kingteamdad

Spiritual Ramblings from a Modern Day Husband and Dad

Month: March, 2014

Jesus Makes Us Acceptable to God

“God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God’s goodness into us!” (2 Corinthians 5:21 LB)

RAMBLINGS from Lacy’s dad – Our daughter is a hoot. The girl never bores me with all the things going on around the house. She always seems to be singing, playing a musical instrument, or cooking something for herself, or her brothers.

The other night Kris found an old egg cooker in one of our boxes downstairs. Evan immediately fell in love with it cooking eggs almost every day since then. Kris pointed out to me that he cooks our blue eggs first, leaving our brown eggs for Lacy. I said, “Huh?…” Kris went on to explain to me that it seems Lacy is prejudiced against our hen who lays blue eggs. She will be the first to tell you the brown eggs are incredibly delicious, but the blue eggs she wants no part of.

I just walked out to the chicken coop and gathered the eggs. There were four brown ones and a single blue one. All had been laid in the same dirty nest, and had some chicken poop on them. The funny thing is if you crack the eggs open and put them side by side, they look the same on the inside. They both bear the most beautiful yellow yokes. I am sure there’s a sermon there somewhere.

We are all kinda like those eggs I gathered today. We are dirty from the effects of living in this world. We are all made the same way on the inside, with hearts that are prone to our sin nature. Some of us might not be “as dirty” as others, but we are all dirty. And with that dirtiness, we are banished to death and hell because a just and righteous God, can’t have us in His presence.

Thankfully, Jesus stepped in and took our place when we were sentenced to death. He was willing to die for any and all who would let Him die in their place. They only need to except His death for them, like you would have to accept any gift. The Bible tells us that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have past away, behold all things are new.”

I am so glad when God looks down on those of us who follow Christ, He no longer see’s our sin. He see’s a new creation, covered in the redeeming blood of His Son….

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For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

Un-stuff Your Schedule

We should make plans – counting on God to direct us” (Proverbs 16:9 LB).

RAMBLINGS from Evan’s dad – Last evening I came in after having a long day of work. During the day I looked at several new products and engaged in conversations of a joint venture while maintaining my sanity with our existing business. Probably not so unlike most business people that day.

Walking in to the kitchen, I found Chef Evan working feverishly with some eggs. Recently Kris had found an old egg cooker in storage that was her grandmother’s. Evan had taken it upon himself to master this apparatus. With my head still spinning from the day, I walked by as he begin to peel three hard boiled  eggs. I stopped and propped on the counter top as he begin his process. He finished his first egg and began working on the second when he looked up at me and asked me what I was doing. My reply was “just watching my youngest grow up”. Evan smiled and kept working. When he started on his third egg he looked at me again and said “Dad this is starting to get a little freaky. Are you going to steal one of my eggs?”

I laughed and assured him that since I don’t like hard boiled eggs, his hard work was not being threatened. As he peeled, we talked about the nuances of eggs. He then talked about the wonderful way salt added a whole new level of taste to eggs. I asked him if he had ever tried pepper as I fed our dog Pepe little pieces of egg that fell to the counter from Evan’s work. (Our backyard chickens give us fresh eggs that don’t peel very cleanly).

He walked over to the table and began to enjoy the fruits of his labors. We talked until he finished. I helped him clean up and then he headed back to do homework.

During that half hour, I pondered none of the things I had been working on that day. I had temporarily tuned all that out and simply enjoyed being in the presence of my youngest son.

Later that evening I found him still doing school work. I asked him to stop for a second and let me pray for him. As he bowed his head, I thanked God for a wonderful family, a wonderful home, a wonderful son who was so easy to love, and a wonderful Saviour. I then kissed the top of his head, told him I loved him and was proud of him, and then headed back upstairs.

How many times have I have walked in from a busy day and missed a similar opportunity?….

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A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22 ESV)

Margin Lets You Say “Yes” to God

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RAMBLINGS from Lacy’s dad – Recently our lesson in our Bible study was on margin. We stressed how important it is to not only have margin with our finances, but also with our time.

Kris shared with the class the importance of making room for the seemingly less important things. Many of us load our calendar down with so much, that we don’t have time to even answer God, much less do something He’d like for us to. She talked about the moms who have talked with her and say they feel like nothing more then taxi drivers, having no time to do anything other then shuttle kids from practice to practice. Days so packed that the only time the family has a meal together is at Christmas!

