Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lessons from a Girl- who isn't even 2 years old

Being a grandpa is awesome and it's even better when you get to see the grand kids every day in person. That happens when everyone lives under the same roof. That's on purpose.

We have 3 babies, Job will be 3 Aug 5th, Ruthie will be 2 Sept 17th and EllaBeth is just over a month. There are some busy people in this house and the noise level is pretty high at times. 

Each of the little people have their own personality and character traits. While there is overlap there is also uniqueness a-plenty.

Ruthie is the subject of my lesson this past few weeks. How can someone who is not yet 2 years old teach an old guy like me things about God? Add to that the fact that she can barely talk and this gets even more poignant. 

You see Ruthie is the sweetest, bright-eyed, steal-your-heart-with-a-smile kind of girl. She is full of life, busy all the time and very decisive. She knows what she wants and is very happy to tell you repeatedly what that is. She is also happy to tell you what she doesn't want and if she doesn't get that pretty quickly you'll definitely hear about it. 

As my first grand daughter she has stolen my heart. That's the way it's supposed to be. So what's the lesson.

More often than not she wants her mama or "Gigi", who is grandma. Apparently when I am not near by she is asking about me all the time and seems to be very interested in knowing what I am doing, but when I am around she often is not interested in any advances of affection from me. She just walks off and says "no". 

You might say, "Get over it, she's not even 2" and that would be understood but there is a lesson here she is teaching and she'd like for me and you to get it. 

She's teaching me how I often related to my Heavenly Father. He lavishes all good things on me without reservation, longs for the closest of relationships with me and yet often I am too busy doing my own thing. He is constantly showing His love and affection to me and yet I am looking the other way, thinking I know what I need while He is offering what I truly need. 

I am not trying to give Ruthie bad things or things that will make her sick and yet she is not that interested in what I am offering but instead thinks she knows what's best. 

Hmmm, I am often "Ruthie" in my relationship with The Father. 

When she turns the corner and is once again kind and sweet, I of course am excited to continue the relationship and lavish all my love onto her, which she then happily accepts: for the moment. It's my delight to get to show my love to her. 

The Father's unconditional love looks the same way when we have been doing our own thing, going our own way and seeking our own pleasure. When we return He is excited to start anew. He doesn't push us away or make us go "think about it" for a while. He lavishes His kindness and love on us once again, just like I am so excited to be loved and needed by Ruthie.

Just something to consider. 

“The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Chosen Children- Faithful Father

Do you have children or grand children? Have you ever heard one of your children crying, without having them in a direct line of sight, and known that it was them? When your kids are in the backyard you are often watching them out of the corner of your eye to make sure they are ok, but as they grow up we don't need to watch them every second because they can fend for themselves. While they are learning to walk we are watching them VERY closely, hovering over every step.
With that in mind, read the following verses. 

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.

The Father doesn't have a capacity issue with having to stop watching His kids that are grown so He can focus on the "ones who need it". We all need it no matter our age. 

 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.

Can you imagine the joy He recieves when He blesses His :righteous ones"? Read that again, He is "ATTENTIVE" to their cry. He delivers them out of ALL their troubles.

Do you ever get into a place where you think that the trouble you are in is over yoru head? I know I do. We are to cry out for then he hears and delivers. 

The Psalmist then goes on to say that He protects all the bones of the righteous and not one is broken. We are unbreakable until He allows the break. We are immortal until He decides we are not. 

What a passage Psalm 34 is for those who are suffering in so many ways: and people are suffering.

Oh you His chosen child, are you suffering some affliction that seems too great for you to overcome? The righteous WILL have affliction, so if that's your lot at this moment then be thankful. The affliction is exact what we each need for Him to bring us closer to Himself. 

I'll let the Psalmist close with these couple of verses. Pretty powerful stuff here. Blessings and lacking no good things are what are in store for those who take refuge in Him. 

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weight is Heavy, Knees are Weak

Nighttime

Weight is heavy, knees are weak
Work day and night, wallet springs a leak
Two steps forward, 3 steps back
Makes one wonder, "am I on the right track?"

