Steadfast Provider – Rock in the Storm – Faithful Father Series

Steadfast Provider

As a father we provide for our children in many ways. It is east to think, ‘Well they have a roof over their head, food in their belly, and clothes on their bodies. I’m doing alright.’ and to a certain extent that is true but the logic is flawed. We provide more than tangible things for our children and must do so in a steadfast manner. Consider Matthew 7:9-11 where Jesus is speaking about how a father would not callously mistreat his children. A child asking for bread would get such, and not a stone in its place! Jesus confronts the iniquity of man directly in Matthew 7:11 where he is speaking to his following including the apostles and calls them evil, he does not mean this harshly but that in comparison to the perfection of the Father, man is evil. Yet he is not berating them but cautioning them out of love. Telling them that even an evil man knows how to do good  for his children because he has the child’s best interest at heart sometimes at least. Finally Jesus compares this action to God and how we should be like him giving in abundance to our children in a loving manner and not one done in anger.

The Christian who is steadfast, unmovable in the Word, goes forward to a discharge of his known duties, no matter what his feelings may be.

C.E. Orr

Jesus showed us that God wants us to be givers, not takers. This is important because a steadfast provider is not one that gives to get something in return. They give freely, with no expectation or reward. Christ laid down his live, giving an ultimate sacrifice so that humanity could take the chance to redeem through salvation and living as Jesus did. In 1 Timothy 5:8 Paul is writing to Timothy about his ministry at the church in Ephesus and cautions the church about the treatment of their relatives especially household members. Paul states it outright and it is true, to not provide for your relatives, especially members in your home is a blatant denial of the faith you profess. Paul goes on to say that this violation of duty is worse than an unbeliever of Christ, and I agree!

Being a parent is a lot of work. I’ve come to know this over the time that I met my wife and her children. It’s been four years and I have had ups and downs learning to be a father and that the world is not black and white but full of many gray areas. It is our duty to educate our children about these things in life so that they are not easily swayed by duplicitous individuals. The call for steadfastness does go beyond provisions and lessons you actively teach because children are super observant. How many times have you used a bad habit and your children have emulated it? Yeah, me too. It does happen and so it is clear that how you act in times of difficulty also teaches them good and bad behaviors. Living as Christ did is hard and does require a steadfast will to continue on in the face of adversity.

I posted recently about spending a month or more in prayer because I was trying to create a better connection with God. Not because I was afraid that God was not listening or had forgotten about me. It was because I wanted my kids to understand several important things about prayer. First, prayer is nothing you should be embarrassed about. Second, prayer works, it is that simple. Next, prayer can be done any where, any time. Last, and most importantly, it provides a direct communication to God which is so very key to being a Christian. My family has reaped the rewards of that, my children make no fuss about praying at a restaurant and do so loudly…I am sure some patrons would say too loudly but hey, my kids love Jesus and that is what matters. They pray at night and we read stories from the Bible every night.

I don’t always feel like doing those things, praying, reading Bible stories or even reading the Bible on a personal level. That is a flaw of mine and it is because of the same reason others give, I don’t feel like I have enough time to get things done. It is often said Satan’s greatest victory is convincing man he does not exist. I would argue his second greatest victory especially in the modern world, is preying on humanities drive to be greater as a means to disconnect Christians from God for worldly pursuits. The world moves fast and we may feel like we do not have the time but we have to be intentional in creating the time. This behavior, this intenationalist attitude, is the point, being steadfast in spite of my feelings and emotions. My desire to be this way is directly influenced by Jesus, consider, he knew he would be beaten and betrayed, he knew he would be disgraced and he knew that he would be crucified and slain for being a dissident. Yet he was not swayed and carried through with his Father’s design.

Steadfast Providing is more than food and a roof over your families head. It is cultivating a relationship with and teaching about Jesus with your family. Steadfastness is continuing to do these things and intentionally laying out lessons even if life just seems to suck sometimes, it can and it will. Jesus didn’t give up, to live like him means you should not either. Lean on your spouse and support one another. Marriage was designed to be a mutually beneficial connection that is blessed by God, use that grace to your advantage.

