kingteamdad

Spiritual Ramblings from a Modern Day Husband and Dad

Month: January, 2013

Willpower Only Produces Short-term Change

“Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Ramblings from Lacy’s dad  If you think I’m bad now, you should have known me before I found Jesus. I was selfish, prideful, and always had to one up someone else’s story with someone or something I knew or did. It frightens me to think about how obnoxious I was.

Yet, soon after my course changed, and I started following Christ, Dr. Jim came into my life. As we met each week, he would point me to the Bible. I would come in each morning wanting to talk about whatever I thought was important. He would patiently listen, and then eventually he would get us looking at scripture. His patience was amazing considering week after week I came in with the worldly “concern de jour”. Concerned with what new car I needed, or what new clothes I needed, or wanting to tell him who important I had met in the last week. Thinking back to those says, I love that man even more for putting up with me.

Dr. Jim had poured over the writings in the Bible, and like Romans 12:2 promises, he was transformed by renewing his mind, and through that transformation he knew what was truly important. He realized what was the good and reasonable, and perfect will of God.

Because of that transformation, God gave him the patience to put up with me, and s-l-o-w-l-y over time, I started to turn my “boat”. Eventually it was no longer heading due SELF, and instead turned in the general direction of JESUS. I still have to keep my eyes on Him as I grip the wheel, otherwise the world begins to distract me, and pulls me off course. Am I perfect? No. In fact, if you’re anything like me, even after finding Jesus, you still have a LONG way to go. Finding someone like Dr. Jim to keep pointing you back to the Bible, can help you make that change….

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Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. Don’t let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don’t let your lips talk deviously. Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead. Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established. (Proverbs 4:23-26)

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Spiritual Growth is a Collaborative Effort

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Rambling’s from Connor’s dad I equate my spiritual growth and health, to a friend of mine’s physical growth and health. Last year he was competing for a body building competition. He was working out a little while in the morning, and then working out again for several hours in the evening. I biked and worked out Saturday (for maybe an hour), but didn’t get to work out yesterday (Monday). Did I mention he worked out something everyday? He was methodical on arms, shoulders, lats, neck, pecs, abs, quads, calves, etc. Each had specific exercises, a specific number each time, for a specific number of times. I have a pretty simple workout doing a little cardio and maybe 5 different exercises with dumb bells, typically until I am tired, or other commitments start calling me.

He would walk into the office with all this special lean, no carb, no taste food. We would go out and get a good BLT. I would drink a soda, while he drank a protein drink. When asked, he would go into great detail why he was putting into his body what he was eating and drinking. He was smart enough to know what he needed to do on the inside and the outside to get the results he wanted. The result was my body fat I am sure was north of 20%, while his was down around 4%. Its safe to assume, if we stood side by side in shorts and a tank top, you could tell us apart.

Isn’t spiritual growth the same way. We need to be diligent about spending time in the word and in prayer talking with our Heavenly Father everyday (or as close to everyday as possible). We also need to watch what we take in with our mouth…but also what we take in with our ears and our eyes….

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So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)

 

Commitments Shape Your Life

Since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives you should be living!” (2 Peter 3:11 LB)

Ramblings from Connor’s dad – Last night while looking at Facebook, I saw where a friend posted one of the “e-cards”. It was of two elderly people walking hand in hand, off into the sunset together. The caption read “How did we stay together for 65 years?”…”we were born in a time when if something was broken, we would fix it, not throw it away.”

Today we seem to be a society of throwers.

  • We throw out left overs instead of eating them the next day.
  • We throw a tantrum when things don’t go our way.
  • We throw rocks verbally at those who disagree with us.
  • We throw things out that don’t appear to work anymore.

Unfortunately, that is true for many relationships, too. I am sure there are countless times Kris could have thrown me out, but we both agreed when we were heading into marriage, that we would work through things, and not have divorce as an option. More marriages would survive today if people went into them with that attitude, but that is not what they are learning from their friends and the media. We are told “you deserve better!” I would add, “yeah so does your spouse, so get your act together!”  I had a good friend a while back tell me he was getting a divorce. We talked and I encouraged him to go to counseling and give it another shot. He looked at me funny for a minute, and then replied that I was the first friend who’s advice was NOT divorce. We now default to throwing out.

This throw away mentality has carried over into our faith. If we go to church and something bad happens, we want to throw God out of our lives. He apparently is not a good god that we should bother worshipping. He didn’t supply our every desire, so we’ll teach Him. Now we might try Buddha and see if he behaves better, because God allowed us to get a boo-boo. I am amazed that we, as the created, question the motives of the Creator. We are promised in the Bible that if we are followers of Jesus, He will provide our daily needs, and more importantly, our eternal needs. He won’t keep us from the storms, but He will go through them with us!

