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Category: Family (Page 1 of 3)

A Most Prized Possession…

 

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Many people have something that they prize more than anything else they have. Some have horses, some have cars, houses, or some other item of grandeur. Some have smaller things, like books, gifts, pictures, or other sentimental items. Myself? I fall into the sentimental category. Here is what I would consider one of my most prized possessions:

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Yes, a stack of envelopes with dates on them. They start in early June and go through sometime in early August. The year isn’t on there, because they were for just a specific span of time in the summer of 2007. My wife and I, then newly minted engaged couple, were going on summer missions trips, two months, on opposite sides of the world. I in New Zealand and Australia, she in Peru. And it was a long two months. But, wife back then had a surprise for me, something super special. She would tease me regularly when we spoke on the phone (I lived in Florida, she in Kansas). And, it wasn’t until right before we began the training for our missionary endeavors that she gave me her gift. A card for each day of the trip. A card for me to open and read, along with bits of Bible trivia, for each and every day.

Here is a picture from my 26th birthday:

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I enjoyed these cards. And I still do. I don’t know if my wife realizes it, but, some nights, when I cannot sleep, I pull these out and look through some of them, trying to remember what I was doing or where I was going while traveling on the other side of the planet.

Now, years have passed, we’ve been married since the end of 2007, and we have four children. We’ve moved several times and worked and grown a lot together. And I’ve matured a lot. There is one thing that I wish I had done differently when I was on that trip some nine years ago along with those cards. I wish that I would have been as eager to read the Word of God as much as I was eager to open the next day’s card. I never cheated. Not once. (It even became a team obsession, kind of, as I was a team leader and my missionaries loved the cuteness of the cards, thinking that it was so amazing!).

I am not writing to lessen the value of the cards that my wife wrote for me, spending countless hours of her time, allowing the unsecure me to feel secure in the love that she had for me. What I am writing about is that, as a Christian, my most prized physical and tangible possession needs to be (and is) the Word of God. Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16, ESV). God’s Word, the Good News of Jesus the Christ, is the power unto Salvation! My most prized possession isn’t really a possession, but it is that great salvation that God has wrought in my life.

When I wake in the morning, I need to dig into God’s Word like some people need their coffee. Badly. I believe that not only does God command it for the Christian (Psalm 119:145-148; John 21:1-14), I know for me that it really helps set the pace and tone for my day. God knows infinitely better that I what I need. And often the Words I read from the Bible directly impact my day, sometimes without my realizing it in that moment.

So, the next time you go to pull out that prized possession, or take it for a spin, or a ride, flight, read, or whatever…ask yourself this: is my time with God as important? As breathtaking? Or am I committing idolatry in some way?

Now, I will still continue to pull out these cards from time to time, however, the daily eager expectancy to read something will be for the Word of God.img_2371

Some of the Best Advice…

Over the past year since I first began taking my online Seminary classes with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for my Masters of Theological Studies (MTS), it has, from time to time, been a real struggle…for my family more-so than  for me. And, this past week, after a short email exchange with one of my professors, he gave me some of the best advice I have received in regards to being married with children, working two jobs, and going to seminary full time:

“Ministry is very time consuming. Not sure how anyone really survives doing ministry and going to school at the same time. I never recommend this option because of the stress but some pull it off. Make sure you give your family your time and love, even if it means settling for a lower score in a class. I never judge students by the scores and do my best to forget grades so that I do not look at a student and see a letter or a number. All are made in the image of God and how you serve Him is what should define you.”

It has really had a profound effect on me this week. I was very frustrated at what I considered a poor grade (a 73 out of 100, I think). I was annoyed by it, and, honestly, I wasn’t very lovable at that moment, or for the next several moments after I saw my grade. However, there are two things that I really got out of this email: 

1. Family before Seminary. Grades are important. Degrees are great. Family is of a high eternal importance than Seminary or grades. 

2. I am not defined by a number or letter, but by the fact that I am in Christ, created in the image of God. 

So, as I enter my second-to-last semester in seminary, I am going to finish off strong…for my family, for my God. Lord willing, I will have good grades, but, I need to remember that grades aren’t everything. 

