Monday, June 28, 2010

I have started reading and thinking through the life of Joshua - the guy who was the second leader of the nation of Israel. He got the job after Moses passed away.

In the opening chapter of the book that records his leadership ventures, the phrase "be strong and courageous" comes up several times (four if I count correctly). If you turn back a few pages to Deuteronomy 31, you will see if pop up again when Moses is talking to the people and to Joshua.

I began to wonder if Joshua was a bit of a scardy cat - I mean over and over again he was instructed by Moses and by God to be strong and courageous.

Remember that Joshua was one of the 12 spies who was sent into to check out the land (see the story in Numbers 13). He and Caleb where the only two that reported to the people that, although the people where beg and their cities walled, God could help them take the land that was promised to them. Doesn't sound like someone who is scared.

Fast forward the clock 37 years. A few battles and a lot of wandering in the desert later, God is instructing Joshua to be strong and courageous. Why? Could it be because the last time they were at the threshold of moving into the promised land they were scared? Could it be the last time God was ready to fulfill His promise to them they shirked back and did not operate in faith? Probably.....

OK, now here is the tough part. How often do I do that? How often do I shirk back from faith, start to worry, move away from belief in God and follow my own path that is paved with my fears? How often do I chicken out and NOT believe what God has to say? More than I care to admit I am afraid.

I believe that I need these words everyday -

Joshua 1:7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Lord, help me to be strong and courageous today as I encounter situations and circumstances and relationships that are going to try to move me to fear; attempt to move me to not have faith; attempt to move away from you.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thought that what I sent to my dad would be a good post....Sorry it is kind of long.

On the occasion of Father’s Day 2010


Sorry that I didn’t get a card. I have developed this habit of writing my heart instead of trying to buy a card and then writing it by hand in the card!

I have probably said this before, but I want to repeat it because it is more true know than ever – I am so grateful for the testimony of fatherhood that you have set for me throughout the years. You got up every day, went to work, provided for the family, disciplined us, drove many, many miles to your job instead of moving us and loved mom.

My standard of being a dad has been you and how you fathered me. I know that I have made mistakes; I know that you made mistakes. But I always knew that you loved us and were serving us. I just need to say thank you once again for loving me and setting an example for me.

I was reviewing and thinking about the stories that you and mom were telling as you reviewed the places that you lived. Living near your parents and helping them, living near mom’s grandmother and helping her, buying the farm for your folks – you have lived a lifestyle of service to your parents; a lifestyle that has obediently honored them and who they are. I know that this was pleasing to God and was an incredible example to me. I know that, even though I did not know all of this until recently, the fact that we have built our house the way we did, the fact that our hearts are for caring for those around us and our family is a direct reflection of the example that you set for us. The fact that you are caring for mom the way you are is no surprise to me – it is ingrained in your character to care and serve.

Thank you dad for all that you have done for me and all that you are. That you for setting an incredible example of service motivated from a heart of love. Thank you for showing what true love is – not an emotion, but a dedication to put the needs of others on the same plane as your needs.

I love you dad and thanks.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Last weekend was my son's graduation open house - the final step in him moving from high school to a new phase of life. The last 9 months have been filled with "lasts" - the last tennis match, the last high school class, the last basketball game, the last sports banquet (for him), the last time we will see all his buddies together in one place, the last time our house will be filled with teenage boys eating our food and playing basketball in our family room: the emotions are sometimes hard to take. This is the bitter part of the last few weeks.

The sweet part is watching him grow - from a little boy with mud on his clothes, to a young man who has a caring heart and a ton of potential. The excitement about what can be and what will be is sweetness to the soul.

As a dad, this is a huge milestone - releasing your son into a tough world, knowing that he is going to make mistakes, knowing that there are things that he needs to learn, knowing that life is going to hit him sometimes and knowing that you cannot be "the parent" anymore: you have to be the coach.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

I was driving home last night from a graduation open house, minding my own business, when a deer jumped out into the road. Living out in the country like I do, this is not an uncommon occurrence, so I know how to react - hit the brakes, slow WAY down and look for another deer - one of the things that I taught my kids (where there is one deer there is usually another).

