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A Father’s Real Goal


Happy Father’s Day to all dad’s out there including my own.  I’m a dad myself, so the constant struggles and stresses of being a dad are constantly battling in my soul as well.  But there are lots of joys too.  This year I get to run with my son early on this Sunday morning.  Micah and I are going to be involved in the Canton Marathon.  We are both participating in the 10K.  Hopefully the rest of my family will be at the finish line to carry me off after I collapse.  Haha!

So what is dad’s role?  Through the years I’ve had lots of assumptions.  I’ve looked at my own experience growing up as a kid.  I’ve listened to old family stories from before I was born about what dads and grandpas did.  I’ve watched other dad’s as they walked this sometimes curvy road.  I’ve heard speeches and conferences and seminars about it.  Read books about it.  I’ve talked with many kids through 23 years of ministry about personal struggles with their dads.  Some stories are similar, but never are two the same.  I’ve also read the Bible about fatherhood.  It actually has a lot to say.  But when you put God’s expectations against what “experts” in our modern times say a dad’s role is, you get very different opinions.

Today’s wisdom says to be there for your kids.  Take time with your kids.  Both very true…but the media takes it further to define what success for a dad should be.  They show guys going after the big job with big money for the family.  I sometimes get the feeling that if a dad can’t afford a Disneyland vacation then he hasn’t provided well.  Some commercials talk about doing the things for the family that they ‘deserve.’  I heard one network marketer say that a few years of hard long-hour work, sacrificing time with your family, might pay off in the end with reward (meaning $$$).  Ok…what happens if you have a heart attack at 1.5 years into that plan?

Now, don’t get me wrong or hear what I’m not saying.  Sometimes there is time for hard work and sacrifice to supply a family with the necessities of life.  The Bible says that work puts food on the table (Proverbs 12:11, 14:23).  And…some of that time will be away from family.  But the chasing after riches is another thing that our society and media claims good.  The Bible is pretty clear on this too.  Hard work will be rewarded.  Yet I see dad’s who still struggle even when they are providing for their kids.  Some do so well they are providing for the great-grandkids yet there isn’t peace in their soul.  So…does the absence of this “peace” have anything to do with what many of us dads miss?

Why are we like this?  There’s one thing in the Bible that many of us dad’s overlook.  It has to do with raising Godly kids.  The question that is always there isn’t, “Have we done enough to support our family?”  It is, “Will our kids be in Heaven with us?”  A second closely follows, “Will they be bringing people with them as well?”

Moses had to feel incredible dad-like pressure when he led his family, and his nation, out of Egypt.  He was leading them, at God’s command and with His power and authority, from slavery into freedom.  Moses was the man looked to for wisdom.  Moses was looked to as the man who knew God and talked with God.  Through this and the various struggles, Moses saw clearly what was and was not important as he led his family, and God’s family, towards the Promised Land.  Isn’t that kinda like us dad’s today too?  We are to lead our family towards Heaven…towards God himself.  God places us in this spot and gives us all the tools to do it.  We need to learn how to use some of the tools, but they’re all there waiting to be picked up.

Moses’ big warning is this though.  He warns us to never forget about God.  He asks us, as parents, to remind our kids all the time about God (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  He encourages us to talk about God all the time when we’re walking, working, eating breakfast or getting ready for bed.  Moses knew this one thing, if we slightly forget about God, we will start to search after things not of Him.  If we lose track of God and His goal of having everyone with Him in Heaven, then we start to form our own goals and strategies for “successful living.”  Moses saw how dangerous it is to forget about God. (Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:12, 8:11).

So what’s this mean for us dad’s today?  I see two goals.  One, we want to do what we can to set our kids up to make the choice to follow God.  The tough part here?  We can’t make the choice for them, but we don’t want to fail on our part of the equation.  Secondly, we want to disciple our kids so that they know how to lead others to Heaven as well.  In the end, it really won’t matter where we’ve worked or how much money we’ve made or spent or what our degree is.  It won’t matter if our kids went to the right college or won all the races or got all the trophies.  What will matter is, whatever we or they choose to do, that we all did it remembering God and His principles, followed His direction,  chose His son as our Savior and chose to share Jesus with others.  Here’s how I know this.  Our Heavenly Father’s goal is plain.  He wants us in Heaven with Him.  He’s wants this so much that He asked His own son to die to make the way.

Let’s all try to set our goal and change our approaches so that our biggest endeavor is to take our family and friends to Heaven.  Tough?  Yes.  Rewarding?  Eternally.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

Whatville and Whoville and 1000 Years

April 26, 2012 3 comments

Partial Reprint of a Previous Article I’ve Uploaded…

What is your church preference?

