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Conveniently Committed

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“There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.” – Kenneth Blanchard

As I sit here on a park bench in downtown St. Louis, the cold morning wind whipping around me, I’m nervous. A different nervous than I was this time last year. This will be my third half marathon, and the anxiety I have this morning is that I’m not ready for this race.

Last year, I trained for four months leading up to race day. I was prepared. Physically and mentally. I’ve not run in 6 weeks, and even that was the only real running I’d done in a month. My nerves are calm in that I know what’s ahead of me. The shock factor of that first race has worn off, and I know the task ahead. It’s not an easy one, and as I sit here worried that I may not finish I can’t help but regret all those missed opportunities. All the times I could have trained. Should have trained.

It’s kind of like our walk with God really. I had a conversation with a good friend last week…a Godly man who I respect very much. I was sharing with him some of where I’ve been emotionally in the months following the call. I’ve not felt like reading the Bible. Not been committed to studying God’s Word. This friend shared with me that while what I’m feeling is not uncommon, sometimes we have to read the Bible, not because we want to, but because we know we need to. Some days, it takes resolve and commitment to pick up the Word and read. And while our reading time will not be as fruitful as it is when we want to read it, it still impresses the Scripture upon our minds. It can still be fruitful.

I think of all the missed opportunities in the development of my faith. All the situations I could have been a blessing to someone else and wasn’t. Missed opportunities to be a light for Christ. Missed opportunities in my career, my family, my finances, my life in general. Missed because I failed to prepare.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10.

If the Creator of the universe took time to prepare, shouldn’t we do likewise? In fact, God calls us to prepare. To be on guard. To stand at the ready.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” – 1 Peter 3:15

I’m not prepared for this race, and I’m not prepared for all that God has planned for me in my walk with Him. I’ve missed opportunities. I’ve not taken full advantage of all that God has given me. I’ve made choices that reflect an interest instead of a commitment. I’m thankful He allows us to start fresh and renew our commitment.

Lord, may you find favor on your servant. May I find the commitment and resolve deep within to know and follow hard after you. Strengthen me so that I am no longer conveniently committed.

Amen

I Like it Here

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The last week or so since I wrote Welcome to My Vulnerability has been pretty good.  I’ve been staying pretty busy…very busy actually.  This time of year gets pretty hectic with all of you in school and the Upward Sports season starting up.  Throw in some of the other ministries I’ve committed my time to, and I just don’t really have the time to sit down and spend much time writing.  I miss it.

As I write this, I’m watching Bubba play cars on the chair beside me before we leave for school.  I was clearing memory cards from the camera last night, uploading pictures and making room.  We had pictures dating back to the fall of 2010 on there, so I was getting a first glimpse in several years at what life was like back then  So much has changed since then.  Life is pretty good right now…even for all the hectic nonstop action we have going on during any given week.  I often think back on the times when y’all were kids and wish we could go back.  To a time when you were still learning to walk and talk.  After browsing through pictures last night, I realize I’m good.

Perhaps it’s because I have been so focused on preparing for the basketball season…so wrapped up in my rather large and ever-growing to-do list…that I just haven’t had the space in my head for much else…for any negativity.  I like it here.  I like being right here.  Right now.  In the moment.  I don’t want to live in the past.  Or dwell on it any longer.  The funk I’ve been in for much of this past month has kept me from truly enjoying every moment for exactly what it is.  Our life.  I’m ready to push the memories of that incident aside and move forward.  I like it here.  I like the present.  I like watching you play.  I like playing with you.  I look to the future with hope and confidence.  And with one eye on the future and one eye on the present, I have no eye left for the past.  And I’m good with that.  I like it here.

Love,

Dad

The Ultimate Do-Over

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I just seem to really be missing the boat here lately. I’m sitting here waiting while SD is at her Therapeutic Horsemanship session, and I reread my previous note. Perhaps I didn’t see it when I first wrote it this morning because I was rushed trying to get to our Daddy Daughter Date Day. Or, perhaps I was just so focused on saying what I needed to say, that I couldn’t see past what I wanted to say. Either way…for whatever reason…I missed the boat.