This is the last portion of the Faithful Father Series and I hope that it has touched you positively in some way and had encouraged you to a father who is a living example of Christ, that teaches the truth to your children while guarding them and leading them in a manner that raises them to respect authority instead of hate it. All of that has to come with being a compassionate friend to your spouse and children. Fulfilling those duties will go a long way to ensuring you have been a steadfast provider of your family. Times will be difficult but hold fast to the confession of your faith and the rewards you receive would humble any earthly king.

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Racism: Religion and Science Agree, It’s Wrong

Racism

This is a bit of an armchair article so you are welcome to take it with a grain of salt, or a mountain. I can not in good conscience write for a site that believes 100% in God and all he is then ignore the injustice that has occurred in Charlottesville. I’ll approach this from a Biblical point of view and from a scientific one. I think that addressing both is important because there are people in the world that base their racism on religion and those that do so with science.

Defining Race

The best way to define race is to look at a dictionary isn’t it? The dictionary breaks the word ‘race’ in to different parts since it is a word that has multiple uses. Race from an anthropological standpoint is a socially constructed category of identification based on physical characteristics, ancestry, historical affiliation, or shared culture:

Defining Racism

The word racism is a two-part word. The first is race as listed above and then an ‘ism’ which is a distinctive philosophy. To practice racism is to have a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.

Religion and Racism

God hates racism. Why? It is a sin and God hates sin (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Let’s address something up front because I’ve read and saw videos of racial supremacists using the Bible as a means to justify racism. There is a belief that Jews in the Bible were placed above other groups of people by God and that God has then created racism so that means racism is righteous. So how did that belief get started? Glad you asked.

In the Bible the line of Seth can be traced entirely from Adam to Seth to Noah (Genesis 5:1-32) and then from Noah to Abraham (Genesis 11:1-32). We know that God had saved Noah to save humanity. Then Abraham was to be the father of nations (Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham was the father of Jacob who God called Israel (Genesis 32:38). The nation of Israel were from the sons of Jacob which numbered 12. Whew!

I know that is a lot of ancestry condensed but at this point God declares the nation of Israel as his chosen nation. So if God has chosen ‘us’ it must mean we are ‘better’ than others right? They couldn’t be more wrong. God’s selection of Israel was a call to evangelize the world. To take a nation of faithful people and place them in service to the world. To bring that world closer to God. God did not elevate Jews above Gentiles, instead they were called in to his service so that Gentiles could find redemption with God.

It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.

Martin Luther King Jr.

I’ve said it before, man really knows how to choke on important things. Over and over we are given great gifts by God and we have a tendency to pervert it. Over time the nation of Israel became elitist and instead of spreading God’s word it began to harbor it. So God did something incredibly selfless and sent Jesus, his Son to spread the truth of his desire for humanity. In Acts 17:26 there is no clearer statement than “He made from one man every nation of mankind” to signify God’s view that race classification is a man-made mechanism to deny others equality.

Jesus came to speak to the heart of the Jews and show them that God wanted every person to be part of his kingdom. Not just the descendants of the twelve tribes but all the people that spread across the world regardless of their language, skin color or other physical traits. That was the message Christ gave to his apostles, it was the great commission, and you know what? Humanity understood it more, not perfectly obviously but it took the death of Christ to get the point across.

You cannot call yourself a Christian and oppress people because they are darker or lighter than you, or if they have almond-shaped eyes versus round. It literally goes against what Jesus says Christianity is about. Racism is wrong from a non-secular standpoint. What does science say?

Science and Racism

The science part I will keep brief if only because we are still exploring our genetic heritage through the Human Genome Project but we have made some headway in to what makes us who we are on a micro-level. We know from school that humans have 46 chromosomes which is 23 from each parent. How many of those chromosomes are different between each race? None. Not a single one.

Guess how much of those 46 chromosomes make up your outward appearance? It’s about .01 or 1% of your makeup. That’s right. We fight about 1% of who we are.

Race is a social concept, not a scientific one

Dr.J. Craig Venter, head of the Celera Genomics Corporation

Race is such a terrible means to classify humans that on a geneticists level they don’t use it. They did at one time because we did not understand genetics the way we do now. It’s just like the belief that certain parts of our tongue can only taste different things. For a long time this was taught in schools in fact the image below shows exactly what I am describing. What we found out is we were wrong and that the tongue tastes all types in all parts of it. There are no hot spots for taste and textbooks changed. Kids are educated based on new knowledge and adults find out their world has been altered.