  • While filling out an application for employment, the applicant came to a query which asked, “What is your Church Preference?”  The man, not being a person of extraordinary intelligence thought through the question for some time because he really needed the job. He wanted to impress the employer and answered very confidently, “I prefer a red brick church.”

******

We’re in the middle of a fairly lengthy discussion of the book of Revelation.  All through the book we see references to the church.  The verses we are focusing on today, though one subject often causes controversy, talks about the church (the 1000 years).  But if we don’t have a correct definition of the church, we are likely to miss the importance of why this letter was written and how it speaks to our daily purpose/battles as well.

As silly as the joke above might be, it very well might be nearer a truth in our American church society today.  If you listen close to the way we talk about our churches, we mention things associated with places, street addresses, programs, target groups, worship music and, of course, buildings.

Let’s speak frankly for a moment.  The Bible talks specifically that we, who claim Christ as Lord, are members of His body (Ephesians 5:30).  The Bible only separates church families by place names, or more specifically the city where they meet (Writings of Paul and Revelation).  The Church has two focuses…Love God and Love people (Matthew 22:37-39).  The church has one purpose.  It is to help people cross over from their life of sin into a life in relationship with the Forgiver of Sins (Matthew 28:19-20).  The Bible does not separate church families by philosophy, style of music, size of building, number in attendance, or length of Sunday morning services.  We are to be one body acting together in focus and purpose throughout the world.

Author and speaker Reggie McNeal said it this way, “Its moving from ‘Whatville’ to ‘Whoville.”  It’s moving from a place called the church to being the church wherever we are.  Moving from building to person.  Wherever you are, the church is.

Ok, I’m sure I got some of your buttons pushed from the comments above.  But we really can’t argue with Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 5.   Jesus has us praying for God’s will to be done through us, His church, here on this planet, as it is in Heaven.  This reminds me of His prayer in John 17:19-23 right before He goes to the cross…

  • I pray also for those who will believe in me through [the Disciples’] message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

We are here, on earth, to be a real and tangible presence of Heaven…though not completely perfect.  So how are we doing in this area?  How are we doing in our local communities?  How are we doing through the week in our workplaces and schools?  Are we a fresh vision of Heaven to all who see us?  Are we a constant 24/7 representative of Heaven?

Some questions for evaluation for yourself or your church family:

  • When people see me do they see God?
  • When people hear me do they hear God?
  • When I make decisions, do people see the decisions that God would make?
  • Do people see God’s forgiveness when I forgive?  Do I forgive?
  • Do people see God’s care when I care for them?
  • Do people see God’s unconditional love when I am around?

….or

  • Do they see me instead of God?
  • Do they hear my attitudes and selfishness instead of God?
  • Do they see decisions that are for ‘my good’ rather than ‘my neighbor’s?’
  • Do they see me holding a list of their sins?
  • Do they see me caring more for my personal stuff than theirs?
  • Do they see love when they deserve it, and love withheld when they don’t?

As Steve Kimbrel has aptly said, we are ‘outposts of Heaven’ in the place we live…in the place we work…in the places we spend our time…for the people we are around.

  • “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

It is my understanding that we are within that 1000 years that John wrote of.  We are the Army chapter 19 talks about as we march forward taking people from the grip of Satan and presenting them with the truth of Jesus.

love-serve-spread the Word,

ed

Heaven on Earth…Now


What is your church preference?

  • While filling out an application for employment, the applicant came to a query
    which asked, “What is your Church Preference?”
    The man, not being a person of extraordinary intelligence thought the question
    for some time because he really needed the job. He wanted to impress the
    employer and answered very confidently, “I prefer a red brick church.”

As silly as the joke above might be, it very well might be nearer a truth in our American church society today.  If you listen close to the way we talk about our churches, we mention things associated with places, addresses, programs, target groups, worship music and, of course, buildings.  Having just arrived home from a week in Haiti, I can say that I have new eyes when it comes to “church” things.

Let’s speak frankly for a moment.  The Bible talks specifically that we, who claim Christ as Lord, are members of His body (Ephesians 5:30).  The Bible only separates church families by place names, or more specifically the city where they meet (Writings of Paul and Revelation).  The Church has two focuses…Love God and Love people (Matthew 22:37-39).  The church has one purpose.  It is to help people cross over from their life of sin into a life in relationship with the Forgiver of Sins (Matthew 28:19-20).  The Bible does not separate church families by philosophy, style of music, size of building, number in attendance, or length of Sunday morning services.  We are to be one body acting together in purpose throughout the world.