The “Do-Over”…of course I believe in it. If I didn’t, I would be unable to receive the forgiveness offered in the grace and mercy of my Savior, Jesus Christ. The ultimate giver of the “do-over”.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:13-14

I’m thankful and appreciative beyond words that I can go to God and confess my sins. That I can spill my ugliness at the foot of the Giver of Life. That He takes my sin and washes it away. That He cleanses me and makes me new. That He forgives me when I don’t deserve it. That no matter how many times I fall…no matter how many times I seek forgiveness for the same sin, He hears my sincere heart every time and accepts me into His kingdom…through the redemption of the Son. Thank you Lord for being, and remaining, the Author and Founder of the ultimate “do-over.”

I pray daily that you, my children, would one day know Jesus like I do…even better than I do.

Love,

Dad

The Do-Over Only Works on the Playground

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Do you believe in “do-overs”? In giving grace and showing mercy to someone and allowing them a chance to do something again, to try to right a wrong? I am. Unfortunately, that’s nearly impossible to actually do when our “do-over” is needed after we say something we shouldn’t have said. We can try, but we’re just never really able to completely wipe the memory of our words away.

It’s been almost a week since I wrote. For me, that seems like an eternity. I’ve just not had the passion within me to write much this past week. My last several notes took a lot out of me, and I’ve not had the desire to even think about or discuss the root of my problem, the incident at work that threw my emotions into a tailspin.

This morning, mom and SI had left for school, and while waiting for NE’s bus to pick him up, I enjoyed sitting and watching him play. I haven’t just sat and watched you or your siblings just play in awhile. I’m usually sitting with the computer on my lap, a phone in my hand, or while walking around doing stuff around the house…I don’t remember the last time I just sat and watched. And in my time watching NE this morning, I heard God. For the first time in at least a week, I heard God’s whisper. It’s amazing how clear He is when we when we sit and be still:

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

In God’s whisper this morning, He convicted me, and immediately I knew that I had handled a situation last weekend poorly. And just to drive the point home even further, I spent some time in the Word afterward…and this is what God showed me:

“for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body.” – James 3:2

I spent almost all of last month in the book of James, but apparently in all that time, I didn’t learn what God had brought me here to learn. God spent a month preparing me for last weekend’s email, and had I heeded James’ warning, perhaps I would have handled it better. It’s apparent, I’m not as mature as I’d like to think I am most days. At 39 years of age, I’m obviously as immature as they come. The rest of chapter 3 talks about controlling the tongue…and chapter 4 talks about being proud or humble. I read these words dozens of times last month…literally several dozen times. So when the email from a family member arrived in my inbox on Saturday, I recognized that I needed to take some time to digest it and put some thought and prayer into my reply. What I failed to actually do was put some serious prayer into it. You see, controlling the tongue is not just about watching what you actually let cross your lips…it’s also about what you write. I should have picked up on that before last Saturday…my immaturity is painfully obvious.

For what it’s worth, I did wait to reply. I prayed some throughout a busy day at work, and I put some thought into my reply. I should have put some more thought and prayer into it, because I almost instantly knew it was the wrong reply. I don’t fault this family member for reaching out to me. I don’t fault the family members who asked him/her to reach out to me. I know that everyone’s intentions were in right place. That they were trying to help me through a difficult time. I tried as eloquently as I could to word my response in a way that made that clear…and in a way that did not put this person on the defensive for what I claimed was an attack at my faith.

I failed…because if I had written back with what I believe God would want me to have said, it would have been much different. If given the opportunity for a “do-over”, I would simply say:

“Thank you for caring enough about me to write to me. Thank you for having the courage and for loving me enough to reach out in faith to try and help me through this. I appreciate it more than you will ever know. It means the world to me that you care enough about me as a person to write to me. Please know that I’m good. I’m working through my issues with this incident, and God is carrying me through it. I may sometimes walk through some dark places with my emotions, but I won’t be there long because I have the resources to get through it. I’m good. Thank you again for loving me. I love you too.”

But, that’s if we lived in a world where the “do-over” actually worked. Learn from my mistake child…because we don’t. The “do-over” only works on the playground.

Love,

Dad

Welcome To My Vulnerability

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To my friends and family in the EMS community,

Thank you for taking a moment from your day to drop by. I am honored and blessed that the creator of our Facebook page “EMS for Christ” allowed me to become an admin for the page. It has been a blessing for me to step out of my comfort zone and share some of my walk of faith with you. And I’ve enjoyed watching the “fan base” grow to just over 900 at my last check-in. I have been reluctant to share my personal blog on our Facebook page’s wall much, because I don’t want to come across as though I’m pushing my blog for my own prideful gain. I just don’t want to come across that way at all, because it’s not who I am. Most of what I write here is written as notes to my children, so they’re not things that are necessarily “appropriate” to share on our Facebook page, given the mission and goal of the page. But I’m having such a difficult time processing my emotions following a recent incident at work, that my last four blog entries have been devoted to this alone, and not really addressed to my children. Which brings me to why I invited you here today.