Soli Deo Gloria. 

Saplings Grow By Their Parent Tree, Not Somewhere Else…

     In nature, as God designed, when seeds fall from a tree and begin to sprout into saplings, they do not fall far form the tree. And that is why many forests are made of many of the same time of tree. In the same way, so should Christian families be: growing and maturing at home, close to family, under the leaders of the household: the parents.

     Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us to teach God’s statutes, “diligently to your children,”(v.7). Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Now that’s not a surefire promise, it’s a Proverb of wisdom, but, it’s one directed to you and me, parents.

     For the vast majority of history, education was taken care of at home by the parents. And no, it wasn’t like homeschooling today where you learn to read and write and do math. Formal education such as that was not common like it is now. Girls would usually stay at home and learn to cook and clean and take care of the house, training up to be dutiful wives. Boys would learn a skill or a trade to provide for the family. Only the kids of royalty or those of the rich and powerful would receive formal educations, learning to read and write in several languages, included Latin. What about you and me? We learned what we needed to learn to take care of and provide for our families, no more. Most people did not know how to read and write and only a basic grasp of math was needed when it came to money and harvesting and the such.

     Moving closer to the church, let’s look at Sunday School. Sunday School, also known as Sabbath Day School, was originally started in the 1780s as a way to help educate the children who were in the workforce, working in factories. The Sabbath Day was their only day off of work, so the clergy worked together to educate these children in reading, writing, arithmetic, and the Bible. But, that was only one day a week. It wasn’t until 1870 when kids were allowed to go to school during the week. Let’s face it, the origins of what we know of Sunday School were nothing like what we have now. Completely different, in fact.

     But still, even with the advent of public education and the eventual laws which made it so parents had to send their children to school of some sort, there was still something that was taken care of at home. What is that you ask? Educating the children in the Word of God. God has always commanded parents to be the main teachers of the laws of God to their children. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (ESV)

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 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.

     Wow. Just wow. Here, the Hebrew nation is being commanded to study and talk about God and His statutes and laws. All the time. It should dominate not only their studies and thoughts, but their lives as well. And we should be living by the same example, living our lives in a zealous fashion for God and His will in our lives. And our lives include our children.

     So, with all this in mind, parents should be taking the leading role in instructing our children about the Bible, that is God’s Word, the very Word that was God and with With God and became flesh and dwelt among us(John 1:1, 14). This instruction is something that we, as parents, are commanded to do. It’s not a suggestion or a good idea, but a command. Now don’t get me wrong, your children should attend church and should learn from church, from the pastor and from Sunday School. However, that is just one, maybe two days a week. What about the other five or six? That is for the parents, specifically fathers/men, as outlined in the Bible as being the spiritual head of the family.

    There is this woman that I know through my work. If she were to come and visit my church, she’d probably weird out a good number of our members, deacons included(and maybe even my pastor!). I know that some would consider her some sort of religious zealot. Some of the younger families in the church might see her as overbearing, while others thinking of her as a fake. But let me tell you, she is the REAL DEAL with how she lives her life for God. She’s not a religious zealot, but she is truly zealous for God, and it shows in her life, her actions, and her words. Truly, she is a model of how we, as Christian parents, should be living our lives.

Soli Deo Gloria

Here are a few resources for family devotions and worship:

Be Fruitful And Multiply

It has been a while since I have posted anything on my blog, as I have been quite busy. So, here I go with an update about the going-ons of the Bradley household.

First, God has blessed me with a wonderful job. Technically speaking, it’s a Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm job, however, once I am through training, that will not always be the case. But, it’s a job, it’s what I want to do, and it’s truly a blessing. AND….because of company policy, I cannot tell you what it is! HAHA! So, if you know me, you know. If you don’t…okay…I’ll tell you…I’m a secret agent!..not really…

Secondly, as many of you know, my wife is pregnant, and will still be so for at least a few hours(maybe less!) after the posting of this post!