Here is the great news, though. We can be spoiled brats, turn our back on God, and walk away. A beautiful truth remains: if we wise up, and realize we need Him, when we turn around to run back to Him….there He is with His arms open wide, because He is committed to us, forever!

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Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness. (2 Peter 3:11)

Give Your Worries to God

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  (Philippians 4:6)

Ramblings from Evan’s dad “Give us this day our daily bread”…that is a very comforting thought in today’s world. Watching TV last night I saw a couple being interviewed that had lost much of their 401K. They were concerned and worried about retirement. They weren’t just worrying about their daily bread, they were worrying about their lifetime bread.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the fears of this world. Don’t get me wrong, its OK, to try and be wise with your money for the future. I like what St. Augustine said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depends on you.” But it’s nice to know that as a follower of Jesus Christ, God gives us this promise of providing our daily bread. It should remind us to live today with our eyes wide open, soaking up God’s goodness, and enjoying His creation. After all, we aren’t promised tomorrow.

This text from Philippians is one of my favorites. I memorized it early on with Dr. Jim, yet there are still many times I don’t apply it to my life like I should. A problem or dilemma arises and I worry about it, instead of taking verse 6 at face value and “worry about NOTHING, but in everything with prayer, and thankfulness, present it to God.”  When you present something to someone, it should be an act of giving, and not giving Him the concern and then taking it back so you can worry about it some more. The other thing I need to remember is the God of Creation wants to know my concerns. He wants to take care of my daily needs (not daily want’s). I like what Rick Warren says, “Gratitude is the healthiest emotion you can have…The more you develop an attitude of appreciation for God, your family, and other people, the healthier you are emotionally.” Considering what we are hearing on the nightly news, I think we could all stand to be a little healthier emotionally.

In Philippians Paul goes on to tell us in verse 7 that if we do verse 6, “the peace of God that goes beyond our understanding, will guard our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus”. Why can’t I get that through my thick skull?

When I slow down for a minute, close my eyes and meditate on the peace of God through Christ Jesus, my whole perspective changes. The brevity of life here comes into focus, and I truly have a peace that passes all understanding, with a grateful heart to my Creator and my Savior.

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Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Getting Stuck on Spiritual Infancy

Come, be my disciple,’ Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9 NLT)

Ramblings from Connor’s dad  I can’t help but think what we would be like intellectually, if we went to school exactly like we go to church. Once a week, for 20 minutes of singing and then a 45 minute lecture (that we are never tested on).

As one friend would say, “we’d all be dumber than a bag of rocks!” Yet that is what many do when it comes to our faith. We have a moment in our life when we feel the Holy Spirit beckoning us to come, and accept the gift of salvation through Jesus and the blood He shed for our sins. Then we seem to want to check that off, and say “ok, got that out of the way, now I need to go on about life”.

Sadly, those of us who do that, spiritually, stay “dumber than a bag of rocks”. What’s worse, we tell people we are Christians and then, ignorantly mislead them. Imagine being the unchurched neighbor, that see’s them leaving for church on Sunday (for their 45 minute lecture, that they listen to, while checking their friends FB posts!)  Then the immature Christian, has opportunity after opportunity with said neighbor, and drop’s the ball miserably because they are still an infant.

Imagine the mistakes we make as we attempt to grow in Christ, and then multiply that by 100, and that is what kind of Christian the world seems to see the most.

Whenever I read Romans 12:1 it always convicts me to strive to grow in Christ by Paul telling me “I beseech you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your REASONABLE service.” He was telling the Romans, and us, that Jesus died a horrible death for our sins, so living a sacrificial life for God is only reasonable service.

In other words God doesn’t want us laying around like a bag of rocks.  We are told in Luke 10:27 that He wants us to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength…and all our mind!

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But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head — Christ. (Ephesians 4:15)

A Powerful Key to Prayer

Whenever two of you on earth agree about anything you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20 TEV)

Ramblings from Connor’s dad My mind goes back 20 years ago when Dr. Jim would meet with me bright and early on Monday mornings to study the Bible. I still remember the first time we were leaving the restaurant, he asked me if I had time to pray. I said sure, so we walked to my car, me not knowing what to expect. He climbed in the passenger side, asked me what he could be praying for, and then went to town talking to a God he obviously knew very well! The whole time he prayed with his hands in his lap and head downward facing straight ahead (I might have peeked once or twice.) I sat there, self consciously with my head turned toward him so anyone walking by would think we were talking. I mean after all, we were in downtown Atlanta, with important business people walking in and out of the restaurant, right by my window. Slowly, I mean “months slowly”, I began to focus more on WHO we were praying to, then who was walking around us. It finally dawned on me that we had an audience with the King of Kings!