There was some great discussion on our recent post about dealing with on-the-job related lost-traumatic stress. I’ll be honest, I asked that question somewhat selfishly. I responded this incident about two weeks ago that started affecting me almost immediately, and the last two weeks have been a whirlwind of emotion…emotions I’m not comfortable with, and feelings that are overwhelming. My partner and I were on the confined space entry team to perform this recovery, which is about all the incident-related specifics I can share here. I posed the question on our Facebook wall, in part because I’m looking for some reinforcement for myself…but I also know that with over 900 followers on that page, there are others out there who are dealing with this too, or have dealt with it in the past. My goal was not only to help myself a little bit, but to maybe help someone else who’s in a similar season, or will be in the future.

You see, although I feel isolated and alone, I know I’m not. I know others in our “family” have gone through their own post-traumatic incident-induced stress. And I believe in drawing upon the strength of those who have walked through a similar valley. We who work in this field, be it EMS, fire, police, dispatch, hospital, public, private or military are unique. The people around us don’t get it. Honestly, I don’t blame them. Until you’ve walked side-by-side with death, you can’t understand. We truly are a family of our own, regardless of whether we work together or not. Quite honestly, I’m closer to my crew than I am some of my own flesh and blood family, not counting my wife. Love ya’ baby. 🙂 But there are some things I can’t share with her. I can’t share the specifics of my incident with her, for her own sake. She and I have talked in general about my battle, and she’s completely on board with supporting me in whatever capacity I need. But our EMS “family” can help each other in ways even our spouses cannot.

For me, I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, and I’m plowing through this minefield of emotion in several ways. I was able to seek guidance from my senior pastor two days afterward. The perspective offered by a neutral friend, who is also a believer is priceless. It didn’t hurt that he served in the field prior to being called to pastor. I’m also good friends with a new pastor who recently left our department after over ten years as a firefighter to answer God’s call to pastor a church nearby. I’m blessed to have these two great resources. I’ve also tried running to burn through the stress. Exercise helps me to focus my mind and my thoughts into something understandable. And I’ve blogged. About this topic and how it’s affected me, I’ve blogged a lot in the last two weeks.

I’ve been encouraged to share my writings in a wider circle. And I believe some of what I’m dealing with during this time of my life may resonate with someone out there on the job. I could be way off here, but I hope not. You should know, though, I’m certainly not the man with the answers. I am the WORST of the worst sinners, and I don’t consider myself worthy to help guide a fellow believer along his own path, because more often than not, I’m the one that needs the guidance. I am who I am only through the saving grace of my Savior Jesus.

I don’t like putting myself “out there”. My site here is pretty simple and quaint. I have a small following, mostly family and friends. And I’m comfortable like that. The thought of opening myself up to a bigger world is scary. I don’t like being vulnerable. And yet I believe God is asking me to do just that. To allow strangers into my little world, so someone somewhere can see that they’re not alone either. Because trust me, I feel alone and isolated in my feelings right now. I know I’m not, but that doesn’t change how I feel.

So here goes a leap of faith. If you’re walking through a post-traumatic stress-filled world, you are NOT alone. Seek the help and support you need. Reach out. To someone. I know reaching out to people at work is not always feasible. I get that completely. I haven’t shared what I’m going through with any of my coworkers yet. I think only one or two might actually take time to read my little blog, which is fine. This is part of the scary part of opening myself up like this, because I do know that several of my coworkers “like” the Facebook page, so they’re seeing this for the first time, and I’ll be honest…I’m not sure I’m completely ready for this next part of the ride. But it’s a leap of faith for a reason, right?

Whether you are in the valley now, have been there or will be in the future, I hope you can find God’s voice talking to you in what I’m sharing. Remember, I’m not the man with all the answers. But I know the man who is. He suffered everything we’ve ever suffered and more…endured everything we’ve ever endured and more. Felt everything we’ve ever felt and more. Walked everywhere we’ve ever walked and more. His name is Jesus Christ, and you can know him too if you don’t already. You can catch up with me on where I have been, and see where I’m going, by visiting my new page dedicated to this new part of my life’s journey.

