Monday, December 15, 2014

Questions From A Son to His Father

In the fall of 2014, my son, Dave, was thinking through his life and our relationship. As a result, he sent me the following questions that I have been thinking about and processing ever since. I initially wrote back an eleven page response but realize that these questions and conversations really take a life time. I hope that as you read them, you too will process and answer with your own father and sons.

Time together
How much 1 on 1 time did we spend together?
What did we do together to bond?
What kinds of things did we do for fun?
What were some of your ways / attempts to connect with me?

What kinds of activities, discussions, or preparations did you do with me to become a man?
What kinds of attempts were made to help me during my lost NOVA years?
How far out did you think about your my future?
What are things you wanted to instill in me?
How did you prepare me for marriage?

What did you notice about me?
When did you realize I was going to become a man?
What did you think I was good at?

How often did we talk about;
- my interests
- my talents
- acquiring hobbies
- managing finances
- attending college
- determining a career
- types of employment
- how to plan for the future
- how to finding purpose
- how to treat women
- preparing for marriage

Current tense
What is the role of a father?
What is the role of a father once his children are out of the house?

My part with my wife and children
What is man's responsibility as a husband?
What is man's responsibility as a father?
What do those responsibilities look like on a day to day basis?
Should father's teach their sons how to be husbands? If so, what should be taught?
Should father's teach their sons how to be fathers? If so, what should be taught?

I am hoping to know and grow with you.

Love you,

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day 2014

This morning as I wake and wait for six of my eight children and eight of my twelve grandchildren to arrive for Thanksgiving, I am full of thanks. I thought of many things in this time and season of my life.
  1. My Father in heaven who made me and loves me.
  2. My Savior, Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for me and my sin.
  3. My Helper and Comforter, the Holy Spirit who empowers me each day.
  4. The Bible, the Word of God which feeds me daily bread and lights my path.
  5. Creation and all the magnificent things God has made for His glory and our enjoyment.
  6. My story, with all the good, hard and ugly of it...the redemptive beauty that is coming from birth order, time in history, gender, gifts, talents, parents, sisters, and all my experiences.
  7. Debbie and our relationship for over 40 amazing and remarkable woman, wife, mother, grand mother, artist and servant. A true "Lady of Wisdom."
  8. Four married children and awesome spouses
  9. Twelve grand children...10 boys...2 girls, though Olivia is in heaven waiting for us.
  10. My Mom and her beautiful marriage to and ministry with, Wayne May.
  11. Very dear friends and a counselor who help me be a better man, husband, father, grandfather, son brother and servant leader. 
  12. A good work to do with men and (7), with a crystal clear mission to, "Restore man to his original design."
  13. A great church...leading people into growing relationships with Jesus Christ.
  14. A small group of couples we love and love doing life together.
  15. Health, even though at 60 I am beginning to feel the "4th Quarter" changes. :-)
  16. Our home...a place of refuge and hospitality and ministry and so much more.
  17. Anticipation and hope for 2015 and the years to come, Lord willing.
So many more blessings in Christ, in this life and the life to come.

You? For what are you thankful this season?

Heavenly Father, thank you for your amazing love and grace and kindness in my life. I am humbled by all that You are and all You have given to me in Jesus and your Spirit. I give thanks this day, for the good, hard and ugly things that have happened in my life and thank you that you are healing, redeeming, restoring and so much more. Thank Jesus Name.

In Everything Give Thanks

Giving thanks is such a big idea in the Bible. Giving thanks is an act of the will and obedience more than an act from our emotions. Some times we "feel" thankful and give thanks and other times we don't. Either way, when we give thanks, it is saying, "God, you are good and I trust you in this circumstance, even though it does not "feel" good.

This Thanksgiving, practice giving thanks in every circumstance...good, hard or ugly. God is working it all His way...and will make all things His time.

1 Chr. 16:34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 

Psa. 7:17 I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. 

Psa. 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. 

Psa. 75:1   We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds. 

Psa. 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 

Psa. 105:1   Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 

Psa. 106:1   Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 

Psa. 106:47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. 

Psa. 107:1   Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 

Psa. 118:19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. 

Psa. 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.      His love endures forever. 

Is. 12:4   In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. 

Jer. 33:11 the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying, “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the LORD. 

1Th. 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

Rev. 11:17 saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I Don't Know How To Pray

There are many times that people ask me to pray for this thing or that thing or this person or that person. And many times I have no idea how to pray. There are things I want to say and ask but I really don't know if they are the will of God. Isaiah says that God's ways are not my ways and God's thoughts are not my sometimes this leaves me very uncertain.

