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Ultimately Accountable Accounting

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Why is it that when we’re accountable to another person, we’re more apt to follow through on a promise or commitment? Why are we more likely to succeed when we share our struggles with another person and then walk through those struggles together than when we try it alone? Why are we less likely to give into temptation when we’re with someone else than when we try it solo?

I don’t know about you, but I imagine many are like me in that I don’t want to let the other person down. Years ago, I spent twelve weeks eating right and working out six days a week with a goal to lose weight and improve my health. I was successful in losing 65 pounds largely in part because I did it with a partner. I woke up early and met him at the gym several times a week. We worked out together more times a week than we did alone, so I knew he would be able to see if I’d been faithful to stick to the plan on my own when we couldn’t get together for a few days. I knew he would be at the gym at 5:00am, and I wasn’t about to give him opportunity to rib me for making an excuse to not be there on time, ready to go. The desire to not let him down motivated me to follow through on my commitment, even though it required a big sacrifice on my part. And I know from conversations with him that he felt likewise about his commitment to me…he didn’t want to let me down by not being there.

Likewise, when I recently joined a discipleship group with seven other men, I knew that we would meet once a week to review what we’d learned that week in our personal study time. And I knew that I would be asked questions that required my having completed the daily workbook assignments for the week. I am accountable to the group for committing to them that I want to grow in Christ and having expressed that I’m willing to take the necessary steps to become a true disciple of Christ. I don’t want to let the group down by not following through on my promise. That desire to not let the group down motivates me to sacrifice daily to meet the objectives of the study. And I know from conversations with at least one of them that he feels likewise about his commitment to the group…that it’s easier to make the sacrifice when he knows he’s accountable for his actions during the weekly gathering of us all.

Talking accountability with my accountability partner and good friend this morning really has me asking the question…”to whom am I really accountable?” In my head, I know the answer is God. Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” I’m accountable to God for how I live this life He’s given me. I’m accountable to Him for whom I share the news of Jesus with. I’m accountable to God for my choices and my actions. I’m accountable to God for fulfilling His command to go out and make disciples…to love Him and love people. (John 13:34-35) I know this as head knowledge, but have I made it heart knowledge? Am I living this knowledge out? To whom am I really living my life accountable to?

Why do I find it easier to resist temptation and stay the course when I have a human accountability partner than when I don’t? When the alarm went off to wake me for my morning workout alone, why was it easier to hit the snooze button and roll over when I already knew I’d be working out alone because my training partner couldn’t make it due to his work schedule? And now as my discipleship group takes a brief break in weekly meetings, when the alarm goes off at 4:50am to wake me for my daily quiet time, why is it easier to roll over and hit the snooze button when I know I’m not immediately accountable to a friend for having spent time with God daily?

Really, when I do that haven’t I just told God “I’M too tired to meet you right now…I’ll make time for you later…around MY schedule…I’ll come to you when I’M ready.”

Why is it easier to make excuses when we (I) don’t have someone in our (my) face pushing us (me)? Are we (Am I) really that unbelieving and unfaithful that we (I) need visual confirmation of that which we (I) say we (I) believe? Isn’t Jesus enough? Isn’t the thought of letting HIM down enough to motivate us (me) to resist temptation and get out of bed to meet Him daily? Do we (I) really need a human accountability partner when we (I) have Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Isn’t Jesus THE ultimate accountability partner?

I pray daily He is…that He continues to grow inside me so much so that my desire to not let HIM down outweighs my desire to not let man down. Because in the end, you and I are not standing before man to be judged. We’re standing before a God that is holy. Righteous. Just. Faithful. A God that knows no sin. THE God whose Son took our place in death so that we may see life. And when He stands to defend me, I want to know Him so well that I can say “YOU!! You, Lord Jesus, are my accountability partner, and I claim YOU as my Lord and Savior.”

I pray this for you too…is He your accountability partner?

