Sunday, August 31, 2008

Stupid Bird

Friday morning I was sitting on my patio with a cup of coffee checking email and what-not, as I usually do nearly every morning.

And nearly every morning I witness what I think is the world’s dumbest avian. It is a humming bird that visits our back yard regularly. Why, I’m not really sure. We don’t have a humming bird feeder and the flowers in our back yard are few and very far between. But I do have colored Christmas lights hanging from our patio trellis (why take them down in January when you’re going to put them back up 10 months later?).

Like I said, this humming bird is not too bright. He (or she, I don’t know what gender it is) comes nearly each morning and tries to get nectar from the multicolored Christmas lights, only to be disappointed. I imagine a genuinely started and somewhat crestfallen look when he (or she) realizes that the bulb isn’t a flower. But that doesn’t stop the bird from coming back the next morning to try again. Maybe tomorrow the bulb will be a flower!

I’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result the next time you do it. At the very least it isn’t too bright.

Yet, that’s kind of what I do sometimes. I end up with the same pet sins, same feelings when I don’t get my way, do the same things and then wonder why I didn’t get a different result.

The writer of Proverbs 26:11 says, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”

Jesus came so that we wouldn’t have to be fools like this anymore. It’s time to trust that His power is greater than ours. I need to give up my pet desires and surrender to Christ. Then I’ll find a true flower with real nectar.

©2008 True Men Ministries.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We Stand Alone ... Together!

“I can take care of this myself.”

“If I want something done right, I have to do it myself.”

“Don’t’ worry about it. I’ll take care of it.”

I’ve said all these things – usually many times each week. There’s something in my character that prompts me to be self-sufficient and take care of things by myself. Last week I was making pizza for our Friday night dinner – like we do just about every Friday night at my house. Lately, my sons have been coming into the kitchen to ask if they can help. I’ve been shooing them away because I want to do it myself, I want it done right.

Same thing on Saturday mornings when I make pancakes for the family. I usually take care of it all by myself. But not this time. This time I let go. Saturday morning I let them help, take a part in making pancakes, doing it with me.

When Jesus Christ came walking out of the Judean wilderness after forty days of fasting and preparation for His earthly ministry, He didn’t have the attitude of, “I’ll do this myself.” Yes, there were some things that only Jesus could do – like die on the cross in our place. He alone could save us from our sins. We simply could not help Him with that.

However, even though there were some things only Jesus could do, He didn’t do everything by himself. The first thing He did coming out of the wilderness was to build a team of men around him. The message of salvation takes many voices and Jesus started with twelve.

“Go it alone” is not how a true man of God is called to operate. Instead, because we have a desire to do things on our own but can’t do everything on our own, true men need to take the rallying cry of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne in 1943 – “Curahee!” – “We stand along together!”

Don’t make the mistake that just because you are a member of a Christian church, then you don’t have to worry about this. This “I’ll do it myself” mentality is even prevalent in the church! How did this happen, even when the Church started not with one person but with twelve?

I believe it has been a lack of balance. The message from many pulpits has been that we need to rely on God for all we need. Of course, I’m not going to say that is not true. It most certainly is true. God gives us all we need. But He didn’t intend for us to use what He has given us by ourselves. Remember what God said after He created Adam? “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

We must rely on God but also recognize that God gives us friends and family!

We stand alone … together!

©2008 True Men Ministries.
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dad's Shoulders

I was at the pool one day while on vacation and I watched a dad with his two-year-old son. The son was on his dad’s shoulders in the pool and the dad was bobbing up and down in the water. The look of shear delight on the son’s face said it all. However, if the son was bobbing up and down in the water by himself, this wouldn’t have been nearly as fun – and it would have been terrifying if the bobbing wasn’t controlled.

Water can be a lot of fun but also very, very dangerous – especially for one so young. But when the son was attached to his father, there was no fear, even in a potentially very dangerous place.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

We are all the “sons” (and daughters) and God is the Father. If we are attached to Him, there is nothing that can harm us – even in a very dangerous place. But if we are detached from God, then there is fear and there is danger.