Taste

The difference is that we can see the things we classify as racial traits such as high cheekbones in Native Americans, Wide noses in Aboriginals, Almond shaped eyes in Asians and so on. That 1% that we can visualize matters to us so much we are willing to incite rage, kill, burn and loot clusters of people who share the same heritage. Yet science has proven we are all the same race, human. Where we come from doesn’t matter. We are all still human.

Conclusion

I think we slayed two dangerous dragons here today or at least made a good foundation to help others combat it. Racism is not Biblical. In fact it is the complete opposite. God created man and from him, man has grown and spread across the world. Man caused the idea of elevation of one people over another because their heritage was different. Society created a label called ‘race’ to categorize this belief that there was a difference between these groups of people.

Science has done the ‘evidence’ part of our equation and provided us concrete evidence that genetically we are 99% the same. If we can accept the world is round, the tongue is all one taster and that the Baltimore Ravens are the best football team ever (okay maybe not the last one) I wholeheartedly feel we can do away with the term race and start appreciating others for their heritage.

So you know who I am? I’m God’s child. I’m human. I’m a mutt and happy to be one. I am content to serve humanity and share what God does want and that is everyone. Hold Fast Christian and weather the storms that small groups claiming our faith cause. Ignore the slights and instead purposefully seek to help anyone in need of God’s love.

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It’s OK to Leave a Church…Sometimes

Leave a Church

This is a bit on the nose for my family and I at the moment since we are going through this decision to leave the church we have attended faithfully for 15 months. It is not something that we have taken lightly or out of anger (James 1:19-20). It is something that has lingered in our minds for months and has been discussed over and over with by my wife and I. It is OK to leave a church, you are not trapped and it isn’t always something that is going to burden you with sin. I write this for those seeking an answer to a touchy question but I also write this for myself and the ones I walk through life with that have angst right now as much as I have.

[Leaving] graciously means you refuse to speak evil of those who remain in the church. Look forward, not backward. Focus on your new church, not your old one. Think carefully before you speak about your former congregation. Don’t say anything that could be remotely construed as criticism. Even casual comments could stir up needless controversy. Let the Golden Rule guide all your comments public and private.

Ray Pritchard

Why are you leaving?

This is the most crucial question that must be answered because parting ways with a church is a serious event for any Christian. We are not meant to be in isolation. We should be seeking community (Ephesians 4:11-16). The answer isn’t a simple one and even after we determine why we feel we need to leave we need to ask ourselves if it is righteous.

Leaving because someone hurt your feelings is a great example of why you should not leave a church. We are fallible and a lot of times we are going to capitalize on that ability to fail. Even if we had no intention of doing so. This is part of being human and if a few people hurt your feelings at the church and you leave, it will likely happen again at your next church. Instead of running off you should give forgiveness and seek to reconcile the confrontation.

We should be seeking unity as Christians so pull yourself up by the bootstraps and seek reconciliation. If the door is closed by the other parties and they are unwilling to even discuss what happened that still doesn’t mean run. Instead, serve. Serve in spite of their behavior and do so graciously.

Reasons people leave

There is a loss regardless of whether we determine the reason as “good” or “bad” when someone stops attending a church or seeks another church. Some of the reasons below apply to why we decided to leave and some do not. Some are good reasons in my opinion and some are bad. I’d love to discuss this with others so please feel free to reach out. People have been known to leave a church because;

“Good Reasons”

  • Moving too far away
  • Long-term Missionary Work
  • Escaping false teaching
  • Openly committed and unaddressed sin
  • Power-drunk Leadership
  • and more

“Bad Reasons”

  • Church Size
  • Hurt Feelings
  • Lack of ways to Serve
  • The Church is changing
  • The Church refuses to change
  • You’re leaving/giving up Church entirely

This is a big topic, isn’t it? I hope you weren’t expecting a snack for today, it’s a banquet. There are a lot of reasons and way too many for me to cover because I can’t even think of them all. I just know these are things I have personally used before as reasons, justified or not. Reasons I have come to reconcile with their validity or whether I was just needing a scapegoat.