However, there are two verses that have brought me much comfort and direction in my prayers over the years...

Rom. 8:26-27 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. 

I like these two verses because they describe how I think and feel a lot:

1. I do not know what I "ought to pray for." I know what I would like, but I don't know if it is God's will and plan for that person or situation. You have felt that, haven't you?

2. The Spirit helps me in my weakness. I do not like feeling weak, but this is often the case...especially when it comes to prayer. I love how the Spirit wants to help us.

3. The Spirit intercedes for me. I love this idea. He knows what to pray for in accordance with God's will...and this is really what we want, isn't it?

On the practical side of this or how this works for me: Whenever someone asks me to pray for them or another, I simply pray, "God, you know this person and circumstance. I want your will for them. Holy Spirit, will you please intercede for me and them according to the Father's will? Thank you, in Jesus Name."

So, the next time someone asks you to pray and you do not know what you ought to pray for, ask the Spirit for His help to pray according to God's will in every situation and circumstance.

Monday, September 22, 2014

90 Day Focus

I first heard about the idea of “Focus” from Jeff Henderson, when he introduced me to the “90 Day Focus” from Tommy Newberry and “The 1% Club.” I believe focus is such a big idea in life…daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.

To focus means to…concentrate, to focus one’s thoughts on a central point, to have a point of concentration. Synonyms are: bull’s eye, center, core or target.  So the question is, what will you focus or concentrate on today, this week, this month, and this quarter?

The following are some questions that can help you focus on, “The Big Five” or the things that really matter in your LIFE, MARRIAGE, FAMILY, WORK AND CHURCH.

What would make the next 90 days excellent in these areas?

1. LIFE: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

A.   Heart (Spiritually) – In what ways do you hope to grow in your “Intimacy with God & Jesus” this quarter?

B.    Soul (Emotionally) - What will you do to assure you live full of love, joy, peace and free from anger, guilt, jealousy and other?

C.    Mind (Mentally) - What will you do to renew and sharpen your mind daily?

D.   Strength (Physically) - What are your plans to care for your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit?
2. MARRIAGE: Love your wife as Christ loves the Church

A.   What will you do to make sure your spouse knows he/she is the #1 relationship on the planet?

B.    How will you grow as ONE in your spirits, souls and bodies?

C.    What are your financial plans to:

1)    Give generously
2)    Save appropriately,
3)    Invest proportionately and
4)    Spend moderately?

3. FAMILY: Raise a godly generation in your children and grandchildren

A.   What “etched memories” are planned for this next quarter?

B.    What truths or life principles will you teach and model this year for your children?

C.    In what ways will you honor your father, your mother and other family members?

4. WORK: Whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord

A.   In what ways will you honor and serve those in authority over you?

B.    What are the top 3 things you would like to see in the next 90 days?

C.    Where should you take the low place and trust God for His appointments and exaltation in His time?

5. CHURCH: Participate with Christ as He builds His Church

A.   Where will you enjoy community with insiders?

B.    Who will you invest and invite in the next 90 days?

C.    Where will you strategically serve in the church this year?
Hope these questions stimulate good thinking, conversations and plans.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Apostles Creed

As I was copying 1 Peter 1. 3-4 this morning, some words from the Apostles Creed came into my mind. I use to recite this every Sunday at the American Church in London, when we lived there from 1965-1972.

These words and truths are such a great summary of the Christian faith. Recite this and see how these truths will change your thinking, lift your heart and refocus your attention. Enjoy.

1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:

3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:

4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:

5. The third day he rose again from the dead:

6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:

8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:

9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

10. The forgiveness of sins:

1l. The resurrection of the body:

12. And the life everlasting. Amen.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Wife of Noble Character - Proverbs 31.10-31

Today Debbie and I celebrate our 39th anniversary. As I think of her today, my mind goes to Proverbs 31, which describes a wife of noble character. I love the word noble. It means, “Great; elevated; dignified; being above every thing that can dishonor reputation; exalted; elevated; magnificent; stately; splendid…”

Here are a few thoughts about her from Proverbs:

1.     A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. I love how this speaks of Debbie’s worth…far more than rubies. Do I treat her as someone with great worth? I want to treat her with love, respect, honor and worth for the rest of our lives.

2.     Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. I have full confidence in Debbie. She has earned my trust over and over again. She communicates and has an open and teachable heart when we have differences.

3.     She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. I cannot think of a time when I felt harmed by Debbie. She has brought good to our family all 39 years so far.

4.     She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. Debbie is one of the most diligent women I know and eagerly works with her hands. She is an amazing artist and loves doing business. It has been awesome to see her flourish.

