Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Study - Pastor Dad

I spent time with my lovely wife last night studying a short book by Mark Driscoll called Pastor Dad. This book gives good biblical insight into the joy and responsibility of being a father. I can tell you that I have already been convicted by some of the things Pastor Driscoll has said and we’re only a couple chapters in. Although painful, I know that this study will be worth it’s weight in gold as I strive to be a better father to our three children. I think Sabrina has been convicted as well and I know that God will use this to help mold her into the mother she wants to be.

In reading chapter 2, the most convicting section to me is on page 9 where it talks about hypocritical fathers who tell there children to do something, but don’t do that themselves. I’m not one to tell my children, “Do as I say, not as I do,” but I am guilty of holding them to higher standards than I hold my self. For example, just this week I admonished my daughter to clean her room. She is very bad about not putting things back where they belong when she is finished with them. I’m the same way. So in essence, just me telling her to clean her room and put things back where they belong was telling her, “Do as I say, not as I do!” I need to hold myself to the same (or even higher) standards than I hold my children to. Otherwise, I’m a hypocrite. So I repent of the sin of hypocrisy and pray for the grace to live out the standards I wish my children to live out, so that they will not only hear it in my words, but also see it in my life.

Since we have our book study on Thursday nights, I’ll make it a point to share what how this book has benefited my wife and I in my Friday posts. So until next time, Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lessons From A Friend I Didn't Really Know

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a friend I never knew. James Holton “Holt” Rowland, 16, entered eternity on November 10, 2010. I knew of Holt, but didn’t really know him personally, only having spoken with him a handful of times. The last time I remember seeing Holt was on October 14, 2010 at a wild game supper at Bristol Baptist where I was leading worship. I wish I would have gotten to know him, as I feel I have missed out on a great blessing.

As I listened to the men who were asked to share memories of Holt yesterday at his celebration service, I heard the testimony of a young man who loved Jesus. That wasn’t just something that Holt said. It was shared that most often he didn’t even have to say it because his love for Christ was evident in the way he lived his life. It was manifested in the way he loved his friends, family, baseball, church and community and in how he lived out the great commandment - to love God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength and to love his neighbor as himself. Holt understood that there was nothing inherently good in him; that good could only be found in God. And Holt lived and died bringing glory to God.

I came away from Holt’s service with a new perspective on my own life. Learning of Holt’s life challenged me to take inventory of where I’m at in my walk with Christ and showed me that I have a lot of growing up to do. As I pondered what kind of legacy I would leave if I died today, I came to realize that there is so much more I can do to exalt and magnify Christ in my time here on Earth. There are three specific areas where I must, as Holt reminded me, decrease so that Jesus may increase: my family, my church, my community.

If I could sum up in a single phrase what Holt Rowland’s life has taught me, it would be “Bloom where you are planted.” Many times I think that in order to glorify God and make His Name great I have to do something on a grand scale so that a lot of people will see it. But when I dig down to the root of this idea, I see pride and the desire to exalt myself rather than Christ. It pains me to admit this, but ultimately it is the truth. The sovereign Lord of the universe put me where He did so that my life would be spent pointing to Him and not me. So that is exactly what I commit to do from this day on. To bloom where I’m planted so that Christ may be exalted and worshiped.

If I could tell Holt something today, I would tell him how much I admire his love for Jesus and for people. Because of our kinship in Christ, I count him as a brother and a friend, though I never really knew him. And, because of Jesus Christ, I know that I’ll be where he is one day. Although I don’t fully know how it all works up there in Heaven, I hope that I will get to spend at least a small fraction of eternity getting to know Holt. One thing is for certain, I’ll know where to find him - worshiping at the feet of the Savior he loves.

See you later, Holt.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Only Trust Him

There are times in life when we feel we have made the right decision, only to see our lives begin to snowball, seemingly out of control, while we watch and wonder if we should have done something differently. A few short months ago (May to be exact), my wife resigned her position as a public school teacher and became a stay at home mom in order to home school our three children. This has always been a dream of mine and God did a huge work in the heart of my wife in regards to homeschooling. With many confirmations along the way to making this decision, I just knew that we were right in the pocket of God's will.

Now here we are, only six months in and I find myself wondering if perhaps I missed God somewhere along the way. Through a series of unfortunate and uncontrollable events, we find ourselves in a very uncomfortable financial position. Though we've made cuts to our monthly budget and have avoided frivolous living, doing away with things that are not really a necessity and trying to stretch each dollar to make the most of it, it seems like the harder we paddle to keep afloat, the deeper into financial abyss we sink. Amazingly, while God has provided miraculously for us on several occasions, it seems that behind each miracle is another pit to fall into.

Of course this kind of situation creates stress. And a stress-filled life is a breeding ground for fear, anger, bitterness, and all other negative attitudes that seek to rob us of the freedom and joy we have in Christ. As we tell each other to just trust God and He will provide our needs, it almost becomes cliche, to the extent that we preface our sentences with, "I know we have to trust God, but...". And then I feel guilty because maybe I don't trust God. I feel like I'm standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and God says take a step. "But God there is nothing there to stand on," I reply. The absurdity of that statement causes me to cringe, as if all of Gods promises and proofs are not enough to hold me up as I step out onto thin air. It's as if I'm saying, God I can trust you with something as big and impossible and eternal as salvation, but I can't trust you with something as meager and temporary as bills. Yet that's where I find myself. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, the view to the bottom taking my breath away, as God calls me to step out. Fear grips me as I think up a million reasons why this isn't a good idea.

And then I remember Who it is who has led me to this place. The Sovereign of the universe has orchestrated the very melody that has brought me to this crescendo and now as He beckons me to come, so that He may display His glory in the awaiting chorus, I'm reminded, once again of His words to me:

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Fear not, I am the one who helps you. (Isaiah 41:13)

So I will.

I must.