Generational Father’s Day, a Heritage of the Lord

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On this Father’s Day, I want to encourage and challenge the men I know, as well as rejoice over God’s grace in my own life. My Dad and my Grandad have both been my heroes growing up. I am grateful God allowed us to grow up with both men active in our daily lives. Whereas many children of ministry parents, including my own, do not get to live close to family or grandparents, we had the privilege of living in the same town as both sets of our grandparents. My one grandfather died when we were very young; however, my Grandad Carson only lived about ten minutes away from us and we saw each other often during the week. I had the privilege to watch Dad and Grandad as they worked, played, worshipped, parented, and husbanded. I appreciate in greater words than pen can write what I observed and learned.

Over the years Psalm 71:16-18 have been three of my favorite verses. There is an incredible challenge here for each of us as fathers.

16  I will go in the strength of the Lord God;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.
17  O God, You have taught me from my youth;
And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.
18    Now also when I am old and grayheaded,
O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to everyone who is to come.

The psalmist here emphasizes three elements that challenge each one of us as fathers.

First, he recognized God as his teacher. Now we know that God literally does not teach us in a classroom; however, through God’s Word as it gets applied in life’s circumstances, God teaches each of us. In this psalm, the author has lived a life close to the Lord. He has observed God’s ways and recognizes God’s kindness as His protector and sovereign Lord. He has enjoyed sweet communion with God since childhood. As a middle-aged man, I can look back and say with this psalmist, I know God and have been taught by Him. I do not know Him as much as I desire yet; however, I have today to keep learning Him.

Second, he committed to declaring God’s wondrous works and God’s power to his generation and those that are to come. His goal was simple – declare God. God’s character and His words are worthy of our worship. I hope to do the same. As a Christian since childhood, I can say like this psalmist that I have been taught from my youth. I have heard both my Dad and Grandad regularly teach from God’s Word in formal settings and of course in daily life. I have watched them as they lived it out when it was convenient and when it was not. I am grateful for my examples and teachers.

Third, our commitment cannot just be to our generation, we must live life in the present with an eye for the future. Yes, it is vitally important to live today with those around us for God’s glory. We cannot fail in daily living. The psalmist is concerned that although he has lived consistent throughout his life to this point, that somehow now as an older man he will be unfaithful. Why? Because he understood the necessity of today and also the hope of the future generation. He saw the bigger picture than what was immediately in front of him. He understood that what is said and done matters to more than just oneself. He recognized the importance of being a leader. He depended upon the Lord to grant him the strength to be faithful to his generation and also to the next. He recognized that although leaving a physical inheritance – no matter the size – is important, it is more important and absolutely necessary to leave a heritage of loving and serving God. I am so grateful that I have had the privilege of that kind of heritage myself, and certainly recognize this as the gift of the Lord. I desire to leave that same kind of heritage to my children and their children as well.

What then is our challenge today men on Father’s Day?

  1. Live life with God as your teacher. Read the Word. Study the Word. Memorize the Word. Go to church. Be around other godly men. Read good theological literature that helps you apply God’s Word in your life. Soak up God’s Word until it consumed you. Have men push and challenge you on how you live it. Be consistently learning from God.

 

  1. Share what you learn with others. As you love and learn God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Spirit, make sure that you share it with others. Do not neglect the privilege and responsibility of living an outward faith – a walk with the Lord. Your faith was never meant to be private. Live it. Live it consistently around people – at home, at work, at play, at church. Share it regularly.

 

  1. Consider the heritage you leave for this generation and the next generation. Your children are watching you know. They see. They learn. They know what is important to you and what is not important to you. They get you more than you know. You will be known for something. If the future, your children will laugh and tell stories about you. In the future they will sit around and remanence. For what will you be known? What heritage will you leave? When you die, may your family never wonder about your walk with God. I often tell men to live life today so that when you near death your family will not wonder if you will go to heaven.

This Father’s Day I am grateful for my godly heritage. God’s grace in the likeness of a Dad and Grandad is marvelous and undeserved. I commit myself to leaving the same kind of heritage by God’s grace.

Join the Conversation

What about you today father, will you commit yourself to leaving that kind of heritage?

