Man in the Mirror

I have found myself often early in the morning looking at a reflection. The person on the other side of the looking-glass could scare fleas off a dog. Perhaps if his hair had been more kept or even if his eyes were so bloodshot.  He would be looking as if he didn’t know how he got into bed last night. I know, it doesn’t sound hyper-spiritual.  Stick with me though. You never know where this could go.

Every morning I get up, I go to get ready for my day.  I look in the mirror and make sure that I don’t have gobs of sleep stuck to my eyes.  I also make sure that the hair I have in my head is mine and not strands from my cat, wife, or kids. I look in the mirror and I reflect on what I need to look like for the day.  I make sure that I reflect the image of a successful person.

I have to admit I have been struggling though. I have not been the Godly daddy that I should be.  There’s a mirror that I often fail to reflect on each morning. There’s a mirror that I often have to dust to get even see a reflection in the morning.  I won’t promise or even have a new year’s resolution on it.  There is always room for improvement but thank God I am doing better than I used to.

This mirror, the Word of God, is the litmus test of who I am to become. In James 1:21-25, James wrote on not just listening and reading the word but actually doing it.  In verse 23-24 he writes “For you, if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.”

It’s so easy to look at the mirror in the morning to remove all the junk from your face and hair but the minute you walk out the door, you tend to forget what junk you had to remove.  It’s not on the forefront of your mind for today’s agenda.  I don’t want to be like that when it comes to God’s word.  I want to always remember what I looked at in the mirror so that I can be improving not because I am under some kind of law but it is because I love the One who chose to love me regardless of what I see.

As I reflect on the man in the mirror, my prayer is that he will be a reflection of Christ.  I pray that my children will see their father as a reflection of the Heavenly Father.  I want to be the Godly daddy that I have been called to be.  I don’t want to be weighed down by law, however, I want to be weighed down by His love.

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God’s Not Impressed By Your “Do”

Have you ever been driven by results? As a man, I have to admit that I hate to fail.  In creating this blog, I feared that it would never take off….and it still may not take off.  What I can tell you is that I am driven.  I want to see my Google Analytic results going sky or the sales on our site increase.  Nothing could set me up for what God had in store for me next.

One thing that I have never been able to shake up until recently is work.  I have always been driven by works.  I was always worried that someone was upset because I didn’t do good enough.  If someone was upset, I would take on the responsibility for their unhappiness not realizing that I was trying to play the part of God.  Let me explain.

Growing up  I would say to God “If you will…I will…” “If you do…I do…” thinking that I could manipulate God into doing what I wanted to do. The only problem was, God doesn’t go by what we do but what He has already done. We often, as Christians, have a works oriented mindset. We find ourselves walking down the road negating what happened on the cross. We decided our eternal destiny by standing on what we can do when Christ already conquered in turn trying to take the place of God.

God has not given us the authority to work our way into grace.  He already conquered it on the cross long before we even decided to sin or fail.  Before you and I were even knit our mother’s womb, God decided to send His Son to die for the sins that you would commit long after you were placed on this earth.  The authority of grace lies in the cross and in the cross alone. Without grace, we would find ourselves lost and deserted. Instead, because of the cross, we can now find ourselves free.

Grace does not give you a get out of hell free ticket or a free ticket to sin. No, grace causes you run from sin. Grace causes you to want to show love to the Father. Grace causes you to come to Him instead of shying away from Him. Beyond Grace? Now you can see Him in a new light.

The Seed Does Not Return Void

A while ago, we pulled into the church parking lot and I was prepared to drop everyone off at the door when all of a sudden the hood filled with steam. It is never a good sign to see the steam fill the hood and the thermostat reading hit overheated. I parked the van just to watch it drain coolant down the parking lot ramp. I went inside and got our seat for church then headed to get our classroom set up. I had our tithe in my pocket and needed to fill out the envelope. Here’s the crazy thing; I didn’t second guess myself in giving our tithe. Why? It’s not mine to keep. It is holy unto the Lord and I refuse to rob Him of it.

It may come across as being extreme for some who read this. However, I learned very early on in my journey as a Christian that when I put the seed in the barn, I will have plenty left over in the end. I am not saying that you should be irresponsible with your finances. What I am saying is that there will be times that you will find yourself in a place where you just know that you have to plant the seed.

Not long after this occurred, we were given money above and beyond what we needed to repair the van. Never wavering, we have seen God move mountains with our little faith. There are times where I know it would be easier for me to doubt God than to trust Him. Then, He shows up and shows off.