Don’t Give Up and Leave God

Of all the bad reasons giving up on church entirely is the most dangerous of them. God created us, Jesus commanded us to be a community and leaving that community opens a Christian up to the enemies power. It is open season on a soul.

Change can be positive or negative. How the church handles it really can affect how you are going to feel about whatever that change may be. There are still churches today that believe wholeheartedly that a woman’s place is at home, rearing kids and in a kitchen. If you’ve been at a church for over a month and that wasn’t evident to you. Please open your eyes. They will likely refuse to change that and if you are uncomfortable with that it is even more imperative that you move on.

Leadership

Leadership is hard and changes to leadership are even harder. The morale of a congregation can be shaken when a pastor who has their heart turned so fiercely to God leaves suddenly that people become hurt, angry, afraid and betrayed. Questions are asked, people are shouting, and fiefdoms can form because of it. This is when leadership must step up their game and be honest , opening their heart to those who attend their church. Non-answers to tough questions force your people to question things even more than they already do.

We cannot forget the Pastor who may be leaving the church. As an outgoing authority they are called to gracious exiting. God’s work takes providence over their personal feelings. This is not some cop out but is in fact extremely self-sacrificing because they could stay and fight. They could blast the leadership out of the water over Pharisee-like polity and power mongering. They could. Yet, a man going through God’s great work of sanctification seeks to live as Christ. And that alone is why a Pastor won’t.

Jesus could have lay waste to those who persecuted him. Effortlessly, they could have been gone, nothing, a bookmark in God’s work. Yet he submitted not out of fear but because his mission was of peace and love and forgiveness.

By God’s design, leadership in the church is a position of humility and selflessness. Church oversight is ministry, not management. Those whom God designates as spiritual shepherds are called not to be governing monarchs or slick celebrities, but humble slaves. In submission to Christ, they must exemplify sacrifice, devotion, submission, and lowliness.

John MacArthur

I have struggled with that realization of peace-seeking because of the affection I hold for a Pastor who affected me deeply. The messages that God allowed him to share with us always left me convicted. I never walked out of church feeling like I had heard the same thing by someone else just said marginally different. I am in no way putting a man on a pedestal because he is too humble for that.

What God did do is show me what a Pastor is. Something I’ve sought for over fifteen years. Something I lost and did not know how to find again. I am forever thankful and changed because of that season in my families life.

Leaving Ain’t Easy

When we choose to leave a church we are choosing to leave a portion of the body of Christ. That’s big. Leaving is a lot like a relationship coming to an end. It sure feels like it doesn’t it? There are two perspectives I want to address this final part through. That is the member and non-member of a church but one who attends regularly.

Non-members go through phases just like relationships. New church and it is so exciting! I want to be involved. What can I do to make this greater than great?! It is a lot like you meeting someone on a date you like and decide to continue dating. You start building your life on this and thinking how to show commitment to it. You start serving and getting involved, it’s a lot like you are now engaged. And that is where non-membership ends.

You could leave at any time. Whether it is a righteous reason or something that eventually proves out to be petty. While you committed yourself to the church in many ways, it was not like a membership. I am not placing non-membership in a serving role as less than a member but only highlighting there is a certain level of commitment that is missing from a non-member.

Members of a church have gone through the same steps of excitement, engagement and increased commitment but they took that last leap. They’ve married their desire to serve to that particular body. The church has poured in to them knowledge and trust that their lives meet the church’s barometer for membership.

Members parting should seek leadership and talk about it. Let them know why and pray they seek God’s authority in their leadership and not their own. When you part, do so graciously. Don’t burn bridges and cause a disturbance out of anger. There are people staying there after you are gone.

It’s Not Always Running

If you’ve come to that heart rending decision to part a church and you’ve prayed, given the decision due diligence, prayed some more, discussed it with the leadership, prayed with them. They will need your prayer and if Christ can pray for those murdering him, we surely can swallow our unjust pride and pray for them as well as the situation in general.

Leaving a church for a “good reason” is not running or “going out with a whimper” it is a walk by faith and not by sight.