9 Reasons Why To Celebrate Wedding Anniversaries

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Today we celebrated with our parents their 50th wedding anniversary – the Golden Anniversary. This is a special day for any family; however, every anniversary is worth prioritizing and celebrating. Over the years at times I have done well with celebrating my own anniversary, and disappointingly, there are times I have failed to appreciate the day for what it is worth. Let me give you 9 reasons why you should celebrate wedding anniversaries.

1. Covenant Faithfulness. Marriage is a life-long covenant of companionship between a man and a woman, created in the image of God, which results in unity for the purpose of dominion under God. This beautiful and serious marriage covenant has two aspects – both horizontal and vertical: a promise to each other and, as a couple, a promise to God. The ceremony includes the exchanging of covenant promises, with witnesses, and an official. It involves an agreement between a man and a woman to hold fast to one another, by the grace of God, as husband and wife during their earthly lives. Each anniversary celebrates another year of covenant faithfulness – not perfection as a couple but faithfulness to a promise made with each other and God.

This is a component of marriage that helps make us more like God. One of God’s greatest attributes is His covenant faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-24). Throughout the Bible God’s covenant faithfulness is celebrated – from Genesis with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, throughout Israel’s history, highlighted in Ruth, and ultimately celebrated in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Marriage is a visible, physical, temporal covenant that pictures, embodies, and points to the eternal covenant between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). As we stay faithful to our earthly spouse, we choose to be covenant faithful and shower our spouse with blessings like our God. This is the covenant faithfulness celebrated every anniversary.

2. Powerful Grace. Powerful grace indeed! Every marriage thrives off of grace. Grace is the oil that keeps the marriage running. In God’s kindness He provides grace that is new every morning. It is powerful grace that is empowered by the Spirit (Ephesians 1:19-23). It is necessary grace that is required because we are sinners and sufferers. Life in a broken world is not easy. Life with another sinner striving for unity and faithfulness is also difficult. However, God provides sufficient grace that is always up to the challenge (1 Corinthians 10:13). This is the grace celebrated every anniversary.

3. Forgiveness in Christ. A personal relationship with God begins with eternal forgiveness from God to the believer through the personal work of Jesus. As followers of Christ, we forgive people as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). Marriage creates a context where both spouses have the privilege and responsibility to forgive each other often. We sin. We offend. We fail. As we live and these offenses occur, it requires that forgiveness is requested and received, needed and granted. This is the forgiveness celebrated every anniversary.

4. Commitment to Glorifying God. God desires for all followers to glorify Him daily in everything (1 Corinthians 10:31). Marriage becomes the proving ground where these decisions are determined and demonstrated. Our lives include many ups and downs, unexpected turns, and mountain tops and valleys. On this journey, as couples, we regularly must choose to glorify God in all these moments together. Sometimes we nail it perfectly; sometimes we fail. This is the commitment to glorifying God celebrated every anniversary.

5. Progressive Sanctification. Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives. Life’s most significant process – progressive sanctification – takes place in the rich environment of marriage. Two sinners. One covenant. A life full of opportunities to grow in Christ together. Marriage, this special and distinct inseparable relationship provides companionship along the journey of Christ-likeness (Ephesians 5:25-32). This is the sanctification process celebrated every anniversary.

6. Lifelong Companions. When we make our marriage vowels, we begin making a life together – learning to love each other as we weld two individual lives together as one. We commit to each other as we commit to Christ. We recognize we are in this for life. Not a blind chance but a deliberate choice. Not convenience but obedience. Not how the cards fall but a covenant. Not about compatibility but a welding of two lives together. We are lifelong companions. Two friends choosing to stay in the boat together regardless of the heavy winds, waves, or tempestuous sea. This is the lifelong companionship celebrated every anniversary.

7. God’s Sovereignty. Just as specifically as God gave Adam and Eve to each other, God uses our own personal choices to give us our spouses. As we choose each other on our wedding day, God providentially and lovingly works out His plan. God uses the occasion of our marriage to provide for us our lifelong companion. The couple has not been given the authority to dissolve the marriage (Matthew 19:6). Separation only becomes appealing as a husband or wife looks at self and not God’s purpose for “us.” Therefore, the couple must avoid selfishness in order to not make separation appealing in life. Instead, the couple embraces the similarities and differences, the strengths and weaknesses, and the moments of delight and disappointments as part of God’s plan. This is the sovereignty of God celebrated every anniversary.

