Friday, January 6, 2017

The Call for Faithful Plodders

For the past 3 years I have read Kent Hughes book Disciplines of a Godly Man once per year. It has been a very helpful book, and serves as a yearly reminder and challenge that the call of a godly man requires discipline and hard work.

This morning I read the chapter entitled "Discipline of Perseverance", and I wanted to share with you a paragraph that encouraged me. Hughes focuses on Hebrews 12:1-2 where the author of Hebrews calls us to "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..."
"We each have a specific race mapped out for us; the course for each runner is unique. Its uniqueness is determined by God, who charts it factoring in who you and I are right now as to our giftedness, background, responsibilities, age, health - and most of all who we are in Christ. Your race is like no one else's...But the glory is, each of us (no exceptions!) can finish the race 'marked out for us.' I may not be able to run your course, and you may find mine impossible, but I can finish my race and you yours. Both of us can finish well if we choose and if we rely on Him who is our strength and our guide." 
And then he gives an example of a runner running his particular race:
Perseverance has nothing to do with giftedness, but everything do with your heart. In 1981 Bill Broadhurst entered the Pepsi Challenge 10,000 meter-race in Omaha, Nebraska. Surgery ten years earlier for an aneurysm in the brain had left him paralyzed on his left side. But on that misty July morning, he stood with 1,200 lithe men and women at the starting line. The gun sounded, and the crowd surged ahead. Bill threw his stiff left leg forward and pivoted on it as his foot hit the ground. His slow plop-plop-plop rhythm seemed to mock him as the pack raced into the distance. Sweat rolled down his face, and pain pierced his ankle, but he kept going. Some of the runners completed the race in about thirty minutes, but two hours and twenty-nine minutes later Bill reached the finish line.
A man approached from a small group of remaining bystanders. Though exhausted, Bill recognized him from pictures in the newspaper. It was Bill Rodgers, the famous marathon runner, who then draped his newly won medal around Bill's neck. Bill Broadhurst's finish was as glorious as that of the world's greatest though he finished last because he ran with perseverance. Biblical perseverance that refuses to be deflected, overcomes obstacles and delays, and is not stopped by discouragment within nor opposition without is available to us all.....The race is not for sprinters who flame out after 100 or 200 or 400 meters. It is for the faithful plodders - people like you and me. Fast or slow, strong or weak, we must all persevere. (R. Kent Hughes Disciplines of a Godly Man pp 160-161)
May we all be faithful plodders as we run the race set before us. Not the race for our neighbors. The race for us. By God's grace, we will all one day cross that finish line. And just as Bill Broadhurst, we will receive the medal, not for the race we ran, but for the one the best runner ran.

Hebrews 12:2 "Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Call of a Dad is the Call to the Battle

A reminder for Dads from my last 24 hours. The call of a Dad is the call to the front lines of battle. 
Between the hours of arriving home from work last night and arriving back at work this morning my time was filled with: 

Dinner, family devotions after dinner, cleaning up the dishes from dinner. 
Helping with baths for the younger kids, watching an episode of Family Matters as a family, and squeezing in some reading of Disciplines of a Godly Man (because I desperate need to learn from it). 

Putting my kids to bed, which involves: praying over each of the kids, disciplining my 4 year old because he is not content with only one cup before bed; sitting with my 2 year old because she is scared. In the midst of all that, a quick reading of a devotional book with my wife. 
After the kids are in bed and asleep Kaylene and I spend some time watching Fixer Upper over a bowl of ice cream. And then to bed. 

At 4 am, I end up in a twin bunk bed because my oldest daughter has a terrifying dream. At 5:15 the alarm goes off and I get up for my “quiet” time, which isn’t quiet because my daughter never fell back asleep and is up with me. At 7, its time to wake up my son and start getting ready for school – I let Kaylene sleep because while I slept in the bunk bed, she had a tossing 6 year old in her bed who was still scared. At 7:50 its time for our family huddle where we read a psalm, sing a song, and pray for the day. Then it’s off to work and school. 

I say none of this to draw attention to myself (please hear that) the only reason I write this is because I need this reminder today: Dad’s we were made for battle. We were made to work hard. And we overlook how much that work ethic is needed when it comes to the battlefield of our home life. It’s so easy to think that our work is over when we leave the office. But in reality, the real battle is just beginning. 

Just as with real battles, there will be times when the battle is heavy and there is little time for rest. There are times when we must always be “on duty”. Now certainly all of my days are not like the last 24 hours. Many are much easier. But many are not. Skirmishes flair up without warning, and we need to be ready to meet them. 

I like what Matt Chandler said in a recent sermon, and I’m paraphrasing here, as Dads we should go to bed exhausted. Having spent all of our energy on the task of fatherhood. But the kind of exhaustion that comes after a hard day’s work, the kind of exhaustion that brings with it the satisfaction of doing what you were created to do. Of investing you time, talent, and energy into things that matter. This is the call of a Dad. The call to “work with all your heart”. The call to the frontline of the battle.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Chase the Lion - 2 Samuel 23:20

2 Samuel 23:20 "And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen."

What will 2017 hold for you? None of us know. But based off of past experiences we know for sure that there will be good times, but also difficulties. How will you face these difficulties?

We started off the year at Living Hope Fellowship by looking at the example of Benaiah, and hearing the call to Chase the Lion in 2017.

Click on the link for the audio from my sermon from 2 Samuel 23:20 - Chase the Lion Audio (link)

2017 New Year Lifestylutions

I'm a New Year's resolution maker. So much so, that New Years is one of my favorite holidays. New Years mind you, not New Years Eve - I'm usually in bed long before the ball drops. I love fresh starts. I'm one of those weird people that love Mondays. Not because I like the weekend ending, or that I'm so excited about going back to work. I just like a fresh start. I love routines, and the weekends usually lack routine. So when Monday rolls around, I'm excited about the alarm going off and starting my morning routines that take place during the week.

But like most of those who make New Year's resolutions, I quickly break them. I set goals that are way out of reach, don't make plans on how I'm going to reach those goals, and by January 8th, I've forgotten most of them. That's why instead of New Year's resolutions, this year I'm making New Year lifestylutions. And I know, that's not a word. But instead of setting goals that I want to accomplish in 2017, I want to aim for a lifestyle to embrace. Instead of goals to reach, I want habits to form. Instead of a checklist that is completed in the New Year, I want rhythm of life that goes on through the rest of my life.

Now underneath my "lifestylutions" there will be things that you would normally find under my list of resolutions. For example, I want to read my Bible through in 2017. But that's a habit of daily Bible reading that falls under the lifstylution of "Spiritual Health". And rather than the Bible being read simply to notch that off my list for the day, it's read so that I might grow in my knowledge of God and my intimacy with God.

I want to lose weight in 2017. But rather than saying I want to lose 25 lbs in 2017, losing weight falls under the category of "Physical Health". And instead of a number to hit, I want to form a habit of regular exercise at the gym. And to be even more specific, I will be at the gym on Tuesday evening, Thursday morning, and Sunday afternoon.

I want to reduce our debt in 2017. That falls under the lifestylution of gaining "Financial Health" (you're probably seeing a theme here). And that will be accomplished by using Everydollar and setting our monthly budget with my wife at our monthly budget meetings.

I want to get healthier in our family life. In order to grow in that I want to form a habit of twice monthly dates with Kaylene, as well as weekly family nights. I also want to become more regular with our family devotions, which will be accomplished by using Old Story New after our dinner time.

I encourage you to consider making some lifestylutions as you look ahead to your 2017. May 2017 be year in which we all follow Pauls example "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14