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I Wish You Were Dead; Powerful Words From a Child

Angry young girl

“I Wish You Were Dead.” – Ella

It is one of those things you never expect your children to say. In fact, it is something they should never say at all. The wishing of the death of someone can be a tragic statement simply because it is an explicit evacuation of love. Imagine for a moment if that is how God felt towards us? The difference between our ability to wish someone dead simply by words and God’s ability is that He could do it. Instead, God gave His son up for sacrifice in lieu of the complete devastation of His creation. That is where God is a perfect father that we can only aspire to be.

Yesterday we stopped at a little place for dinner called Roma Pizza. We grabbed a booth and Eli sat next to me and Ella sat next to Bethany. They take turns on who sits next to momma, no one is ever stoked about sitting next to me. Such is life.

We have to combat the typical behaviors that parents who take their children out to eat must deal with. There is climbing on the booth, peeking over the booth at other people, trying to crawl under the booth. Anything that is not sitting still basically. Eli has this habit of taking his shoes off despite our multiple commands to keep them on and once again he did this. I told him get his shoes off the floor and get them back on.

His cheerful “Okey dokey!” before disappearing under the table gets him out of a lot of trouble. A few moments after he went to put his shoes on, this awful howl of pain came from beneath the table as Ella had kicked him in the knee. Normally this would not be a huge deal and we’d just tell her to apologize and keep her hands (or in this case feet) off of him. The problem is that the knee she kicked him in had a large crusty scab on it from a fall he had taken a week or so ago. His skin split the scab and the wound weeped a bit of blood which threw him in to a new squall of hysterics.

I’m far from a perfect parent  and I’m not going to pretend to be. Ella received the ninja-eyed gaze of an angry daddy because she had already been in trouble before we had entered the restaurant for talking back in a disrespectful manner. So when she kicked his knee I assumed (yeah I know the age old adage) that she had done it to be spiteful. I could have been wrong there, she’s kicked him while he was under the table before, he’s kicked her too, like I said, not a perfect papa.

Regardless of that, she got upset and angry and then uttered words that really break my heart, “I wish you were dead.”

So you take a breath, let it roll off your back even though you may want to breakdown or become angry. Your knee-jerk reaction to that really can be an indicator for how you parent under duress. She put her head down and Bethany rubbed her back. I did not say a word because I know those things were said in anger and she may have felt like she meant them but really she did not. It is an unresolved issue that we will discuss tonight when I get home but I want to use that as a tool to teach her.

I’ve told her before that hate is a very strong emotion and one that was a part of the reasons Jesus was killed. He was challenging the status quo and basically telling the Pharisees, “Guys, you got this all wrong.”

The Pharisees responded with anger, fear and hate. They wished Jesus was dead. The Son of God dead because their pretensions of superior sanctification was more important to them than the word of God. It’s dangerous to pretend that we do not fail or that our skills as parents are so amazing we never have problems at home. It’s dangerous to think we are perfect leaders as men. It’s the same danger the Pharisees refused to see when God walked among them in flesh.

How short is a child’s anger? A minute can pass and they forget what angered them. When it was bedtime Ella hugged me tighter than I think she ever has. That speaks volumes more than her sharp-tongued words ever could. It’s also an example of what Jesus gave us that we so sorely forget, forgiveness. Ella and I will talk about what happened, we will talk about God, we will talk about Jesus and we will talk about His gift.

My wish is that I would rather her understand that gift and how to use it and how to emulate it more than my pains of heartbreak over vapid words said in a moment of difficulty.

Wish Daddy's Girl

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2016 in Review, 2017 a Path Forward

2016 Review

2016 will go down in the annals of history… However, we write it. It does not have to be the worst year ever, and it may not be the best year the world has seen. Those terms are entirely relative and often personal. A friend may have had a terrible year in some aspects while having great things happen in other areas of life. We, us fragile humans are concerned with blips in our time here on earth and often they are the things that happened yesterday or a week ago or a month. How we review our year determines how we feel about the bounty we have reaped. It shows us what we consider abundant and what is meager. Those things ultimately set the tone for how we expect our year to go. Genuinely consider that sunny disposition and ask if that is a facade for society or will you decide that your year is a mess the 1st day of January when someone makes your coffee wrong?

