reserve intimacy only for each other (Pr 5:17). I pray that I may always be captivated by her (Pr. 5:19) and that she will be a fountain of blessing for me (Pr. 5:18). I pray that my eyes will feast on her and that her body, her beauty, and her personality will be the one that I am always most attracted too. Please help me to always make the choice to rejoice in the wife of my youth (Pr. 5:18). Amen.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
One of the most special moments I remember in my life is when we had the dedication of our first-born, Ezra. We invited family and friends to celebrate his first birthday, but also to join us as Carol and I dedicated ourselves to raising Him in such a way as to point Him to Jesus and to do all we can to help him become the man God has created him to be. The picture above holds such powerful memories for me because I see Ezra surrounded by the prayers of those who love him. We've since been able to do the same thing for each of our kids and every time has been incredibly special.
I pray daily for my wife and kids. As the "gatekeeper" of our home, I willfully take on the spiritual responsibility for my family. I have a responsibility to love and serve my wife, just as Jesus loves His bride, the Church. I have a responsibility to raise kids that, not just my wife and I enjoy, but others enjoy as well. I have a responsibility to teach them about Jesus and to help them understand how to give back to others. I am daily amazed that God has blessed me with such a beautiful wife, loving wife and 4 kids that bring such joy to my life. I am so humbled that He believes in me enough to entrust me with such a great responsibility.
Beside my officially registered "hands of stone," the most powerful offensive and defensive weapon I possess for the protection of my family is prayer. Again, I pray for them daily, but what I have found, at times, is I struggle to know exactly what to pray. I sometimes find myself praying the same prayers in the same way. It doesn't diminish the impact of those prayers, but, for lack of a better way to explain it, my prayers sometimes feel routine. Now, maybe I'm the only husband and dad in the entire world who has felt like this, or, more likely, this could possibly be something other husbands and dads have felt as well.
So, this morning I began to think about how I could give my prayers as a husband and dad a bit of a"boost." Beth Moore has said, "I am utterly convinced that the two major weapons with divine power in our warfare are the Word of God and Spirit-empowered prayer." So, if I can combine the very words of God with my words in prayer ... it's like a super weapon of sorts! If I'm fighting spiritually for my family, you better believe I want a super weapon! So, I've decided to search Scripture and allow the very words of God to lead my prayers as a husband and dad.
What I've also decided is, starting Friday, 1/17, I will regularly post some of my "husband and dad" prayers here, certainly not to draw attention to what I'm praying, but simply as a tool for any other husband and dad who may want a "super weapon" while battling for their family. Maybe this will give a little direction to you as you pray and give your prayer life a "boost." If so, praise God for that! While you're more than welcome to use these same prayers while praying for your family, my ultimate hope is you'll allow the Spirit to lead you in creating these same types of prayers specifically your your wife and/or kids.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
We've had 4 families from our church who have experienced death in the past week. One family lost a son. Another family lost a dear mother. Another lost a grandfather. Another lost a husband and a dad. Since becoming a pastor, I have seen more death than I would like. I have watched two people die. I have been with a family when they found out their husband/dad passed away. I have been with a family who lost a baby. I've attended or performed funerals for people who have committed suicide. It's never easy and I often feel so inadequate in those times and I simply trust the words of Scripture that tell me to "mourn with those who mourn."
There's a verse in the Bible that I never fully understood until the past few years. It’s Ecclesiastes 7:2 and it starts out by saying this: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting.” I remember reading that and really being confused … I like to feast! It doesn’t get much better for me than just sitting down to a great meal. But, this verse is basically saying that’s it’s better to go to a funeral than to a wedding. And, I was confused about that until I read on: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.” If you just read that last sentence, you'd be considered among the "living." So, follower of Jesus or not, that verse is for you. We should all take note of it.
Death has a way of refocusing us because it causes us to come face to face with our mortality … the fact that we will not be here forever. Doug Fields said "Time is one of the few constants we can rely on. Inflation doesn’t affect time. And recession doesn’t affect it either. Five minutes today is the same as five minutes was twenty years ago, and it’s the same as five minutes will be twenty years in the future. Time never flies. But it does tick away. And once it’s gone, we’ll never get it back."
I will be attending a funeral today and, the reality is, one day someone will be at my funeral ... and yours too. We only have so much time. Psalm 90:12 records a prayer of Moses and he asked God to "Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom." Simply put, we will just be more wise when we realize we only have so many minutes promised us and, once they're gone, they're gone. We will be more wise if we ask questions like "Am I pursuing the values I'd pursue if I knew death was just around the corner?" A question like that brings so much focus to our life and helps us begin to understand what is most important.
Jesus said “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In other words, your heart will always follow what you value most. Don’t value work over your family. Don’t value bitterness over forgiveness. Don’t value entitlement over thankfulness. Treasure your family, your husbands, your wives, your kids. Treasure the opportunity to offer forgiveness to someone. Treasure generosity and the opportunity to help those in need. Treasure your friendships. Treasure the opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life. And, most importantly, do I know for sure where I will spend eternity? (Click here if you'd like to know more about this)
Because "death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.”
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
I’m going to let you in on a little secret about myself … I like tea. My wife actually calls me a tea snob because I’m not one of those Lipton tea guys … I’m not one of those Salada tea guys … I’m not a Tetley tea guy. I like the good stuff … the stuff you buy in an actual tea store like the Teavana. Some guys go to Lowes. Some guys go to the Harley store. Some guys go to Cabela’s … I go to Teavana. Don't judge me. :)
I enjoy having a cup of tea in the morning or in the evening. And, as I was reading the Bible this morning (and having a cup of tea), I was reminded of how a cup of tea is a lot like a relationship with Jesus. When I place tea leaves in my tea infuser and place it in hot water, the water absorbs the color and flavor of the tea and a dramatic change takes place. The water is no longer called a cup of water. It's now a cup of tea.
When a person saturates themselves with the words of Jesus … when we let the words of Jesus activate us … when we live His words out … what happens is we begin to absorb the character of Jesus. We actually take on a whole new identity and begin to become the man or the woman God has created us to be. The Apostle Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed, and look, new things have come." (HCSB)
Let His words saturate you and activate you, and live out the change that will take place.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
One of the really interesting things Lorne Michaels said about the first season of Saturday Night Live is, "We didn't go on because we were ready. We went on because it was 11:30." He spoke to the fact that, since it was a live show, they were going to be on TV if they were ready to do it or not.
That quote has stayed with me all week and it got me thinking about how many times I'm guilty of waiting until everything is perfect before taking steps forward. I doubt I'm the only one like this. We often try to make sure we have this right and that right and this planned and that planned so we don't make fools of ourselves. I'm certainly not against planning and preparing, but the problem is that waiting until everything is perfect will always keep us, well ... waiting. We'll never move forward. Jon Acuff wrote: "Regardless of your age or station in life, it all comes down to one simple truth: you just have to start ... the only line you completely control is the starting line."
Is there something you simply need to start? Don't worry about the finish at this point. So many factors go in to the finish. Don't worry about making sure everything is perfect. Just start. "But, I'm so far from where I want to be." Just start. "I used to be able to run 10 miles. I can barely run 1 these days." Just start. "I haven't spent time with God in ages." Just start. "I'm not sure I know how to reconnect with my wife." Just start. "I'm not content with my job, but I wouldn't even know how to begin looking for something else." Just start. "I haven't really 'talked' with my teenager for a long time. How could I ever get back in touch with him/her?" Just start.
It's 11:30. We're live. Ready or not, the show is about to begin. Just start.
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