On a trip to Norway this summer I experienced something so beautiful. I wrote about it and it was published in Living Better 50 Magazine. I hope you have a moment to read this short article and I hope it encourages you to pray for those in your life that may have wandered.
What is the gift that will not fade?
My two daughters are grown and experiencing their very own adventure of life. While my wife and I are excited about being empty nesters and watching them blossom, it is kind of sad. We miss taking care of them and seeing them each and every day. But in the eternal scheme of things, not seeing them for days, weeks, or even months apart is really nothing. The day is coming when I who entered this world at one point will face eternity. That day is also coming for my kids…yours too. Our sons and daughters will hear from a just and holy, loving God about an eternal destiny. The thought of missing one of my kids in eternity is just unbearable for me.
So, if you’re a parent, I’m telling you, do whatever you need to do. Talk to your kids about their faith and about their futures and about God. And if it’s awkward or hard or embarrassing or you feel like you don’t have all the answers, talk to them anyway! You’re the parent. In addition to talking to them, allow them to see into your heart and your own walk with God. Teach them through your example. Be a great role model.
Role modeling is one of the best ways to reach our kids. What is the example that we are to use to have our kids model after? Here’s an idea from Ephesians 5:1-4. “Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. Coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks.”
This is not an exhaustive list but what a powerful place to start. Paul is encouraging us to imitate God…in other words, let your kids see you acting like Jesus by walking in love! Model purity…they need to see this from us as parents because they are hard pressed to see it from anyone else. And our mouths…the words that come out of our mouth have immense power to give life or death. We should choose words wisely around our children.
Lastly, make the commitment to pray for your kids every day. We live in a world where parents think so much about parenting and work hard to give so many gifts to their kids that are going to fade. There’s only one gift we can give to our kids that will never fade, and that will last for all eternity, so give it. Give it the best you can!
For more posts by men you can go to Dirt, Trucks, and Faith
Today has not been my day. I am overwhelmed with pain and confusion as to what to do. Honestly, I am flat out tired. I feel like I am being buried in a pile of something that stinks really badly and I want out of it. In my 50 years I have learned that life is hard from time to time but in the middle of everything, there is one constant I can count on…God. No matter how deeply I may feel buried in a pile of something that stinks, He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
In Revelation 22:13, God says this about Himself: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. God uses three comparisons to describe Himself. Notice each one is the opposite of the other. God says He is the Alpha and the Omega. These are the opposite ends of the Greek Alphabet. He says I am the first and the last. He is before all others and after all others. The beginning is the opposite of the end. Everything begins and ends with Him. What I mean by God being the “Constant Opposite” is that He is the opposite of our painful circumstances.
He is constant and I can always count on Him no matter how badly my circumstances may stink. I can also count on Him because He is the God of “opposites”. It may seem strange to think that God who is constant could be the God of opposites but it’s true.
Let me explain…
In our weakness, He is the constant opposite. He makes us strong.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
In our brokenness, He is the constant opposite. He brings us healing.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
In our sin, He is the constant opposite. He offers redemption.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7
In our sorrow, He is the constant opposite. He brings us joy.
He will… bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:3
When we are lost, He is the constant opposite. He will find us and save us.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10
When we are tired and weary, He is the constant opposite. He will give us rest.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
On days like today when I feel overwhelmed by heaping shovels of something stinky being dumped on me, I can count on God to be not only my constant but my constant opposite. I know when I reach out to Him, He is waiting to pull me out of it. He will clean me up, set my feet on something firm, and give me strength to keep going.
You too can count on Him to be your constant opposite. No matter what you feel buried in, reach out to Him. He will pull you out of it. In your weakness, He will give you strength. In your brokenness, He will give you healing. When you are caught in sin, He offers redemption. In your sorrow, He brings joy. When you are lost, through Him, you are found. When you are weary, He alone can bring you rest.
God is the beginning, the end, and the constant opposite in all of our painful circumstances. You can count on the God of constant opposites.