Dr. Jim taught this ole country boy so much. He taught me to pray when I was in public, when I was alone, early in the morning, in the middle of surgery, while holding a newborn baby, with a group of men, while watching the news, well you get the idea. He told me prayer should be like a hacking cough, do it all the time. He taught me from this scripture, telling me that praying with others, seems to magnify or amplify the prayer.

He also told me that where 2 or 3 are gathered in Jesus name, He would be there with them. How bout that?!? When we pray with others, Jesus is one of our prayer partners!!

Dr. Jim understands the power of prayer. The incredible opportunity to communicate 24-7 with the most important Being in the …EVERYTHING! The enemy tries to distract us, or minimize it, or make us self-conscious about it, as if there is something wrong. I guarantee you that 20 years ago when we were praying, if it had been some famous celebrity or sports figure I was talking to, I would have been repeating their name loudly so that everyone within a 2 block area would have known with whom I was speaking!

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Father I am so ashamed at my actions!  You deserve my praise and total devotion for what You and Your Son have done for me.  Please forgive me and help me be a light for You every day I have left here. Thank You for loving me, regardless of how little I have loved You!  You are worthy of my praise. Thank You for always being there to hear my prayers!  In Jesus wonderful name, amen.

Tell God Your Fears and Temptations

have “confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.” (Hebrews 4:16 TEV)

Ramblings from Evan’s dad I, like everyone else my age, faced some temptations growing up. But I lived in a Christian home where the worst thing I had influence me was the Sears catalog. We had one bottle of whiskey in the top cabinet of the kitchen. It was only brought down for sever coughing and mom administered it mixed with sugar in a spoon. My dad wasn’t into porn, so there was none of that around the house. If my memory serves me right, I never heard my dad use profanity. My parents were a real life “Ozzie and Harriet”(NOT “Ozzie and Sharon”)!  There were some negative influences at school, friends talking trash when the teacher wasn’t around. There were temptations at the convenience store…but you had to physically go look for it, and ASK for it, looking some other human in the eye as you did so.

Today, we have temptation at our fingertips. As our pastor, Jeff Jackson says, “it’s only one mouse click away on the computer”. Today with it being much more accessible, we have to be stronger and ever vigilant, because the Bible tells us that the enemy is roaming around like a hungry lion, looking for someone to devour. If we aren’t on guard, we will find ourselves being eaten alive.

We have to be proactive with our lives and our families if we are going to be able to survive the onslaught of sin the world is throwing at us today.  Our family is not perfect, but we do have some parameters in place that help.

1.) Kris and I know each others passwords. I even leave my computer at home sometime, knowing she might want to use it (and have the opportunity to check what I have been browsing).

2.) Our computers are all in public places at the house.

3.) We don’t watch shows or movies, that our pastor would be uncomfortable watching with us. We even guard against the trash that builds up dysfunctional families or poor role models of parents and siblings.

4.) None of us listen to music that would make our pastor blush. I am thankful that the kids all have good taste in music, much of which I enjoy listening to.  (it’s sad what is out there, waiting to be heard by young ears)

5.) We even eat dinner together most nights. It’s amazing what you learn when you spend time with the kids, or the spouse:)

Reading what I just wrote sounds strict even to me. Let me stress it with an example. Years ago Kris and I loved watching “beat em up-shoot em up” kind of movies with Steven Seagal, Arnold, Mel and Bruce in them. Most of them were R rated. About the time Connor was born we decided we should limit the movies to PG. A year later we went to watch an R rated movie, at some friend’s urging stressing the R was “for the fight scenes”. We were blown away at the previews, all for upcoming R rated movies. We realized in the past we had been desensitized to the trash slowly. Having gone cold turkey for a year, it hit us full force.

Reminds me of the riddle on how to boil a frog.  You can’t dump them in hot water, they will hop back out. You put them in normal water, and heat it up slowly, where they don’t notice the gradual change.  I hear the enemy is VERY GOOD at boiling frogs….

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For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. (Hebrews 4: 15-16)

Give God Your Hurts

If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.” (Matthew 6:15 TEV)

Ramblings from Lacy’s dad: This is one of those passages that is easy to read…but hard to implement. You are wronged by someone. You read this passage. You continue to read. You absorb what you just read. Fresh, painful, real memories flood your mind. “Lord, You want me to do WHAT?!?!”

