Make Fathers Great Again

Make Fathers Great Again

Fathers, it is time to stand up and step up. Cultures and societies collapse into ruin without us.

When you look around, what do you see?

You’ll see families, neighborhoods and communities falling apart and dysfunction. If you can’t see that, you need to drive to the other side of town or visit a prison and talk to inmates about their fathers. But even in affluent families, fathers are missing. Career or another diversion gobbles up his time.

It’s time to reclaim, redeem and restore authentic fatherhood. And, if someone has a problem with that (someone will), they can go pound sand. This quest is far too important to allow a bunch of slack-jawed gawkers to sideline our mission with their name-calling and whining. You have more important things to do and they are idiots.

A man can endure many things, but he cannot bear a crushed spirit.

If we do not reclaim fatherhood, there is no future – other than societal and cultural breakdown.

I’d like to commend to you a very important podcast from Breakpoint. It will inform, encourage and challenge you. For those who don’t have a father, we need to become a father-figure. To those who think they’ve failed as a father, it’s never too late to become the father God has called you to be – it’s about reclaiming, redeeming and restoring Fatherhood.

John Stonestreet interviews Dr. Anthony Bradley. “Dr. Bradley is mobilizing fathers. His vision is to inspire dads to engage their children. He believes that in building strong fathering habits, we can close prisons.”

Audio: Mobilizing Fathers to Close Prisons – Dr. Anthony Bradley (Friendship, wrestling, and the need for other dad-practices in culture)

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FaceTime and WhatsApp: Help your neighbors connect during quarantine

FaceTime and WhatsApp: Help your neighbors connect during quarantine

Seeing people’s faces raises moral and lowers stress.

As Local Outreach Pastor during the COVID19 pandemic, the church is faced with new challenges when it comes to connecting and serving people. While most folks know how to use social media and communications platforms like its second nature, we must consider those who may not know how to use technology to connect.

Think about the elderly widow who is isolated but she has a smart phone. She may not be aware of the capabilities at her fingertips. The objective is to help you help others connect face to face using technology.

Below are some simple videos and instructions you can share with others. Help those feeling isolated and lonely connect. Be their buddy and the face that brings them hope and comfort.

FaceTime (iPhone, iPad and Mac)

How to set up FaceTime

 

How to use FaceTime

 

Article: How to make a FaceTime call on iPhone, iPad, or Mac


 

Here are some FaceTime alternatives (that are free)

WhatsApp
Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, and Android

WhatsApp for beginners – How to video

 

Skype
Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, and Android.

Facebook Messenger [You must have a FaceBook account to use this feature]

Let’s help our neighbors connect during quarantine during this COVID19 situation.  Let’s keep relationships and loving our neighbors at the forefront of our minds while we exercise proper precautions like social-distancing and self-quarantining.


Read previous post: Call Tree – A simple way to help your neighbors
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The Story of a Little Boy and a Little Lady

The Story of a Little Boy and a Little Lady

The following was adapted from a talk delivered on January 20, 2019 at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Ft. Worth, TX. Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. READ the Comments… for the ‘rest of the story.’

Imagine a baby in the womb – warm and safe. It’s a little boy. He’s not aware of the outside world. He just knows he’s safe.

Meanwhile, his parent’s marriage is falling apart as brokenness and selfishness drive a wedge between his mother and father. The fighting intensifies into a crisis.

With the little boy in her womb, the mother goes to her doctor filled with hurt and fear. She asks physician to get rid of the little boy she is carrying. The doctor replies, “I will not do that.” He sends her away. The little boy doesn’t know how close he came to death that day.

As the fearful young mother leaves the doctor’s office alone, Something inside her changes…

She chooses to keep the child regardless of what happens with her marriage. She whispers to herself, “He is mine! He is my little boy. Come what may.”

And so the little boy is born into chaos and brokenness. His parents divorce but the fighting and turmoil will continue for years to come.

A few years pass by and the little boy begins first grade. The first weeks are a struggle because he gets out of school hours before his mother gets off work. She juggles work and picking him up from school. It’s not working out.