5.     She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. As an artist, she often gets up early and stays up late when she is working on a painting or project. She cares not only for her family but for many other people. She has more energy than most people I know.

6.     In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. Debbie holds a paintbrush in her hand and creates the most amazing works of art. I love seeing God’s gift in her speak to the world.

7.     She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. Debbie has one of the most caring and generous hearts for so many. She cares, not only for our family, but for many poor and needy people. I learn from her heart all the time.

8.     When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Debbie has to wrestle with fear and insecurities about the future, like many other women. Her nature and nurture play into this but she is always calling me to higher ground in terms of wise stewardship and preparation for the future.

9.     Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. I cannot imagine a man who could feel more respect from a woman and wife. Debbie loves and respects me so much and it blows wind in my sails every day. Because of her love and respect, I feel I can go into every day and do battle at the city gate and in the land.

10.  She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. Debbie makes paintings and renderings and murals and sells them. Our friend, Fran Lamattina, called Debbie, “a transactional female.” I love that term as it describes her as an excellent businesswoman.

11.   She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. I love these words and description…strength and dignity…I love Debbie being strong with dignity. She knows how to handle her strength. She uses it with grace, discernment, discretion and proper judgment.

12.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. I refer to Debbie as my, “Lady of Wisdom.” She is one of the wisest women I know. She seeks the Lord, is prayerful and careful as she offers her wisdom and instruction.

13.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Debbie is one of the most diligent people I know. There is no idleness in her. She is constantly watching over all aspects of our home and domain. I feel very safe with her.

14.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Debbie has raised four amazing children and I believe they would bless her in spite of all of our differences. I praise her because she is a woman of God who is seeking to walk in all of His ways.

15.  “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Debbie is a woman who fears the LORD. I praise her and give her the reward she has earned. She has worked hard for all of her life to be and become a woman and wife of noble character. I love you Debbie. Thanks for being, MY WIFE!!!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

On Turning 60

On 04.04.14, I turned 60. I leave the season and stage of "Domination" and move into the season of "Consolidation." Needless to say, I have many thoughts, feelings, dreams and desires still. As I think about this transition into the "Winter Season" of life, or as some called, "the 4th quarter," I am thankful for many things:

I am grateful for all the way my Savior has led me from the time He saved me on 11.03.1968 to present. He has led us on the mountain tops and through the valleys of life…and all the way He has been with us and comforted us.

He gave me a love for His Word. I have loved reading, writing, studying, applying and teaching His Word for nearly 46 years. Psalm 1 has caused me to delight in and meditate on His Word day and night.

Over the years, I have come to enjoy the "Great Dance" with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Until my last breath, I want to DELIGHT in the the Father and His Word, REMAIN in the Son and bear much fruit, and WALK in the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. The rest is details.

I am grateful for the love and respect of Debbie for close to 40 years. She is indeed the wife of my youth, my friend, my lover, my counselor and so much more. I love that our marriage and relationship has become deeper and richer and sweeter over time.

I am grateful for our 4 children who became 8. They each married amazing mates that we learn from all the time. Yes, we are all growing and fighting for oneness in our relationships, but they are an indescribable joy.

They gave us 11 beautiful grandchildren. I cannot hold them enough and tell them how much Pops loves them and is crazy about them. These words of love and life are so necessary in the minds, hearts and souls of all boys and girls. Never stop speaking words of love and life.

I am grateful for my 84 year old mother who has loved and prayed for me for 60 years of my life. She and her husband, Wayne, pray for us daily these days. What else could a man ask for?

I have been a pastor in three different churches over the last 38 years with a short 7 year run in business. I am getting crystal clear these days that my burden, vision, calling and passion is to love, serve and lead men…"Restoring man to his original design." I want to spend the rest of my life on earth  leading men to become better men.

If there is a big idea that I have observed and learned from my friend, Craig Butler,  it is this…LIFE is all about RELATIONSHIPS. It is about our relationships with our God and Christ, our spouse, our children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, co-workers, neighbors and so many more. Keep investing in people and relationships. They last and matter.

So…as I "round third base," I give deep thanks to God for His amazing grace in my life and look forward with great anticipation to the future…a future full of life, love, hope, eternity and the glorious presence of our great God and King, Jesus.

Until then, giving thanks with a very grateful heart.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Are you a "Man of Understanding?"

I never stop thinking about the kind of man I want to be and the men I want to help build. Proverbs gives some great insights about a "man of understanding." This is who I want to be and how I want to behave.

