Happy birthday, dad!

Pr. 4:1:  “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding.”

Today is my dad’s birthday.  The most amazing thing about that is that about 14 years ago, doctor’s said he probably wouldn’t live 2 more years.  Yeah, dad!  That stubborn determination sure pays off sometimes, huh?  🙂

I am grateful today that, regardless of what medical science could prove, the Lord had different plans for my father.

I’m thinking of the instruction my father taught me over the years…of the things he wanted me to understand.

He let me dig up worms for our fishing trips when I was a kid.  He wanted me to understand how to be industrious and fearless.

He made me wear a shirt when we were working in our garden when I was six, even though all the guys had theirs off.  He wanted me to understand discretion.

He took time to play Weeble Wobbles with me when I was little.  He wanted me to understand that I was important to him.

He taught me how to drive when it was time, and although I wanted to drive like Dale Earnhardt, he wanted me to understand that safety was pretty important.

He took us to my cousin’s houses, to family events, and on family vacations.  He wanted me to understand how to enjoy life and family, and which investments would last longer than most.

He worked hard at church.  He wanted me to understand that the Lord’s house was worthy of our time and our respect.

In sickness, my dad’s perspective on life shifted a bit.  Little things that used to bother him or get him upset no longer seemed too big of a deal.  He began to appreciate family and the little blessings in life in a way he never had before.

Over and over since then, he has reminded me that there’s no need to get upset about little things in life.  He wants me to understand what’s really important and treat each day as a gift from God.

He texts me almost every morning, proclaiming that “this is the day the Lord has made,” or simply reminding me that it’s a blessing to have another day.  He reminds me every time we speak that he is blessed. He wants me to understand that it’s not possessions, perfect health, status, or any other worldly ideal that makes us blessed.  He wants me to understand that being a child of God is the true blessing.  He wants me to understand that each day we’re alive is one more opportunity to invest in what truly matters.

So, thanks, dad, for the instructions.  See?  I have been paying attention after all.  ha!  And I love you.  ❤

Blessed,

jamie

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A fine line

Pr. 19:23:  “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil.”

Attempting to guide my children in the truths of the Bible isn’t always easy.  Lately I’ve been unsure if I’m handling things right.

While trying to teach them about sin, I am very nervous that I might leave out the beauty of grace.  Then, while I’m busy teaching grace, I have an ever-present fear that I’m leaving no room for accountability and repentance.

This morning I bumped into this Proverb about ‘the fear of the Lord,’ and I realize that the only answer for me as a parent is to walk this fine line with a foundation of prayer and trust in the Lord.

In my own strength, I will never be able to teach them exactly right.  The beauty of God’s word is that it does not return to Him void.  It accomplishes what God pleases, and will prosper in the purpose for which it was sent.  (Is. 55:11)  Therefore, I must conclude that speaking the Word into my children’s lives is my job.  Accomplishing what God pleases is His.

Also, I must keep in mind that I was not created as The Holy Spirit.  While it is my job to guide and teach my children, it is the Holy Spirit who will bring to their remembrance the things they’ve learned about God as they walk through their lives.  (Jn. 14:26)

Fear of the Lord is something I can demonstrate in my own life and in the way I teach and train my children.  The more we learn about God, the more our own values and character will be fashioned after His.

I must also demonstrate what it means to grow in Christ.  While speaking to my daughter about self-control a few weeks ago, I realized that I’m not bearing that same fruit in certain areas in my own life.  So, I had to make some adjustments.  Allowing her to see those weaknesses in me and to see how I choose to confront them will testify my beliefs to her more than any words I could ever speak.

So, do I know exactly how to walk this thin line of teaching sin and grace at the same time.  Definitely not.  But I know the One who does and I am reminded that not only is His strength is made perfect in my weakness, but that He loves and cares for my children even more than I ever could.  He will guide and water them as His own. I just need to plant the seeds.

I’m thinking the best way to teach them is for me to continue to stay grounded in Him.  Thank you, Lord, for this reminder.  I trust in You.

Learning,

jamie

Growing up for a reason

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.”  1 Cor. 3:1

Pr. 11:30 reminds us that, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”  It is hard to win souls when we’re still babes in Christ.