One day when the mom picks up the little boy at the church where the school bus drops off the children, she sees a little lady looking after the children on the playground. She is older, kindly and not quite 5 feet tall. The mother introduces herself and points out her little boy on the playground with the other children. She says to the little lady, “Do you see that little boy playing over there? He is mine.” The mother tells the little lady of her struggles picking up her little boy after school.

The mother asks, “Would you be willing to look after my little boy until I get off work?”

“Of course, I will look after him.” responds the little lady with a warm smile.

And God quietly sends a missionary into the lives of the little boy and his mother.

The little lady cares for him, prays for him and loves him. She shares Jesus with the little boy. In the midst of the chaos and struggles going on around him, the little boy has an anchor.

Years pass and the little lady encourages the little boy to make a decision about Christ and be baptized. He does and there is great joy – at least for a little while…

The little boy gets a little older and leaves home for boarding school far away. The little lady continues to pray and intercede for him. She sends him letters encouraging him and reminding him he is loved by God. He visits her when he’s home sometimes.

Time and distance grow between the boy and the little lady. She is growing old but she never ceases praying for him day and night.

The boy begins to wander into the shadows and valleys becoming enchanted with darkness. Now, he is at college far from home. He becomes entangled in snares and brambles of sin. The boy meets a girl on his dark path. They have a relationship and she becomes pregnant with their own child.

THE BOY HAS CHANGED
He has grown selfish, hard-hearted and filled with fear, shame and anger. He persuades the girl to kill the child in her womb. And with the death of his child at his own hand – something inside of the boy dies too.

From far away, the little lady senses trouble. She launches salvos of prayer into the very halls of heaven. But, no answers come into the life of the boy.

Time passes as the void left in the boy’s life is flooded with more darkness, shame and destruction. The boy attempts to remain afloat pursuing worldly pleasures to sedate the pain, as he tumbles into the abyss.

And one day, the little lady who had prayed and prayed for the boy dies and goes to the Father in Heaven. Still, no answers in the boy’s life… Did the sustaining prayers die with the little lady?

Many years later, the boy has fallen into a deep pit in the valley of shadows – exhausted, ashamed and lost. He believes the only way out is to die by his own hand. After all, it is what he deserves.

THEN, SOMETHING ELSE CHANGES
In the boy’s darkest moment, mighty God shuts the mouth of the roaring lion. He stays the hand of the enemy and declares, “This one is mine!”

Into this dark valley of shadows, the good shepherd seeks and searches for the one that wandered off. Over the mountains and through the valleys and brambles he finds the one he is searching for. He stoops down and lifts up the lost sheep. And he returns it to the fold with the others.

Do you see that sheep laying torn, bloodied and exhausted so very close to the good shepherd’s feet?
Can you see him resting there?

The good shepherd with wounded hands binds the wounds of this sheep. The shepherd looks into the tired and tearing eyes of the trembling sheep and whispers, “I have a plan and purpose for you. From the time you were in your mother’s womb, I watched over you and protected you. I love you more than you will ever know.”

A light dawns on the horizon of the boy’s life. And so the boy limps and stumbles down a path toward God.

Now imagine a magnificent morning in heaven. Absolutely glorious. The little lady goes up to worship and praise the Father with the multitudes. The halls of heaven fill with God’s glory. An angel steps forward to announce that the little lady’s prayer for the little boy has come up for memorial before the Father – a prayer from decades ago – that God would bless, protect and use the little boy.

And so the Father in Heaven listens and sends forth a gentle rain of answered prayer into the life of the boy.

I am that boy.

I STAND before you today under that gentle rain of answered prayer – to bear witness to what God has done and proclaim the Gospel to the nations.

You are loved by God. You are created in His image. He sees your pain and affliction, and extends a hand of mercy, forgiveness and peace. Won’t you take hold of that hand?

John 3:16

(For the ‘rest of the story…. read the comments below)

Images of the Little Boy and the Little Lady

Note: I must note the imagry captured about the lost sheep was inspired by FW. Borhham’s “The Pasture Green a Journey Through Palsm 23”. The imagery of answered prayer as a “gentle rain” was inspired by O. Halesby’s book, “Prayer”.  I highly recommend Boreham and O. Halesby to fellow pilgrims. They will enrich your life beyond measure.

