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Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Dear God, I got to see an old friend for a few minutes yesterday and part of our conversation was about being a dad. We both expressed our joys and our disappointments. I think both of us had very, very high expectations for how things would work out and what decisions our children would make. It feels like you are shaping us into a greater understanding that we have to trust that there are things going on that we don’t see or understand. We have to pray for what we want, make the best decisions we can out of that communication with you a d then put our faith in you for the outcomes.

Thinking about Joseph and Mary, I wonder how their parents felt about them and how their lives were turning out. What? You’re (She’s) pregnant? You’re staying in Bethlehem? Your going to Egypt? I doubt the “holy family’s” lives were going the way their families had hoped.

Father, help me to truly bless my children. Now that they are out of the house, help me to be what they need, to look to you for their lives and to have faith that my prayers are making a difference regardless of what I see in the physical world. Help them to both be submitted and you and fill them each with the freedom and peace that comes from laying down their lives and following you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

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Posted by on June 18, 2018 in Ephesians

 

Psalm 68:4-5

Sing praises to God and to his name!
Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.
His name is the Lord—
rejoice in his presence!

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.

 Psalm 68:4-5

Dear God, I know some children who feel fatherless. I know some children for whom Father’s Day is painful (adult children and minor children alike). I know some father’s who ignore Father’s Day altogether. As humans we experience a lot of wounds over the course of our lives. Some of them we cause ourselves, some of them are caused by others, and some of them are just life happening to us.

The reality that can often be hard to see is that you are our father above all other fathers. And what we receive from you is love. Yes, to some extent there can be provision, but that comes as it fits your will. But the real thing we experience from you is that love that is indescribable if we will just stop and receive it through laying down our lives and taking up your yoke and cross.

As I was typing this the children’s song “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart” came to mind.

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart (where)
Down in my heart (where)
Down in my heart
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart (where)
Down in my heart to stay
 

And I’m so happy, so very happy
I have the love of Jesus in my heart
Down in my heart
And I’m so happy, so very happy
I have the love of Jesus in my heart 

I’ve got the peace that passes understanding
Down in my heart (where)… 

And if the Devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack (Ouch!)…

Father, happy Father’s Day. For everyone out there that cannot stand this day for one reason or another, I pray that you will guide them. Love them. Help them to feel your presence and submit to the freedom that is available to them through letting go. Heal the brokenhearted. Tangibly love those who feel unloved. Your involvement in our lives as our father might not always look like we want it to look, but I know you are there. I worship you for that.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2018 in Psalms

 

John 15:12-13

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:12-13

Dear God, the first step in loving others is to take my eyes off of myself.

Last night, I did one of those things some adults do that can be the biggest generator of insecurity we will experience as Americans, I went to my high school class reunion. I went to school with some very nice and good people so the evening was pleasant and I ended up staying at the bar where we met for about four hours—and the time passed quickly. But the emotions I experienced leading up to the evening are striking me now as I sit here.

  1. Will anyone remember me?
  2. Will the people there be anyone I can talk to?
  3. How do I look?
  4. How does my career stack up?
  5. How do my kids compare?

I can see where others might be concerned about things I take for granted like if they are divorced, still a closeted homosexual, have failed careers, gained a lot of weight, etc.

I think there are two things at play. First, for whatever reason, we care about what these people from X-number years ago think about us and how they judge us. Why do we care? Second, we judge ourselves against the best of each person’s life, not taking their struggles into account and we feel like we don’t stack up. I might take this person’s career, add that person’s kids, and throw in this person’s house, and put another person’s appearance on top of that and then see how my life compares with the combined ideal person.

I found myself experiencing a lot of these insecurities as I was driving to my hometown yesterday, but thankfully, I was able to take the last 30 minutes of the drive to pray to you, worship a little, and get out of myself. You were giving me an opportunity to love. You gave me an opportunity to be vulnerable. I could take my life and share the flawed parts with people. There was no reason to put any veneer on anything. In fact, humility would be a way that I could be free from Satan’s desire to make me ashamed of myself and to help others who might be experiencing shame. I purposed to try to be a good listener last night and to share my shortcomings. I don’t know if I made a difference in anyone else’s life, but I can honestly say that I had a good time.

Father, I’m going back to the second evening of events tonight. Help me to live up to this passage and love my former classmates. Help me to be willing to lay down my life for these fellow alums of my high school. Shine through me—not in a holier than thou way, but in a loving way that will draw any of them who are experiencing shame to freedom.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2018 in John

 

Proverbs 23:24-25

The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise. So give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy.

Proverbs 23:24-25

Dear God, I read verse 24 and instantly felt the pressure of a parent. I immediately asked myself if my children were godly and judged myself accordingly. But then I read verse 25. That verse flipped my perspective and put the pressure on the child. “So give your father and mother joy!”