   “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” (Genesis 1:28, ESV)
“Be fruitful and multiply…” were God’s instructions. Our God is not only the Sovereign Lord of the Universe, but He is a God of family. We refer to Him as God the Father. He inspired Paul to write, in his letter to the Ephesians, “…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”(Ephesians 1:4-6, ESV). And, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,”(Ephesians 1:11, ESV). Our God is a God of family(amongst other things as well). 
   “While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”” (Matthew 12:46–50, ESV)
Even Jesus spoke of not only His family as His family, but also His disciples. 
So today, as we sit in the hospital in the birthing suite, we await the arrival of our third child, a girl, baby Genevieve(Evie for short), we await with eager anticipation. God is working mightily in our family, putting the finishing touches on this beautiful young lady whom many cannot wait to see. And, we remember, that our God is a God of family. 
Soli Deo Gloria

Teaching Our Children

Last Sunday, my pastor preached on Teaching Our Children out of Psalm 78:1-8, after the dedication of a baby of a young couple in our church. It was weird, being that it was a break from us usual expository preaching from the Gospel of John(52 weeks in, still in John chapter 6!).

However, I just wanted to share the text from Psalm 78:1-8, and a few thoughts of mine after hearing the sermon.

Psalm 78:1–8 (ESV)
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,

whose spirit was not faithful to God.  

It was a good and refreshing sermon to hear, in a church where most of our congregation is 69+ years old(more than 80%, I believe). With much going on in the church focused on church growth, revitalization, and youth, my prayers is that the church can keep in step with Biblical principles, such as constantly teaching our youth about God and the older generations teaching the younger generations (Titus 2). I hope they all remember that the Bible is God breathed and useful for all sorts of teaching(2 Timothy 3:16-17).

I can tell you from personal experience that sometimes, it can be easy to forget these and just move on as fast as you can with ministry, and it ends up becoming more business like, wanting to move on with the status-quo. However, in ministry, we cannot let that happen. If that happens, the ministry won’t grow, because the focus becomes man-centered, and not God centered. When that happens, ministries fail.

So, hearing this word of God brought forth by Pastor Gavin was a breath of fresh air. It was good to hear. And, he is right. We need to get back to teaching our children, training them up in the ways of God, in the Word of God.

Soli Deo Gloria

My Prayer

Currently, my prayer that I think about quite often and have been often reading from my Bible is from the beginning of Psalm 51:

Psalm 51:1–12 (ESV)
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10  Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11  Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.  

While David cried out to go out of anguish of a different kind, it is still anguish that I feel. I know that I am going to be stronger for it when I am out of this trial, however, it is still difficult. For God promises me that He will use me through all of this(2 Corinthians 1:3-5, ESV). However, I must admit, sometimes, it’s more difficult than others. Some days, it is very difficult to even find my joy, nevermind keep it. The other day, my daughter asked if I could get a job the next day so we could have enough money to buy a toy she wanted, but we didn’t get because of money. It really broke me. I have been applying all over the place, from retail to grocery to office jobs and even a teaching position. Most have turned me down. Some have never even got back with me. And there are a few that are too recent of interviews to count out. 
However, in the time being, I am serving at my church in the capacity of Director of Family Ministry and Outreach, working on reaching the families both within the church and within the community. Each day, I need to work hard remember this, from 1 Thessalonians:

   “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.(1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, ESV)
Soli Deo Gloria  

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly…and Why We Need It All

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:16–26, ESV)

Something that I have noticed while working in the various vocational ministry positions which I have held(House Parents, ministry director at my church) and as just a volunteer and congregant within the churches we have attended, is that too much nice stuff is taught to our children, and not enough of the bad and ugly. We spend so much time teaching the things about God that we deem as lovely, excellent, and necessary, amongst other things, that they should know. However, too often, “we” leave out what the Bible deems as lovely, excellent, and necessary: That is, everything in the Bible, the Word of God. The good, the bad, and the ugly, we need it all, and, to be honest, it’s all good, to our benefit, in the long run. And, this is not just true of youth, but, all people within a church, young and old.