Is this the way, it's gonna be?
Will we once again, ever run free?
Life is hard and then you die
Need is great, where's the supply?

Cattle on hills, a picture tells
Current existence, kind of smells
Life as we know it, looking bleak
Weight is heavy, knees are weak 

Ever wonder where God is taking you? Ever wonder if you really are doing what He has intended for you to do and if this is what He "best" is for you then why does it seems so futile? 

Do you sometimes feel that you are in a limbo contest and God is holding the stick and you believe you have just passed under the lowest possible measure and then you see the stick go down another notch?

"When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."


Singing this song has previously been easy and then I am realizing that the fire, the same one that I have said "God controls the degree and duration of the flame", is still fire and the gold is not excited about being in the fire and the flame is doing its job, but when will the fire subside?

"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;" 

Ever read these verses and wonder how much closer one can get to the edge without falling over?

Morning
I'll leave you with this from Tim Challies "Crushing Weight of Glory"

"Christian, do you know that morning is coming? Do you believe it? 
In all the pain and weariness and suffering and trauma, in a world of so many trials, it is so easy to be full of despair and to give up. Paul himself was sometimes close to giving up. When he wrote the church at Corinth he spoke of a time where he experienced some kind of trial in Asia. He wrote, 'We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. We felt that we had received the sentence of death.' He was fragile. He was afflicted, he was perplexed, he was persecuted and he was struck down. But hold on.

 
Why? Because he trusted in what Christ had done and he kept his gaze fixed on what Christ had promised to do. Even the heaviest blow would some day be deemed a light and momentary affliction when he experienced the crushing weight of God’s glory in the presence of God. He had no greater hope than that. You and I have no greater hope than that. Hold on to that hope, hold on to God who gives you that hope, and you will endure." 



Monday, March 10, 2014

One, to Be and See His Glory

John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

As I read these verses my heart is full that Jesus would be praying these words for us; His Bride in the future.

He knew that in moments His betrayal would move to full swing and He also knew where all this would lead His disciples. He knew much better than they what was about to take place and His shepherd's heart is on display.

You can feel His compassion for His sheep as He says "Father", "given me", "perfectly one" and again "O righteous Father". His desire is that His sheep will know the Father as He knows the Father and He knows this will happen through His word and through the unity that the Spirit will bring to His people. 

Imagine leaving your kids and grandkids for the last time- what words would you use? Jesus' desire was for the reunion to take place so that His sheep could see the glory that His Father had given Him. 

He knows how good it's going to be in Heaven and He is excited for ALL those whom the Father has given Him to be there with Him forever. 

the unity that we have as believers is one of the things that the Spirit uses to bring others to Christ and Jesus knows this; He's praying to the Father that each one of us would know this and desire to have unity with the Body. This is important enough that it's some of the last words we hear Jesus say before He goes to the cross.

Read the short paragraph again with the understanding of how close the cross is and with the idea that it's you leaving those you love. 

God placed us in this exact spot for a purpose and a major part of that purpose is to show the world we are one. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Children's Children- "True financial planning begins with eternity and works backwards."

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
    who walks in his ways!
 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
    you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.
 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
    who fears the Lord.
 The Lord bless you from Zion!
    May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
    all the days of your life!
 May you see your children's children!
    Peace be upon Israel!















A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.

I've been thinking quite a bit about leaving a legacy these days. Maybe it's the amount of time I spend thinking about financial intelligence, maybe it's the coldness of winter or maybe it's that the grand-babies will be here for Christmas and I think about what kind of country we are going to leave for them.

Regardless of the reason it's stuck in my brain, there is a call for us to leave earth a better place than when we got here. We can talk GMO's, Obamacare, central banks and the stratospheric topics but I believe on a more granular level there are things that don't seem so far from reach that we can do as we pass the baton to the next generation, but it takes purposeful thought and planning on our parts.

It's not all about money and living and leaving life is more than a monetary issue but the unfortunate part about life today is that we need money to live. There aren't many who are living on 1000 acres, that have a alternative energy source and are truly off the grid enough to go without having some sort of monetary transaction on an on-going basis; it's just where we live and it doesn't seem to be changing direction anytime soon. Plain and simple- we need money.