Thank you for stopping in and allowing me the opportunity to share my most personal, vulnerable thoughts and emotions with you. If you are walking in the valley right now, seek support. You can comment or email me through here. You can comment on our Facebook page, or send a message to the page’s admins. You can share a general prayer request or be as specific as you want to be (and can be in a public forum). We are here for you. We are in this together. We are not alone.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12

I will continue to share my walk along this particular path with you on our Facebook page, for as long as you’ll allow me. I pray you don’t see it as a selfish pride for me, but as a desire to 1. Help in my own healing; and 2. To be an encouragement for someone else’s healing. Have a blessed day and be safe out there.

Jay

An Open Letter to Satan

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Satan,

I see you’re doubling down on me today. You know I’ve stepped up my game, and you’re feeling the pressure, huh? You know I’ve called upon the name of the Lord to strengthen me through this darkness. You can feel the power of my prayer and the unity of my family and friends standing in prayer beside me, can’t you? I believe you’re afraid. You see, I know you had plans to win this battle, and now you’re starting to realize you won’t. So you do what you do when this happens…you double down your efforts, hoping that the constant barrage will be too much to handle. Today, you’re using worth.

Unworthy. Feelings and thoughts that I am unworthy to be a child of God. As I’m swimming through this ever-changing and never-ending sea of emotions, you’re telling me that if I were truly a child of God…if my faith was sincere…if my hope was alive…if my heart and soul completely and totally bought into the saving power of the cross…if I really believed what I say I believe…then I would not be filled with these feelings anger, rage, sorrow, sadness and solitude. So since I am right here in the midst of all those feelings, thoughts and emotions (and so many more), I am unworthy to be called a child of God. At least that’s what you’re trying to convince me of today.

You see, the mind tricks you’re trying are good. Logically, I know better. I know I am a child of God, filled with the Spirit and saved by the Son. I know my eternal home is in heaven with Him. Knowing that doesn’t change how powerful you can be in your efforts to convince me otherwise. So I commend you on your effort. Today, I am telling you Satan, you are right…to a point. But you should know something. I came prepared.

You see, I am unworthy. I have not earned God’s grace. I do not deserve God’s mercy. I am not worthy of the love poured out on the cross through Jesus for me. I am not qualified to accept the discernment of the Spirit. I have done nothing on my own to provide the hope that lives within me. The hope that is alive within me (albeit however deep it may currently be buried under the rubble of your attack) is alive because God is stronger and more powerful than you. So yes, I am unworthy. But I have been made worthy through Jesus. And I call upon His name again today…to strengthen me again today for whatever He has planned out in advance for me to endure. My hope is in the Lord.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us…For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits – we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience. In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” – Romans 8:18, 22-27

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5

You see, Satan, you can double down on me all you want. I may not know what to pray today, but that’s okay, because I have the Spirit of God in my corner, and He is interceding on my behalf. It’s on days like today, when you are constantly reminding me of my mistakes and short-comings…trying to keep me down by throwing my sin-filled past right back in my face…filling me with thoughts of worthlessness…that I look beyond my past and beyond these temporary emotions and remind you of the future. I belong to Jesus!! I can’t win any battle alone, and I certainly won’t win every battle I face if I face it without God, but I’m on God’s team, not yours!! We win!

In Christ’s love,

Me

Share Your Burdens

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I had a tough call at work yesterday…one whose images will be engrained in my mind forever.  God has been teaching me lately that I cannot, on my own, bear the burden of what I see, do and experience in my job.  The demons inside me only live there because I allow them to stay.  I’m learning (albeit slowly) that in addition to leaving our burdens at the foot of the cross, we need someone on this earth we can confide in…someone we can bear our souls with.  We are not meant to walk through our valleys alone.

“Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

I received an email this morning with a link to a video “Dancing in the Mine Fields” by Andrew Peterson.  I find encouragement in this song…to know that my wife is in this “minefield” of life right alongside me.  She may not always completely “get” the pain of what I’m carrying…but she “gets” me, and she’s willing to help carry my burdens with me…if I’m willing to share them with her, so that I’m stronger with her than I am alone.  As a man, I have to fight the instinct to share these burdens with her because as men, it’s engrained in us from birth to be the “tough guy”…to “man up”…that men don’t cry or show emotion.  However, I believe King Solomon knew that the internalization of our emotions and feelings can lead to self-destructive behavior, and he saw the strength we have in numbers.