One dad shared how his son’s birthday was on a Saturday and his son’s one request was going to a Animal Farm. The dad told his wife he was going to the church to do some work for an hour or two, and then be home. The mom was fuming when he got home at 4 that afternoon. All the son remembered was that he didn’t get to do the one thing he wanted for his birthday.

The dad did have an epiphany after that. He realized that he only had so much time each day, and his day was like a dinner plate. He could only get so much on it and at some point to get anything else on, he had to take something off. That particular day he had taken his son’s trip off, to put working at the church in its place. Sure he was doing something good, but at what cost?

Working at the church should be considered noble, right? Probably not if it comes at the expense of a 8 year olds birthday wish. As Christians our first priority should be God.  Following behind God, our second priority should be our family.

Dr. Jim and his wife years ago told us our kids are our ministry. He saw too many dads never make it to a play or a game because of work. I must admit that there is that rare time I have a meeting to attend and miss one of those plays or games, but it is rare. Lacy has now been in 26 stage productions, each time with multiple performances. I worked hard on my schedule and was able to make it to most of them.

Thankfully, I had margin built in to my time because of good advice I received from godly men like Dr. Jim and Phil Downer. These are men, one attorney and one physician, who had a lot of important things on their plates, kept their priorities straight.  Now that my kids are growing up and starting to leave home, I can look back and regret few missed opportunities…..

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6 ESV)

Building Margin into Your Life

I have no peace! I have no quiet! I have no rest! And trouble keeps coming.” (Job 3:26 GWT)

RAMBLINGS from Connor’s dad – Connor has always been one who stays caught up, and often ahead on his school work. He’s told me that when he gets an assignment, he decides how early he wants to have it done, and starts working backward with his calendar for a timeline to completion. He does not like to even entertain getting behind.

I am trying to learn from Connor. It seems like life can overwhelm you, constantly, if you let it. But, if you plan ahead, like Connor, it’s less likely to happen. But with that planning, it’s important to leave some margin.

The problem grows when we don’t take time-to take time.

Yesterday, I was working with a corporate guy from one of our biggest suppliers. During our lunch meeting his phone died…from him being on it constantly. At one point we left an appointment and went back by the office so I could glance over some emails. He was excited to be able to do the same, hoping he might not have to work so late that evening. This is after he got up at 4, to head to the airport at 5, to catch a plane at 7, to meet me at 10. I dropped him off at his hotel that night around 9:30 after meeting some people for dinner. He was headed to his room to work on a report due the next morning.

Sometimes my days end up having to be hectic like that. Fortunately, that is not the norm. Most mornings I try to do my best Phil Downer imitation. I learned from him to look at my calendar the night before, see what time I would need to get started, and then plan on getting up earlier to give myself time to read and pray. During that time I give my day to God. I pray for my family, my co-workers and the people I am going to be around that day. I then try and leave some additional time open just in case someone wants to meet.

There are those rare occasions where I have a day like my corporate buddy had yesterday. I get home totally worn out. The mental and physical fatigue are real as I walk in the door running on fumes. I sit here now wondering how people do that day after day. What toll does it take on them physically, mentally and spiritually? How does it effect their life?

Jesus left us a great template for living out our lives. He got up early in the morning and spent time with his Dad. He then spent time doing his work (speaking with the masses). He showed us that he wasn’t too busy to speak with someone at the “water cooler” (the Samaritan woman at the well).  He seldom had his Bible with him, but often quoted scripture he’d memorized in his conversations. He wept with those who were weeping. He laughed with those who were laughing. He met people where they were. More importantly he loved them where they were. But He loved them too much to leave them where he met them…He always pointed them toward His Father.

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I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes. (Job 3:26  ESV)

Spiritual Habits: Meeting Regularly

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV)

RAMBLINGS from Evan’s dad – When Evan was still in diapers, we were teaching a bible study at Peachtree Corners Baptist, full of wonderful people. They were an energetic bunch, always ready to talk about the topic du jour. We loved meeting with them every Sunday.

During that time we moved to a home we built in Duluth. There was a lot of stuff to move that was not mover friendly. You know, the little stuff that would take all day one or two things at a time. Kris and I loaded up our minivan and hauled the first load over from storage. It took forever to take it from the storage room, down the hall, out to the car, and once there, from the car, through the garage, up the steps, into the house. I must have walked 3 miles with that first load. Frankly, I was tired and discouraged when I got in that night. Fortunately, Evan’s little smiling face was the first thing I saw when I walked back in the house.

