I was reminded of a powerful memory this morning.
When Jack was first born Leighanne and I were overjoyed to have a little boy. We were and still are crazy about our girls but the male addition to our family brought great joy.
One pre-dawn morning found me crawling out of bed to tend to the cries coming from our nursery across the hall. After the diaper change, a bottle, and a few moments in a rocker Jack was asleep in my arms. It was a magical moment. For years I had known the love that a father has for a daughter but not until that moment had I felt the love of a father toward a son. It’s not that it’s a greater love or even a different love. The profound sense that flooded my mind is that I had never been a daughter but I had always been a son. As a great sense of God’s presence filled the room I realized for the first time the love of a father for a son or more directly the Father’s love for me.
This morning as I was driving Jack to school I reflected on how much I love him and instantly the Lord spoke,
“Remember, that’s how I feel about you!”
…as I was once again in that nursery rocking Jack to sleep.
Please remember that you have a heavenly father who cares for you deeply.
He’s not angry, or spiteful but is as 1 John 3:1 describes him when John wrote…
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
Can you picture yourself in his arms as he lovingly holds you and radiates his love and affection for you? He absolutely feels it, can you?
Have you ever thought about where inspiration comes from? As I was getting ready to writes this morning’s blog I began to think about it. The reason that I was thinking about it was that it seemed to me that I didn’t have any.
Some days it’s very easy to write. Things just come together and what I call inspiration seems to be around every corner. Other days, like today, it’s hard to find something that I think will speak some measure of hope or encouragement into your life. I bet you know exactly how that feels. You know when the day-to-day cares of life overwhelm the sense of God’s presence. This week I’ve got a couple of extra things on my plate. My youngest daughter is getting married this weekend. In case you haven’t done that recently or ever, it can get a little crazy.
Some of you are aware of the really big fire that occurred in downtown Alton on Saturday. One of the businesses that was completely destroyed was the baker that was making the wedding cake. Cake paid for, one week out, no cake, wife and daughter flipping out… you get the picture. The list that my wife gave me of things that I need to get done before Sunday has 11 items on it plus preaching Wednesday and Sunday.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m having a blast and the wedding will be awesome, but sometimes life gets busy and if I’m not careful, God’s presence can be number 12 on the list.
Yep, it even happens to me. I’m reminded, once again of Psalm 46:10…
“Be still and know that I am God.”
Hey, maybe inspiration did come! Maybe it, just like the Lord was there all the time.
I was reminded today that I had not given you a report on our Tae Kwon Do testing. We both passed! Jack is now a green belt and I am a blue belt.
Today we are working on budgets. It’s column after column of numbers from the past three years. Examining where we’ve been and projecting where we will be. You may think that this sounds boring but nothing could be further from the truth. I love it! It feels as if because of the diligence that we put in now we will be prepared for both the highs and the lows and because of that preparation we’ll be able to do greater things than ever before.
The thought occurred to me that it’s the same in our spiritual life. Almost all of the details of what tomorrow holds are a mystery and yet we can predict certain things because of what the past has been.
- Nothing will happen that I cannot handle. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ” (1 Corinthians 10:13,ESV)
- I will have everything I need. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ” (Philippians 4:19,ESV)
- I will never be alone. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6,ESV)
- My end will be better than my beginning. “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2,ESV)
Do the budget of your life and you will find that you have a really great future ahead of you, regardless of what tomorrow holds!
Do you ever feel God’s presence? I do.
In fact I feel His presence particularly profoundly today. You might ask “What does it feel like?” To be honest, it’s different things.
It’s a deep abiding peace that gives me great confidence in His love and care for me.
It’s an awe that arises as I see things that were there unnoticed yesterday.
It’s an overwhelming sense of gratitude as I hear the breath sounds of the little bed thief that crept in at 5AM.
It’s the flood of memories that sweep into my mind as the outside temperature matches that of Germany, our first home as a couple.
It’s the sound of the wind blowing through the trees as I sit in our church’s prayer garden writing this.
It’s the building excitement of knowing that all my children will be together in a few days for Hannah’s wedding mixed with the sadness of the eventuality of her moving away.
Overcome by the thought of one day being in His presence.
One thought leads to another.
Introducing my children to their grandfather, my dad who died before they were born…One day…What a day!
It’s joy, mixed with tears, mixed with expectation, mixed with excitement, mixed with hope.