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Daily Devotional – Tuned in to the Son

Tuned in to the Son

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. – John 6:53

All of the devotions lately have lead towards the same conclusion. It may seem repetitive but that is precisely what I think is necessary so that we understand, certainly myself included, is that we need to be tuned in with Jesus. I’ve talked about devotionals, prayer, reading God’s word and more but one of the other ways we do this is by communion. The reference verse here is from the Last Supper. Jesus was telling his disciples that one of them (Judas) would betray him and that Peter would deny him three times. It is at this last supper that the first Eucharist was held. Opinions will vary in what the consecration of the bread and wine means such as they truly become the body and blood of Christ. For me, it means that Jesus is saying to eat of the flesh of the Son of Man is to dive deep in to the word of God and to drink of His blood is to confess my sins. Why do I believe that?

Tuned in With the Flesh of Christ

As Christians we talk about how God feeds us. The Israelites were literally fed with manna from Heaven while wandering after their liberation in Egypt. Christ fed the multitudes on the shores of Galilee. He fed the Apostles at the last supper as well. When Christ ascended after His resurrection the church was established with Peter but how do we continue to get nourishment from God? Through the Bible. If the words of God and Jesus were not written down then how could we even begin to contemplate what God can be and is in our lives? God has thought of everything and that includes the after-care when Christ went back to His Father, our Father. He has left us a buffet of soul food we just have to bring an appetite.

Tuned in With the Blood of Christ

How often do I confess to God? Daily. He knows I need it. I would think that all of us do. That time when I am praying during my drive is when that happens. I confess, I thank Him profusely and then I beg for His words to be part of me. For His wisdom, even a grain of it, to help me through my day. When I am heading home I thank Him for the day regardless of how great or terrible it has been and I ask him for peace and comfort. I ask that He allow me the strength to put the attitude I may have on the bad days aside so that when I get home I can love my loved ones with no negative influence. If the days are great I ask Him to give that wider buoyancy and allow my mood to become infectious to my family. All of that comes after confession. God knows what we do in public and in private. There is no secret place he cannot find us in. The best way for me to talk with God is by putting my failings up front and center so that I show I am broken, I know I will forever need His grace. He is always there ready to meet us anywhere and anytime we are ready. The season doesn’t matter.

Final Thoughts

In my humble opinion Jesus gave us many instructions such as the Golden Rule but at the Last Supper he gave us what all of those instructions really sum up to. His flesh made into the word of God is symbolized in the bread he broke and gave to the disciples. That bread when broken fed many just as the Bible has been printed uncounted times across the world. It has fed many in the same way the manna and the fish have throughout the Bible. His blood the symbol of our sin being washed away. God made it clear we must repent even after the death of Christ (1 John 1:9). Being spiritually fit keeps us connected to Him. By honoring the Eucharist, going to church, reading our Bible, doing devotions and praying we are opening our hearts and our ears to God. These things keep us aware of how He would feel about our potential to commit a sin. These things are our compass to God’s will. I’m not perfect by a long shot but I do notice that when I make conscious efforts to stay tuned in with Him I am so much more aware of the neverending grace I have in my life because of God.

Daily Devotional – Alone Time

Never Alone

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

At some point I feel that anyone, everyone will or does feel alone. Whether it is depression from not having a significant other or lack of social connections. Perhaps it is even a distancing from family that someone experiences. In every case it is unfortunate. For me it was a combination of being single and not having friends. We are wired for interaction with other people. Even those that come off as hermetic still find some joy in connecting with someone. This desire is because we enjoy the chance to share a part of us with someone. Even in our most difficult times when we think we are along we are not. God is there, he promised us He would be. We can fool ourselves in to thinking that He has turned on us but a Father doesn’t do that. He is there, always.

Time Alone Is Good

We need time to decompress that is just an obvious fact. A lot of times we don’t want to acknowledge that but it is good to get away from everything and just be alone for a time. When you have a supportive partner that can come in the form of them going to have their nails done while you have the kids and trading off so that you can do something you want to do. I say this knowing full well that often times I don’t get that myself and instead I put what I want aside. It is about finding balance in this type of action because we still have responsibilities such as family, work and other outside influences but we do need alone time. It allows us to center ourselves and focus on the important pictures and long goals instead of the daily trappings we tend to get caught up in.