I’m still working on the HOW part of sharing my burden of yesterday with my wife, your mom…but I know that when I’m ready, she’ll be there to let me.  Because pain and suffering is not inclusive to only those in my field, I pray you boys will one day have a wife…and you, SD, will have a husband…who each “gets” you enough to let you confide the deepest secrets of the pain you will eventually have buried deep within your own soul.  Please don’t carry your burdens alone.  Give them first to Christ…and then share them with your spouse, because we were meant to share our burdens.

Love,

Dad

P.S. If you found this note and are particularly interested in following how I’ve been dealing with this, you can read My Scar Revealed and Looking for Hope

Salvation vs. Relationship

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Today I’m reflecting on some of the many prayer requests that have come across my path this week.  For whatever reason, it seems that a lot more prayer needs have been brought to my attention this week…more than I recall in recent months anyway.  It makes it painfully obvious that we’re living in a broken world filled with pain, calamity and heartache…and we can only find a true peace within a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Like any relationship, though, we have to invest something to get something.

Our relationship with family, friends and even coworkers requires some level of commitment on our part to be successful.  If one party is always on the receiving end…never giving…never sacrificing things like time, effort, talents, and commitment to grow and deepen the relationship, then it remains a shallow existence.  On the surface, it looks…and feels…good.  As long as the waters of life are smooth, the relationship runs smoothly.  But once the winds pick up and the waves start rocking back and forth, the relationship won’t hold because it’s not rooted in commitment from both parties.  The foundation is week.  A deeply committed relationship has to be rooted in selflessness, not selfishness.  It has to be a two-way street of give and take…not a one-way street of take and take.
The foundation Christ provides for our relationship with Him is solid.  It’s built on strong and unwavering rock, and it’s deeply rooted in the numerous selfless acts of love He demonstrated throughout His life, leading up to the ultimate sacrifice…dying a brutal death for us.  The foundation for our relationship with Christ is found in the Holy Word, upon which we can see and know Him.  He already knows us: “Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.” – Psalm 139:16)  To deepen our relationship, it’s up to us to get to know Him.

While our salvation through the grace of Christ is a free gift to all who accept, to fully benefit from the RELATIONSHIP, we have to get to know Him…and we can only do that through the Word of God.  The Word of God is alive, and it has endured the test of time.  It is as alive today as it was when He first breathed it into existence…and it will continue to live as it endures all that is yet to come…FOREVER.

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” – 1 Peter 1:23
Imperishable…living…enduring.  God has something for you within the pages of His Word today.  He already did His part.  He’s already invested in the relationship.  He’s waiting for us to stop taking and start giving…to start investing.  If you already have the salvation of Christ, then it’s time to deepen your RELATIONSHIP with Christ by investing time in reading the Word.  It’s the only way we can fully draw upon the power within.
Love,
Dad

It’s Not About the Breakfast Burrito

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A couple weeks ago, there was a big hoopty doo about the president of Chick-Fil-a voicing his company’s support of the traditional family, as defined in the Bible. It sparked a firestorm of back and forth’s between conservatives and liberals in all the major social media outlets…calling for boycotts and “buycotts” from both sides.

I’m not going into any more detail than that here today, but something occurred to me Sunday that got me thinking. As I left work Sunday morning, heading straight to church, I drove through another local restaurant (which shall remain unnamed) for the breakfast burrito combo. I wanted Chick-Fil-a, but it was Sunday. Gasp! They’re closed. They value the importance of the family, and of the family attending worship together, so much that they close the doors on Sunday. Awesome! I wish more companies would do that! That would be wicked cool to go back to a day in time when businesses all over town stayed closed on Sunday’s. Wait a minute. What about my breakfast?

I’m too young to remember a time in our nation’s history that businesses were closed on Sunday’s. My parents would remember, and my grandparents surely would. By the time I was old enough to notice these things, we could go the grocery store for milk on Sunday…pull into the gas station on Sunday night and fill up…go to a local restaurant after worship service and enjoy lunch. I’ve never known what it’s like to have to prepare for 6 days to be ready for self-sustainment on Sunday.

And yet, isn’t that what it would take to get other businesses to recognize the importance of a day of rest? If I (and millions of other customers) would simply not patronize businesses on Sunday, then sales would be so low on Sunday that they’d be losing money, and might…just maybe…recognize the “profit” in closing their doors for one day.

