Today I Waved Goodbye to my Baby Girl

You would think I would have gotten used to this by now.  The car rolling down the driveway.  Me standing on the porch waving as they disappear out of sight.  I have four daughters, and I have gone through this three times before.car driving away

The first one was the hardest, because I knew she wasn’t coming back.  The day before, I had just walked her down the aisle and given her away.  She wasn’t mine anymore.  My heart was ripped out.  It didn’t matter that she married a great guy, and that I was going to get grandkids

bride driving awayThe next two weren’t any better.  One moving two states away for a great job, another rolling down the driveway with a brand new husband.

One of the greatest blessings God can give is children who are bonded to each other and with you in Christ.  The depths of love are unsearchable.  The bonds are deep and strong.  He empowers you to train them for great things – to be salt and light in a crooked and perverse generation.

But then – you don’t want to let them go.

Now my baby girl is 22 years old.  Only a father can understand the special bond that he has for his baby girl.  They occupy a secret place in the heart that is reserved only for them.

She has already done great things for Jesus.  People wonder why she is starting college at 22.

salt and light“Well,” she would say, ” that’s what happens when you devote 2 years of your life in Taiwan, teaching English and ministering Jesus to children .”

I didn’t like it when she went to Taiwan, either.  But here is the dilemma.  You raised them to do great things for God, you encouraged them to do great things for God, and now it’s time to go and do great things forbe separate God!  There’s only one problem.  I don’t want her to go.  What a miserable wretch I am.

I am so immensely proud of my girls.  God go with you.  Your generation is going to need you more than ever.

Dad

Fathers and Children Part II

Show Them a Personal Jesus

Dustin Morgan get his first introduction to a personal Jesus at Living Word Christian Fellowship in the book, From Woodstock To Eternity,

Pastor J. R. knows about spiritual things.  As the man of God who built Living Word up from the beginning, he has founded the church on preaching a personal Jesus.  This is why the members talk to Him instead of about Him.  J. R. makes the Bible come alive, regarding it as a manual with answers for life.  When he reads out of the Gospels, Jesus seems to jump out of the pages. Jesus healing sick

When He is healing the sick in the Bible, He is right here to heal your sickness today.  When He is casting out demons in the Bible, He is right here to cast them out of you today.  At the end of every service, people go forward to receive healings and deliverance.  The place is full of joy every Sunday as people share their stories about what Jesus did for them during the week.

What is noteworthy is that Dustin has been raised in church and never thought about Jesus this way.  He never experienced the move of the Holy Spirit, his parents did not pray for Jesus to heal him when he was sick.  They did not ask Him for help when times got tough.  Hence, Jesus was not a personal force in his life.

Three Ways that Showing a Personal Jesus Binds Fathers and Children

  1.   Make the distinction between Religious Obligation vs. Personal Jesus
  • Children grow up and leave the church, or like Dustin Morgan, never really get church when it is presented as a religious obligation.  That is, go every Sunday because you have to.
  • They are much more likely to stay with Jesus when they are raised with Him as a real Spirit that has affected their lives.

2.  Teach them along the way  Deuteronomy 6:6-9

OpenBible“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  

3.  Beware that even a Personal Jesus can become a religious tradition

  • Spiritual intention to see all of life through God’s eyes becomes a “phylactery”

“You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

  • PhylacteriePhylacteries are Scriptures Jews put in boxes and wrapped on their foreheads to be “frontlets” between the eyes.
  • The danger of all religious obligations and traditions is it gives the false sense of security that you are pleasing God without having to give up your control over your life.

A Personal Jesus Means God is in Control of your Life

Fathers Hearts to Children

God’s Perspective on Children

Psalm 127:3-5  Behold, children are a blessing from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is His Grandpa and Orrinreward.

The first note in the workbook for the Basic Seminar by the Institute in Basic Life Principles is the definition of wisdom.

“Wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective.”

This includes when His perspective is not what you want to hear.  This conflict is particularly evident when it comes to the issue of children.  I actually heard a speaker say from the pulpit, “God, please don’t bless me that way, I’ve already got my three, and they are more than I can handle.”

