The Problem With Dads

Dad hugging son

Matthew 3:16And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The Problem With Dads

Not everyone has a meaningful relationship with their dad. Within the complexities of our society, many dads are absent from their children; many more remain in their family but are unapproachable or disengaged or outright damaging to their kids. These Godless actions of dads result in children and adults who are unable to relate to Father God.

Many of these damaged souls hate God, for they resent God, feeling abandoned by Him. These people need us, for we have personally experienced the love of God and have marveled at the beauty of the relationship between our heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior, and God’s Spirit abiding in us.

God’s Beloved Son

God can use us to bring the Good News of God’s beloved Son to those around us that are hurt and damaged by a dysfunctional relationship with their dads. 

Perhaps, you, too, have only bad experiences with your dad or no experience with your dad. Recovery starts with Jesus, with forgiveness, with studying God’s Word to see how the Father loves the Son, and how our loving Father embraces us and desires to bring renewal into the hearts for those that cringe at the thought of fathers. 

Lean In To God

Be bold. Lean in to “Our Father which art in heaven.” And when you pray, pray in the name of the Father’s “beloved Son” with whom He is well pleased.

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Small Things

Mother holding a baby

Oh, be careful little eyes
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
So be careful little eyes what you see

It’s The Small Things

Our lives consist of small things, fleeting moments, activities that barely qualify as actions or events. Yet it is in the tapestry woven by all of these that display our character; our commitment to Jesus. When we pause to look at our lives, the big things seldom accurately depict ourselves.

Within our worlds, people know us as teachers, bank tellers, homemakers, auto mechanics, and so forth. And perhaps within our world, we have achieved something exceptional, or we have suffered something horrible. Nevertheless, we still live our lives moment by moment, day by day. It’s still our small decisions that display our virtues.

See Yourself As God Sees You

If we allow a great success, a great defeat, or a great loss to define us, then we have surrendered ourselves to a thing rather than to our Lord Jesus. Don’t allow something from this world to have sway over your thoughts, intentions, or activities in life. 

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. – Romans 12:3

We aren’t to think badly of ourselves, just realistically, and from God’s perspective. And remember, the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little heart, who you trust.

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Foundations

old house on stone foundation

My wife and I live in an older subdivision. The homes were built during the 1950s with the intent that buyers would live their whole lives in those houses, and many have! Most of the houses have poured concrete basements with the walls built like WWII bunkers!

We, as believers, have a solid foundation. Our lives are built on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ. We read this in Matthew 7:24: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock…” and 1 Corinthians 3:11For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Something that we may not think about when we read these verses is that a foundation is built to hold the weight of the building. Jesus has promised us that He will carry the things that bear down on us if we carry His load, which is light. (Matthew 11:29-30

All around us are people suffering from the crushing weight of their lives. Broken marriages, crushing debt, the loss of employment and medical problems devastate people. Their foundation is sand, so they bear the whole burden of lives. Let’s be sure to share the good news of Jesus with these hurting people. And be sure to tell them that Jesus wants to bear the weight of their lives. He can be their foundation.

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We Must Not Acquiesce

a picture of a cat

Some of you may know that I have a cat named Max. My wife was the one that decided we needed to get a cat, so she got two. That’s just how she’s wired. For all I know, she thought she’d run into someone on the way home that needed a cat so she could say, “Hey, I’ve got an extra. You can choose the one you want!”

Well, that didn’t happen. She made it all the way home with two cats, and they’ve been mooching off of me ever since. And the one cat, Max, turned out to be a dog-cat. He acts just like a dog, but with that, “I thinking I’ll kill my master, now.” twist. He just tried that, but as you can see, I won. 🙂 He’s okay, but I think he’s already looking for his next chance.

I think we all have a little “Max” in us, not the killing part, but the turn-on-a-dime thing. We can have a morning devotional, get to work without spilling coffee (or tea) on us. We can be firing on all cylinders all day at work. Leaving work, we get our earbuds in, crank up our after work P&W (praise and worship), and then for a reason that not another person on planet Earth could detect, the world has pushed our buttons. And then we feel the disappointment.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. – 1 John 2:1 

What we must never do is to give up the fight. We must not acquiesce for we have an advocate, Jesus Christ!

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Point Me To Jesus

post filled with signs

The “Pharisees” of our times have lost all shame, all love of truth, all fear of God. They feel entirely free to use Jesus as a TV character where they can put any words they wish in His mouth and change His character to conform to their will.

If anyone reading this post feels uncertain about their Christianity or has never received Jesus as their Savior, please allow me to point you to Jesus. Grab hold of Acts 4:11-12 for it is the Gospel. 

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

(Here is some guidance for receiving Jesus as your Savior.)

If you hear any message that purports to be true Christianity, test it. That’s okay. It must fully and completely agree with the Bible. And do as God’s Word states in Romans 12:9, “Love must be sincere. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good.” If you’re not sure what is evil, search using Nave’s Topical Bible; it’s free and online.

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A Yoke is a Tool for Work

a yoke of oxen

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)

Matthew 11:29 seems to be a key verse for me. I’ve written several devotionals about this, I’ve even preached this a couple of times and taught this in Sunday School classes. I find so much value in this one verse. Today I’d like us to consider the first four words, “Take my yoke upon you.” 

A Yoke is a Tool

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a boss that was a pleasure to work for, but I was blessed with one. I took a job at a new company so I had a new boss and it was like a breath of fresh air. My boss knew what he was doing.

In my previous job, every day was filled with blaming, politics, and crises. With my new boss, we still had our share of problems, but the attitude was different. We focused on solving problems rather than finding scapegoats. I think this employment experience has helped me to better appreciate Matthew 11:29. 