The next evening we did the same thing and was able to get another load from the storage facility to the new house. That night, Kris and I were even more tired and discouraged. Once again, Evan’s little smiling face greeted us when we got home and fell into the couch.

A wonderful, beautiful thing happened the next day. About 10 couples from our Bible study showed up in their spacious minivans to help. I am no rocket scientist, but I am pretty sure that 20 people can do ten times as much as me and Kris. Within just a few hours they had moved all the small things as well as everything else except the biggest pieces of furniture. I gladly ordered pizza for everyone.

There were may opportunities that group took to bless others in the class. In fact, every small group or Sunday school class we have ever been in has made it a habit to be there for each other in the big and the small. Those are the type of events that I believe mold a “bunch of people”, into a “family”. Having the opportunity to be blessed by a group, or be a part of a group that does the blessing, is special.

Who better to show love to others then a bunch of Christians?! After all, didn’t our Saviour give us a great example of loving others? He told us to love God, and to love our neighbors. One of the many great things about Christ is He practiced what He preached…and then He loved us enough to die in our place….

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And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Spiritual Habits: Tithing

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:21 NLT)

RAMBLINGS from Lacy’s dad – I remember one time Lacy and I went for a ride on one of our daddy dates. She was in a talkative mood, and our 10 minute drive turned into several hours.

After numerous course corrections at her request, we finally turned the wheel homeward. As we passed the local grocery store, Lacy announced we needed to make a stop. We parked, grabbed a cart, and headed inside. She went and bought some crackers and then headed for the refrigerated section.  We stopped in front of some mint chocolate chip ice cream. After several minutes of searching, she found the one she was looking for. We paid the cashier and headed home.

Several hours later I heard a commotion in the kitchen. When I arrived at the scene I found Lacy and Evan having an argument over the ice cream. My precious, sweet, adorable daughter was getting ready to kill her brother because he had eaten some of “her” ice cream. I was a little taken back, recalling they had plenty more at the grocery store, AND, that I had been the one to purchase that ice cream with my money, NOT Lacy. We called in the professional mediator, and soon Kris had things settled.

I wonder how often the sin nature is like that with me?  If I read my Bible right, everything I have is a gift from God.  The light I see beginning to peek through the window is a reminder of the gift of another day. The car I will drive today is in my possession only because He has blessed me with enough sense to have a decent job. With that income He blesses me with each month I am able to support my family. He’s even blessed me with a house to live in, that has a big freezer, with room to put plenty of ice cream!

Yet I find myself from time to time, being asked to give back a little of my “ice cream” and I am reluctant. In fact, sometimes I say “Mine!”  I am not very proud of myself when I act like that. After all, I’ve read about His freezer, and he has a whole lot of “Ice Cream”!…

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Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21  ESV)

Spiritual Habits: Quiet TIme

Show me the path where I should go, O Lord; point out the right road for me to walk.” (Psalms 25:4 TLB)

RAMBLINGS from Connor’s dad – Outside of Christ, I have three men who have impacted my life in a mighty way, my dad, Dr. Jim Lyons, and Phil Downer. All three men demonstrated to me a deep love for Jesus, and more significantly, the importance of spending time each day with him.

I heard my dad early every morning praying. Later, when I worked with him, I saw him reading his Bible every day at lunch. Dr. Jim and Phil, shared with me through breakfast meetings, how they structured their days so that early each morning they spent time reading scripture and praying. It was apparent they did so by the voluminous amount of scripture they could recite to me as we talked. I’ve seen both men get up to speak publicly and recite verse after verse. Often they would nonchalantly hold their Bible open as if to read it, but never look down.

Phil would share with me how he would figure out his next day, and then plan to get up an hour earlier so he could spend time with God. Dr. Jim met me early every Monday morning and talked with me about scripture as he helped me memorize it. Both men gave me example after example of men whose lives were radically changed when they took time to consistently meet with God each day.

As our kids got old enough to work on their own faith, I encouraged them to spend time with God. We worked on memorizing scripture. We had time in the evenings where we sat together, read a devotional and prayed. We called it “circle” time.

