Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shared from All-Pro Dads

I got this in email today and just have to share it with you. Hope it helps you and your family.

Do you have a family-centered life?  Review the list below and add your own thoughts in our Comments section.
1.    Mom and Dad have a consistent date night alone together at least once a month.
2.    Dad has scheduled one-on-one time with each of his children at least once a month.
3.    Entire family gathers for dinner at least 3 times a week.
4.    Dad texts, e-mails or calls each of his children at least once a day.
5.    A monthly family home video night.
6.    A monthly family board game night.
7.    Saturday chores are done with the kids helping.
8.    At least once every three months, Dad brings lunch to school for his kids.
9.    Dad prays with each of his children before they go to bed each night.
10.  Weekly church attendance.
11.  Three TV shows per week are watched by the entire family (with commercials muted).
12.  Dad's job does not keep him working a lot of late nights or weekends.
13.  Entire family has at least one week of vacation time together per year.
14.  Mom and Dad attend at least one marriage strengthening conference per year.
15.  Family attempts camping at least once a year.
16.  Dad attends or coordinates a Daddy/Daughter Dance.
17.  Dad personally knows all of his children's teachers and is involved in the PTA.
18.  Dad's time with his buddies more often than not includes everyone's kids.
19.  More family activities are planned outdoors than indoors.
20.  Dad honors his own parents.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekly Devotional - October 26, 2012

"I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing."
1 Timothy 2:8 NIV

You lift your hands for a lot of reasons. When someone asks for volunteers, you lift your hand. When you agree, you raise your hand. When you disagree, you raise your hand. You raise your hand in support. You raise your hand in protest. A raised hand is a welcome sign. A raised hand can also be a stop sign.

The Bible tells us to pray with lifted hands. A lifted hand is a surrendered hand. Prayer is hindered when the pray-er has not surrendered to the Lord. Prayer is not a way of telling God what to do. Instead, prayer is a way of joining God in what he is doing. Not "Lord, do this for me" but "Lord, I will do this for you."

Lifted hands must be holy hands. A popular end-of-prayer-tag is this, "Father, forgive us of our sins." We say it as if it is a formula and as if it is forgotten. Asking for forgiveness ought to be in our prayers as often as sin is in our lives. Holy hands are hands that aren't stained with sin. And there is only one way to wash the sin from your hands. Pilate tried to wash from his hands the guilt of handing over Jesus for crucifixion but could not do it with water. Some religions teach that baptismal waters wash away sins but they do not. Only the blood of Jesus, applied to the repentant sinner, can wash away sins and make hands holy.

Lifted and holy hands must be connected to a heart that is right with God and right with others. Anger and disputes drive wedges between the pray-er and God and between the pray-er and his fellow man. Isn't it ridiculous to pray, "Lord, help me do your will," or "Lord, here are my needs" when you have a wedge in your life separating you from God or other people?

Prayer is an act of worship. Surrendered, your prayers are rightly turned toward God's will. Holy, your prayers are unhindered by sin. With good relationships, your prayers are made with right motive. Pray that God will help you lift holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

God's Love

As we run we have some pretty good talks about God and people. I've gotten inspiration for many sermons and sermon illustrations on these dark mornings on Rushing Road. Today is just another example of God speaking to us through believers. (Remember, that's one of the ways God speaks according to Blackaby's "Experiencing God.")

I really don't remember exactly what we were talking about but my running buddy said, "Do you think God will ever learn?" He wasn't being disrespectful to God but was pointing out that we wouldn't be as persistent as God is. You know how God continues to have faith in the church to carry out the Great Commission? Or how he is ready to forgive the repentant, even repeating, sinner? Or how he continues to bless us even when we don't get it right. The conversation wasn't along those lines exactly but that's a good application of the thought.

So he says, "When I was a kid I slammed my hand in a car door. One time. I never did it again." That was in the context of "Do you think God will ever learn?"

I gathered my breath and in a little while said, "If we loved getting in the car as much as God loves us, we'd get our hands slammed in the door more often." We ran in silence for a few seconds.