We Still Have Work

Notice in this verse that Jesus didn’t say, “Take your old yoke off and go play in God’s pasture.” There’s no intent from our Lord that  His followers will be free to wander wherever their hearts take them.  We still have work to do!

We still have a yoke, we still have a Master, and we still have our Master’s work to do. Christ’s promise is that He will not be a cruel taskmaster, He will be reasonable and understanding, and He will ensure that we won’t be chasing our tails; we won’t be exhausted from futility; we won’t be burdened with responsibilities while being withheld from the authority and tools to fulfill our assignments. Jesus will equip us for the work He gives us.

How wonderful Jesus is to those that are His. We find rest for our souls in our work for our Lord. It’s kind of like getting a new boss that’s really good at taking care of His people.

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Secrets In God

a closet

If you are going to tell a friend a secret, Starbucks is the wrong setting. In fact, no coffee shop will work because everyone is listening to everyone else’s conversation. No, to tell your friend a secret, you need to go someplace private. That is what Jesus told us to do when we pray:

Jesus said, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”. – Matthew 6:6

Alone With God

I’ve found that the time I spend alone with God works just like regular friendships; it deepens with time. And with consistency, I don’t have to spend very much time on housekeeping. That way, we have time to intercede in prayer for people, pray for our leaders, our country, our pastor, and so forth. But then there needs to be a time when I speak with my God.

If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly. – Saint Teresa of Avila

I need to hear from God, feel His presence, and share our secrets. What secrets? Well, if I told you… 😉 The truth is that in our intimacy with God, He will create secrets. “Give Joe an extra big tip next time.” Don’t tell anyone what you did. Or, “Tell Sue that you will bring her name before the God of all Creation.” It’s just between Us/us.

Profound Secrets

Sometimes God’s secrets are much more profound. They may deal with your relationship with the Holy Spirit. God may be planting a call to foreign missions in your heart. I personally knew a man that, during his prayer time, God promised to carry him through a difficult time. Less than a week later, he was diagnosed with cancer. God brought him through the medical process, and he is a cancer survivor.

If your prayer time tends to be a “shopping list,” carve out a little extra time to strengthen your relationship with the one true God. You may be surprised at the secrets He shares with you.

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Hanging in the balance

house balanced on edge of cliff

I recently read a sermon by Dr. Elliott of Kingswood University. He made a profound statement about pastors. Here’s an excerpt:

On any given Sunday, in addition to being mindful of peoples’ eternal destiny, the survival of a marriage, the possibility of suicide, choices about employment, how someone will deal with bitterness, unforgiveness, financial ruin or an unwanted pregnancy, all may hang in the balance based upon what we say from the pulpit.

Searching For A Person

Dr. Elliott is right. There are desperate needs all around each of us. So many people are on the brink of disaster, and they’re searching for someone that cares about them; those people are us.

As a disciple of Jesus, we need to be bold (not harsh or insincere). Jesus never hesitated to speak to strangers (John 4:1-42) and draw out what troubled them so they could be healed. 

There is an account about the Apostle John that Saint Jerome recorded. It is said that when the Apostle John was very old, he would be carried on a platform to various churches. Each time, the Apostle John preached the same sermon, which was very brief. He would say, “My dear children, love one another.”

Not Just In The Pulpit

One time the Apostle John was asked why he always preached the same sermon. His answer was, “Because it is the precept of the Lord (John 13:34), and if you comply with it, you do enough.” 

It’s not just in the pulpit, but in our daily walk where we rub shoulders with people that are dealing with their eternity, the survival of a marriage, the possibility of suicide, choices about employment, bitterness, unforgiveness, financial ruin, an unwanted pregnancy; all may be hanging in the balance. Jesus said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

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Eye Salve

Much has been preached and written about the Laodician church. One of Christ’s statements to the church of Laodicia was, “I counsel you to buy from Me…salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” (Rev.3:18) A salve is rather amazing to me because it is placed on the surface of our skin but it penetrates through our skin and attacks and kills the bacteria below the surface.

Laodicia’s disease was below the surface. They may have seemed just fine, but they weren’t. The Christians in Laodicia needed to see their true condition, but the they were too blind to see. At one time or another, all of us need Christ Jesus’ eye salve. 

The first time Christ’s eye salve is applied to us is when the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to ourselves and we see our lost condition for what it is. If we accept Jesus as our Savior, Christ’s eye salve heals our eyes for God’s Word. We see more than just words on a page; as we read we receive Truth through the work of the Holy Spirit. 

The fact is, salve heals even what may not be obvious. If you need healing, even for things that others may not see, ask Jesus to apply His eye salve to your eyes. Then look and see the truth of your need. And then, in faith, pray and act. Receive the healing you need.

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Turn to Me

cross=heart written on a beach

One of the many things I love about marriage is that I have someone that I can turn to in good times and bad, in joy and sadness. I love how my wife strengthens me by the smallest of her actions. I can carry the world on my shoulders if there is peace in my marriage.

Still, whether we have someone that we can turn to or not, we all need more. This world is irrational and cruel. We need someone greater than relationship problems, greater than financial problems, greater than the problems we cause. Every one of us needs assistance.

Out of the love of God’s heart, He gave us His only Son. The Holy Spirit conceived Him. He was born by a virgin. He was reviled by those that were waiting for His arrival. And He was crucified for doing all that was right. Nevertheless, Jesus overcame the world, its injustices, the viciousness of the progeny of Adam, the lies of the enemy of God. 

Jesus Knows Us Intimately

Still, in His majesty and greatness, Jesus loves us individually. He knows us intimately. He cares for us unceasingly. And He waits for our cry for His salvation. He when we are His, He watches to see if we will turn to Him in our joy and our sorrow, in our successes and our failures. He is determined to be there for us, no matter what. We simply need to turn to Him.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

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