1. Delights in wisdom: Prov. 10:23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom. 

2. Holds his tongue: Prov. 11:12 A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. 

3. Keeps a straight course: Prov. 15:21 Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course. 

4. Is even-tempered: Prov. 17:27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. 

5. Draws out the purposes in others: Prov. 20:5 The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. 

6. Maintains order: Prov. 28:2 When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order.  

This is the kind of man I want to be. You?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Danae's Reflections 30 Days Later

On March 10, thirty days after Olivia departed, Danae wrote
"I'm up thinking about what the weight of Olivia, (about 5lbs) felt like when I held her. My arms are painfully empty. I told Dave that for years I would hear stories about mothers giving their newborns up for adoption right after they gave birth. Holding their child and then handing them to their new family and new life. They wanted the very best life for their baby. They couldn't provide the best and so they made the hardest decision of their lives to surrender their child. They would go through the pains of their body wanting to nurse the new baby but their child was with another family. Recovering from child birth too would remind them of their loss every moment. I couldn't wrap my mind around how horrible it must be to do that. I used to grieve for mothers when I heard about them giving up their child like that. I also when reading the story of Moses would have that same grievous feeling in the pit of my stomach for Moses' mother as she had to send her child off, her beautiful baby into the arms of another woman. 

For me I carried my daughter for 8 months.  I couldn't even express the joy of being a mother to my daughter. Dave and I felt like we were equipped to raise her and ready to welcome her into our home. I gave birth and then I too held her, looked into her eyes, loved her more than life and then February 10th 2014, I handed her over to her new family, the father that would now raise her instead of me. Her home is in heaven and I don't get to see her. But I can know though, that she is with the best possible family in the universe. She is loved even more incomprehensibly to me, she is loved even more than Dave and I can love her. So I'm grievously thankful, mournfully excited for her to be raised in heaven."

Learning from my children…again!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

40 Ways Debbie Has "Helped" Me in 40 Years.

The other day as I sat with the Lord, I was impressed to, “Give Thanks.” We’ve been in a hard and hurtful season for several months and I sensed the Lord saying, “ I want you to thank me. I want you to put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” (1 Thess.5.18; Isaiah 61)

As I began to write down several things for which I was thankful, my mind and heart quickly went to Debbie. I gave thanks that Debbie has been my, “helper/completer” for almost 40 years. (Gen. 2:18   The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”)

My mind shifted into all the ways that she has helped me all these years. I think you will quickly see why I think she is THE most remarkable woman I know.

1.     She is first and foremost, a woman of God, who loves the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind and strength. She has her own deep, personal, intimate relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit.
2.     She has loved me and respected me.
3.     She has desired and pursued me.
4.     She has prayed with me.
5.     She has made love to me.
6.     She has refused to let us become only roommates and business partner.
7.     She has kept herself beautiful for her and me.
8.     She has been fun, positive, spontaneous, joyful and full of life.
9.     She has been flexible and available to me.
10.  She has spoken truth to me.
11.  She has endured and persevered with me.
12.  She has been my #1 cheerleader.
13.  She has listened to me go on and on and on…
14.  She has reflected back to me.
15.  She has fought for me and with me.
16.  She has protected me…from magazines and shows etc…
17.  She has worked hard as a businesswoman. (Proverbs 31)
18.  She has been a trusted steward of all of our resources. My heart completely trusts her.
19.  She has pursued her gifts and calling as an artist and painter.
20.  She has made our home beautiful and orderly.
21.  She has partnered with me in life and ministry.
22.  She helped me raise three amazing sons and one daughter.
23.  She is now helping to love and serve 11 grandchildren.
24.  She has great compassion for the “least of these” children.
25.  She is a constant learner and never stops growing herself.
26.  She is a very curious person and shows interests in others and me.
27.  She has been a student of me for 40 years…she never settled with the idea that she knew me completely.
28.  She has been a teacher for me…sharing deep and rich truths she is learning in life.
29.  She has submitted to me in times when she knew her way was right.
30.  She has stood her ground when she felt I was failing or going astray.
31.  She has provided clarity on the many days I felt in the fog of life.
32.  She has provided wisdom and insights when life got messy.
33.  She has increased in strength over time instead of getting weaker.
34.  She has wrestled with me over the great questions & mysteries of life
35.  She has fulfilled her vows in marriage…for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer.
36.  She has stayed true to her own person and design.
37.  She has wrestled with her own sins of anger, bitterness, rage, envy and jealousy and is winning the fight.
38.  She practices forgiveness all the time…to others and me who have hurt her or let her down in life.
39.  She is letting go of her past and living in the present and for the future.
40.  She keeps her eyes on God and eternity while she lives in a temporal world.

Debbie, thank you for 40 amazing years. I love you so much.