Husband and Father: A Man’s Greatest Calling

I was reading a book the other night and came across a quote that struck me to the heart and got me thinking, and subsequently blogging.

The book is Mud, Sweat, and Tears: The Autobiography of Bear Grylls. Bear Grylls is the famous adventurer most known for his hit T.V show, Man vs. Wild. It’s a family favorite in our house. Bear Grylls is definitely on my list of people I’d like to hang out with. He was talking about his upbringing and remembering his father, who was a politician in Great Britain. He said of his father, “He worked to make a difference and to better people’s lives, but his ambitions lacked the ruthless drive so common in politics, and our lives were so much richer for it. I guess his career was being a good dad.”

Amen to that. It helped remind me that history is filled with great leaders that were not great fathers. Politics, business, and sports are filled with men that did mighty things at the expense of their own families. Ministry is not except from this trend as well. Church history is also filled with men that did mighty things for the Lord, yet left family life to suffer in the wake of the success. King David was a great king, but how much did his people suffer from the familial strife that would tear apart and split the kingdom he worked so hard to maintain. I remember seeing a quote from Jullian Lennon, son of the famous Beattle Jon Lennon that sums up what I am talking about,

He [Jon Lennon} walked out the bloody door and was never around. I’d admire him on TV- listen to his words and opinions. But for someone who was praised for peace and love and wasn’t able to show that at home… That’s hypocrisy.”

It reminds me of what Paul teaches in I Timothy 3. On discussing the qualifications for an overseer/elder Paul gives Timothy, and the church at large these instructions:

“Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”

Now at this point this list looks like any good list any organization, business, or political party might draw up. But then Paul adds another important qualification with an added commentary on its importance. Paul states’

He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”

Paul is saying that those that lead the church, the Bride of Christ, an eternal organization that will forever exist, must first lead their homes well. The home is the petri dish of God’s eternal kingdom. It is the proving ground for leadership in God’s eternal organization. To state it another way, a man’s leadership in the home has more eternal purpose than his leadership of a fortune 500 company.

Nowhere in the Bible do we find God calling your business or organization a “blessing”, or a “heritage from the Lord”. Nowhere does the Lord call your vocation a “reward”, or liken it to “arrows in the hand of a warrior”. But the Lord does speak that way of a man’s children. Your family, the children in your care, not the name plate in your corner office is his reward to you. Steward that blessing well. It has eternal implications.

We live in a day and age where many are blessed to be able to pursue whatever vocation they feel they would enjoy the most. The culture tends to push us towards pursuing careers that try satisfy us for the money it brings, fame it lends, or power and influence it has. Pursuing vocations that we are good at or that bring us satisfaction are not in and of themselves wrong. In this, we enjoy something almost unprecedented in the history of the world. We should not take that for granted, thank God for that freedom and opportunity. Pursue those opportunities as they arise, but realize they are not of first importance.

When Christ returns, no matter how noble the organization or the company, He is coming after a bride, his church. A church led by men whose qualifications for leadership will not be found on the New York Stock Exchange, or in the Hall of Fame of some sports organization, or in Silicon Valley. It will be found in the home of ordinary men, living ordinary lives, with extraordinary families.

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Grace > Penace: My Take on Les Miserables

My wife and I went to see Les Miserables last weekend. We got the rare chance to see the movie on a Friday afternoon when the only other patrons were a handful of elderly couples. Which gave us the opportunity to hear this beauty yelled out during the preview, “Tell Harold with it being this loud he won’t need his hearing aids.” Not all elderly couples liked Les Miserables. One elderly couple walked out halfway through the movie. I heard them say to their friends, “It wasn’t what we were expecting.” I am not sure what they were expecting, but to each his own.

Much has been written about Les Miserables and better reviews are out there. Like this one:

I have about as much ability to review this movie as Sam Richardson does. (Whoever that might be), but there are some things I really liked about the movie.

1. The Music:

Either you’ll love it or hate it. I loved it. It made sense to me. It gives me hope that I can still fulfill my life-long, boyhood dream to sing horribly off-key on a Broadway stage.

Some have criticized Russel Crowe’s selection as Javert, mainly because he seems too stiff and his singing is nasely and stale. But what represents the rigidness of the Law more than someone stiff, stale, and lacking the Technicolor that represents the spectrum of life’s experience.