Have You Forgiven God?

 

        It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?  We all know that when we ask God to forgive us, we have received His forgiveness.  But what happens when God does something to tick you off?  I know what your spiritual mind is saying, “I would never be mad at God because God is good.”  Let us be honest with ourselves and think about the last time that we were mad at God for doing something that we didn’t like or didn’t do something that wanted Him to do.  Sure, it is all in His will and in His timing. But our flesh cries out in anger when it doesn’t get what it wants.

I was taken to the book of Ruth for this question. Everything in life as they knew it was grand.  Elimelech and Naomi took their family and moved to the land of Moab.  It was there that their children would marry the Moabite women and begin their lives.

Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.”
Ruth 1:3-5

Naomi was left with her two daughter-in-laws alone in this place.  All that Naomi had longed for and lived for was snatched from her hands when her husband and children died. So bitter, that she changed her name from Naomi to Mara which means “bitter.” Why was Naomi so bitter? Let’s read.

“So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked. “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.  I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me? So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest.”
Ruth 1:19-22

Going through changes always raises the eye brow of the unexpecting passerby.  You know what I mean?  You try to quit smoking and so now, you have decided to have only gum at your desk.  Next thing you know it, you are the Super Bubble King of the world.  That person who used to bum a cigarette off of you now feels awkward and abandoned by your treason.   The past several years for me have been marked and marred with changes.  For you, a change is just something you find in the seat of your car.  For me, it’s a lifestyle.  It’s more like Jon Acuff’s Quitter, I have become a serial changer.  I may have to adapt a Change: Closing the Gap between your Cushion and Your Checkbook. I have discovered the art of frugality.

      Since 2006, I have found myself going from single, broke, confused, and daunted to married, making ends meet, enlightened, and daring. But I have had to make changes in my everyday life to serve the purpose to which God has put into my heart.  In order to do that, I have to change relationships, change jobs, change houses, change lifestyles, etc.  To the average Joe, I am a changer.  I constantly am going through change and probably will do so until the day I go home.

Something that struck me is that without change, my life would be boring and I would be broke.  Change is the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit that lies within me.  Without change, I would find myself wandering alone on a deserted road wondering what to make out of life.  It’s not just me who is addicted to change.  Ask the average Christian and we will tell you that we are addicted to change.  We change churches like we do clothes.  We change music styles to cover the real music we like.  We change our clothes because we would hate to be seen wearing a Camel’s shirt.

This thought was brought on by a book I am reading called Developing the Leader within You by John Maxwell.  In that, I read “to be a leader you must preserve all through your life the attitude of being receptive to new ideas.  The quality of leadership you will give will depend upon your ability to evaluate new ideas, to separate change for the sake of change from change for the sake of me. –William A Hewitt.”

For the sake of you; change is vital.  We must change to better ourselves as a society, as a people, and as a person.  God did not develop the human mind to stay the same but to change.  How so?  In Galatians 6:15, we read “It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. God doesn’t so much care about your denomination, your cross, your Jesus Juke, etc.  What they want to see is that change in you.

With that said, have you forgiven God for allowing the doors of these difficulties to be opened instead of closed? Have you changed your name from Naomi to Mara? Or have you taken that sorrow and made the change of heart towards something greater?

Your Hope Will Not Be Disappointed

You will be rewarded for this;
   your hope will not be disappointed.
Proverbs 23:18

Could you imagine this promise from God’s word coming to pass in your life? Knowing that if you don’t give up and if you persevere, that your hope is going to be rewarded should be the catalyst of your faith that God will fight on your behalf.  I love the fact that God, in His infinite grace, brings us out of the despair and in the hope that we will overcome.

What is this hope that is talked about all throughout scripture?  The best definition that I have heard is the “confident expectation of something good.” I am not just expecting something good. I am confident that it will happen. I am grateful that we are given the expectation of something good in our lives otherwise we would be doomed to sorry for the rest of our lives.

 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
  but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life
Proverbs 13:12

 

If God’s word is so explicit on what hope is and how it affects our lives, would not the God who put the word into action fulfill that very promise?

 

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.  Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:19-20

 

       Hope isn’t something that is flippantly written throughout God’s word. It isn’t a “well I hope it happens” or “I hope that it comes through.” Hope is a powerful word that we can be assured that God will fulfill in our lives.  Will it happen automatically or quickly? I won’t yes because that is not entirely true. More often than not, hope fulfilled takes time. Patience is at practice here because we don’t always see it happen right away.   I have seen in my own life that it came to pass sooner than it should have.