While I can’t be responsible for the other millions of people that movement would require, I can be responsible for me and my family. But in reality, is it worth it? Is it worth the effort it would take on my part to make such a drastic lifestyle change? I mean really…we do the after-church lunch thing…sometimes with friends. We’re rushed on Sunday nights, following services, and do the drive-thru to feed the kids before bed. I love going to the occasional football game (go Chiefs!) on Sunday afternoon. I enjoy patronizing the TV companies by watching the race or game in the afternoon (albeit while snoring most weeks). 🙂

Am I willing to give all that up? Am I willing to spend 6 days of the week planning for the 7th? Am I willing to just sit back and relax on Sunday and do nothing except worship and rest with my family? I don’t know…but wouldn’t it be hypocritical of me to not do just that? I’m not sure.

However, I do know that recognizing a day of Sabbath doesn’t have to be done on Sunday. It can be done on Monday, Tuesday, or any other day of the week. The day I choose as our day of rest may not be the day another family chooses. So if the day of week we do it doesn’t matter, does it really matter to take a day off at all?

It was important enough to God that He made it one of the top ten.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” – Exodus 8:8

It was important enough that He set the example himself.

“For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” – Exodus 20:11

It is important enough to God because it’s important to our health (spiritual, mental and physical). He provided a day to us for our benefit, not his…for rest…restoration…rejuvenation…relaxation…for worship…for deepening our fellowship with Him. It’s not for His sake we need a day off…it’s for ours.

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:27

When we take a day from our hurried, fast-paced lives to refresh our spirit, to rest our minds and bodies and to fellowship with God, we recognize our dependence on Him…and we demonstrate how important God is to us. It’s not about when we do it. It’s about doing it. It’s not about what we eat for breakfast on Sunday morning…it’s not about the breakfast burrito at all. It’s about recognizing that God is God…and we are not.

Love,

Dad

A (non)Doing Dad

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I’m home tonight following a two day Leadership Training Conference for our Upward Sports league, and as I always am after one of these weekends, I’m inspired, motivated and challenged…my passion for the ministry has been renewed and refreshed, and I’m recharged and excited to transfer the vision of our ministry to our volunteers and to apply my newfound knowledge and inspiration. I have to admit that during several of the breakout sessions, I was feeling pretty good. I was the one inspiring other league directors from around the country with some of the things we’re doing right in our league…things they’d not yet heard of or tried. And while I certainly picked up some awesome ideas from the group, I will admit I had a little pride welling up in my heart for the success of our first four seasons.

With the memories of dozens of positive and encouraging success stories of these first four great seasons fresh on my mind, I’m reading James again tonight…and I’ve promptly been put in my place.

“My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works–this person will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself. Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” – James 1:19-27

Wow! Yeah, from the outside looking in, it would appear that I’m good to go here. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. My daily life is oftentimes so lacking of real fruit, that I often question my own salvation…whether my decision was truly a life-changing event for me. Yeah…I usually get it right within the confines of the Upward ministry…but my fruits within the Upward ministry don’t always parallel my daily actions outside of Upward. I am, more often than not, that guy who “looks in the mirror and then immediately forgets what kind of man he was” because I often skim through God’s word looking for the highlight reel, rather than committing my uninterrupted time to studying it and impressing it upon my heart.

I’m not a selfless giver of my time and talents. I pass by those in need without stopping to help. I have lots of days where, if it doesn’t fit into MY schedule, it ain’t gonna happen. Those days when God places things in my path to develop my faith and strengthen my walk…I often see those as inconveniences, rather than opportunities. I’m ashamed to admit all that, but it’s who I am by nature…I’m human…I’m just being open, real and honest here.

And I have a REAL issue controlling my tongue. Those friends who know me through church and Upward might be surprised to hear that. My coworkers and acquaintances outside of church know what I’m talking about…because they see a different me. A me that angers easily…a me that swears often…a me that sometimes participates in gossip…a me that judges others…a me that is impatient and often very unloving. I think it’s this part of me that I loathe the most. I struggle daily to change this part of me…and I fail miserably every day.

Thankfully I have a Savior that recognizes my weakness. I have a God that accepts me for who I am…and meets me where I am…a Spirit that fills me with a longing desire to be and do better…a Father who forgives me daily…and loves me for who I am…not what I do. I have a Jesus who paid the penalty I deserve to pay for my sin. And I serve a God who doesn’t give up on me…and never will. I pray daily that I can become the man He wants me to be…and that you will one day know the same God.

Love,

Dad

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