Recently, we have been teaching The Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 to our young children within the church(mostly my kids and the pastor’s kids, as we have a small young population in our church). We have been going over them one a week on Wednesday nights. And, it’s nice. Now, this particular group is a bit too young to understand some of the sins listed in the preceding verses, Galatians 5:19-21, however, as time progresses and they get a little more mature, it is something that I am going to not skimp on(Right now, I don’t want to have to explain to them what orgies are). However, it is something that they will hear from me sooner than later. With the older youth, however, it is something that I am going to teach upon. Right now, I don’t have any regular preteent/teens that come on Wednesday nights(12 years of age and older), but, when they start coming, I am going to go over the Fruits of the Spirit with them, two a week probably, as I am with the younger kids. But, when we finish with them, I am going to go back and talk about Galatians 5:16-26, the entire passage, including the bad fruits. It is something that I am going to hammer home with them and let them know, that by the litmus test of Jesus, Matthew 12:33-37:

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”” (Matthew 12:33–37, ESV)

That by the litmus test of Jesus’, people will look at them and say “That person CAN’T be a Christian with how they act,” or, conversely, “Wow, look at that person, they have something I want, I mean, they must be Christians” or something like that. I will tell them plainly that, if you live a life that looks more like Galatians 5:19-21, that they are probably not really a Christian, because in a true Christian, there is a heart change, an attitude change, and a complete 180 degree turn in wants and desires. Selfish to selfless. Loathing to loving. Taking to giving. They need to hear it. Badly. Even it it comes to their own detriment.

Some people will read this and think that I am crazy, telling kids that they are sinners and that sin is the root of all the problems and that they cannot do good on their own. To those people, I leave you with this passage of Scripture from Romans, where Paul is quoting much from Psalms and Isaiah:

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”” (Romans 3:10–18, ESV)

And, for everyone, I leave you with this from Isaiah 55:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,” (Isaiah 55:8–10, ESV)

 

Soli Deo Gloria

Chikin and Excellence

 

 

This afternoon, after a job interview I had, we drove back to Naples and went to the Chick-Fil-A on Airport-Pulling Road, Just north of the intersection with Pine Ridge Road. I’ve always liked the high standards that Chick-Fil-A(CFA) has had, however, what I saw today really seemed to raise the bar. And, I took a picture of it:

photo

I didn’t take a picture of the employee, as I don’t know her and probably never will. However, she was cleaning off pictures and also cleaning the chairs. And, she was doing an excellent job of it as well. And it immediately reminded me of 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” So, while not everyone that works at CFA is necessarily a Christian, however, it is a privately owned, Christian company, and, they hold to Christian values and standards in their work ethic. And it shows. From courteous workers to great food and an almost always clean dining area. And today, when I took that photo as we were walking out of the restaurant, I was thinking to myself “Wow!”

So, yes, I wanted to give some props to the Chick-Fil-A in Naples, Florida on Airport Road, just north of Pine Ridge Road.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

 

He Who Dies With The Most Toys…Still Dies

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:6–10, ESV)

HeWhoDies

He who dies with the most toys….still dies. Yup, I had this poster when I was a teenager, hanging up on my wall to the left as you walked into my room. Next to my bed. 

However, recently, being underemployed, I have learned much about b) and various aspects of it.

First, I have realized that I need to be conent with what I have, especially now, as I, and my family, face the blessing of financial hardships. Currently, and take this in no way as a complaint, I have only a part time job at our church, North Fort Myers First Baptist Church. There, I am the Director of Family Ministry and Outreach, a position that I love. I pray that my position will become full time sometimg in the coming years, however, I am seeking a full-time job.

Secondly, I need to make sure I am content with what I have next time I do have money. Thus, I need to remember 1 Timothy 6:7, “…for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anyhting out of the world.”(ESV). When I was born, I was naked and had nothing with me. When I die and arrive in Heaven with my Lord Jesus, I will have nothing. It will be just me. For many, it is a hard pill to swollow and an even harder lesson to teach younger generations. My daughter asks for us to buy her something everywhere we go, eve at places that don’t sell things(like when we are at church or at home). And, we let her know that the more she constantly asks for stuff, the less she is going to get from us. And, albeit slowly, she is learning the lesson. 