*All Scripture used is NIV
Originally posted on Living Better 50 Magazine
With any new appliance, car, boat, or computer, we are given an owner’s manual. Over the years this Midlife Domestic Goddess has gotten a few error codes on her washing machine. Thankfully I can turn to the manual for help and troubleshoot the issue. God has given us a manual for life. It is the Bible. But unlike the owner’s manual for our appliances, we need to read the Bible before there is an error code.
Life can be very worrisome at times. When you have an understanding of the Bible, you will be able to recall the truth of God in a crisis much faster than you can figure out what the error code on your washer means.
In one of the hardest times of my life as a parent I learned how important it was to have knowledge of the Bible. In my brokenness I was crying out to the Lord. I remember lying on my floor in tears, praying that God would help my family in our pain. God reminded me of this scripture. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV) I had read that more than once. When I was wondering how I could handle another day, this verse comforted me. I could go to Him and find rest.
Because I had spent time in the Word of God, I knew that God was reminding me of His truth. I was able to pick up the Bible and with no trouble, go right to that scripture. Being able to recall that one verse led me to more of God’s truth. Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul…for My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
With God, our biggest burden ever was made easier because we could count on Him. If I had never spent time in the Word I would not have known that to be true. Over and over the truth of God guided our family through that very upsetting time. God’s Word can also guide you step by step when you are not sure what you are to do next or your pain blinds you. Psalm 119:105 says it perfectly – Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (NIV)
It is one thing to never open the owner’s manual for your washing machine until there is an error code but it is another to wait to open your Bible until things become overwhelming. Being able to recall the truth of God at any moment is very important. I hope that you make time in the Word of God a normal part of your day. I am currently reading the Bible in a year and I love “The Victory Bible Reading Plan”. There are many “Bible in a Year” reading plans that you can find online or at your local Christian bookstore. Make time in the Word a priority in your life. Don’t wait for the error code.
Originally written for Living Better 50 Magazine.
Some of the biggest lies we believe start with a little bit of truth. If you don’t believe me just take a look at Eve. Thanks to the serpent, Eve bit into one of the biggest lies in the history of the world.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. Genesis 3:1-6
The cunning lie began when the serpent said to Eve, “Did God actually say”, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’? He opened the conversation with the truth of what God said. After stating what he knew to be true he went on to say, “you will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil”.
The enemy took the clear instructions that God had given to Adam and Eve and spoke the truth that if they ate of the fruit they would know “good and evil”. He offered them wisdom. Unfortunately for Eve, he left out the part about dying. Instead he got Eve to focus on the fact that she could be like God. He tempted Eve by getting her to look at something God clearly said was off-limits, the forbidden tree, and convinced her it was something she should be allowed to enjoy.
The enemy is the king of deceit. His goal is to get us to believe that “feeling good” is better than the truth found God’s word. God wants me to be happy, right? Certainly, this must be from God. The enemy wants you to begin to think God’s word must be wrong because of how happy you feel after biting into the proverbial apple.
Getting us to doubt God’s word is his mode of operation. He is clearly no match for God so his only way to hurt God is to cause His children pain. Greed, anger, all kinds of sexual sin, and pride are just some of the things he can use to pull us away from the truth of God’s word. When we realize what we have done, we are ashamed and in pain. This hurts God’s heart. Because God is a loving God he hurts when his Children hurt.
If you find yourself in a place where you believe God’s word is wrong as a means of justifying your choices, you have bitten into a lie. In Christ you have the authority to rebuke the enemy. Tell him to take a hike because you are not going to believe the lie he has fed you.
The first thing you need to do is start with a prayer asking God to forgive you for doubting His word and thank Him for loving you so deeply. Now take the lie you have bitten into back to the Word of God to see what it says. As you read the Word and discover the truth, ask God to help you let go of the lie that the enemy has fed you. Ask God to give you the strength to resist the lie when the enemy tries to suck you back in again. Trust me he won’t just walk away, he is going to put up a fight.
He will come at you with things like this: “You know you liked the way it made you feel” or “If God really loved you He would want you to be happy. He would be okay with you doing this”. There is also his famous “God is not fun” approach, “He is always making you give up what you like.”
Everyone is going to be faced with temptation and lies from the enemy. Eve wasn’t the only one to take a bit out of the apple. What the enemy is offering may be pleasing to the eye but all it takes is one bite and you have fallen for the lie. Choose wisely because believing one lie pulls you out of the will of God and onto a path of destruction.