“I Dreamed and Dream” Until the movie, I had never realized that song was actually quite sad and void of much hope. Susan Boyle surprised us all with her, now famous, rendition of it on American Idol, or was it Britain’s Idol, some Idol show. Either way, although Susan sang it beautifully, we were all miss led by the way she sang it. Seeing how Anne Hathaway sang the song in the musical brings the emotion of the situation and the lyrics of the song into new light.

2. Grace or Penance

There was one thing that I loved about the movie above all other things and that was the way in which Grace was portrayed in the movie. Law vs. Grace is an obvious major theme of the book and musical. If the story is anything it is about the stark contrast between a life impacted by the Law and a life changed by Grace. This is weaved, by and large, through the lives and interactions of Jean Valjean and Javert.

What I thought the musical/movie did so well was portray how a life can be completely changed by Grace. Grace, loosely defined theologically, is the unmerited favor of God onto sinful humans through, in, and by Jesus Christ’s saving work on the cross. The movie did a great job of portraying this on the big screen. While there wasn’t a stong present of the Christ exalting grace, that most evangelicals would identify with, it was still more than most any Hollywood movie has dared to put on the screen in a while. I was so surprised by this in the movie because so often, instead of giving us a character changed by Grace, Hollywood gives us a character pursuing penance.

My definition of penance is an act whereby one tries to absolve themselves of past sins and wrongdoings by performing some morally good act to even up the scales hoping in the end the good will outweight the bad. Often times in movies and tv shows when a character goes through a transformation from bad to good, we see this character living with this dark past and trying to make it right through good acts. This has less to do with Grace that transforms a life and more to do with the idea of earning God’s favor through good deeds.

Too often movies and tv portray a life transformation through the life of a character pursuing penance, not transformed by grace. It makes sense. Grace is hard to comprehend. Unmerited favor from the God of the universe? Let me absolve my guilt by earning it. That seems more in line with my human sensibilities and experience.

I was glad to see Les Miserables the movie, display more grace rather than penance. Through Jean Valjean, we see on the screen, a life touched by unmerited favor at the lowest point in his life. This grace changes him from an angry, bitter man to a man giving grace to all those that cross his path. He does hide his past, but it seems less about guilt and more to continually protect those he loves. Jean Valjean seems to be a man living a life of freedom that only Grace can bring and not constantly dragged down by the guilt of past sins.

All this begs the question to my fellow Christians: Are you living a life changed by grace or are you pursuing penance? Have you let the full weight of God’s unmerited favor through His Son Jesus Christ change your life or are you daily trying to pursue penance, as if your “good works” could bring balance to God’s scale of justice?

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I’m back…

You know that feeling that you get when you are sitting in the dentist office? You rehearse what you are going to say when they eventually notice that plaque on your teeth or that cavity starting to form in the back of your mouth. You might be the Navy Seal stud that pulled the trigger on OBL, but even he feels guilty and awkward walking into the dentist office if he doesn’t have perfect teeth.

You want so badly for there to be a good reason that you haven’t flossed daily, or used that tongue scraper they sold you last time, or have cut back on all that enamel staining coffee, tea, and soda. You want for some reason to be able to tell them it wasn’t your fault. You are a clean person. But there are no good excuses at the dentist. That should be on their front door. “Welcome to the Dentist, Where there are no good excuses!”

You just know that they talk about all the dirty teeth and gums during their lunch breaks and your mouth will be the highlight. You realize it was 9 months between your last cleaning, not the industry standard 6! In short, you want your mouth to be healthy and clean, you want them to do their job, you just don’t want to face the awkwardness that comes along with getting back into the dental swing of things. What you really want to do is go into the dental office and say. “Look, you know and I know I didn’t do everything right. Floss everyday, yeah um no. Brush, my teeth, I am sure I could do better. Lets make a deal. You clean my teeth and fill any cavities. I’ll pay you to do that. And we will let the guilt thing slide right on down that toilet bowl-sink thing I spit into. OK?”

Dental Office Awkwardness is a part of life and the same feeling can show up all over the place.

 

And so it is with a blog.

Let me shoot it straight first. Lots of people write blogs. Most people stop after 6 months. I started writing. I haven’t written in 6 months. I want to start writing again. No good way to really introduce yourself back into the blogosphere. Writing about dentist office awkwardness as way to transition into the awkwardness I feel starting this blog up again. BOOM.