I have come to expect materialistic behaviors from unregenerate people, those without Christ.

However, the materialisitc attitudes that I constantly see among professing evangelical Christians is so rampant, that sometimes disgusts me. And I am not even talking about the “Prosperity Gospel” heresy, either. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus spoke about the cost of being a disciple. He said:

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23–25, ESV)



What does it mean to deny oneself? To deny ones desires and wants and put Jesus and God’s will in front. To follow Jesus is to give everything to Him. For Jesus to be Lord of one’s life means to surrender all of one’s life to Jesus’ control. Not some. Not most. Not almost all. ALL of it. Keeping nothing for oneself. And yet, that is our struggle. We struggle with it every day, with ever decision. I struggle with it. You struggle with it. Your pastor struggles with it. Your spouse struggles with it. Your children struggle with it.

However, what happens, is people put their desire for stuff before God, and it becomes an idol, and they are breaking commandments. They aren’t loving God with all they have. They have an idol, stuff, that is before God. They are(probably) coveting other peoples’ stuff.

Now, in no way am I saying that having stuff is wrong or anything. I have plenty of stuff, and there is plenty of stuff that I wouldn’t mind having. However, I don’t make it my life-long pursuit to get that stuff as so many other people have and continually do.

Later on, Jesus spoke again of the cost of discpleship:

“Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25–33, ESV)

This is really summed up in the last verse of this passage, Luke 14:33, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” This means so much to the life of a true Christian. We must give everything to Jesus and be willing to sacrifice everything. We aren’t supposed to hate our families, our spouses, our children. However, compared to our love of Christ and our desire to follow Him, our love for our families would not, no…COULD NOT compare. Ever. Not. Even. Close.

So, when Jesus gave us The Great Commission, it was a command, not a suggestion. Not a passing thought. Not an idea. A command. Something we must do. We shall do. There are many ways in which people can and do participate in this(which we won’t be discussing here).

Now, let me leave you with this:

“And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”” (Luke 18:18–27, ESV)



Now, remember, it is not a sin to have stuff. It is not a sin to want more stuff. It’s not even a sin to have enough money to buy the stuff you want. It becomes a sin when your desire for your stuff takes front seat in the car. It becomes a sin when you aren’t willing to give up your stuff for God and His calling on your life. Remember that. Remember that well.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

I Am A Horrible Husband…

 

….And father, and leader.

 

There are so many things that which I fail at, that, in the eyes of the world, one would think that I am a failure. Sure, I have my successes, like a family that loves me and that I love. But, on that same note, I am a horrible leader of my family. So many decision that I make are irrational and/or illogical. We have been married over six years, and our oldest child is five-and-a-half years old this month, and we are just starting to do family devotions, something I’ve always wanted to do and was reinforced about doing last year when I read a book on family worship.

 

Right now, I am struggling with my failures to of not being able to get a job. Obviously, I am somewhat desirable in the workplace, or my resumé wouldn’t garner the amount of interviews I have gotten. But, I haven’t got a full-time job. I’ve gotten more turn down emails and letters in the past two months than jobs I’ve applied to up to this point in my life. It’s disheartening for me, very stressful. And I feel like I’m constantly doing something wrong, like it’s my fault that I keep messing everything up. This very morning, I had what seems like a very promising interview, however, it may be a couple weeks before I hear anything back about that. All the while, we are living with my parents, and we are ready to have our own place. That is just frustrating as can be(sorry mom and dad, I love you, but, the 4, almost 5, of us need our own space). It’s truly been a struggle for me in so many way.

 

My wife is also very stressed out and struggling with everything. She’s 20-something weeks pregnant with our third child(A girl!), and plans on being a stay-at-home mom and home school teacher to our children, and she’s ready to have our own space. The four of us sleeping in a single 11ft x 11ft room is very difficult, and most of the time quite uncomfortable. And for her, being pregnant, I think she’s getting less and less sleep each night.

