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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

Daily Needs – Daily Bread


Our Daily Bread

Matthew 6:11

A salesman from KFC walked up to the Pope and offers him a million dollars if he would change “The Lord’s Prayer” from “give us this day our daily bread” to “give us this day our daily chicken.” The Pope refused his offer.

Two weeks later, the man offered the pope 10 million dollars to change it from “give us this day our daily bread” to “give us this day our daily chicken” and again the Pope refused the man’s generous offer. Another week later, the man offered the Pope 20 million dollars and finally the Pope accepted. The following day, the Pope said to all his officials, “I have some good news and some bad news. ‘The good news is, that we have just received a check for 20 million dollars. The bad news is, we lost the Wonder Bread account!”’

Ok…this is a tough one.  “Give us this day our daily bread” is verse 11 of Jesus’ model prayer.  If you’ve noticed, Jesus starts out his prayer using the words “us” and “our.”  He continues in verse 11 in the same manner.  It’s true that he was talking to a crowd.  But I wonder if He is also addressing the Kingdom, His church.  If this is true, then this is a prayer for the each member of the group to use “daily.”  He wants us to be on the same page moving together with the same goals and values….His Father’s goals and His Father’s values.

With that said, we need to figure out what this “bread” means.  The more I want to say that it is a spiritual request…the more I lean towards it meaning our daily ‘needs.’  Yes, I just said it.  I’ve been talking with a couple co-workers about how hard this lesson is to swallow being a born and bread “American Dream” type of person.  I also just came back from Haiti where I met and ministered to people who, when they prayed this prayer, knew exactly what it meant.  They lived in a maybe 10×10 wooden box built for them after being displace from their 15×15 cement/dirt floor home.

The question is, what do we truly need?  If Christ’s church shows the world that we need anything more than Christ, don’t we do a disservice to His message?  So let’s look at what we know from Scripture first.  Jesus said in John 6, in an extensive way, that He is the bread of life.  He told Satan during his 40 day fast that the Word of God was His bread to live on.  When telling 72 of His followers to go out on their first missionary mission trip, He said not to take anything except the clothes they were wearing.  They would be taken care of…workers deserve fair wages…God would provide (Luke 10).  In Matthew 6, beginning with verse 24, Jesus says that we can’t serve two masters…then the big word “therefore” comes into play as He says, don’t worry about your food, clothes or anything else that you think you need.  Why?  Because the Father knows what you need, and if you focus on Kingdom work, then He will supply your needs.

That’s what we know. Were the 72 taken care of?  Yes.  Did Jesus make it through His fast? Yes.  Are the birds of the air watched over by their creator?  Yes.  Can God clothe us like the lilies of the fields?  Yes.  Should we have any worry about these things?  No.  Reason?  Because when we truly rely on God for our needs, then people will see Him…and want to have Him…and be with Him for eternity.  Our wanting to supply our own felt needs points back to us.  Our relying on God for our daily bread always points back to Him.  One of those tip toes really close to sin…unintentional or not.  The other walks “humbly with our God” as the Lord points out through the prophet Micah in his book, chapter 6 verse 8.

Ok….what do we do with this?  I’m struggling with this one.  As a reasonable person, I can see how huge this could be to pointing people to see God.  But boy is it hard to let go of “self sufficiency!”  Let’s look for a modern day example of this really happening…not just a fairy tale sermon illustration.

George Mueller is a man we can look to for such an example.  He built and ran an orphanage for many, many, years.  He said, in an interview at age 91, “No man can ever say I asked him for a penny.”  When he needed something for the sometimes 2000 orphans under his care….he gathered his staff together and prayed.  God would send food, money, supplies and workers when needed…sometimes immediately before the prayer was finished.  This man truly relied only on what God felt He and his orphans needed.  Who is glorified in this example?  Mr. Mueller?  Well, his is a life to be patterned after.  But we know who supplied every need….no human.  Through humans, yes….but because of any human?  No.

So, can we live like in this manner?  It has been shown that we can.  Now…the question simply remains…will we choose to do so?…Individually and as a group of people who claim Christ their King and God their Father who supplies all things?

I’m not sure what to add here.  I’m sufficiently guilty right now and need to process where I’m at with this one little life changing verse.  I do know this.  I like to take care of things by myself…and therein lies the problem.  When we take care of things ourselves, we are lifted up.  When we fully and completely rely on God…only He can receive credit and fame.

Questions for thought:

  • What do you really need?  List here……
  • What things do we strive for that aren’t necessary, and sometimes place glory on us?
  • How do we change this?  Why would we even attempt to change this?
  • In the end, who get’s all the glory for our life?…all the glory…all

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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