When it comes to having and caring for children, God’s Perspective is diametrically opposed to man’s perspective.

  •  Man’s Perspective:  Try to limit the number of children
  • God’s Perspective:  Try to have more children – More blessings
  • Man’s Perspective:  Children are a burden.  Get in the way of fun, career, etc.
  • God’s Perspective:  Godly offspring is your purpose in life.  They are His reward

Every year I hear jokes about how glad parents are when school starts, because the kids are going to be gone.  How do you think this makes the kids feel?  How would you like spanking kidssomeone to say they will be happy when you are gone?  God’s attitude is to enjoy them when they are around, and be sorry when they leave.  Of course, they are more of a joy to have around when you impose God’s perspective of discipline on them.

Nothing worse than a house full of spoiled kids!

Is It God or Is It The Devil?

3 Temptations of the Devil

Matthew 4:1-10

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. …

Temptation 1:  To rely on earthly Provision and Solutions apart from the

direction of faith.

3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that

Stones into bread

these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is

Word of God

written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Temptation 2:  Think you can do anything you want, and God will still protect you.  Twist Scripture to justify your own wants.NX_angel_wings_spread

5 Then the devil …said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:  ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not 1 tempt the LORD your God.’ ”

Temptation 3:  Abandon God’s will for your life to pursue the world’s dreams and goals

Blue Goals Word Showing Objectives Hope Aiming Mission And Future

8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, andcareer climb showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, 2 “Away with you, Satan! For it is mom with kidswritten, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

Lifestyles Cause Situations

3 Elements of Self Improvement:  Acknowledgement, Analysis, Accountability

An automatic reaction takes place in most people when things go wrong, or when we are corrected for our actions.  The correction can come from a human source such as a boss, but it can also come from a Divine Source in situations that we find ourselves in.  The initial response is usually to make an excuse, or  deflect blame to another source, anything to keep from accepting the responsibility.

Why do we do this?  Because if we are responsible, then we will have to change something.  And if you think everything you do is just fine, then what’s to change?

Dustin Morgan was faced with this reality when he found himself staring at the cold, cinder block walls of a jail cell.  In From Woodstock To Eternity, he is forced to Acknowledge the failure, Analyze what led up to it, and take Accountability for his actions.

Most of the time, when people get caught doing something wrong, they’re not sorry for what they did, but for the fact that they got caught.  They analyze the execution of their plan to see where they messed up, but they never admit that there was anything wrong with the plan in the first place. 

“If I had only done this, or not done that, then it would have worked.”

In this case, it wasn’t the execution – it was the plan!  The vial of coke was there, because that’s how he had planned to live. 

As he stares at the blank, pale yellow walls of his prison cubicle, he knows that as long as he continues living this way, the vulnerability will be there – like stripes on a tiger.  No amount of precautions or self-imposed checks and balances will guarantee it won’t happen again.  There will always be a forgotten roach in the ashtray, an open container in the car, a misplaced film tin in the trunk, an empty vial in the suitcase.  And they will always lead back to this place.  It’s worse than that.  The next time he gets caught, it’ll lead to the state penitentiary.

1.  Acknowledgement – It’s Not Working:  You have to admit something is wrong before

Stop Computer Key

you will ever try to fix it.  This is the hardest part, because if we do admit that something is wrong in our life, then that means we have to fix it.  That means change.

2. Analyze the Root Cause:  Decisions have consequences, but our decisions come out of our lifestyles.  Our lifestyle is where we

Problems Or Solutions

have put the treasure of our heart – friends, activities, style, fads, language, etc.  If your lifestyle is undisciplined, your decisions will tend toward avoiding self discipline.  If you are hard working and organized, your decisions will tend toward taking on the task.

3.  Accountability – Accepting the Blame and Creating Solutions: bible closed This is the final key to self improvement.  Take responsibility and come up with a new plan that will avoid the mistakes of the past and pave the way for a better future.  Dustin Morgan vowed to raise his family up in the Lord, and he did.  This one commitment changed his life and that of those around him for the better.