We never outgrow our need for God our Father. There comes a time in every boy and girl’s life that we no longer can be on our dad’s shoulders. We get too old, or too big, or dad is no longer there. Life get’s scary for just that reason. When I left home for the first time, I was scared. I went away to college when I was 19 and I was scared because my dad and mom wouldn’t be there like they were before. Thankfully, they are still around for me and my family. I get to see them regularly and talk to them nearly every day. But I can’t get on my dad’s shoulders and bob up and down in the pool. I’m too big, too old. I miss those days of care-free and no fear with my dad.

But I still have them with my heavenly Father. He is always with me and I can never out-grow Him or His love. I’m still “on His shoulders” and I don’t have to fear anything in this world. I still do, but I don’t have to. When I am afraid, it isn’t because God isn’t there. It’s because I’m trying to get off His shoulders and bob in the pool by myself.

©2008 True Men Ministries.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fatherhood from the Band of Brothers

I am becoming convinced that most of the problems in our world are caused by father’s not being godly fathers to their children. But I am also convinced that railing on fathers, casting blame, and degrading fathers for this is not the answer to the problem. The answer is to reach as many fathers as I can with the life-changing, and generational saving, good news of Jesus Christ.

Don Malarkey was strongly motivated to do what he did in World War II by his father. His father had a successful business in Astora, Oregon. Their family lived in upper middle-class comfort. But in the latter part of the 1930’s, the Great Depression finally caught up with the Malarkey’s and Don’s father lost the business, and then the house. Don’s dad then “checked out.” They moved into their vacation cabin in the woods (because they had lost their house) and Don’s dad sat in his chair and just stared. He rarely talked to anyone. The rest of the family had to take up the slack. Don’s dreams of a good school and career were tremendously altered. In December of 1941, they were changed forever when he enlisted in the Army and volunteered for paratrooper training.

At Camp Toccoa, Don met another man who also had a pretty drastic relationship with his own father. He made his son drop out of high school at age 15 and go to work in the mines. Because of this he was always embarrassed that he couldn’t speak well, write well, and was, in general, not well-educated like the other guys. However, he made up for it by being , in Don’s opinion, the best soldier in Easy Company.

These two men’s fathers negatively motivated them to do great things – no less than having an important part in saving the world from evil tyranny.

But I can’t help but wonder what these two men would have been like had they been positively effected by their fathers. What would they have been like if their relationship with their dads during their developmental years had been as God intended it to be? Because, you see, after they saved the world, they had a rough life for along time after. The discipline that they had in the army – what they really needed from their fathers, disappeared after they got out of the service. They were not exposed to what they needed as men long enough while in the army. Nor is the army a good substitute for a good father. It can certainly help, but it is much better for the army to build on the foundation that a good father lays in a child.

I’m not saying that these guys are bad. They are good men who have done extraordinary things. But a major lesson for us is the “what could have been” lesson. The army gave them the discipline and – for lack of a better word - “love” that their fathers should have given to them when they were younger. It changed them. But it still took longer for this change to be for the good for them.

When God our heavenly Father comes into our lives through Word and Sacrament our lives are changed, transformed. It is a change that lasts and grows and is good as we are nourished through continued use of Word and Sacrament. As we involve ourselves in a fellowship of believers, our hearts grow strong and our relationships with our spouses, our children, grow and will be instruments of transformation for many generations.

When most men become fathers, they want to be good fathers. But it is becoming increasingly rare that men know how to be good fathers. There is still an excellent example of good fatherhood for all men – God the Father Almighty. It is never too late to learn from our heavenly Father. It is never too late to come to Him. Your relationship with your earthly father may not have been all that good, but your relationship with your Heavenly Father can be – come to Him today! It will transform you and one of the transformations will be your own relationship with your children – for the good!

©2008 True Men Ministries.