The thick layer of frosting swirled perfectly on top of the cupcake was calling my name. I’m a frosting girl. One bite into that cupcake, that looked so beautiful, led to instant disappointment. Underneath the frosting was a very dry cupcake lacking any flavor.
We can very easily be just like that dry cupcake. On the outside we can frost ourselves with our cross necklaces and bracelets. Over our shoulder or on our arm we may carry a beautiful purse that is adorned with a silver-studded cross. Maybe there is a pair of cowboy boots decorated with a turquoise cross that you have your eye on.
One thing we need to remember is, no amount of jewelry or clothing worn on the outside is a true reflection of our walk with God. I am not saying we should not wear things with crosses. I have a cross necklace that I wear almost daily. In my closet hang items of clothing with crosses and I do want a pair of cowboy boots with a cross on them. No matter what we wear on the outside, it is not as important as what is on the inside. We need to make sure that what is on the inside is not dry like the cupcake I bit into. No amount of frosting could ever cover up how dry and bland that cupcake was. And no amount of cross swag worn on the outside can hide how dry and bland we may be on the inside.
Cooking is not one of my strongest giftings. More than once I have forgotten to add the salt to what I was making. Forgetting to add the salt to a batch of chocolate chip cookies can change the way they taste. I can’t help but wonder if some salt would have helped improve the bland taste of that cupcake.
Scripture teaches about the importance of salt.
” For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:49-50 (ESV)
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13 (NIV)
Salt not only adds flavor, it is also a preservative. We are told to have salt in ourselves. If we are not salting ourselves with the peace, love, kindness, gentleness and truth of God, we will become dry and bland in our walk. Just as salt preserves, God preserves. We need to make it a point to not lose our saltiness. No amount of frosting could make that dry cupcake taste good and no amount of outward religious swag that we adorn ourselves with will ever hide our dryness in God’s eyes. Sure the world may think we are Christians because we wear a cross necklace but God looks at our heart.
Don’t just frost yourself… salt yourself.
In closing, l will leave you with this prayer.
Lord, I pray whoever reads this will have a love for You that is much deeper than their outer appearance. May they be salted from the inside out and filled with the peace, love, kindness, gentleness and the truth of You, God.
Originally posted on Living Better 50 Magazine.
Who likes to go to Costco and get the free samples? I sure do. You wait in line for a minute, grab the sample, say thanks and move on. It’s easy; no thought behind it and it’s free food.
What if we treated communion like that?
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” (NIV) If we believe that to be true, then we understand that sometimes we are going to have to make a correction in our lives. I want to look at a correction that Paul gave to the Corinthian church; it might be one that you need to make. I know it has been for me.
If God’s word is living and breathing, we need to take the warm fuzzy stuff right along with the words that can be hard to hear at times. With that being said, let’s look at the correction Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29.
For I (Paul) received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. (NIV)
Paul is quoting Jesus when He says, “Do this in remembrance of me.” When we take communion, we need to do it in remembrance of Jesus and think about what He did for us and why He did it. I am embarrassed to admit that I have done what Paul is correcting the church about doing.
I have approached the table with my mind going in a bunch of directions like I do when waiting in the sample line at Costco. I grab my communion, say thanks, pop it in my mouth and move on like I do when I grab a Costco sample. The correction and conviction I have found in this is powerful. I am guilty of what it talks about in verse 28. “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the break and drink of the cup.”
There have been times I have taken communion without giving a thought to the fact I stumbled over my pride or anger just days before. I forget the tidbit of gossip I spoke earlier that week or that I have a list of things to be thankful for. A simple “please forgive me and thank for what You have done” was either forgotten or spoken with little conviction.
I am not trying to make anyone feel bad but we need to be reminded that communion is not just a habit or ritual we do when we come to church. It should never be treated like a snack at Costco.
Communion is a time to fellowship together and to remember what Christ did for us and all He will continue to do. It should be approached with a heart of thankfulness and reverence. Take time to really examine your heart and focus on Christ. You are not in the snack line at Costco. You are approaching the table of the King of kings who gave His life for you.