Father’s Day 2015

The Blessings of Wise Children

Proverbs 10:1

A wise son makes a glad father,
But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.

There are many passages in Proverbs that start out, “My son,…” do this and that and you

Daily Bible Reading

Daily Bible Reading

will be wise.  I used to read these passages to all of my seven children in the morning on the couch for “Bible Time”.

We called them the “My sons” and “My daughters” of Proverbs.  Just as the Bible promises that God’s Word will not return void, and that if you “train up a child in the way he should go, when he grows old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6), my children have grown up to be godly, wise young people.  They are a light in a crooked and perverse generation.

Fathers Day 2015

Fathers Day 2015

As they grew up, they would make cards for me on Father’s Day.  The messages of gratitude and thanksgiving from them to me were so encouraging, I taped them to the inside of the door to my locker at work.  On the roughest of days, I could open that door and read those cards, and I knew why I was working so hard – it was for them.

They still make me cards on Father’s Day, and they still bless my heart beyond description.  Thank you Joy, Marshall, Rose, Scott, Jennifer Gloria and Josiah.  And thank you Lisa, my wife, for making it all happen.

 

God of the 5th Chance

Are you too late for transformation, too far gone for deliverance, too bad for forgiveness?

Do you think you’ve blown it too many times?  Preachers tell us all the time that God is the God of the second chance.  But what if you got the second chance, and you blew it all over again?  Many times, when people deliberately turn their backs on Jesus and return to their sin, they go back into a deeper state of depravity than they were in to begin with. Sometimes they try to be badder, meaner, do more drugs, drink more booze just to show that they never knew this Jesus in the first place.  Like they’re trying to prove something to somebody, or maybe themselves.  But if you are truly saved, the Holy Spirit will still be there, in the background, and He won’t let you go.  In the book, From Woodstock To Eternity, Dustin Morgan experiences this phenomenon as he tries to shake off his run-in with the Spirit.

He wanted so badly to have things like they used to be that he thought he could bludgeon this resistance into submission by continuing to cram beer and pot into his system.  HeFront Cover

was bound to desensitize himself against the checks and balances the Holy Spirit was putting up. 

Before he got saved, he didn’t really believe that God could get inside of his brain and start working on him, but he was skeptical enough that he didn’t want to risk it.  That’s why he didn’t want to get saved in the first place.  And now, here it comes.  It’s tough when God talks to you every time you get stoned.

So, let’s say after a fall like this, you try to pull yourself back up and make another commitment to follow the Lord.  That would be chance number three, right?  Then you fall again and get drunk, or get high, or do something stupid.  How many times is God going toProdigal Son take you back?  Matthew 18:22 says,

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

In other words, as many times as it takes to bring you to total repentance and deliverance.

The definition of Mercy is:  God punishing us less than we deserve.  We may not deserve forgiveness, but God gives it to us anyway.

The definition of Grace is:  God’s power to do what He tells us to do.  With His grace, we can ultimately and completely quit our old ways and follow His ways.

A Door Opening From Another World

Walk Through the Doors God Opens for You

Have you ever found yourself trapped in your own environment?  There you are, doing the same things, following the same routines, and then something totally unexpected happens.  You get an offer to do something you never thought of, or life presses you until you begin

A Door Opening

A Door Opening

to see, “I could do that.”

Maybe you have thought ahead a little bit and realize where the track you are on in life could take you if you don’t do something about it.  In From Woodstock To Eternity, Dustin Morgan finds himself in this very place as he gets a glimpse of what awaits him if he keeps on with his wild, bachelor mindset.

“It was like I could see ahead in the future, and I imagined myself being in my forties, still trying to play the field.  It seemed kind of asinine that I would keep on running around like a kid, cruising the bars, chasing skirts; everyone I knew would be married with families, and then Boom!  It hit me.  In spite of all my friends, and associates, and my community of hippies, I could end up living by myself.  The likelihood that this scenario could very well happen scared the hell out of me.  It still does.  It bothered me so much I had to shout out loud into that, gloomy, misty darkness,

‘I DON’T WANT TO TURN FORTY ALONE!!’