Love,

Dad

P.S. After reading this again, it seems that I’ve asked more questions here than provided answers. I think maybe that’s okay…because I’m okay accepting the reality that I don’t have all the answers. This I can say with certainty. Don’t mistake your making Jesus your ultimate accountability partner with forsaking your finding of an accountability partner here in this life. While we are accountable to God first and foremost and long to live a life that reflects that, we need people…other believers…in our life to challenge us to be better. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”Ecclesiastes 4:12

The If Changes Everything

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I’m reading through Exodus this month, and although I’m pretty familiar with the stories, something stuck out this morning that I had not known before now.

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I knew that God led the people of Israel through the wilderness rather than a more direct route out of Egypt. And I knew He took them that way so that His glory would be known through the parting of the Red Sea. But one word hit me like a rock this morning. Did you see it there in the picture above? No? look again.

And that one word changes everything.
Two little letters, “i” and “f”, when combined to form the word “if“, change everything. “If the people are faced with a battle…

This is the God of miracles!
The God of Abraham. The God who raises the dead and commands every living thing. The God who delivered Jonah via a whale! The God who breathed the world into existence and numbered the stars! Here, He’s brought His people out of Egypt and is directing their path with a pillar of cloud and fire! He’s getting ready to part the Red Sea for crying out loud! And here He says, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” Really? I get that the Israelites were slaves for hundreds of years and not ready for battle, but you mean to tell me He can’t lead them through the wilderness while simultaneously clearing the wilderness of all potential enemies?

I don’t buy it.
There’s a reason for the “if”. I know He took them through the wilderness to bring them to the Red Sea and deliver them from Pharoah’s army by parting the waters…so that all the world would know He is God. Yeah, He could’ve taken them a more direct route and done things differently. But He didn’t so that His name would be glorified through the various miracles He would perform. I get all that. But the if

I’m stuck on it.
That’s the thing with God. He doesn’t want us to be stuck on the things we can’t understand. There are just some things we’ll never know. Reasons for Him leading us down a particular path that we’ll never understand on this side of eternity, if ever at all. Reasons unknown to us for putting a road block in our path that force us to change paths.

Do you dwell on the what if’s?
What if I’d gotten that job? What if my wife hadn’t left me? What if I’d been a more involved father when they were young? What if I’d turned left instead of right? What if…if only. Yeah, I struggle with that sometimes too. We’re human after all.

What if instead we recognize what we should be recognizing. That God is God, and we are not. Because knowing the reason for the “if” changes everything, and the knowledge that comes with that…I could not handle.

Love,

Dad

The Tomato Soup Changes Everything

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I tried something different today. I’m not a soup guy, but my throat has been sore…so I ordered the creamy tomato soup, hoping its warmth would provide some relief as it went down. And as I sat down to enjoy my lunch at Panera Bread, I jumped right into my normal routine of checking emails and browsing the web as I ate…ya’ know, the monotonous, time-consuming activities to keep my self-diagnosed ADHD mind constantly moving. Because simply enjoying a meal while doing three other things simultaneously just isn’t normal for me…it ain’t right. And then a fleeting thought popped into that over-tasked head of mine. Am I alone in my constant need to be multi-tasking? Are there others like me…people who just find it difficult to sit and do nothing but eat? What do those “simple-minded” folk do when they eat? Just eat?

So I tried something else different today. I put my phone down. Now if you know me…or are anything like me…you know that me doing that is like asking a bird to not fly south in the winter. It just ain’t normal. But I did it anyway. After the initial shock to my system, I began to notice something. Something I rarely see most days. I saw people. I saw the people all around me. I saw:

  • coworkers on a lunch break,
  • a businessman eating by himself,
  • a mom on a lunch date with her two young daughters,
  • a college student studying while he ate,
  • an older gentleman leisurely reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee,
  • friends meeting up for their weekly get-together,
  • a pregnant woman picking up lunch to take back to her coworkers at the office,
  • a business meeting between two coworkers and a prospective client,
  • a husband and wife enjoying their lunch break together…what may well be their only hour together as husband and wife between work today and their kids tonight.