8. Building and Celebrating Memories. Each anniversary means another calendar year has transpired. Twelve months. Four seasons. Good days. Not so good days. Sometimes horrific days. Good times. Bad times. Holidays. Work days. Weekends. Vacations. Life. Memories have been built as days have been lived. The contours of life change as these moments apply pressure, make impressions, and provide wrinkles. This is building and celebrating of memories celebrated every anniversary.

9. Continued Love. From the first conversations, through the length of the engagement, to the wedding day, love drives the process. Immature love changes to a mature love. Imperfect love remains imperfect but steadfast. Even though we understand Christ’s perfect love, none of us can ever live up to the ideal. Instead, we strive to love better and remain steadfast in it. Biblical love for your spouse is based on God’s love for you and must be practiced out of a desire to honor the Lord. For the husband, love means that a husband gives his life for his wife, just as Christ gave His live for the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). For the husband and wife, we together seek to imitate the love of Christ with each other. This is the continued love celebrated every anniversary.

Regardless if this is your 50th anniversary, 70th anniversary, 16th anniversary, or 1st anniversary – whatever the year it is for you – this is an important celebration. We celebrate together with you all the energy and effort it takes to live life together as lifelong companions committed to the love and glory of God.

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

“You’ve been here all night?”

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I’ve recently been sitting up with a dear friend overnights. This sweet friend suffers from brain disease and has lost both short term and most long term memory. Although I help during the night when needed, most mornings I am greeted with the same innocent smile and question, “You’ve been here all night?”

While this dear saint sleeps, arouses briefly, and occasionally needs help, I am watching, waiting for a call for help, observing the normal signs of life like breathing, and preemptively serving necessary needs. Although the night has been busy from my end, each morning I’m met with a new surprised look and question, “You’ve been here all night?”

I can’t help but think of us as a people with God. Most days it is we who have spiritual amnesia and forget that God is with us every day and every night. As followers of Christ, we know that God never sleeps nor slumbers; He never leaves us (Psalm 121; Joshua 1:9). Christ is with us always (Matthew 28:20). The Holy Spirit seals and empowers us as we are indwelt by Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God perfectly does those things – and so much more for us – that I so imperfectly do for my friend. He is watching, waiting for a call for help, observing and supervising the normal signs of life, and preemptively serving our every need. Friends, He is there.

How convicting, and yet still comforting, to consider the fact that God loves, serves, and helps us even when we functionally are oblivious to His presence. In our most desperate moments, He is there. When we strive to live independently of Him, He is there. As we cry out, He is there. As we are busy doing our own thing, He is there. When we are afraid, He is there. When we misperceive the danger around us and are carefree, He is there. When our hearts are broken and we are so low, He is there. On our happiest day, He is there. Friends, He is there.

So whatever you are going through today, this is great news! God’s faithfulness to you does not depend upon your faithfulness to Him. In fact, God is faithful to us in spite of the fact that He knows we will not be faithful to Him. God is faithful to us when nothing we do or say deserves it. In our most holy moments and in our most unholy moments, God is with us. Friends, He is there.

How do we respond to such wonderful, yet convicting, news?

First, stop and thank God for being with you today. This may be the first time today you have considered Him; however, He has been waiting and is ready to hear you. He has been busy doing everything necessary to keep your world together while you have also been too busy to pay attention to Him. Take time now to just pause to pray and be grateful because friends, He is there.

Seek to stay aware of His presence the rest of today. You can set an hourly chime on your phone, place a note somewhere you won’t miss it, or tie a string around your finger – okay, maybe not that one, but do something that will specifically remind you of His presence throughout your day. When you consciously consider His presence, just breathe a sigh of relief, put a sweet smile on your heart, and welcome Him into your thoughts. “God, it is so nice that You are here with me right now,” for friends, He is there.

Furthermore, rehearse in your mind all of the blessings God provides for you today. Whisper them back to yourself. If you are where you can’t whisper, then just reflect on them. If you are alone, say them out loud. “God, I am forgiven of my sins today because of Jesus Christ. I stand in righteousness having the power of sin broken because of Christ. I am not alone but instead enjoy You now because of the sacrificial death of Jesus. You give me confidence of Heaven in the future and strength for this world around me today.” Carefully consider all of the ways that God blesses you and voice them. Friends, He is there.