Think about how much God loves you. John 3:16 says that he loves you enough to send his only son Jesus to die for your sins so you won't have to. Romans 5:8 says that he did this even before anyone placed faith for salvation in Jesus and his sacrifice, while we still enjoyed our sin.

Sometimes love hurts. Like slamming your hand in a car door. At some point the pain hurts more than the joy so we keep our hand out of the car door or off the hot stove. Or we keep our hearts out of relationships. Or we give up on somebody. But we miss the joy.

God must have decided that the joy of loving us was greater than the pain of loving us. I'm glad he did.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Victorious Day

The Major League Baseball Postseason is in full swing. These teams are out: Braves, Rangers, Reds, Nationals, Orioles, Athletics, and Yankees. These teams are still in: Tigers, Cardinals, and Giants. Detroit has a punched ticket to the World Series. St. Louis and San Francisco have one more game to play to decide who the National League team will be.

Every team - except the Tigers - that advanced to the next level did so in a win or go home game. The Cardinals beat the Braves in a one-game Wild Card game. The Cardinals beat the Nationals in the fifth of a five-game series. The Orioles beat the Rangers in a one-game Wild Card game. The Yankees beat the Orioles in the fifth of a five-game series. And tonight the Cardinals and Giants face off in the seventh game of their seven-game series.

The Tigers, however, swept the Yankees to win the AL pennant.

I expect the World Series will go six or seven games.

In other words, winning the World Series will not be easy.

Seems like that describes life on most days. Lots of hard work is necessary to succeed or just survive. Sometimes you find yourself in a win or go home situation. To be your best you have to play the best and do your best. You have to overcome obstacles, injury, loss.

Except for the Tigers/Yankees series, the winner who moved on won only one more game than they lost. Success isn't always a clean sweep with no losses or errors. Success is just winning more than you lose.

The good news for Christians is that we are on the winning team! Jesus died to clean up our mistakes. Jesus resurrected and lives now to promise our victory. We still have delays, face disappointments, and get derailed. But these are light and momentary issues, as Paul would say. In the end, we win!

There's just one way to lose. Refuse to be on Jesus' side of the battle.
  • "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13).
  • "No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).
  • "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57)
  • "Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John 5:5)
Here's to a victorious day!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekly Devotional - October 19, 2012

"Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul
to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?"
2 Samuel 9:1 NIV
Saul was anything but kind to David. Israel's first king was the jealous type and tried to kill the young man who would be Israel's second king. Saul grew to hate David although David had been of great help and comfort to him. And David was Saul's son's best friend. David and Jonathan were like brothers.
David had sworn to be kind to Jonathan's family in spite of Saul's actions. Saul and Jonathan died in battle then David became king of Israel. Jonathan had a five year old son at the time of his death. Years later, after David had waged war against his enemies, the king remembered his oath to his friend. Jonathan's son was old enough now to have a son of his own but the passing of time did not diminish David's love for Jonathan.
Remembering his oath, David looks for someone from Saul's family to whom he can show kindness. A couple of interesting aspects are here. First, we should remember and keep our promises. David may have forgotten the promise along the way but he finally came around to remembering it. In his commentary, Matthew Henry suggests that this is because David was a good man who sought to please God. "Good men should seek opportunities of doing good." David was a man after God's own heart and that led him to keep his promise and be kind to Saul's family.
The second interesting thing about David's actions was that he did not hold a grudge. The oath was with Jonathan and certainly it was Jonathan's son  to whom David would show kindness. But I believe had there been another member of Saul's family living at that time that David would have been kind to him, too. David asked if anyone was left from Saul's house, not Jonathan's house.
Forgetting commitments you've made or neglecting to keep them because of ill feelings is not godly. Pray that God will help you keep your promises.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Get Going!

My trainer let me have it Saturday. He said I am hardheaded. Can you believe that! Actually, it's true. I've come to the point that I'm happy with the results and comfortable with the effort. What difference does that make? I'm not progressing in my fitness trek.

Doesn't the same thing happen spiritually? I mean, do you sometimes just get satisfied with your current level of spiritual maturity? So you slip out of drive into neutral and you coast. But the truth is that if you aren't moving forward you are going backward. That is certainly true in physical training and it's also true in spiritual growth.