And as I watched, I began to have a heart for complete strangers that I’ve never had before now. You see, I go through my day, completely immersed in what I need (or want) to do at any given moment. Me. Me. Egocentric me. At any one time, a perpetual to-do list is running through my head as I’m running through my day. I go from task to task, focused on what I need to do to accomplish my goals for the day, and I rarely take time to just stop and notice what (and who) is around me. Yes, I’m that guy that’s got his head buried in his phone as he’s walking down the street…or through the store…or pretty much everywhere I go.

I’m connected in so many ways, that I’m actually very disconnected. We’re living in a fast-paced, non-stop society where the pressures and demands for our time are constantly vying for our attention. The tools we have at our disposal now to keep us more connected than ever before are actually creating a disconnect that, I believe, is contributing to the moral decline of our country and the disconnected state of our communities. We’re emailing, texting, IM-ing, Facebooking, tweeting, and pinning like never before. And although it allows us to connect in ways we’ve never been able to connect before, all that virtual contact with others is breeding up a generation that doesn’t know how to connect with people. And even my generation is losing its ability to really connect with others on a personal level. I am losing that ability. I’m losing it because, like any skill that’s not used, you lose what you don’t use.

Connecting relationally is crucial to our survival, and I fear that I’ve unknowingly been sucked into a world where it’s become all too easy to be connected without connecting. Every single person in that restaurant with me at lunch today has similar goals to mine. I have to admit, though with some hesitation, that it was kinda fun to just sit and watch, wondering what their story is. I found myself really studying each person, asking what brought him here today? Where is she going? What’s going on behind the scenes in their lives? Do they have school-aged children like me? What health concerns is he facing? Will they make that sale to the prospective customer? What’s he hope to do once he’s out of college? What’s his passion and how is he going to change his part of the world?

And as I began pondering those questions, allowing the warm tomato soup to soothe my sore throat with each bite, I was able to better see the hurt. The pain. The despair. The joy. The loss. With each bite, God revealed to me that it’s not enough to sit behind a phone or computer and expect that our communities and country will miraculously turn toward God and be restored. If we want change, we need to go out and be that change…and that might just call for something as drastic as ordering the tomato soup and disconnecting so that we can connect.

So…what will you do to connect with the people you encounter today?

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:37-39

Love,

Dad

A Burning Bush Moment

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#1. “But Moses protested to God…” – Exodus 3:11(a)

#2. “But Moses protested…” – Exodus 3:13(a)

#3. “But Moses protested again…” – Exodus 4:1(a)

#4. “But Moses pleaded with the Lord…” – Exodus 4:10(a)

#5. “But Moses again pleaded, ‘Lord, please! Send anyone else.'”- Exodus 4:13

Here’s Moses, standing before a bush that’s on fire…but not being consumed by the fire…and it’s talking to him, no less!! Once he knows it’s God, he still doesn’t fully trust. Five times, Moses protested, finally pleading to God that He send someone else. Anyone.

We wouldn’t be that mistrusting would we? I mean really if a burning bush is talking to us claiming to be the one true God and calling us to do something, we’d jump right on it, right? Well, my question to you is this…what is God asking you to do? Have you pleaded that

1. what He’s asking of you is too big for you?
2. you’re not qualified?
3. you’re not worthy?
4. you’re too busy?
5. He send someone else?

Guess what? You’re right. To a point.

1. Out of our comfort zone is precisely where God wants us…because when we realize it’s bigger than our ability to do it alone, we have no choice but to call on Him for help…and to give Him the glory afterward.

2. God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

3. You’re not worthy. None of us is. God doesn’t NEED us to do anything. He WANTS us to serve Him…because we want to, not because we have to.

4. & 5. If not now, then when? If not you, then who?

Not everyone gets a “burning bush” call from God. And even if you did, would you really believe it was God anyway? Or would you stand there talking back to and arguing with a fiery bush? So stop waiting for it, because while God can certainly talk to us through a flaming bush if He wanted to, He sent us His Spirit after Christ’s death on the cross for us. And it’s the Holy Spirit – dwelling within us – that He uses to call to us. All we need do is turn off the distractions of this world and slow down so we can hear Him. And then trust Him to do His part in it all.

Love,

Dad

So…what is God calling you to do? Are you pleading your case or jumping on board? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Will you pray this prayer with me today?