To God, “You’ve been here all night?”

God says, “Yes, and all day as well. I will never leave you or forsake you.”

May God be praised because friends, He is there.

Join the Conversation

What are other ways that you practice remembering and celebrating the presence of God?

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

Be Careful… People Are Watching

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People Are Watching You.

Did your parents ever tell you before you left the house in particular moments, “Don’t forget you represent more than just yourself, you represent our family and Christ”? Mine occasionally would and it was a helpful reminder. Why? Because it is easy to forget that people pay attention to you.

This is true of all of us. You may believe that people do not care about you or pay little attention to you; however, most of us have a much bigger impact than what we understand. However, it is easy to miss how many people actually watch us. Let me suggest 3 important concepts for you to keep in mind.

The Reach of What You Do

How do people pay attention to you? To answer that question, consider how you typically pay attention to others around you. It depends of course upon the venue. On social media, you scroll, and scroll, and scroll. People give their opinion, share something funny, tell of personal experiences, give their opinion, provide political commentary, post pictures of favorite places, people or events, give their opinion, share recipes, and on and on. That is just one way you pay attention to others – and they pay attention to you.

Now multiply that by all the other ways that you engage people. You talk with coworkers, neighbors, family members, and sometimes complete strangers. You work around people, in front of people, and with people. You eat out where people observe you, eat at home where conversations take place, and eat with friends occasionally. You shop. There are whole internet sites committed to sharing funny pictures of people just shopping at Wal-Mart! You play – online, outside, and inside. You live – and sometimes live big.

The Power of What You Do

As people watch, you influence. One of the verses that impacted me regarding this years ago was Philippians 4:9. “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (italics mine). Consider these questions: What does it take to learn? A teacher. What does it take to receive? A giver. What does it take to hear? A speaker. What does it take to have seen something? A doer.

You are all of those things to others. As they observe you, you teach, give, speak, and do. People learn, receive, hear, and see. Intentionally or not, learning takes place.

When my son was very young, I notice that he would often touch the top or back of his sister’s head – and other smaller children – when he would tell her, “I love you.” I wondered why he would do that until one day at the end of a service, as I visited with people leaving the service, I noticed that I too would put my hand on the head of all the little ones walking by and tell them that Pastor Kevin loved them as I wished them a good week. Even as a four or five year old boy, he had observed how I engaged all the other little children and was doing the same – although at 16 he does not respond to his sister now in that way. :)

This is a simple example that communicates a great and powerful truth. People watch you and learn from you – even when you are not paying attention to your own self. How you respond to other people – they’re watching. How you respond to officials at the game – they’re watching. How you respond to authority in your life – they’re watching. How you drive – they’re watching. You are constantly teaching, giving, speaking, and doing; those around you are continuously learning, receiving, hearing, and seeing.

The Opportunity of What You Do

The issue then is not a matter of if anyone pays attention; instead, what and how are you influencing them? You can make a great difference in the lives of those around you. In the Philippians passage, Paul said that God would be satisfied with each individual that would live consistent with what he taught, gave, spoke, and did. Can you say that? “God would be satisfied, __(person who is watching)__, if you do it just like me.” There are many, many occasions, days, or seasons that I can’t say that. What about you?

This is your opportunity. You can live in a way that impacts people for the good. You can be an encourager. You can be wisdom. You can be love. You can be kindness. You can be light. You can be compassion. You can be calm. You can be patient. You can be godly. You can also be the opposite as well.

So, today, what kind of person will you choose to be? Don’t forget, people are watching!

Join the Conversation

How have you been surprised before when you had impacted someone either positively or negatively?

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

Why These Numbers Can Change Your Life

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So what makes these numbers [2 • 2 • 2] so special that they can change your life?

Great question. It is not in the number itself; instead, it is in what they represent.

2 Voices  •  2 Qualities  •  2 Responses

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2 Voices – This refers to the two voices of God.