“Well, it looks like this is my chance.  I can see a door opening from another world, and I think I need to walk through it.  I’ve been considering some things I thought I would never consider before.  Yeh, Buck, I think the time has come for me to do something crazy.”

Book excerpt:  From Woodstock To Eternity

The door Dustin is talking about is the door to a lifestyle of marriage, one he has never contemplated before.  As a matter of fact, marriage has always represented confinement to him, but times are changing.  It is significant that the door is opening up to him – he is not trying to open the door.  An opportunity is presenting itself to him in spite of his old ideas.  What is being opened up to him is the chance to grab hold of the concept of marriage and see it as a good thing.  It is the chance to completely change his mind.  Will he take it?

This is a very popular painting of Jesus knocking on the door of our hearts.  He is on the Jesus Knockingoutside, we are on the inside.  He is offering the opportunity for us to enter a world totally different than the one we have been living in.  He is also giving us the chance to change our mind about things and to be willing to embrace the mindset of heaven and righteousness.

Both sides of the doorThis image shows both sides of the door.  The people on one side are completely wrapped up in their daily routines, then they hear a knock.  Jesus has come with a new way of thinking.  Just like Dustin Morgan’s predicament, they may not want to leave their old way of doing and thinking, but the crack of light through the opening door offers them a way to escape.  Will they take it?  Will you take it?  Dustin Morgan took it, and it changed his life forever.

Walk through the door.  See what eternity has in store for you.

Levels of the Christian Lifestyle

4 Levels of the Christian Life

Have you ever wondered why some Christians are so passionate about Jesus, and others just mention Him once in a while, or worse yet,  only when they’re cussing?  Yes, even some Christians use the Lord’s Name in vain.  If you are on the “not ready to get into it” side of things, you might look at full blown Christians with an idea like, “If I looked like that, talked like that and lived like that, I would lose all my friends, and maybe even my family.  Plus, I would look like a Bible thumper, and that would embarrass me.”

If you were on the “Jesus saved me and I owe him my life side”, you might look at the non-committed Christian and say, “now why can’t they overcome whatever is holding them back, or why can’t they see the principles that are so plainly laid out in the Bible?”

There are levels in between, as well.  In the book, From Woodstock To Eternity, Morgan’s parents were devoted Christians who faithfully went to church, but he seldom, if ever, heard a conversation about Jesus during the week.  He may have been a part of their thinking at times, but they did not make the presence of God a part of their normal family life.

“They talked to Jesus and about Jesus all the time, as if He was a real person, living in the air all around them.  This was a different attitude towards God than what he grew up with.  He had always gone to church on Sunday with his parents, but during the rest of the week, Jesus was not in the picture.  Mom and Dad were moral, ethical, hardworking people, but they didn’t talk to Jesus on a regular basis.  They didn’t act like there was someone else in the room, so Morgan had no reason to think there was such a thing as a living Jesus watching over them. 

Now, this new reality was being forced upon him.  Not harshly, or menacingly, but by default.  This is how his sister and brother-in-law saw it, this is how everybody in the church saw it, and so he was being inundated with the presence of Jesus.  He didn’t mind, everybody was extremely nice, and he was making friends that were in another world from the friends he had back in Virginia.  It’s just that everything was so, well, so straight.” 

There are 4 levels of Commitment to the Word – Which one are you?

Barely There

This is someone who has heard the Gospel, is intrigued by it because it has a grain of truth to him, but considers the effect it will have on his life and says, “not for me.”  It could also mean that the person actually believed it and got saved, but has no desire to to anything about it.  He continues on like nothing happened.

Enthusiasm then Apathy

This person receives the Gospel with great joy, thinking it will solve all their problems, but

applying pressure

applying pressure

when they start to live it, they don’t receive the “help” they perceived, but instead,pressure.  This opposing pressure comes from friends, family, situations, etc.  They get discouraged and shrink back from being a vibrant, upbeat, energized Christian.