Gracious and holy Lord, I pray that I can put the worries and distractions of this world aside every day so that I can come into closer fellowship with You. That I can hear the whisper of Your voice on my heart and know with certainty it’s You. I pray, oh God, that when I hear Your call, I would have the courage and passion to follow where You lead me without question. I long to know and follow hard after You. Dwell within my heart, soul and mind that I might always feel Your presence. I pray this in the blessed name of your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

No Longer Bound

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I close my eyes and the darkness envelopes me
I open them so I don’t have to see
that which lives in the dark…the memory
that crashes over me like a wave at sea.
 
 
Sleep evades me in the dark of night
as the fire inside threatens to ignite
an inferno that is too big to fight
alone…I need to stay in the Light.
 
 
In this pain, I feel isolated…alone
and every fiber of me…my every bone
longs to forget…to dethrone
this thing that makes me groan.
 
 
I asked for this…signed on the dotted line
never believing the things I’d see would haunt and confine
me to a state of paralysis…like standing on a land mine
waiting to blow me into the divine.
 
 
I don’t ask for pity, not gonna continue to go on
I have a Savior who loves me enough to have gone
to the cross and been raised on the third dawn
that my sins…and this pain…would one day be gone.
 
 
Wiped clean by the blood
of the Lamb, I pray come and pull me from the mud
of my past. Come over me now like a flood
oh Lord, and create a new life that will bud…
 
 
Inside me and push to the ground
all of me…so that when I look around
all I see and feel is You, crowned
with all authority and no longer bound.
 
 

Love,

a Dad and a child of God

A Mile High on a Rusted Coffee Can

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It looked fun…at first. From the bottom looking up, it looked like a nice, leisurely ride to the top. I bet the view from up there is amazing. And the only thing standing between me and the top of this mountain peak is a mile of cable line and one tram ride. And the voice in my head yelling “are you out of your mind!!??”

If you’ve ever had a fear of heights, then you’ll understand when I say that standing at the base of a ski lift that traverses over a mile straight up the mountain to an elevation of nearly 4,000 feet can be a daunting view. Looking around and seeing more rusted bolts and dry-rotted boards than I could find in an abandoned lumber yard as we make our way to the loading area does little to reassure the growing-louder-by-the-second voice in my head that is trying to remind me that if God wanted me to do something that required my feet leave the ground for more than two seconds, He’d have given me wings.

As I stand in the loading zone and the chair approaches from behind, I wait for the inevitable…and as it literally sweeps me off my feet as it knocks my legs out from under me, I plop down and feel the chair bounce and sway as the cable above us gives a little. Now we’re swaying back and forth as my feet leave the ground and we pull the bar over our heads…a bar that would no more hold me in this contraption than a paper bag would hold in a wild boar looking for its next meal. As the ground beneath us disappears and grows farther and farther away, I notice that this “seat” is no more than hollow metal pipes the thickness of a metal coffee can, held together by rusted bolts. Yeah…how’d I get here again?

Not Even Halfway Up

A Quarter Mile Up

Halfway up the mountain, it occurs to me that just about every muscle in my body is tense. I’m literally hanging on so tightly with one hand that my fingers are tingling because there is no blood left in them. My other hand is so firmly attached to my son that I’m sure I’ll be reported to DFS for child abuse when someone sees the hand-shaped indention I’ve surely left in his side. And my butt is clinched so tight, I’m pretty sure my two cheeks have become one. It does little to calm my mind when I’m looking down and realize that if I do fall from here, I most likely won’t die…just shatter a femur or two, blow out a knee, disintegrate my ankles, and maybe puncture a lung. I wonder how much my AFLAC policy pays per bone?

Farther Than It Looks (75')

Don’t Be Deceived – That’s a 75′ Drop

We like being in control, don’t we? We like the feeling that comes with knowing that we have a say in things…that we have the reigns and even if we’re flying by the seat of our pants, the decisions are ours to make, and we’re piloting this ship we call our life. Our feet are planted firmly on the ground, and we have the power…we’re in control. But are we? Are we really? Let’s be completely honest here. The feeling of “control” I had when holding on for dear life to that coffee can dangling seventy five feet above the ground on its way to the top of a mile-high mountain did nothing more than give me a false sense of security. Had something failed on that rusted piece of metal built back when moonshiners ran these hills, I would have no more been able to keep from falling to the rocks below and shattering every bone in my lower body than I could stand on a street corner and catch a bowling ball falling from the Empire State Building. It ain’t gonna happen.