Babies need almost constant attention.  When they’re not sleeping they need to be fed, held, cleaned, and kept safe.

There comes a time in our spiritual journey that we must make the decision to grow up.  We must begin feeding and caring for ourselves, not depending on others to provide us with everything.  We must learn to trust God to hold us and clean us up, not expecting others around us to be the ones who do so.

Of course, we all have moments when we need the love and care of those around us; however, when we find that we need that almost constantly it is an indication that perhaps we are still behaving as babes.

Jesus commissioned us to go into all the world preaching and baptizing.  Solomon reminded us that winning souls is the wise thing to do.  In order to do these things, we must have something to offer.

Babies are born helpless and have almost nothing to offer others.  They have to learn and grow so that they can begin contributing to the world around them.  Likewise, we must continue to grow in our trust in God and in our knowledge of Him so that we have something to offer those around us who are truly in need.

The best place to start is…drum roll, please…the Word.  When we begin feeding ourselves the Bread of Life each day, we are beginning to grow up and care for ourselves.

Once we get used to feeding ourselves, we can begin cleaning ourselves up through prayer.  Asking God for forgiveness and direction cleans us up and gives us wisdom for our next steps.  Thanking God for His blessings causes us to become grateful, which is a very grown up attribute.

With these skills, we will then find ourselves running to God to be held.  We will have grown in our understanding of who our Provider, Comforter, Helper, Deliverer, and Savior truly is.  We will know that when we need help the most, the safest, most dependable place to run is to the arms of our Father in heaven.

Armed with all this knowledge, we can then teach others that these same things are true.  We can point them to the same Father, who gives us the safety to be His baby, and the wisdom to grow into spiritual adults.

Growing up alongside you,

jamie

Lessons from Captain Hook

This morning I saw a cartoon where Captain Hook was sitting in some water.  He asked, “What is underneath me?”  Surprise, surprise, it was Tick-Tock Croc.  Isn’t that crocodile always right there, waiting to take a bite out of Captain Hook?

It reminded me of temptation.  It seems that we all have that one vicious temptation that seems to always be there, just waiting to attack.

But what does Captain Hook do?  Well, first he flees.  I’m reminded of 2 Tim. 2:22 that tells us to flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Next, after the Captain gets away, he just keeps on going about his swashbuckling business.  We can’t live in such fear of our temptations that we hide away and stop living our lives.  We have to keep moving.  Just as Captain Hook has a job to do, so do we.  We have been commissioned by Jesus to go into all the world preaching, teaching, and baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

One more observation:  that crocodile was underneath him.  Romans 16:19-20 implores and reassures us, saying, “I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.  And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.”  Sin and temptation have no authority over us.

So, our lessons from Captain Hook today:  flee, don’t give up, continue to learn God’s wisdom, and remember that God has already won the victory!

Not just blathering,

jamie

Feeding the hungry

Pr. 10:21:  “The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom.”

This verse instantly makes me think about my Pastor.  Give or take a few services, he feeds thousands of God’s sheep in the pews 144 times each year.  Not only that, but he ensures that we are being fed during the other services, equips us with daily devotions, sends out blogs almost daily for extra nourishment; and for 40 extra days each year, at his urging, we gather as a church for very personal and intentional time with the Lord.

Certainly, our Pastor disburses to us the Bread of Life and the Living Water on a continual basis.  Anyone who is truly hungry or thirsty for eternal things, and encounters our Pastor, will find provisions awaiting them there.

How does our Pastor feed so many?  I think part of it can be summed up in a declaration he made several years ago.  He declared that Jesus is the true Pastor/Shepherd of our church and our earthly Pastor is merely the servant charged with carrying out God’s will in our midst.  He has submitted his life and his will to the Lord Jesus Christ, and as a result, the Bread of Life literally moves throughout our midst without hindrance.

He also diligently studies the Word of God.  His study of the Word is intensive and intentional, and his eyes are continually opened in new ways to “old” verses and passages.  He is open to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit in not only his life, but in his studies.

He is also unafraid to ask listen to and ask questions of others around him with regard to scriptures.  He truly wants to know what others have gleaned from the scriptures and is constantly seeking more from God.