The first voice is the heavens or the firmament. Psalm 19:1-6 teach the heavens speak daily and speak every language on earth. There is not one person who does not hear the voice. It further describes the heavens as the tent for the sun. Every person alive is under its influence as it daily makes its way across the sky. So what does it say? It declares the glory of God – it points people to God’s eternal power and divine nature (cf. Romans 1:20). Every day as we go outside and see or feel the effects of the sun, it is a reminder to us of God’s eternal power and His divine nature. Our response is to recognize the glory of God.

The second voice is the Word of God – the Bible. Psalm 19:7-9 state that as we read God’s Word, it transforms us. It restores us, makes us wise, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, and help us with truth and righteousness. God’s Word tells us of mankind’s creation and fall, the possibility of redemption in Jesus Christ, and future redemption. Through it we receive wisdom, grow in discernment, and are transformed.

2 Qualities – This refers to the two qualities of God’s Word.

The first quality is intrinsic value. Psalm 19:10 states, “They [God’s words] are of greater value than gold, than even a great amount of pure gold; they bring greater delight than honey, than even the sweetest honey from a honeycomb.” The psalmist used two very valuable objects to describe the intrinsic value of the Bible. It is of far greater worth than a great amount of the finest gold. In addition, it is sweeter – and thus more desirable – than the finest honey. When the Bible was written, before modern times with all the sweets available today, honey was a delicacy. Here, the psalmist says that God’s words are even of greater delight than that.

The second quality is personal value. Psalm 19:11 teaches that by them you are warned (or in other words, reminded, instructed, and exhorted) and in keeping them through obedience there is great reward. So the Bible provides you two incredible benefits – you receive a warning to help you guard your heart and life, plus you receive great rewards when you follow what the Bible teaches. This instruction and reward of course begins with Jesus – the warning of rejecting Him and the reward of accepting Him to receive forgiveness of sin. However, the instruction and reward are actually so much greater as the Bible’s teachings touches every part of life.

2 Responses – This refers to your daily responses to God’s Word.

The first response is the prayer of personal repentance. In Psalm 19:12-13 the psalmist prays the following prayer, “Who can know all his errors? Cleanse me for the sins I am unaware of. Plus, keep me from committing flagrant sins, and do not let those sins control me. Then I will be blameless and innocent of blatant rebellion.” In this prayer there is a sense of self-awareness and self-reflection. The idea is that you read God’s Word and then use its teachings to carefully consider your heart and life. You desire to follow God in every way. Therefore, you ask God to cleanse you from those sins you are unaware of that exist and to keep you from allowing the sins you are aware of to control and dominate you.

The second response is the prayer of personal surrender. The prayer of Psalm 19:14 is a daily prayer for all of us to pray each and every day after we have stopped to read and consider God’s voice in the Scriptures. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” In this prayer, you essentially dedicate your words and your thoughts to God throughout your day. Your goal is that God will be honored in all that you think and all that you say. By implication this prayer means that there are no thoughtless moments or no idle words. Instead, you purposefully engage your mind throughout the day and intentionally use your words to bring honor to God. Your thoughts reflect a spirit of worship that comes from your love of Christ; your words demonstrate a love of Christ and love of others as they seek to encourage, enrich, and embolden others. Furthermore, this prayer reflects a humility that recognizes from Whom your strength actually comes – the power that only God provides in Christ through the indwelling Spirit.

As you begin each day, take time to recall this mnemonic device of 2 • 2 • 2. I want to live today in awareness of the 2 Voices of God, 2 Qualities of the Word, and the 2 Responses to the Word. As you do this and daily become aware of God’s voice, the quality of God’s Word, and appropriate responses in prayer, your life will change. It is impossible to reflect on God and His Word, to increasing desire His Word, and to pray in reflection of God’s Word without changing to become more like Christ.

What are some helpful ways you can remind yourself of this?

Here are just a few ideas: place the number 2 • 2 • 2 on cards and leave them laying around, tape them on a mirror, or hang them on the refrigerator. Set a daily alarm at 2:22 in the afternoon for a midday reminder. Write out the prayer of Psalm 19:12-14, read it every day in prayer to God, rehearse it throughout your day, and read it before bed as a nighttime prayer (at night you might add “and the dreams of my night” to the prayer). Before long you will have memorized it and it will become a daily part of your prayer life.

Join the Conversation

What do you suggest are other ways that you can remember the mnemonic device of 2 • 2 • 2?

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM