A simple question asked of men seeking access through ancient gates to the safe haven of castle grounds. After this past week, it seems to be a question that percolates subconsciously about every person I walk by. This is understandable but it is also very much an over-reaction. The ENEMY is always going to be around. My over-reaction not only feeds his desire for more disruption, it inhibits the effectiveness of order and good that exists. This past week the Boston police along with the people of Boston and other state and federal agencies used the order and good prevalent in America to take care of the enemy. Clear discernment between friend and foe resulted from level headed response and rational action.
The Word on ENEMY is:"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' The slaves asked, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No; for while you are gathering up the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the weeds and bind them in bundles and burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn."' - Matthew 13:24-30.
The enemy is real. Over-reaction to his presence can cause a lot of collateral damage. Just as the weed among the wheat, the enemy will show who he is. He will be recognized, maybe even profiled, gathered, bound and burned in time. In the meantime, we are to stay alert, discern well and act rationally with confidence we are barn bound.
A faithful father stands firm with the full armor of God on & discerns well to keep the enemy at bay.
Prayer guide: Lord, the enemy shows up in all sizes and shapes. We have now experienced a glimpse of what some parts of the world see almost on a daily basis. We pray for the families dealing with death and injury this week, may they feel Your comfort and peace. The enemy will always work to stir up fear through physical, emotional and spiritual attacks. But he only has as much power as we grant him. Strengthen us in the name of Jesus the Christ, one man, one family and one church at a time to stand firm with the full armor of You on, to discern well and keep the enemy at bay. Amen.
Or have you been busy? BUSY-ness tends to blur the blessings by keeping our focus on the next deal, the next promotion or on that elusive quest for financial security. We can get so tuned into the journey of self-improvement, self-promotion and self-motivation that it just seems natural to take the next step to self-glorification.
As Christian men we are called to be God-glorifiers. The man that counts his blessings of relationship with the Lord and with his wife glorifies God as he enjoys his marriage and family. The man that counts his blessings of godly men the Lord has surrounded him with enjoys His presence in friendships and ministry. Even when blessings come well-disguised with the loss of a loved one or a health challenge, it is important to remember that God is at work in all things for those who love Him (Romans 8:28), and to walk in that confidence.
The Word on BLESSINGS is:"You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; ... You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. ... By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you," - Ezekiel 28:12-13,15 & 18
Taking blessings for granted is essentially self-glorification. Just as Adam thought he could have it a bit better, to be like God, a spirit of discontentment percolates to convince that there is never enough of whatever we're striving for, be it financial security, power over a situation or the perfect relationship. We are called to be God-glorifiers, praising Him for all the blessings we enjoy and reflecting a countenance that points to Him.
A faithful father counts his blessings daily and reflects the Father more each day.
Prayer guide: Lord, forgive me for getting caught up in myself. I have taken blessings for granted and called them accomplishments. I have justified my will as Your will and proceeded in my own strength. Thank You for meeting me where I was. Thank You for providing clarity around the blessings You have granted me in relationship with You, in marriage and in family. And thank You for the power granted through the Holy Spirit that helps me navigate through busy-ness in the world. By Your grace I can enjoy Your presence, feel Your pleasure and reflect You more each day. Amen.
In his book, Come On People, Bill Cosby with co-author Alvin F. Poussaint, emphasizes the importance of family and community as keys for strengthening America. The vision cast is a simple one, that restoration of core family values, a mom and a dad accepting responsibility for raising their children, can help a generation transition from being victims to victors. When the two authors visited several major inner cities to share this vision, the reception was not always warm. There was little political correctness from these veterans of life and in some circles their vision was criticized as an oversimplified response to today's complex problems.
My first exposure to Bill Cosby was in the 1960's with a comic routine he called "Noah!" In Noah's workshop God spoke to him saying, "Noah! I want you to build an ark 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits." Noah responded, "Right! ... What's a cubit?" The conversation did not go well and soon you began to hear the rain starting. It was a classic. I find it ironic that some forty years later Mr. Cosby takes what is on his heart to several inner cities and says, "Come On People, family is important!" The response seems to be, "Right! ... What's a family?"
One thing I feel Mr. Cosby has taken very seriously over his career, particularly with the hit sitcom, The Cosby Show, is the importance of family and the need for positive role models.
The Word on FAMILY is:They have treated father and mother lightly within you. The alien they have oppressed in your midst; the fatherless and the widow they have wronged in you.- Ezekiel 22:7.
At the top of the list of detestable practices in Jerusalem was "treating father and mother lightly," or with contempt. It is contrary to God's plan - He set the standard in Genesis 2:24, "...a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh;" He gave the reason in Malachi 2:15, "...And why one?Because He was seeking godly offspring;" and He perpetuated that order with the fifth commandment, Exodus 20:12, "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." The family - husband & wife, father & mother with children, was not to be treated lightly in Jerusalem nor is it to be in society today. God is serious about family.
Prayer guide: Lord, I thank You for the blessing of family. It is an awesome responsibility to be Your representative in the home. Forgive me for selfishness that sometimes abdicates that responsibility to others. My wife and I take the roles of father and mother very seriously and pray for You to strengthen us in our daily example of right relationship with You lived in marriage. Help us prove to be honorable in raising the next generation by Your grace and for Your glory. Amen.
A faithful father prioritizes family and is engaged with Mom in raising a godly generation.
There is a lot of reconnecting going on these days via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and email. The kind of reconnecting I enjoy in this ministry is seeing a dad meet with his son after a rift in their relationship resulted in several years of silence, and watching a dad work to engage emotionally with his daughter as their relationship started to drift during her teen years. Technology almost encourages taking relational connections for granted. My challenge to dads is to dedicate some time with the Lord via knee-mail and follow His lead to create opportunities for reconnecting with a loved one.
The Word on RECONNECTING is:"Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"- John 20:17.
On that first Easter morning Jesus reconnected what had suffered disconnect in the Garden of Eden - relationship with our Father. This reality was a game changer in my life. My heavenly Father helped me accept my earthly father for doing the best he could with the cards life dealt him, including service in WWII, and embrace His word as the history to reference for decisions and relationships in front of me. The Lord enabled me to move beyond a focus on overcoming my father's example to focusing on His example.
Prayer guide: Lord, thank You for the second Adam, Jesus the Christ that completed the work You sent Him to do, to reconnect us with You. Your unconditional love for us is a powerful example to follow as a father. Help me love as You love and create opportunities to reconnect when life happens and causes some degree of disconnect in relationships dear to You. Continue to be with me and flow through me as the man, husband and father You call me to be. Amen.
A faithful father reconnects daily with the Father through time in prayer, scripture, worship and study.