Yet we walk through life unwilling to let go, don’t we? We hold on to the things (and the people) we love so tight, that letting go becomes too much to believe possible. And when you boil it down to the core of why we struggle with letting go, it’s one thing. All too often, we let our fear of letting go overwhelm us. It’s not that we don’t want to let go. No, deep down inside…I believe at the heart of us all…we don’t want to be wound so tight that we can’t breath. We long to let go and feel the exhilaration of adrenaline pumping through our veins as we live life to the fullest. But despite that yearning, if’s the fear that drives us to hold on so tight…fear of what might happen if we do let go. Make no mistake, friend…if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen whether we’re holding on or not. And when it does, us holding on is not going to stop it from hurting when we hit bottom.

God is calling us to let go. Our lives are not ours, and we certainly don’t have the control and power we think we have. All we have is an illusion…a false sense of security provided by what we see, hear, smell and feel. We have to look beyond that illusion and realize that life happens on the other side of the fear. Will it be easy to let go? Not always. Will it hurt to let go? Sometimes. Will it be worth it to let go? Absolutely!!! It’s time to truly give our lives to Christ. To give Him the reigns and let Him take His rightful place in the pilot seat of our life. It’s time to let go and let God. If you can, you’ll see for yourself that the view from the top IS worth it.

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It IS an Awesome View

And yes…you’ll even find you can have a lot of fun along the way.

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Thumbs Up

“The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. – Proverbs 19:23

Love,

Dad

A Journey Through The Dark

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Driving through the very southeast tip of Missouri last night, just north of the boot heel, we were traveling unfamiliar roads well after dark. Winding and curving our way through the hills on roads we’ve never driven, I made note of how isolated we seemed to be. The rare spotting of fellow drivers along this route seemed refreshing. Looking to either side of the road, I remarked to my wife that one could easily drive right off the road and down a steep, tree and brush-filled embankment that would easily mask our existence from passing motorists…that it’d be days before we were found, unless we were somehow able to crawl ourselves to safety.

One can’t help but feel slightly uneasy about being in such a situation. Anxiety can quickly set in…and completely take over if you let it. Even for the most laid-back, easy-going person out there, driving such unfamiliar roads after dark can be unsettling and bring out the more cautious driver inside.

Marriage problems. Loss of a loved one. Health issues. Loss of a job. Experiencing trials and hardships in our lives can be a lot like driving a winding mountain road in the dark. We can’t see around the next corner or over the next hill. There are gut-wrenching, fist-clinching, knuckle-biting ups and downs and twists and turns that just seem to go on forever. We can quickly become so confused and scared that we just want to pull over and stop to rest our weary bodies until morning.

And then it happens. Just as we thought we could go no further, we see it on the horizon. The sun peeks over the hills and offers a ray of hope, piercing through the darkness and showing us the way. The path straightens, and we can look back and see some good in the journey we’ve been on. We’ve come out on the other side and can rest…and enjoy the fruits on the other side all the more for having travelled through the hardship that is now behind us.

You see, even if it seems you’ve been “in the valley” for longer than you can bear, don’t lose hope. God has better things in store for you on the other side of your current situation. He can…and will…use what you’re facing today for your good tomorrow. Even if you can’t see it through the present darkness you see now. He’s there. Walking with you. Follow the Light and He will guide you through to the fruits that await you on the other side.

“Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light…'” – John 12:35-36a

Love,

Dad

Where is God

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He’s everywhere…you just have to open your eyes and be attentive. – Dad

Morning Story and Dilbert

He was just a little boy, on a week’s first day. He was wandering home from Sunday School, and dawdling on the way. He scuffed his shoes into the grass; he found a caterpillar. He found a fluffy milkweed pod, and blew out all the “filler.”