It is the very best of what this life holds with the expectation of something so much better as to be unimaginable.
Paul said in Ephesians 1:14 that the Holy Spirit was the “earnest of our inheritance”. Or said another way that God’s presence is the down payment of what heaven will be in its entirety.
It’s good, poured on top of wonderful, covered in awesome.
It’s life and hope and peace and joy and love and grace and mercy and acceptance and kindness all wrapped up in right now, wherever.
Yep, I’m an addict! I’m not looking for a cure.
I earnestly hope that you experience God’s presence today. It’s the best part of this life.
Have you ever been excited about a test? Tomorrow Jack and I are both participating in testing to move forward in our Tae Kwon Do. Jack is testing for his green belt and I am testing for my blue. From the tests that we have participated in and watched in the past, we expect it to be hard but we also both expect to do well.
The reason that we expect to do well is that we go to class two nights a week every week. Then we practice kicks, forms and a thing called one-steps several times a week as well as stretching every day. In short, we’ve done the work so that we can be ready for the test.
Notice with me if you will 1 Corinthians 3:13 where we read…
“each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. ”
Wow! Now that’s a test. Did you notice that this is not a test of salvation, but rather of a believer’s WORKS. The word for works here is the Greek word ἔργον (ergon) and might be better understood by thinking of workmanship or how a person does a particular job.
1 Corinthians 3 is a picture of the coming of the Lord where we will give an account of HOW we have been serving the Lord. This test like everyone before it is nothing to be feared if you have been coming to class and doing your homework, but if you’ve been cutting the spiritual classes the Lord has put into your life then this test is the ultimate one to fear.
You might say, what about grace from the last post?
Remember this is not about salvation but bout an account for how we lived our lives. Those that would teach that grace removes accountability have taken it too far. Grace places us in God’s family and in God’s family like every family there are expectations of the family members. Grace will not and does not remove the accountability of being a part of God’s family, in fact it increases it!
Are you getting ready for your test or are you cutting class?
I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about hardship. More simply I have been thinking about the word “hard”. I’m sure that most of you will have seen the commercials by Staples that feature the “easy button”. Remember it’s the button that takes something really hard and magically makes it easy.
It occurs to me that “easy” and the pursuit of it is at epidemic proportions in our nation. Have you ever thought about why “hard” has become so vilified while “easy” seems so virtuous?
To prove my point think about how we categorize things that come to our lives. For the most part everything that we consider easy is good and therefore part of God’s blessing in our lives and everything hard is bad and is either a result of sin or a direct attack from Satan on our lives.
And yet throughout the scriptures as well as the experience of our lives the best things in life are hard-fought.
Some of the things I am most proud of came at great effort and sacrifice. My time in the military was filled with challenge and things that could only be categorized as hard. I value them deeply today.
Through hardship we grow strong, we develop character, and we learn discipline.
Therefore, I am starting a new habit. Do something hard every day. Find something no one else wants to do and do it! If the world is going to be reached for Christ in my generation there are going to have to be some people who are willing to look a hard thing right in the eyes and with determination and intent launch into it. Rather than look for the easy, look for the hard. It won’t be hard to find. It will be the thing sitting all by itself while the crowd is gathered around the easy thing.
God, like the United States Marines is looking for a FEW GOOD MEN and WOMEN who are looking for something hard to do!
I heard a great explanation early this morning that I thought I would share with you today. Have you ever been a little confused about the whole Old Testament Law versus grace discussion?
In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said…
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
The reason that this is a particularly interesting topic to me is because there is a church not far from ours that believes and teaches that there are aspects of the Law that we as Christians should adhere to very closely. They believe that if you do not keep the feast days as well as the Sabbath regulations then you cannot please God. In essence they have combined Christianity and Judaism.
So which is correct?
Are we still bound by aspects of the Old Testament Mosaic Law? What did Jesus mean when he said that he was not getting rid of the law but fulfilling it?
Here’s what I believe.
Consider a mirror. In fact, Jesus even used the metaphor of a man looking in the mirror one time. In reference to your face being dirty, you go to a mirror to find out. You look in the mirror and it reveals to you the dirt on your face, but you don’t use the mirror to get clean. In similar fashion the law can point out what sin is, but it can do nothing to remove that sin. Jesus does that and that is what he meant when he said that he was fulfilling the law and one who is clean has no need of the codes and ordinances of the law!
It feels great to be clean doesn’t it?