       I have always wanted to be married and a dad. It was my dream growing up which I looked forward to. For a while, I thought it would never happen. I eventually swore off dating and decided that I was destined for singleness. A bit extreme, but that is how I felt at my young age. Not long after I moved to St. Louis, I met my beautiful bride in an unexpectant way and not in my timing. Not long after we met we were married and began having our family.  Sometimes, God will use a move or something unexpectant to fulfill the hope that is in your heart.

       If you are losing hope or feeling hopeless, know that you are not alone. Even now as I type this, I have struggled with having hope that anything better could happen for our family. Just like you, I have to remember God’s word and pray.

Instructions

Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
 All day long I put my hope in you.
Psalms 25:5 NLT

I walked into the store to grab something for the car. Looking up and down the aisle, I found what I thought was what I needed. You and I know that men are not known to ask for directions. As I began to walk away but felt prompted to look down at the item. Boy was I glad!  The item I bought said not to use it on certain car parts and one of those parts was one I was working on!

I got to thinking – how often do I go about my life without looking for help or looking at the directions on a product? What about in life? What about in relationships? There are so many things that I don’t know about in life. I can still hear my Granddad telling me, “Will, there are libraries full of books on things that we don’t know.” In life, we need a great reference to help us to learn, to direct us, and to show us a better way.

In a way, it almost seems cliche to say that the Bible is our instruction book. As a Christian, it is ingrained in us to know that the Bible is our instruction book and our guide.  But that is not what this post is all about.  It is about using what you have. We have been given the instructions that we need to get through life. I often have found myself wondering and asking questions only to realize that I never used what I had to find that answer. It is like needing directions to a city yet not using your GPS to get the directions. The Word of God guides us to help us to get to where we need to go.

I have, many times in my life, been guilty of not taking time to read God’s Word. The best thing that you and I can do is to take the time to read the instructions. If we don’t take the time to read the instructions, we have no idea what to do with the situations in life.

I grew up thinking that the Bible was a bunch of rules of dos and don’ts only to realize that it is vital in helping me get through the difficulties of life. Without reading the instructions, I would be lost trying to find my way.

By the way, I found the right product that I needed and it worked amazingly!

 

 

 

 

 

When Dad Prays

“Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.”
Psalms 5:3 NLT

I am truly blessed with three little prayer warriors. I was working on dishes one night when I heard Joanna say “Ouch! I hurt my knee.” Without a beat, Olivia walks over “Thank you, Jesus, for healing Joanna in Jesus Name Amen.” What you may not know is that at that time my Olivia is only 1 and my Joanna is 3. Yeah, I am proud of my kids. All three of my children have learned at an early age about prayer and its effects.

Where does this come into play with when I pray? The great thing about it is that their mother is a prayer warrior. Wait.  Where does this come into play for when I pray? There is something that you need to know.  I struggled with prayer.  To me, it was a duty more than a conversation with God. Not only that, I found myself praying with a spirit of skepticism. I prayed to the ceiling and wanted a result from something or someone that I had no relationship with. There’s my confession of the day.

I found later in life that my relationship with God is not God’s issue, it’s mine.  It is my fault if the disconnect occurs, not God. God didn’t decide one day “I don’t want to talk to Will so I am going to ignore him.” That is not in the character of God. In fact, when we sin, God, doesn’t leave us.

“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5 NLT

God is by your side through thick and thin.  When I pray, I am reminded that the Author of our lives is right beside me.  I have to remind myself even when I am going through my everyday life, God is speaking to me. “Will, have you have gone off the deep end? God doesn’t talk to people.”

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 NLT

When I pray, I know that God hears me. God is listening to His people.  I am inspired by God because He doesn’t hold a grudge or fault against you when you come to Him (see James 1:5).  He is ready.  What does this have to do with “When Daddy Prays?” Because when daddy is in prayer, the heavens are moved, Jesus is interceding, God is listening, the doors of heaven are opened, the cries of the people are entering into the throne room of Heaven, and God is responding.  Friend, if you aren’t communicating with the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Almighty God, then you are missing out on a great conversation. This is a conversation that you will not be interrupted, you will not be challenged on your heart, nor will there be a dial tone because of a hang-up.  God is listening to you.

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