But again, it's not all about money and how would it be if money was something low on our list of things we had to think about? How would it be if your organization needed to raise $1m to purchase something and your family could plunk down half or all of that because you believed enough in the endeavor to be that benevolent? That could change things around the board room table or the kitchen table.

Imagine what it must feel like to think and give on those kinds of levels without having to wonder if you were going to make it next year. Imagine if that was you right now; maybe it is and if so, good for you. Seriously.

But for most people they are not living in that kind of world they are living in the world that saw 6 million people in the US fall into poverty since 2004. That's not the kind of legacy we want to be leaving.

So what kind of legacy to we want to hand down to future generations? If it's not all about the money but they will need money to live and give where's the balance?

My dad never really had lots money and I have never had what would be considered lots of money either, though neither of has been without basic necessities. Growing up there were lots of chores to do, we worked in the berry fields and the picked green beans, we canned lots of things each year to stretch the dollars, though we didn't know that then, and just generally lived on a lower budget than some other folks. 

One of the things I learned from my dad without him ever "teaching" me was generosity. We didn't have a lot but everything we had was open to those who had need. I remember us bringing grocery bags full of produce that we grew in our garden to church to share with others and how excited dad was at Christmas to give some very special thing that cost way more than was necessary but was what one of the kids wanted; like the year I got a new 10 speed.

What are your children's children going to learn from you and what are you going to leave for them to deal with? Are they going to be dealing with the weight of a mess or the weight of having big shoes to fill? Are they going to be dealing with trying to survive financially or figuring out the best ways to increase the inheritance you have left for them to manage.

Just the other day I had someone say, "I don't want to leave my kids a bunch of money because I want them to know how to work". Are you kidding me? I wanted to slap this person-but I didn't. I've had enough money to know that it's still work to be a good fiduciary. Just because someone has way more money than they can spend in a lifetime does NOT mean that they automatically don't know how to work, in fact they probably understand hard work more than someone who doesn't have any money.

Our job is to set up the next generation for success as much and in every way possible. Whether that's in teaching them to be good stewards of the money, earning lots of money, being generous, making as many disciples as God allows, building schools and churches that are full of God-worshippers or showing them that leaders serve and sacrifice, in all those things and more we are to leave them something to build on and with.

I leave you with this quote:

"True financial planning begins with eternity and works backwards." 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Here and Now

Doing things that make little difference is unfulfilling. 

How can we bring value to the lives of the greatest amount of people on this planet while we have breath? 

I've had so many blessings already in life and what I'd like to do is share what I've learned with others so they can experience the same joys. Making a product that adds some benefit to other's lives is fine but I'm looking for more than that. More than something that is a benefit today but will grow dim tomorrow.

What if?
What if we could do something for others that would truly change their world from today forward? What if after meeting with us others walked away changed forever. What if that change was so significant that they had to share it with others who were also changed. 

Helen Keller said, “Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another's pain, life is not in vain.” 

There is so much pain in the world, so much suppressed anger and fear. There are also those who, in oblivion, walk through life thinking that everything is going to come out fine even if there is no preparation for what is to come; both in this life and the life to come. 

We don't know what tomorrow will hold, for us personally or for the planet. We are to prepare as best we are able, to not live in fear of what may or may not come and to go about our business as if every success we have depends on us while praying that God would bless all we are doing. There's no room for pride in this life because it's all a gift and we are just the receivers. 

Both

Some get great wealth and little happiness. Some get the opposite. Some of the most joyful people I have met were lepers in Ethiopia living and gathering food in the city dump. Who is most blessed? The one who has great wealth and no joy or the one who has joy in all circumstances? Wouldn't it be awesome to have both, not either or?

Jesus came that we might have life and to have it in abundance. It's interesting in that passage, John 10, that He dumps that right in the middle of many "I lay down my life" statements. Do you suppose He's trying to say that bringing abundant life requires laying down our own? 

Those who hoard wealth miss so much blessing in their own lives. Hoarders actually mess up the economy. As strange as that sounds, those who keep for themselves stop the economic flow. Being generous actually helps the economy and it certainly help the giver, as it is more of a blessing to give than to receive.  