Read previous post: The one who states his case first seems right, UNTIL …
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Help us advocate for John and other kids in foster care

Help us advocate for John and other kids in foster care

November 11th was National Orphan Sunday. Frankly, every Sunday should be Orphan Sunday.

Our church is advocating for John and other children in foster care. You can help John and other children find a forever family!

“John is a sweet 10 year old boy! He said, “I really, really want to be adopted!” He is described as being all boy. John loves playing outside and catching bugs. He is very sweet and fun to be around. John likes to make jokes, and his infectious laugh will spread to anyone around him! He is competitive, athletic and ambidextrous. John is artistic and loves to draw- especially Minions and Pikachu from Pokémon. He desires a family that will love him unconditionally and be patient as he works through his trauma.”

 

Challenges:

  • Nearly 7% of all orphans in the USA are in Texas
  • 17,000 children in Foster Care in Texas
  • 340 kids are currently in Tarrant County foster care waiting to be adopted
  • 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless when they reach 21.
  • 7 out of 10 girls who age out of the foster care system will become pregnant before the age of 21.
  • 25% of children who age out of the foster care system still suffer from PTSD

Not everyone is called to adopt or become a foster parent. However, everyone can advocate for children in the foster care system.

Creative ways to help:

  • Pray for children in the foster care system and families who choose to step in.
  • Share the need on Social Media and with your community
  • Advocate for these children by becoming their voice in the family courts CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate)
  • Advocate for these kids in your community group, your church or civic group
  • Support adoptive families by asking how you can help them
  • Create a meal calendar with your friends and family to bring a weekly meal to an adoptive/foster family
  • Get certified and trained to provide respite care for these families
  • Ask an adoptive family if you can mow their lawn or help with some chores
  • Do they have transportation challenges? or need a bigger car? Gather a community group to fund a vehicle
  • Do they have a child with physical challenges that require accommodations like wheel chair ramps, etc? Meet that need.
  • Go to the grocery store for them
  • Help them celebrate special events like birthdays and Thanksgiving
  • Adoption is expensive – are their ways you can help financially? Pay a water bill or mortgage for a month.
  • Give the parents a ‘Night Out’ by paying for a sitter and providing a gift card to a restaurant.
  • Offer to take the entire family to the zoo or a museum or just a park
  • Get creative or just ask a family what you can do to help!
  • Find out more here…

Get in the game!


A Message to the Church

“There are almost 17,000 kids in foster care in Texas. That seems like a crazy number until you hear there are almost 30,000 churches in Texas! There is more to Orphan Care than just fostering or adopting. If one Christian family from every church adopted and that church agreed to support and wrap around that family there would no no more orphans in Texas.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

(James 1:27)


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Remember when Jesus prayed for us? (a reflection)

Remember when Jesus prayed for us? (a reflection)

Jesus’ prayer for us …

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

(John 17:20)

Before our Savior marched to the cross, He prayed.  He cast the seeds of His Gospel into the eternal hearts of future generations – the Martin Luthers, the William Wilburforces, the Charles Spurgeons, the Jim Elliots, the Billy Grahams and so on. This includes you and me. One of the Savior’s seeds landed perfectly in the soils of your heart and mine.

“in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”

(Psalm 139:16)

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

(Eph. 2:10)

The seeds of our salvation were cast on the bed of eternity as yet the foundations of the earth were laid. Try to imagine it with our finite minds as we plunge into the depths of God’s unending, all encompassing grace – it is incomprehensible.

 

Will you join me in preparing the soils of future generations with prayer?

Father, THIS EASTER, may seeds of the Gospel be cast into the eternal hearts of men and women here today and generations yet born. May the seeds sown THIS Easter reap a harvest of righteousness, prayer and revival in generations to come. We pray in one accord for our children’s children’s children and so on that they may believe that you sent Jesus Christ… for “those who will believe in Jesus through [our] word.

“The shower of answers to prayer will continue to your dying hour. Nor will it cease then. And when you pass out from beneath the shower, your dear ones will step into it. EVERY prayer and every sigh which you have uttered for them and their future welfare will, in God’s time, descend upon them as a gentle rain of answers to prayer.

I (we) reap, in truth, what others have sown.”