It’s easy to tell others to do this. I mean, if they are going to follow Christ, they need to forgive. But you and I are different! Our hurts, hurt worse, because we were REALLY wronged.

I have to admit that I have not been beaten, flogged, mocked, tormented, and then had nails driven through my feet and hands, as my bear, raw, bleeding skin is thrown up against a rough splinter-filled cross, where I am to be hung to suffer, until I die of asphyxiation. I wouldn’t be able to forgive my captors, especially since they stand beside me, laughing at me and mocking me, while they wait for me to die!  Since Jesus did, I guess we need to take Him seriously when He tells us we are to do the same thing.

We, like many others, have been wronged in business. The financial losses alone, are enough to make one loose sleep at night. Time and time again we have had people tell us something, later finding out they were literally lying to our face. It took time to get to a point where I could pray about it, and NOT ask God to strike them down. It was a process, getting to a point where I could pray FOR them. I didn’t always want to, but knew that was what I was supposed to do.

These people lied to me, they wronged us. They hurt our business financially…but…they didn’t beat me, they didn’t flog me, they didn’t drive nails through my hands and feet, and they did not hang me on a cross to die a slow and painful death. Over time I would begin to pray for them. It was no secret to God that I did not like them, or what they did. But I continued to pray for them. A strange thing happened over time, my heart softened toward them. My prayers came easier, and I was able to forgive them. God allowed a healing to take place! But, it did take time…and prayer.

As the very wise philosopher, Kris King says, “Feelings – follow actions”.  And they do….

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For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Fruit Grows From Spiritual Seeds

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Ramblings from Connor’s dad  I am on a journey with Connor, and beginning the same journey with Evan. Years ago I read a book by Robert Lewis called “Raising a Modern Day Knight”. It’s an excellent book that provides a unique approach to shaping boys into men by equipping them with three essential elements: a vision, a code of conduct, and a cause in which to invest their life.

This has been a road we have been taking through the teenage years. It was not a weekend getaway where I gave Connor a sword after two nights in the woods. He understood it was something we would take our time with, the finish line off in the distance. There have been teaching moments regarding knights around a dinner, a hike, or a campfire. They don’t take place monthly necessarily, but they come along periodically with purpose. Sometimes something will be done or said, and the question will be asked “Is that something a Knight would do?” The point is always taken, and the action corrected. Not just because its important to me and Kris, but as a Knight in training, it’s becoming important to the boys.

Kris, and Lacy (sometimes reluctantly:), have benefited from the chivalry we are teaching around the home. The final milestone will be a big dinner when college is completed, where each will be knighted, and given a ring. For both boys it will be roughly a 10 year journey.

I think God let me discover that book so I could be reminded that this Christian journey I am on is no different. My walk did not reach maturity after a weekend getaway. God knows I have to learn things a little at a time. He gives me teachable moments, and if I am attentive, He doesn’t have to repeat the lesson too many times.

Hopefully, as I am slowly formed into who He wants me to be, those around me will benefit from the Christ-like qualities I learn. It is something that will take time, and ultimately the  finish line is when I “graduate”, and draw my last breath here. My goal is to hear my King say “well done, good and faithful servant”…

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Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

When You Pray, Give God Your Life

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) 

Ramblings from Evan’s dad – There is a lot to be found in Matthew 6.  Jesus talks about giving to the needy, prayer, treasures in heaven, and not worrying. He encourages us to give to the needy, pray, and to fast, quietly, not drawing attention to ourselves. I guess it would prove to be counterproductive to do something good in Jesus name, or because God wants us to, and the whole time be doing it in a way that screams “LOOK AT ME! I AM SUCH A GOOD PERSON!”  We just took the focus and credit off of God.

It would be like me giving one of my kids $100 to quietly get to someone, and them turn all the lights on, get up on the stage and call that person up, saying they felt impressed to give them “ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!” Kinda puts all the focus on them.

Toward the end of the 6th chapter He tells us not to worry about what we are going to eat, or what we are going to wear. He tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and these things shall be added to us.

Today I am going to strive to be in His will, and give God my life, for at least a moment. If for that moment, I can point the focus toward Him, maybe, just maybe, I can be selfless enough to do it again at some point today. I will try and not have the spotlights on me, and instead, step in the shadows and let them shine on my Savior. Then tomorrow, I am going to try to do it again, several times. Maybe if God is patient enough with me, I can make it a habit and attitude.

In those moments, I will be seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness, and giving my life to Him. And in those moments I hope to make Him smile!

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Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

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