 

I haven’t written since this summer. (Probably around the last time I was at the dentist). But I have wanted to. We have been busy around here. Moved, got some more kids, had some kids move out and on, got more kids again, and just tried to keep my head above water enough to scream to onlookers, “Its okay! I am still here! Still treading water! Please continue on with your life as normal.”

We’ve come through the holiday season with our sanity intact, mostly intact at least. So I wanted to start the old blog back up and start writing again. Why? Well, not because I am good at it or have anything unique to say. I don’t like Sudoku or crossword puzzles, so this is what I have found keeps my mind sharp…well semi-sharp…okay, slightly above the intelligence of Swiper on Dora.

Hopefully, in the next couple of days, I will get some more blog post rolling out. Until the next one, don’t forget to floss daily.

Posted in blogging, social media, trying to be funny | 4 Comments

Invited, Excited, But Are You Going…

Imagine yourself as a peasant in a small village. The king of the land delivers to you an invitation to his royal feast through one of his couriers. You can’t quiet understand how or why you received this invitation. You think at first that this must be a mistake. A peasant at a royal event? This doesn’t make sense? You’re not royalty?

On top of that you owe the king a huge debt for land he loaned your family years ago. A debt you can never repay, but one for which you have to work in vain to honor. In stunned disbelief you ask the courier if there has somehow been a mistake. The courier reassures you that the king has not made a mistake. This king doesn’t make mistakes. The King is aware of the debt. That is why, the courier informs you, he has already seen to it that the debt has been repaid in full. The King has decreed that the debt is resolved and has even gone so far as to make a legal proclamation of its resolution. One of the reasons you have been invited to this royal feast was so that he could make this action public. Not only has the king cleared you and your family of the debt owed him, but he wants to make you a part of his royal family.

This announcement stuns you even more. A king has just pardoned a peasant and furthermore he wants to give a peasant royal blood? This is almost too much to bear. You continue to stare at the courier in stunned disbelief waiting to hear further explanation. No further explanation comes. The courier only asks that you let the king know of your intentions to attend the royal gathering. There you have it. You have been invited to a royal feast, legal action has been taken to remove any debt between you and the king, and on top of that the king desires to make you a part of his royal family.

Now imagine that this peasant, after sitting with this good news, begins to accept what has happened. Begins to live as if it were true. Begins to tell others of this great news and the generosity of the king. Imagine that this peasant devotes his whole life going around to the village and other places telling others of the marvelous deeds done for him. Imagine that this peasant gets so excited by this news, that he forgets the most important part of the invitation. He gets so wrapped up in what was done for him by the king that he forgets to actually go to the royal feast. He loves and honors the king for what he has done. He just doesn’t have time to attend the royal ceremony. He is too busy delighting in what has taken place. He is too busy sharing the good news of his new status that he doesn’t make time to actually go to the party.

Okay, so I am not John Bunyan and the incompleteness of my analogy is a mile wide. Let me illustrate my point, yes I am actually trying to make one, another way. This illustration is a little closer to home.

I am a foster dad. My family is made up of biological children, an adopted son, and 3 foster children. We are trying to knit together our family as best we can, with God’s grace. My organization has taken legal steps to bring our foster children into our family. We have signed papers and received rights so that we can raise these children as our sons and daughters. We have removed the legal barriers so that we can care for these children in our homes. When my foster children arrived in our home we made known to them the fact of these legal arrangements. No lawyers were present, no legalese was used. No, it was much simpler than that. I said, you can call me dad. I will refer to you as my son or daughter. I not only gave them the title as son or daughter, but began to act like a dad and treat them like my son and daughter, which included love, discipline, teaching, and structure. So I overcame the legal requirement to make that possible and I also gave them a title as part of our family.

Overnight magic didn’t happen, but day by day they are accepting me as dad, not in title alone. That came early and easier. But relationally they are beginning to treat me as “dad” and less like “male adult authority”. They are starting, themselves, to feel less like strangers and more like children in a family, albeit a sometimes crazy family. Legally and by way of title, they are my sons and daughters, but relationally it is taking time.