Ole Hallesby

Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

(John 15:16)

We pray for a mighty harvest in generations to come. May our present prayers shower down like sweet rain from heaven on generations yet born for the Father’s Glory. In Jesus’ name.

Blessings and Happy Easter!

Ps. 16:11

[This post is an excerpt from an email I sent to my fellow church staff members. I thought it may encourage my readers to experience Easter and Prayer in a deeper way. I hope it blesses you … and you children’s children for generations to come.]


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Blurry Lights – Grief and the Holidays

Blurry Lights – Grief and the Holidays

[Originally posted on December 14, 2016]

I have been keeping a journal for nearly ten years, and every year at the end of December, I have a tradition of reading through the previous year’s entries. Sometimes, I get lost in the pages of my own writings and I am swept back in time.

On the morning of February 5, 2016 I journaled a prayer for my dad’s ‘routine’ gall bladder surgery later that morning. He had been experiencing a great deal of pain.

My prayer: “Lord, I pray that you would use this trial in his life to draw him closer to you … bring him out of this a changed man.”

That morning, I was reading Psalm 36 as my devotional. The theme of this Psalm is God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.” (Psalm 36:7-9)

There is a huge difference between knowing the meaning of a passage in your head and understanding it in your heart.

Shortly before noon on February 5th, I entered the crucible with my family. The surgeon walked into the waiting room with a file folder in his hand. He seemed to be a bit young to be a surgeon of his caliber. But, I brushed that aside remembering that I’m older than I think. The doctor sat down next to my step-mom and began to speak. The surgery was a success and dad’s gall bladder was removed. The doctor opened the file folder. Inside it were hi-res photos. Then the words came, “Jim has cancer.

58 days later on Saturday April 3 at 9:33 p.m., after indescribable suffering, my father succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Poppa was surrounded by his family when he drew his last breath of Texas air and woke up in eternity a changed man. The words of the old hymn “Finally Home” washed over me and gave me comfort.

“But just think of stepping on shore – And finding it Heaven!
Of touching a hand – And finding it God’s!
Of breathing new air – And finding it celestial!
Of waking up in glory- And finding it home!”

A couple days ago, I woke up early in the morning as is my habit. I turned on the lights on our Christmas tree in the dark room where it sits in a corner, lovingly decorated by our children. On this particular morning, the lights were blurry. A wave of grief ushered in my quiet time with God as tears had blurred my sight. I did not know the tears were there until I turned on the Christmas lights.

“In your light do we see light.”

I now understood the meaning of the passage in my heart.

This holiday season, there may be an empty chair at your dinner table. You may wake up early on Christmas morning to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to the one you love only to find them gone. There will be a void in life. There will be an embrace and a voice missing from the greetings and conversations. That distinct familiar laugh from the other room.
There will be blurry lights.

Therefore, take heart! It’s okay to grieve. To grieve is at the core of what it means to be human. Grief tells you that you have loved and been loved. It reminds you that you must truly live. Grief should point us to God as our help and comfort in this broken world. We can draw near to Him and to each other.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

In the light of God’s love, there is sufficient grace for me and you. In the midst of the storm and fog, there is a kindly light and peace to be experienced.

“The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings… in your light do we see light.”

Those who grieve can help the grieving. When the lights are blurry, remember many others experiencing the same thing. Do not allow the ministry of grief to be wasted. We who grieve have the privilege to come alongside those who are grieving. We do well to acknowledge and validate the pain yet lift each other up in love. God’s kindly light shines through the fog of pain and grief. The warmth of that light is felt in a loving touch, a nod of the head or a kind word of encouragement.

I’ll leave you with my closing words from dad’s memorial service. I pray it will minister to you if you are grieving and encourage you to be sensitive if you are not.

“It is part of the pathos of mortality that we only discover how dearly we love things after we have lost them.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
It is the law of the cross, it is a sacrificial law.
“Christ gives rest to the heart by giving burdens to the shoulders. And, as a matter of fact, it is in being burdened that we usually find rest… Heavy luggage is a cure for weary hearts.” So, we must bear each other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

F.W. Boreham

Lord, “in your light do we see light….” Even if the lights are blurry.

Originally posted December 14, 2016


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