 

Oh how I miss the time at the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes when we had a steady income, free housing, no utilities we had to pay, and a vast majority of our food provided for us. It having been a month this coming weekend that we have been living with my parents, and we are still there. Our plan was to move, me get a job and we be out before the month of May began. And here we are, May 14th, still in that tiny room. I suck. I feel like I’m a failure of a father. A failure of a husband. I failure of a man.

 

It was one night, sitting at the dining room table that has been in my family for as long as I remember(at least 26 years, as that’s as far back as I remember having it before my family moved to south Florida), feeling like this, like a failure, that God spoke to me through His Word. I kept remembering “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” That kept going through my head all that night and into the next day, and the day after that. After three or four days, I finally opened up my Bible and looked for that text. I know it was Paul who wrote it, so, then, naturally, I Googled it:

2 Corinthians 12:1–10 (ESV, emphasis added by me)

1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

There is it. All through my life, things have come with relative ease to me, a true blessing from God to me, a depraved, wretched, unworthy servant of God. I had come from a relatively well-to-do family, who lost most everything financially when I was a teenager. Up until a certain point in life(I don’t remember when, but it was after I married Roni) that I had gotten an offer from every job I applied for. I got accepted to all the colleges and universities I applied for out of high school. I was well liked within my youth group, with many expecting me to be a missionary, living overseas by now in some remote village winning souls for Christ(which, I might add, I am not doing..yet). I’ve bee groomed for success in some way or another throughout much of my life. And yet, there is one thing that I keep on forgetting with my endeavors, especially as of late. Well, two things really…

 

The first thing would be my sin of self. Not selfishness, but self. Self-reliance. I can do it on my own. I’ve done it on my own. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians,4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”( Philippians 3:4–6, ESV). Now, I am not of the tribe of Benjamin or a Pharisee, or a Hebrew of Hebrews, but I am, and have been, an overly confident man, confident of my abilities to get things done with little or no effort involved from my part. However, that is not the case. God has provided for me, even when I haven’t had any idea that he has been helping me. And, there have been many a time when I have known it was entirely from God that my good was coming. But, overall, I have been overconfident in myself and haven’t been relying on God as I should.

 

Right now, as we, my family and I, face these times of uncertainty with employment and everything, I strongly believe that God is humbling me and teaching me to be more reliant on Him. And, this leads to the second thing that I keep on forgetting: God’s complete and total sovereignty. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3, ESV). There is nothing that I do or that happens that isn’t part of God’s plan. Our God is sovereign in all that he does, and we need to recognize that. He has a plan and is going to use everything that happens for good(Romans 8:28).

 

So, during this time, I am going to live by the words from James 1: 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4, ESV). And I am going to 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV). And, I am going to let God us me: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–5, ESV). And, while doing all of this, I am going to trust in God’s sovereignty, knowing that His plan for our time of difficulty is perfect and perfect for us. I know that we are going to come out on the other side of this as better people, a stronger family, and with a great testimony to God’s greatness and provision.

 

So, I guess I am not really a horrible husband or father or leader. I guess I am not a total and complete failure, at least, no more than the next Christian man. What I am is a depraves sinner saved by God’s grace, God’s saving grace which He extended to me all those years ago. And, as long as I strive to Glorify God in all that I say and do, I am being the husband and father and man that I am needed to be. While there is always room for improvement, I know that God will be glorified in what I do.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

*EDIT* I didn’t mean to publish this when I did, I meant to save it. One thing that makes me the successful man that I am is Christ, and that I am in Christ. Without Christ, I have nothing. I am nothing. Without Christ, I would be dead in sin. Being that I am in Christ, Christ is my strength. Christ makes it possible for me to be successful, because Christ is my success for me. And that is what I boast in. That is what makes me not a failure. And to that, To God Alone Be The Glory! Soli Deo Gloria!

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