Are you at a plateau in your path of growth? Somebody needs to get in your face a little. OK, I'll do it. GET GOING!

Apply these spiritual disciplines daily.
  • Pray in faith.
  • Read the Word.
  • Fellowship with believers.
  • Witness to the world.
  • Serve others.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Weekly Devotional - October 12, 2012

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow."
1 Corinthians 3:6 NIV

I had conversations recently with two men who expressed a desire to see the harvest of their labors. The desire is not limited to these two but seems to be a hunger across humanity. If you put in the labor you want to see the results.

Jesus talked about the value of each person involved in bringing a crop to harvest. The soil must be prepared. The seed must be sown. The growing plants must be watered. And the ripened grain must be harvested. That's a lot of work! You who are farmers or gardeners know the effort that must be used in each step. And you know the reward for putting out the effort.

No harvest ever comes without the prerequisite work. I was an accounting major in college for a couple of years. Because I transferred from one university to another after my first semester, I was behind and out of sync with the recommended coursework. Trying to catch up, I took Cost Accounting before taking Intermediate Accounting - a prerequisite course. I struggled through Cost Accounting more than I should have because I didn't have the groundwork of understanding needed for the course. I did not "harvest" a good grade because I had not "planted" and "watered" my knowledge of accounting!

The harvest will come and it will be bountiful when the planting and watering have taken place. So Jesus says each part of the process is important - not just the reaping.

Paul refused to argue about this and simply said, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." At the end of the harvest, the glory belongs to God not to us. I believe that although those who sow and water may never know the outcome of their labors while on this earth, they will be pleasantly surprised in heaven.

Are you planting and watering? Are you looking for the harvest? Pray that God will help you see how you can be a worker in the field.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Adversity and Faith

Adversity waits along the pathway for everybody. Nobody is immune to it. The best we can hope for it to handle it effectively. Rather than let it turn us away from God, adversity can strengthen our faith.

How do you handle adversity?

Some of us just give up at the first bit of resistance. Life's going pretty good but then something happens and you struggle. Then you quit. You quit trying. You quit moving forward. You give up on your dreams.

Others will fight for a little while but then adjust their course so the resistance is bearable. If you believe your original path was right, worthy, or legitimate then to change that course for whatever reason is to cave into the pressure. The world calls this "compromise" but it's really just letting go of what you know to be true.

Then some will stay the course no matter what. You may not understand why the adversity came. You may not know how survival is possible. But you press on. You press on because you believe that God exists and that he has a plan for your life. You believe that his plan is greater than any plan you could devise and implement. Even though you do not know the plan, you know God. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and confident of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1).

Adversity can shake your faith. Or adversity can strengthen you faith. Which will it be? It's up to you.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Weekly Devotional - October 5, 2012

"And without faith it is impossible to please God."
Hebrews 11:6 NIV
Riley has been playing baseball for seven years. I won't say that he is a natural but he has learned the basics very well. He's in his second season of football and I can't say he's got the basics of this game down yet. But he's learning!
I go to all the practices. I'd really like to help coach like I do in baseball but I sit in my red folding chair ($10 from Walmart) like a bunch of other parents. Riley likes defense better than offense. He's worked his way onto the starting defensive unit. And when the first team offense is practicing, he loves to play on the defensive scout team.
So he plays on defense for most of the practice. His position is usually on the same side of the practice field where I'm sitting. When he makes a good play he looks over at me and I give him a thumbs up.
Riley wants to please me. He wants to know that I am pleased with him. He doesn't look for the affirmation with baseball because he's been doing it long enough to know when he's done something that will please me. But with football I get several glances each practice and game.
Christians ought to want to please God. You should try to live so as to please your father. But what does God expect? What pleases God? The simple answer is: faithfulness. The more in depth answer is: faithfulness.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." That classic definition comes from Hebrews 11:1. When your hope is in Christ Jesus you can have faith. When you believe although you do not see, you have faith. Trusting God to do what only he can do is living by faith.
And if you live like this and then glance toward your heavenly father, he'll give you a thumbs up. Pray that God will help you help you live by faith and be pleased with you as his child.