I read Luke 2:46 today which says, “Now so it was after three days they found Him [Jesus] in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”

This is a wonderful example that Jesus set for us.  Vs. 47 says, “And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.”  When we get into the presence of God, when we diligently seek Him in the temple, when we ask questions of and listen to those who are laboriously in the Word, and when we seek answers in His Word, we find understanding and answers.

This Proverb says that fools die for lack of wisdom.  When it comes to learning more of God, we cannot afford to be headstrong, proud, hardened, or unteachable.  We must be willing to submit to Him in order for Him to reveal Himself more and more to us.  We must be willing to consider the teachings of those whose job it is to dig into the Word, find the answers, and guide us through that understanding.

Most importantly, though, we must know the Word and be willing to be led by the Holy Spirit, so that we may, in turn, begin to feed those around us.  People around us are hungry for the Bread of Life, and thirsty for Living Water.  Sometimes it is up to us to release those things to them.  We must feed some people ourselves, but we must have something to offer.  We can’t leave it all up to 1 Pastor.

Dig in so you can dish it out!

jamie

Lovingly forewarned

Pr. 5:12:  “And say, “How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction.””

There are some lessons we need to grab hold of before it’s too late.  In this verse, Solomon is teaching his son the peril of adultery.   (Although this could be applied to any sin that lays hold)  He lists the consequences that come from giving into that sin.  The man’s honor was given to others, his years given to the cruel one, others got his wealth and workers, and realizing too late that he should have listened to instruction and correction, he finally mourned while being completely consumed.

If we don’t have solid long-term thinking in place, we are prone to making poor decisions in the heat of the moment.  This is why we must prepare ourselves beforehand.  Why do you believe what you believe?  Why is it important for you to not engage in certain activities?  Why do you choose to live as a child of God?  You need to know who you are in Christ, and why you are His.  This will help you not to be “caught up” in smooth words, alluring appearances, and bitter lies.

Don’t hate the instruction of the Lord.  Embrace it.  It is freely given.

Don’t despise His correction, or the correction of godly men and women around you.  Children are corrected because they are loved.  Embrace it as something that may, in fact, save your life.

Thank you, Lord, for Your words of wisdom that protect us and bring life to our lives.  Truly You are a Father who loves and cherishes His own.  I am grateful to be called Your child.  Help us, Lord, not to depart from Your perfect words. 

Gratefully,

jamie

For whom are you making preparations?

Pr. 4:3-4:  “When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me:”

Others can teach and encourage our children.  However, there are some things that only we can do.

David referred to Solomon tender more than once.  When the Lord revealed to David that Solomon would build the temple, he said, “Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all countries.  I will now make preparations for it.”  So David made abundant preparations before his death.

He then called Solomon to him and charged him to build the house for the Lord.  He reminded Solomon of what the Lord had told him, and to keep the law of the Lord.  He reminded him that God would prosper him for being obedient.  David then commanded all the leaders of Israel to help Solomon.

Not only did David charge his son to do what he was called to do, but he made enormous preparations to make it possible for Solomon to do his work.  Before the assembly of all the leaders of Jerusalem, David again said that Solomon was “young and inexperienced.”  He called for all the leaders to contribute to the building of the temple.  He let the leaders know exactly what the Lord had said to him concerning Solomon.

In their presence, he also told Solomon, “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of thoughts.  If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but it you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.  Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong, and do it.”

1 Ch. 29:24-25 says, “All the leaders and mighty men obeyed him, and also all the sons of King David submitted themselves to King Solomon.  So the Lord exalted Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel.”

The prayers and preparation of his father, David, set Solomon up for the job to which he was called.  Taking seriously what God spoke over Solomon, David did not just encourage Solomon to fulfill his purpose, he charged him to do it, he made abundant preparations for it, he spoke it to the assembly of all leaders, and he called the leaders to assist his son.  David’s actions spoke more loudly to his son than any words ever could.

We can encourage and speak life, but when we put our money, time, and preparations behind our words, we are making very clear what it is we truly believe.  Others may be able to encourage your children, your family, or your friends, but there are some things that only you can do.  What actions do you need to take today to teach that tender person in your life?

Preparing,

jamie