Sure enough, another deer popped out of the tall grass on the side of the road. Only this one was a bit different - it was a fawn. It stood about 18" tall and looked like it hadn't grown into its legs. As soon as it saw my car, it stopped and then did something wild - it laid down, drew its legs in and put its head down on the road. It looked like it was trying to curl up into a ball and make itself as small as it could so that it could hide (probably pretty effective in tall grass, but not so much on asphalt).

The fawn's reaction was instinctive. Laying down is what it was wired to do when it sensed danger. It's mom did not teach it that; it's dad didn't draw a diagram, paint a picture or make him practice that - he did it naturally.

It made me ask this question - what do I do instinctively when danger comes? Where do I go mentally? Where do I go emotionally? Where do I go spiritually?

God has hard wired some mechanisms into us to deal with danger. Way back in high school, I learned that when danger comes, human instinct is to either fight or run.

The scripture talks about both of these responses. Paul, in one setting, told Timothy to "flee" from the love of money and youthful desires (I Timothy 6:11, II Timothy 2:22). In another, he told the people of Corinth to flee - to run away from sexual immorality and idolatry. (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:14). These are dangerous things that we are to run from. (You probably want to read the context of the references I gave above so you better understand what Paul was driving at.)

There are other times when we are to stand and fight. James, one of the early church leaders, told us to resist the devil. Paul wrote a complete section of a letter to the church in Ephesus about the armor of God that we need to take on so we can resist the attacks of the devil.

Paul placed dangers into two camps - those that we are to run from and those that we are to fight.

The things we are to run away from are, quite frankly, sins. We are not to dabble in them; we are not to become friendly with them; we are to run away from them - get as far away from them as we can. There is a challenge for me - are there areas in my life that I am flirting with sin? Kind of toying with it? Not being in too deep, but not really running away from it (doing WHATEVER I need to do to stay away from it)? Yeah...............somethings I need to work on there. The Psalmist said it this way - Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me... Psalm 139:23-24

The things we are to fight are attacks from the devil. They will come. Satan is like a roaring lion seeking who may he devour (I Pet 5:8). Doubt, fear, guilt, accusation - these are all attacks from the evil one. We are to fight these given the defensive and offensive weapons God has given us. (Spend a little time in Ephesians 6, in particular verses 10-18. Also take a look at Matthew 4:1-11 and see how Jesus faced the attacks of the Devil.)

As you walk through your day, begin to realize the things that you are to run from and the things that you are to fight. Run hard and fight hard today!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Have you ever had one of those days, or better yet weeks, where you feel you have taken one step forward and three steps back? A week where it seems like everything you do turns to junk? A week where you look at how you spent your time and feel like it was a waste of time because nothing good seemed to happen?

I know that you have been there. I am there this week. Things that I finished last week were destroyed by something and I have to redo them. Areas that I thought I was making good head way in, seem to be falling to pieces. It kind of depressed and frustrates me and makes me feel like giving up ("what's the use" attitude).

What is hard is that I usually am a very positive person. When these times come they hit me kind of hard because it feels like an extreme move (from a pretty positive to low).

What do you do when you find yourself in these periods in your life?

I try and remember some things:

1. My identity is not fixed in what I do or what I accomplish.
2. My identity is not fixed in what other people think about me.
3. My identity if fixed in Christ - God thinks of me as His son because of what Jesus did for me. He cares what kind of week I am having, but it will NEVER change the way He thinks about me.
4. What do I need to learn through this? Is there anything that I can do different in the future to avoid situations like this? Am I not seeing something clearly? Am I doing something sinful that God wants to point out to me?
5. Is there someone I need to talk to that can aid me in #4?
6. Do I have the right perspective? Does it really matter in the grand scheme of eternity? If no, let it go. If yes, then pray about it.

Mind you, it still doesn't change the circumstances of the week. Life still is hard. However, it helps me frame the week in the proper context - the context of "God is at work in me and through me and He loves me".

Have a great week! (Ha Ha).