Helen Keller also said, “If the blind put their hands in God's, they find their way more surely than those who see but have not faith or purpose. ” We are not necessarily to have faith in people because people are going to let us down. We are to have faith in God that even when others do let us down that He will make it right and take our labors and give them purpose. 

The Toll Collector
What kind of purpose can the toll collector have? Really, think about this one. The person who sits in a little box and collects change. But when you pass by the one who gets their purpose in that spot you understand exactly what I mean. Are we that person or are we the kind that is lost in thought, lost in bills, lost in our own relationship issues and misses the 1000's of opportunities that pass by our booth each day?

“I wonder what becomes of lost opportunities? Perhaps our guardian angel gathers them up as we drop them, and will give them back to us in the beautiful sometime when we have grown wiser, and learned how to use them rightly.” Helen Keller again. We can only hope that we get a second chance at some of these.

We are told to number our days as that brings wisdom. So thinking about the future is good for our souls but not to the point that it make us pessimistic or fatalistic. We have much to look forward to even in the midst of the craziest storm clouds on the horizon- and there are some serious clouds brewing for us these days. "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope.” Yup, HK.

How could she be so prolific in optimistic quotes? She had joy inside of her circumstances rather than desiring to be beyond them. 

God gives us each a torch to carry through life. I'd like mine to be bright enough to shed light into a few generations. What's your purpose and are you making the most of it today? What if we CAN change the world and we miss out because we are too busy? How can combining our purposes increase our world changing opportunities?

Are you ready to change the world? We got start somewhere/sometime. It might as well be here and now. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Privileged Position

King for a Day 

If you think about what landed the king to the position and what kept them there for any length of time then being a king had to be somewhat scary.

There were kings who inherited their kingship and those who took it by force. Some gained it because someone in their family passed away and some lit there because a relative was killed. Some went to the neighboring kingdom and took the position from the previous monarch. 

For those arriving on the throne via the violence method it had to be scary putting your head on the pillow each night. Who could you trust? What was going to happen in your world today that would end the trust that you once had?

Royalty and Responsibility

This says nothing of the responsibility that came with the position. Let's say you landed on the throne by the most honest and upright method- now what? All these people are looking to you to provide for their needs. All these people are complaining about paying you to build an army to protect them all the while you are trying to balance what to pay the soldiers who are leaving their families to protect the freedoms that the others enjoy at home each night while the soldiers are off fighting. 

There had to be some amazing things that came along with the territory but being the king was probably not all it was cracked up to be. And once you were the king how did you get out of that role? Someone came along and took it from you. It could have been by the sword thrust into your own body or into all those around you leaving you no option but to submit yourself and all your subjects to the next ruler. Could there have been anything more humiliating than this?

To Provide and Protect

Think about this, I actually do all the time. You are in a position of leadership and all your people are looking for you to protect and provide for them and now you are unable to do that. You were, at one time, at the top of your game and all of a sudden the game has changed and you're no longer at the top but rather at the bottom. The problem is, the people are still looking to you for guidance, direction and leadership and you might wonder what kind of leader you are yourself. 

They say you never stop being a parent and this analogy may have been true for the kings as well. Once a king, always a king; until death do you part. 

As I think about kings in Biblical times rising and falling, sinning and confessing, falling down and getting back up, I am struck with the notion that being a dad, boss, leader or king comes with almost all the same weight. Your people are looking for you to lead even if you feel very unqualified and inadequate. 

Royal Requirements

The thing that woke me up in the middle of the night to write this is the following; we all have cycles and we often have no idea where those are going to lead us and our people. Our people are looking to us even when we have no idea what to do ourselves and so when that time comes what does God expect from us?

I think it's in this passage from Micah 6 

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

It seems that at the end of it all God knows exactly how much we don't know or can't carry and so He dialed it down to this- Be Just. Be Kind. Be Humble. That seems too simple but maybe that's His point. 

Whether you're the king or a servant the time may come when you are saying in your heart or even with your mouth, "God, what do you want from me?" and the answer may be as simple as this; "but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."