What’s my point in all of this? Sometimes I think we act like the peasant in the first analogy and my foster children in the second, when it comes to our “gospel-centeredness”. We delight in the invitation that the Gospel brings. We worship God for what he has done on the Cross for us. We see and share the work of Christ on a bloody cross and empty tomb, but stop short of the full purpose of the cross. Was the cross for our salvation? Yes. Did the cross remove a legal requirement we could not pay? Yes. Did the cross bestow upon us a familial title of sons and daughters? Yes! There are an infinite number of things the cross did for us. Yet if the good news of the gospel stops us there, I believe, we have stopped short of the full glory of the cross. Yes the cross removed a legal debt we needed to pay but couldn’t. Yes, the cross gave us the title of sons and daughter to the Most High. Yes and Yes. But the cross of Christ and the Gospel did those things SO THAT…

So that we could have a relationship with God. So that we could love His Son more fully. So that we could delight in the King. So that we could boldly approach the throne room of grace as sons and daughter. Don’t miss the “So that” of your Gospel-Centeredness. The Gospel is the good news of Christ. The Gospel removes the barriers to loving Jesus. So that we can love him, not only for what He has done for us, but love Him for who He is beyond the cross.

I have legally bound myself to my foster children to make them my sons and daughters. I have even given them the title of son and daughter. But I did those things, so that the way would be open to a deeper relationship. I did that in the hopes that they wouldn’t just call me dad, but love me as dad. I did that so that we could have a relationship, not strained by some awkward duty, but as a son to his loving father.

So you’ve been invited. It’s worth getting excited about. Its worth telling other people about. Its worth sharing. But don’t forget to go to the royal gathering. Don’t forget that the glory ends not with what has been done for you, but the glory entails what has been done for you SO THAT the way is open for a deep relationship with the one who makes it possible. Yes, love Jesus for what He has accomplished for you, but also love Jesus because He is Jesus. Let your Gospel move you past what has been done for you so you can see clearly the one who did it.

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Actual Moose

No Moose were hurt in the making of this blog post. Not so sure the same can be said of the video.

I tried to find some videos of an actual moose at a full gallop, but its a funny thing. Every video of a moose running seemed to have someone in it cussing. So next time you video a moose running, try not to cuss, and send it to me.

These guys are funnier than the moose. I listened to it about a dozen times and can’t tell if they let a dirty work slip. So just to be safe, skip to the 15 second mark.

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Why I Don’t Read My Bible…on an Ipad…that much

I have an Iphone and an Ipad. It goes without saying that these are enormously convenient tools of technology. There is, however, one thing that I have found that Iphones and Ipads can’t do. They can’t sanctify my example and they can’t sanctify space.

On both devices I have downloaded the ESV Bible. Having the Bible at my fingertips, being able to scroll through the books with ease, and looking at footnotes quickly is amazingly helpful. Their are some definitive advantages that I can’t argue with.

However, the downside to studying and reading the Bible from these devices out weighs the good. The downside is my children. When I am reading the Bible on my Ipad in the morning at our kitchen counter and one of my children walks in, what do they see? They see Dad on his Ipad. They see Dad scrolling through his Iphone. What they don’t see is a man wanting to be devoted to the Word of God trying to spending his first moments of the day engulfed in the revealed word of God. The example is lost if I am on my Ipad. Whose to say I wasn’t checking Twitter, Facebook, or looking at my email? How are they to know that the glow coming from that screen isn’t malcontent fowl out to harm some pigs, but the retelling of a rooster crowing after a betrayal? What they lose is the example that they may carry with them when they are young adult men and women. The remembrance of their father devoted daily to the Bible for devotion and study. But if they only see an Ipad, I haven’t sanctified that time or space. I have muddied the waters. The holy has joined with the minutia of the day. In this case, it doesn’t matter what is actually true, but what my children perceive to be true: Dad reading on his Ipad or Dad reading from the Bible. The Ipad veils the latter.

Now it is certainly no sin to read the Bible from a device like these, Iphone, Ipad, e-reader. And many times it can be helpful. But for myself, my temptation to be distracted, and for the example I want to show my children, I prefer that ancient method of reading straight from the book.

Posted in Christian Life, Parenting, technology | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Weekend Post

You know they say that most people don’t read blogs on the weekend.

 

You just proved them WRONG!

 

Thanks for stopping by.

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