Loving the Old Life

This is the one that ensnares most “middle of the road” Christians.  Even in this category there is a wide range.  It could be your average good ole boy who is ashamed to let his rough and tough buddies know he is a Christian.  He goes to the bar after work, he cusses on the job.

It could also be your average “good Christian” who regularly goes to Church, and even sees the Church family as their body of friends.  However, if they did anything as radical as home school their kids, got rid of their TV, or quite their jobs to raise their kids at home intead of Day Care, they would be ostracized.  Their church family friends would say, “We didn’t expect you to go that far!!!!  What are you, some kind of fanatic?”

Total Freedom

This is the realm, in our culture today, where you are walking in strength and confidence and joy, but everybody else thinks you are nuts.  Not to worry, Jesus has given us a promise.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you

Treasure in Heaven

Treasure in Heaven

falsely for My sake. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Matthew 5:11-13 

“But I don’t want to be reviled and persecuted”, you say.  No, that is not for this level.  That’s what the people back on level 2 say.  On this level of total freedom, you embrace the persecution and see it as a badge of honor.  When you get here – You are FREE!!!

TRANSFORMATION: You Get Tired Of Steak

Transformation has many phases.  No one wakes up one day, and says, “you know what?  I have been wrong my whole life about such and so, and so today I am going to change.”  No, friends, we all know that we will hang on tooth and nail to any idea, opinion, thought, or behavior that we have adopted as part of our lives, even if we know deep down inside that they could be wrong.  Or even a teensy weensy bit wrong.  Or even a lot wrong.

It all has to start with some inward realization that things are not going right.  In the book, From Woodstock To Eternity, Dustin Morgan has achieved a level of success in the high flying drug dealing, hippie lifestyle, and should be relishing all the benefits of “The Kingdoms of this world and their glory.”  But, a gnawing reality start to impress itself upon his conscience, even in his drunken, hallucinating stupor.

“… Morgan quickly slides back into a continuous stupor of all day drinking and partying.  He starts losing his grip in many ways, spraining his ankle, stumbling around and cutting his bare feet on broken glass, forgetting where he put his money.  He does one more run with Agent Orange only to misplace thousands of dollars; stashing it where he thought he would never forget.  He starts shooting up cocaine until it becomes an uncontrollable addiction, draining money and energy from him like a big, black hole.

He is trying to satisfy all the goals of life with the full time pursuit of pleasure.  What is the

Work

Work

goal of dealing dope?  Isn’t it to escape the lifelong curse of man to work for a living?  Now that you don’t have to work, what’s the goal of that?  To free you up to do what you want to do all day?  And what do most people want to do if they don’t have to work?  Party, party, party!!!  Right? 

After a few months of running around doing nothing all day, eating out at dinner, drinking the night away, Morgan starts to get bored and disillusioned.  Is this all there is to it?  Is this what life is all about; the end

Champagne on Ice

Champagne on Ice

game?  Getting to the point where you don’t have to work so you can eat in restaurants, drink champagne, get high, and have steak and eggs for breakfast? 

When he left Woodstock, he had an obsession to escape forever the beans and rice syndrome of handouts and communal living.  Once he had enough money, he ate steak

Can you get tired of steak?

Can you get tired of steak?

every chance he got.  But after a while, his “high on the hog” lifestyle gave him a totally unexpected revelation:  No matter how good something is, if you have enough of it, it gets old and routine.  The startling conclusion hits him,

“You get tired of steak.” 

The point here is that our earthly bodies are wired to become complacent with whatever becomes routine.  This is why people can adapt to living in homeless conditions or on welfare day after day, giving up any goals or dreams, and accept their reality.  It is also why highly successful people can begin to feel so accustomed to their opulent lifestyle that they are no longer grateful for it, or no longer think it gives them any satisfaction.

So, what is the solution?

You have to think it terms of Eternity!  You must become an Eternal Pioneer!  Everything

Seeing into Eternity

Seeing into Eternity

on this earth has an end and can come to the point where you can not get any more.  In Eternity, in Christ, we have an unlimited existence with Him that will continue forever.

Colossians 3:2 -4 …Set your mind on things above,

not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.