A bird’s nest in a tree overhead, so wisely placed on high, Was just another wonder that caught his eager eye. A neighbor watched his zig zag course, and hailed him from the lawn, Asked him where he’d been that day and what was going on.

“I’ve been to Bible School,” he said and turned a piece of sod. He picked up a wiggly worm replying, “I’ve learned a lot of God.”

“M’m very fine way,” the neighbor said, “for a boy to spend his time. If you’ll tell me where God is, I’ll give you a brand new dime.”

Quick as a flash…

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The Spirit’s Walking Staff

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“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.  Don’t let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don’t let your lips talk deviously.  Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.  Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.  Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.” – Proverbs 4:23-28

There is so much wisdom in this short passage, it’s nearly impossible to digest it all at once.  Initially, my focus is drawn to the opening verse about the heart being the source of life, for out of the overflow of our heart come our thoughts, actions and words.  In other words, where our heart is, so are we…who we are and all that we do are a direct reflection of what we invest our heart in.

Upon a second reading, though, the Spirit reveals another wisdom that is just as important.  Have you ever been driving down the interstate, and while passing a tractor-trailer you glance over at it as you pass…and as you do, your vehicle starts drifting toward it?  Been driving on a two lane highway at night and as an oncoming car approaches, you find yourself looking at its headlights…as your car drifts closer and closer toward center line…which causes you to jerk the wheel back to keep you in your lane?  Hey, even walking in a straight line can be a challenge when we’re looking to our left or right…or down at our phone, something I’ve been guilty of on more than one occasion. 🙂  All evidence that we instinctively move in the direction our eyes are looking.

As Christ-followers, our goal is to be like Christ in all we do…and in keeping our eyes looking forward – more specifically, upward- we keep our focus on God.  Oh, how easy it is, though, to take our eyes off of Christ and drift from the path He has for us.  I mean really…can you walk through the mall without glancing into the stores?  Or drive through a scenic area without looking at the scenery as you pass by?  The world has so many attractive and alluring things to offer us…things that we don’t have to wait for.  And the instant gratification, no wait, no delay, that the world offers can be seductive can’t it?  We can easily wander from the path and be immersed in pleasure and instant satisfaction…without realizing how misleading that path really is on its way to our destruction.

And the devil has perfected his craft, hasn’t he?  He knows just how to lure and deceive us…makes it so easy to let our glance slip to the left or right at the things of the world.  Because he knows that once we start to drift, it’s easy to end up way off course.  It starts with a glance…a little dip in a seemingly “small” sin here…another glance there…a dibble here and another dabble there.  And before we know it, we’ve taken the next step, and the next, and the next…until we’re so far away from who we were back at that first glance that we don’t recognize ourselves anymore…or know how to get back on track.

What’s even more worthy of note is that when verse 26 is telling us that when we “carefully consider where we place our feet, our way is established”, I realize that the path I’m on is not a firm, concrete path with an even slope like a sidewalk.  No, the path we’re on is a narrow path like what we’d find when trying to scale a mountainous, cliff-side slope.

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It’s unsteady and treacherous.  It has potholes waiting to ensare us…tree roots waiting to trip us…shifting dirt that causes us to slip and fall…rocks that cause us to be unsteady in our footing…treacherous slopes that throw us off balance…snakes and spiders that can reach out and bite us…low hanging tree branches smacking us in the face.  To traverse that path, we have to constantly be alert to the dangers around us…be vigilant in where we step…be purposeful in how we proceed.

The path we’re on in our walk of faith is much the same.  There are so many hazards waiting to derail our progress that if we don’t carefully consider every move we take – every decision we make – we can be caught in the dangers of a seductive and misleading culture and be diverted from the path that Christ has laid out for us.  The devil is out there waiting to trip us up…to draw our attention away from the path before us…the path that leads to all the blessings God has in store for us.  The key to keeping our footing firm and our eyes fixed forward is to walk daily with God…to pray constantly in all things and to be in His Word.  Because when we’re walking in His will – not our own – with prayer and guidance through the Word, we have a firm hold on the solid walking staff that the power of the Spirit provides for us to use on that path.