Ok, I’m sure I got some of your buttons pushed above.  But we really can’t argue with Jesus’ model prayer here.  Jesus has us praying for God’s will to be done through us, His church, here on this planet.  This reminds me of His prayer in John 17:19-23…

  • I pray also for those who will believe in me through [the Disciples’] message,21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

We are here, on earth, to be a real and tangible presence of Heaven.  So how are we doing in this area?  How are we doing in our local communities?  How are we doing through the week in our workplaces and schools?  Are we a fresh vision of Heaven to all who see us?  You see this model prayer is both for the individual as well as for the church.  When we pray this one line…it is for us.  It is a prayer, a request that God’s will will be done through each of us…as though we are a constant 24/7 representative of Heaven.

Some questions for evaluation for yourself or your church family:

  • When people see me do they see God?
  • When people hear me do they hear God?
  • When I make decisions, do people see the decisions that God would make?
  • Do people see God’s forgiveness when I forgive?  Do I forgive?
  • Do people see God’s care when I care for them?
  • Do people see God’s unconditional love when I am around?

….or

  • Do they see me instead of God?
  • Do they hear my attitudes and selfishness instead of God?
  • Do they see decisions that are for ‘my good’ rather than ‘my neighbor’s?’
  • Do they see me holding a list of their sins?
  • Do they see me caring more for my personal stuff than theirs?
  • Do they see love when they deserve it, and love withheld when they don’t?

Heaven on earth.  As Steve Kimbrel has aptly said, we are ‘outposts of Heaven’ in the place we live…in the place we work…in the places we spend our time…for the people we are around.

  • “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

love-serve-spread the Word, ed

Vision

April 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Golfer’s Vision

How was your golf game, dear?” asked Jack’s wife Tracy.
“Well, I was hitting pretty well, but my eyesight’s gotten so bad I couldn’t see where the ball went.”
“But you are already 75 years old, Jack!” admonished his wife, “Why don’t you take my brother Scott along?”
“But he’s 85 and doesn’t play golf anymore”, protested Jack.
“But he’s got perfect eyesight. He could watch your ball.” Tracy pointed out.
The next day Jack teed off with Scott looking on, Jack swung, and the ball disappeared down the middle of the fairway. “Did you see it?” asked Jack.
“Yup”, Scott answered.
“Well where is it?” yelled Jack, peering off into the distance.
“I forgot.”

Proverbs 29:18 says this, “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”  So how’s your vision?  How is the church family’s vision?  Vision should help us see where we’re going and what we should be doing.  The writer of Proverbs makes a keen insight.  When there is no vision…people have a tendency to be really off beam…maybe with the best of intentions.  This really applies to us as a church family.  We want to know for sure the basis of all we do so we don’t “cast off restraint” and do things that are counter-productive.

Mission statements do a slightly different thing.  Mission implies action.  A mission statement directs what/how we fulfill the vision.  We can see and understand (vision) what God wants us to do as a family, and we can see how (mission) He wants us to do it.  And believe it or not, the Bible is pretty clear on both of these things.

I’ve always said that God does not make it hard for us to come back to Him.  We don’t have a 10 point checklist we have to complete by the time we kick the bucket in order to go to Heaven.  Jesus said, “Believe in me” and “Follow me” (John 11:5, Mark 1:17).  In the “Follow me” part of this He gets a tad more detailed when asked what the greatest commandment is.  He says that we should love God with everything we have and love people like ourselves (Matt 22:37-40).  How we do that in the Kingdom is defined this way, “Go make disciples…baptizing and teaching them…” (Matt 28:18-20).  Those two things provide for us a foundation with which to evaluate everything we do as an individual or as a church.  It’s pretty simple.

As an individual, our purpose is to love God and others and bring Him glory by what we do.  As a church, our purpose is to love God and others and bring Him glory by what we do.

Pepsi Co. says that they intend to be the best convenient beverage and food maker and distributor in all the world.  Recognize these names?  Pepsi, Sprite, Quaker Oats, Ruggles Chips, Frito Lay, Lipton Tea.  I’d say Pepsi is doing great with their vision.  How about Target?  Expect More/Pay Less.  And World Vision (note the very name of the organization)?  “Our vision for every child, life in all its fullness; Our prayer for every heart, the will to make it so.”  If you watch how World Vision operates, they hold their vision close and perform their mission in a superb way.  Why should each Christian and each church family be any different?

For an individual to evaluate how their doing…a simple two part question needs to be asked, “Is everything I am Gods, and is everything I do pleasing to Him?”  As a church…well…the same can be asked.  And this question needs to be asked frequently.

The writer of Proverbs says that when we stay within those guidelines, we are happy.  I want to be happy and I know you do too.  Let’s work together to not only be happy ourselves, but to bless the people around us with True Peace.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

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