Jesus Did It

Jesus spent time alone many times to pray (Luke 5:16) and we should to. My morning and evening commute is roughly 90 minutes total. I use that time to start and end my work day with prayer first and then I crank up music, sing like a mule and don’t care what someone at the stoplight may think about it. We should seek alone time with the Father. It is not like he is not there, he always is. Waiting to wrap us in His abundance of love and allow us to recharge in His presence. Time with God is cherished and always beneficial but we spend so little of our time with Him because of life. I have to make the intentional effort to be better at praying to Him. That’s the only true way to improve that, be intentional.

Final Thoughts

Often times we think we wait for God to reach out to us but it is so much the reverse. He is there, waiting for us to open our eyes and reach out to Him. Even when we may be alone physically or maybe we are in a dark place in our life. He is that voice whispering that you are enough. Get alone. Get on your knees. Reach up to Him and let Him recharge you. Even when we are alone we are really by His side and He is there, hand upon our head encouraging His children to grow.

Daily Devotional – Scary Shadows

Shadows

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

I can remember being a child sometimes and in those moments I remember some of my fears that are now just amusing and down right silly. Especially of shadows. I hated going in to the basement as a kid because I watched a lot of horror movies. Totally cool until the movie is over and you’re home alone. That fear comes from the idea that I didn’t think I was in a safe place even though I really was. It’s like that now, with God. See, I can scare myself with shadows, these what-ifs and maybes because I doubt in His plan for me sometime.

Faith in the Shadows

God is light and the devil flees from his brilliance. I think that for me, a mantra like that reminds me that no matter the problem, no matter the difficulties that lie ahead if I can keep my focus on God then he promises to see me through. He is the Father and one of the primary duties of a father is to protect his children. When I was little and afraid it was because my faith in the protection my mother and father had given me was foundering. Not because they were poor parents, in fact I have been blessed with amazing parents! It was from my lack of faith in them because I was allowing fear to supersede my knowledge of protection. I know that God is my portion and that it is fulfilling beyond measure but I am human, I fail, I doubt. He loves me anyway. It’s what a Father does. No matter how truant a youth may be his hand is there to hold and lead you and I from the darkness.

Become a Shadow-chaser

This just popped in to my head while writing but why can we not help chase the shadows away? God’s light is within us, it is given to us when we acknowledge there is no higher power than He. We can use that to help lead others from the shadows in to the light. This does not mean we are giving the lost salvation but instead guiding them to Jesus. The shadows retreat within the soul. God’s hand is what chases that away, no man can do this thing but Jesus.

Final Thoughts

All of this reminds me of a favorite song, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”

[su_quote]Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
Whats done in the dark will be brought to the light[/su_quote]

It is a warning to sinners. While we are repentant as Christians it should be a warning to us that no matter what we do, seen or unseen, God knows. The shadows aren’t nearly as scary as the disappointment of the Father in his children who wander. God is forgiving, the shadows, are not.

Daily Devotional – Getting Up Again

Getting Up Again

Jesus said, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matthew 16:18

I won’t ever say I am a scholar of the Bible but I am a reader and I cannot recall a man in the Bible, specifically notable people who did not fail. Moses disobeyed God and was unable to enter the promised land. David, a man after God’s own heart committed adultery. Peter made the mistake of denying that he knew who Jesus was, not once or twice but three times. Each time these men didn’t just take it. Instead they showed that getting up again is what God wants us to do.

Falling is Not the End

Every Christian stumbles in our walk with God. It is why we sin. We fail to meet the expectations set before us. Whether it was what someone expected of us, our own self expectations or failing God they all merit the same response. Realizing that this failure is a learning point and that it doesn’t mean we should give it up. I found myself in that position when I was younger. I had left everything I knew behind to move to another state to live with a girl. I was young and not very cautious. Things went south after 2 years and I love everything. I moved back in with my parents and basically withdrew from society. I allowed my falling to be the end of me. I was far from my walk with God but He tells us that if we delight in Him that He will make firm our steps so we do not fall. (Psalm 37:23-24). Falling isn’t the end it is the Father giving us a chance to prove our resilience in adversity by getting up and testifying His grace.