“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and narrow the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14

Love,

Dad

Not My Job

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When one child recently told me “not my job” when asked to do a household chore, and another told me “you are not the best anymore” when I was honoring what I’d said about not getting dessert without eating dinner first, it got me thinking…am I starting to become more your friend than your father? That’s a slippery slope to navigate, so, I want to set the record straight right now and be crystal clear in where I stand on the answer to that question…

It’s not my job to give you a cookie when your siblings are eating one for dessert and you want one too. It’s to teach you that there are rules. Eating your dinner before you get dessert is one of them. It pales in comparison to the rules you will experience as an adult…and when you’re an adult, you can choose to eat dessert first if you want. 😛

It’s not my job to ensure you’re happy. It’s to help you find joy…even in your darkest moments.

It’s not my job to ensure you get what you want. It’s to teach you the skills you will use to provide for yourself and your own family some day.

It’s not my job to keep you from falling. It’s to teach you how to get back up and try again.

It’s not my job to get involved in every argument or fight you have with siblings or friends. It’s to teach you how to respectfully interact with others who have opinions and beliefs different than your own…and to show you how to think outside the box…and to admit when you’re wrong.

It’s not my job to think for you. It’s to teach you how to think for yourself.

It’s not my job to pick up after you or to clean up your messes. It’s to teach you how to care for yourself so that you can be a contributing member of society, not a drain on it.

It’s not my job to make sure you never lose, or that you always win. It’s to teach you how to lose without losing your cool…and how to win with grace and humility. There are winners and losers in life. There is no prize for participation when you become an adult. The sooner you learn that, the better your odds.

It’s not my job to keep you from being hurt. It’s to teach you how to see when others are hurting and to help them.

It’s not my job to serve you. It’s to teach you how to serve others.

It’s not my job to pay for everything you want. It’s to instill in you a work ethic that says “If I work hard for it, I can buy it myself.”

Likewise, it’s not my job to give you money (i.e. allowance) for doing nothing. The government is doing that well enough for all of us. It’s to teach you money management so that you have the ability to live a debt-free life if you choose wisely. You need to know that merely existing as part of our family (or society in general) is not worthy of getting a handout. You want money from me? Earn it. Know, though, that in life there are things we adults do without reward or compensation. Likewise, some chores around here are expected of you…without compensation…simply because your existence contributes to the wear and tear on the things we have.

It’s not my job to see that you never experience anger, frustration, disappointment or sadness. It’s to teach you the sanctity of life and that every life matters…and how to control your emotions and to show respect for others regardless of how you feel.

It’s not my job to teach you to avoid conflict. It’s to teach you to approach conflict like you’re walking up to a small fire with a bucket in each hand. One is filled with water…the other with gasoline. How you react to the situation (I.e. which bucket you choose to pour on it), is what will determine the outcome.

It’s not my job to keep you from making mistakes. It’s to help you learn from them. Many of the best lessons I’ve learned in life came from the mistakes I made. There will be times you’ll make the same mistake more than once. Until you learn from them, you’re destined to keep repeating them.

It’s not my job to make sure your heart is never broken. It’s to show you how to lead your heart, not be led by it.

It’s not my job to make sure you have friends. It’s to show you how to be a friend to others.

It’s not my job to make sure you’re right all the time. It’s to teach you truth…and that there are absolutes in life, regardless of what society wants you to believe about this. There are some grey areas in life, but there also exist a set of absolutes that are true…regardless of whether we believe them to be true or not…and it’s my job to equip you to defend those truths.

It’s not my job to make sure you don’t ever miss the school bus. It’s to teach you time management…and how to make a plan and execute the plan, and to have a contingency plan…because “when you fail to plan you plan to fail.”

It’s not my job to stand over you constantly to ensure you don’t sink. It’s to teach you how to swim. In the beginning that means providing you a life jacket to keep you afloat until you can stay afloat on your own. And when you do sink, I’ll be there to extend a hand to help you up…not out…up. Because there’s a lesson to be learned in sinking…one you won’t learn unless you get yourself out.