I feel a great dichotomy within myself when I think about my parenting. On the one hand, I cannot count or enumerate all of the mistakes I have made and continue to make. And on the other hand, I have no regrets when it comes to my effort as a father. I can say with confidence that I gave it and continue to try to give it my best shot, and that includes praying for my children and trying to continue to be appropriately involved in their lives as adults.

Father, help me to move beyond the self-condemnation I experience when it comes to my parenting. At the end of the day, I am fortunate to have two very smart children who have the right to live their lives, make their choices and learn from both their good and bad decisions. I trust in you that the prayers I send up to you for them reach you and you take note of them. I have faith that their lives might not be problem-free (no one’s is), but they will ultimately glorify you. Also help me to surrender any of my personal hopes for them that are built around stoking my own ego. That isn’t fair to them and it isn’t healthy for me. And it is disobedient to you because your plans for them are not mine. The truth is, if Jesus’ earthly father Joseph had been my son I would have been very disappointed in how his life turned out. What a fool I can be.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2018 in Proverbs

 

Opportunities

No verse.

Dear God, my dad went to the funeral of a friend of his whom you used to, if not change the direction of his life, at least help set the course for a life that you had for him. That was about 30 years ago.

I don’t know which came first, my dad meeting this man or reading his book, but this makes me think about pivotal moments in our lives and how we almost always never see them coming. For example, tonight my wife and I are going to a special event that has to do with the movie we saw on what turned out to be our first date 29 years ago. I say “turned out to be” because that’s how she referred to it this morning. We thought we were just friends. Neither of us thought we would be married to each other 29 years from now.

Things happen to me every day. Some of them stick and some of them don’t. I guess the question I need to ask myself is, am I ready to be part of discerning moment to moment if you have an opportunity for me, or will I just let your presence pass me by and miss you.

Father, I’m grateful I didn’t miss the moment 29 years and seven days ago. I’m grateful for so many things. At the same time, I’m sorry for the opportunities you put in front of me that I failed to do. Help me to be so tuned into you that my life will be exactly what you want it to be.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2018 in Miscellaneous

 

Luke 11:5-13

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Luke 11:5-13

Dear God, the verse of the day was verse 13, about knowing how to give good gifts. But I don’t know that I’ve ever paid much attention to the context of this verse before. Just before verse 5 is the Lord’s Prayer. Then verse 5 says, “Then, teaching them more about prayer, he told them this story.” So not only did Jesus teach us the parts of prayer through the Lord’s Prayer, but he also taught us persistence. He even intimated that our persistence might change your mind, capping it with the idea that you won’t give us anything that is bad for us if we are coming to you.

Yesterday, I told someone a story about me asking you for things back when I was unemployed in 2005 and you denying them to me. I was so frustrated at the time, but then I learned that you were making me wait until you had the thing that was really good for me ready for me. I think one of the keys to how I was praying was that I kept asking for things, but doing it within the context of submitting to your will. Now, I was frustrated, to be sure. There were a couple of times that I was angry with you for not either giving me something I wanted immediately or clearly telling me which path to pursue. Someone asked me at the time what you were teaching me through the experience, and I responded that I didn’t think I would know that until it was all over. That turned out to be true.

Father, the lesson I learned back then that I continually forget now is that you have our timing and it is almost never my timing. My job is to stay focused on the present. I have things I petition you for every day. There are relatives and friends for whom I pray. There is my work. And even though I don’t necessarily see progress being made on some of my prayers, I have learned to be at peace through my persistence and the knowledge that you are good and things will work out the way you want them to. So today, in this moment, I thank you for that reminder and submit to your plan (and the timing that goes along with that).

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2018 in Luke

 

Psalm 19:1-4 & 1 Samuel 8

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.

Psalm 19:1-4

Dear God, if the Israelites has done it right back in 1 Samuel 8, who would David have become? I know it doesn’t matter because that’s not what happened, but I’ve recently wondered if he might have been the next Judge after Samuel. Everything about his relationship with you, his prophetic ability, and his concern for others suggests he might have been.

And if he had been Judge instead of King, what would his life have been like? He would probably have had a different married life and different children. His life would have been simpler and probably better in a lot of ways. To some extent, I think the power did corrupt David. It certainly corrupted his lineage.

The thing we all strive for—power and wealth—really is a false idol. Instead of peace it offers paranoia. It’s like giving a cola to a thirsty person at first or tastes great, but it only leaves you thirstier. What percentage of Americans are on antidepressants as opposed to those who live in South America? Shouldn’t one of the wealthiest countries in the world have the happiest people?

Father, I think of David writing the worshipful psalm and I can’t help but wonder what might have been. I’ve never wondered that before the last few days, but the more I think about it the more I’d love to know. You warned the Israelites about what a king would do to them, but you left out the part about what being king would do to the person. Help me to take my eyes off of worldly idols and simply embrace the beauty of the sky and all that you have made above and below it.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2018 in 1 Samuel, Psalms