Falling is our Wandering

If we love God’s instructions for our life we have peace and do not stumble. Think about the times when you know you’ve sinned. If God has really changed your heart you will not have peace until you make it right. It might start as a little tickle in the back of your mind but getting right with God sooner rather than later is going to prevent that time when God grabbed you by the seat of your pants and the next thing you know is you’re a blubbering mess. Saved people are His children. As we are His that means He will sometimes have to be harsh with us to bring us around. Jesus is called the shepherd for many reasons and to me this is one of the most basic reasons why. He is the one who keeps the sheep on the path and of one falls off of it He rights the sheep.

Getting Up is Finding Forgiveness

There is a reason Christian imagery shows a man beaten or broken and God’s hands lifting him.It is the Father letting the child know it is okay. We can fall a thousand times (we should try not too!) and He is always there to lift us higher than before because as soon as we confess and truly resolve never to fall back in to that place again we have gotten up. I jokingly tell Eli to rub some dirt in it sometimes when he is just being fussy, I like to think God feels the same way sometimes when he is confronted with the same person doing the same sin and asking for forgiveness. He gives it in the hope you mean it even though He knows you do not. If you are serious about getting up though God is there, hand ready to help you rise. Jesus forgave Peter three times because Peter sinned three times. Then he raised Peter above the other disciples in his appointment of Peter being the rock upon which the Church would be built.

Imagine what God can do in your life if you just let the fall be a lesson and become better are getting up than falling. Eventually you won’t fall anymore because your love for him is true and He will strengthen your steps, that is our walk with God in a nutshell. Don’t quit on God, He never quits on you.

Daily Devotional – God Is Greater Than Our Plans

God's Plans

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. – Genesis 50:20

Joseph’s brothers did intend for him to be harmed. They were jealous of the love that Jacob (who was called Israel by God) bore for their younger brother. So jealous in fact that they sold him in to slavery to get rid of him. God had better plans for Joseph than what his brothers had intended. Joseph was patient and understood that even though he was going through tough times there was something God was working on within him and within his life that may not have been Joseph’s plans but that God had planned for him. Joseph did not know what those plans were but he had faith. Many of the men in the bible had extraordinary faith but they were not perfect. Everyone of them failed but Jesus. Even at the most difficult point in any person’s life Jesus trusted the Father. Joseph, even in the most difficult parts of his life trusted the Father’s plans because they were far bigger than him.

God’s Plans are About Trust

In all things God asks tells us that to be one with Him we must have faith in Him. Faith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Every time we willfully go against God’s plan we are saying we distrust Him. We don’t show trust in our Creator, our Father. Men, if you are a dad how does that feel? To know your child has no trust in you. Not in that youthful fear that kids so often present when you play something scary but in that complete lack of faith in daddy. It hurts, it makes you feel like you do not measure up. To an extent that is how it is for God. We displease Him with our disobedience because we are saying we do not trust that He knows what is best for us (Isaiah 58:11) even if we don’t think He is guiding us He always is.

God’s Plans are About Obedience

If we have the capacity to trust God fully then obedience to His will is part of the package. His will is the plan that He has laid out for you. To trust God with your life plans is to obey Him (Jeremiah 7:23). Obedience for me is a scary prospect I’m a very strong personality and like to think I can control my plans despite God telling me and showing me that no, it is not possible for my plans to be better than His. I left college, moved away from my family and ended up over $40,000 in debt before coming home broken. I punished myself by refusing to do bankruptcy, I could have but felt like I needed penance. That’s all changed now because of God not myself. I did a lot of work but that change of heart came from Him working on me and my decision to finally obey His will.

Final Thoughts

If there was one passage that pointedly describes God’s will against our own it is Jeremiah 29:11-14. God knows His plans for us and I oftentimes do try to plan but what is a ten year plan compared to the plan of eternity? It pales in comparison but as God tells us if we seek Him with all of our heart then He will hear our pleas and restores us. Restoration of our fortunes. My fortune is my salvation, it is my friends and family. My fortune is my future wife and the kids she allows me to be the father of. God has done amazing things in my life since I made the choice to be a vessel for his love and a fountain to spill forth those great things on to others. He has given me so much more than just my salvation and I am humbled to tears in my thanks of the grace he endlessly provides.

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