It’s not my job to fast forward through the commercials and previews for you. It’s to teach you patience and self control…and that good things come to those who wait.

It’s not my job to fight your bullies for you. It’s to teach you how to protect and defend yourself from tyranny. And that in some situations, the best defense is a good offense.

It’s not my job to keep you and your siblings from ever fighting. It’s to remind you that some minor conflict within the family is a natural thing, but that family comes first…we stand on our family’s side in times of conflict from sources outside our family.

It’s not my job to ensure you always have a roof over your head. It’s to teach you to be thankful for what you have…because camping out with nothing but the stars overhead is fun on occasion, but the harsh reality is that it’s all the “roof” many in this world have. We’re blessed beyond what we can comprehend. Don’t take it for granted.

It’s not my job to teach you how you should vote or who you should vote for. It’s to instill in you a love for your country and a respect for those who’ve served, bled and died to protect your freedoms, including your right to vote…and that it’s not your right to vote…it’s your responsibility. When you don’t vote, you give up the right to complain about your elected officials and anything they do.

It’s not my job to solve all your problems. It’s to teach you critical thinking skills…how to explore multiple options until you discover one that works to solve the problem for yourself.

It’s not my job to make sure you catch a fish with every cast. It’s to make sure you know how to fish. When Jesus told the disciples to put down their nets and taught them to be “fishers of men”, not even they “caught” every man for Christ. It’s called fishing, not catching, for a reason. We win some…we lose some. But you won’t win any unless you cast the line.

It’s not my job to respond to your every request for my attention. Likewise, it’s not my job to be with you 24/7…that’s not healthy. It’s my job to teach you independence…and to take care of my spiritual, mental, physical, and psychological well-being…because when one of those is out of whack, I’m of no use to you or anyone else. Trust me, my sanity is important for your well-being…and as much as I love hanging out with you, I need to be away from you sometimes too.

It’s not my job to argue with your teacher for not giving you an “A”. It’s to teach you that we get out of something what we put into it…and to earn the “A” yourself.

It’s not my job to shelter you from the storm. It’s to help you weather it. The strongest trees in the forest are the ones who survived the storms, high winds and forest fires.

It’s not my job to see that you never lack what you need. It’s to teach you the survival skills that will help you overcome adversity. Trees that survive drought do so by sending their roots deeper into the ground in search of water. The deeper roots provide more strength for the tree. They’re stronger because of the drought than they were without it. The deeper your roots, the stronger you will be.

Likewise, it’s not my job to see that your every need is met instantly. It’s to teach you how to recognize the needs of others and to show love and compassion to those less fortunate than yourself.

It’s not my job to provide you the latest and greatest “thing”. It’s to teach you to be content with what you have. I grew up without 24/7 internet access, cell phones, DVR’s, or iPods…and I survived. You will too.

It’s not my job to put only foods you like on your plate. It’s to teach you where your food comes from and how to provide food for your own family some day, whether by working a job for the money to buy it…or hunting it yourself.

It’s not my job to make sure you have fun at school. It’s to teach you respect for your elders and those put in charge over you. For that matter, it’s not my job to provide you nonstop, fun-filled activities throughout the day or to constantly entertain you. You want to have fun? Do what I did…pick up a book. Go outside. Explore your world.

It’s not my job to see that you grow up to become a firefighter like me. It’s to let you see how much I love my job and to instill in you a passion to serve your community. I will love and support you, no matter what you do with your life…that’s what dads do…it’s how we roll.

It’s not my job to love you more than your mother. It’s to remind you that she and I existed before you…and we have to live with each other when you leave out on your own. She comes first…yes, before you. I love you, but I love her more. Get over it. Guess what? I love God more than her. She’s over it.

It’s not my job to force you to believe what I believe. It’s my job to share what I believe and allow you to choose for yourself.

It’s not my job to make sure you never feel lost. It’s my job to show you that you’re already lost. So am I. It’s only through the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ dying for us that we are ever found.

It’s not my job to be your friend. It’s to be your dad…and to teach you how to be a dad someday too. I don’t always get it right, but I’m trying my hardest with every day.

Love,

Dad

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