As the teenage years rolled around, schedules changed.  There was practice for this or that, meetings, etc., that made the group time harder. So we all were forced to go to individual time with God. Many a time I would ask one of the kids what their devotion was on and they gave me that glazed over look, and then would say they had not done one yet. I would correct them and say they had. Emphatically they would say they had not. I then would point out that Facebook, TV, or whatever they had gotten up and done first, WAS their devotion. Time and time again I would ask them about their devotion, encouraging them to have one. Each night and most mornings I did pray with them, and sometimes shared what I had studied.

Eventually, I felt led to put my convictions into action. So here I am attempting to write 365 of these for my precious children. Hopefully, as the years go by, they will occasionally read one of these. My prayer is when they do, in some small way they will be encouraged like I have so many times by my dad, Phil and Dr. Jim….

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If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.  (John 15:7-8 ESV)

The Practice of Surrender

If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives [daily] to follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 NCV)

Ramblings from Evan’s dad – Evan, like all of us has his weaknesses. Like me, there are things in his life that tempt him more then others. For me salty things like peanuts or popcorn, and bread, are my Kryptonite. As a matter of fact, I almost got sick the other night from eating too much buttery popcorn at the movie theatre.

Early on we noticed Evan’s weakness was his sweet tooth. The boy never met a piece of candy he didn’t like. I am pretty sure I know which of his parents he inherited that from.;) Many a time I have found candy wrappers mysteriously laying by or under his bed, or discarded into the trashcan by his desk.

Recently though, he saw his sister go sugar-free for a month. He decided he would try it and went for a week with no sugar. When Lacy decided to go a whole year, Evan humbly bowed out. A week was long enough for him. The miscellaneous candy is once again in fear of its life when he walks into the room.

I am like that in many ways. I will give up something for a day or two. Maybe I will surrender it for a week or two. But eventually I will go back to it. Case in point: Kris and I went on a low-carb diet recently. I dropped 15 pounds while we did it. However, the day we went off the diet, I happily devoured some buttery popcorn at the theatre. I am now back up a few pounds from my low because of the tempting S’s (starch and salt).

Isn’t life in general like that? Jesus tells us if we are going to follow Him, we have to take up our cross daily. To take it up, it is a conscious decision we have to make, daily. Sometimes we may have to re-surrender 50 times a day. Why? Because it is a constant struggle we are in, if we are followers of Christ. The world is telling us one thing, and typically it is the opposite of what the Bible tells us.

This morning as I prayed, I held my hands out once again, palms up and opened. As I prayed I pictured myself holding on to nothing. Everything I had, mentally was offered up to God. I prayed that today He would find me surrendered. He would find me a clean and empty vessel. He would find me usable.

Unfortunately, I often find myself later in the day or evening with my hands closed again. Once again holding on tightly to “my stuff”.

Tomorrow I will have to go through that same exercise again, probably several times….

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I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!  (1 Corinthians 15:31 ESV)

When We Obey, God Smiles

We please God by what we do and not only by what we believe.” (James 2:24 CEV)

RAMBLINGS from Lacy’s dad – Lacy was our child that you never had to guess where she stood on things. She was, and is, very strong willed. (I wonder what other female in our house she got that from?)

Even when she was very little if we asked her to come here and do “this”, if she didn’t think that was a good idea she would go the opposite way and do something else. She was also very expressive in her words and actions, so there was never an opportunity for her to get away with something. Lacy would be the one caught red handed with her hand in the forbidden cookie jar and a ring of chocolate around her mouth!

It was always easy to see when Lacy was being defiant or disobedient. She made no attempt to hide it.

Her older brother was a different story. He did something that was called passive disobedience. We could call him to us, and he would come…75% of the way. We could ask him to do this and that, and he would do this…but not all of that. It actually took us a while to catch on to the fact that he was NOT being totally compliant. The reason was we superficially watched his actions and his expression.  It took us a while to catch on when we had such a stark difference with Miss Headstrong! But we did finally see that his passive disobedience was just as bad, if not quite as apparent, as Lacy’s.

God doesn’t have that problem with us. He goes right by our smile or frown, and looks at our heart. He knows our motivation before we do it. That is why I think its so important to spend time with Him and His word each morning. If I am working on that relationship, I’ll be more prone to guard it. If I am not working on it, I am more prone to neglect it.  If I am neglecting it, I will place less value on it. If I place less value on it, I am more likely to cut corners when I can.

God see’s our heart whether we blatantly disobey like Lacy, or passively disobey like Connor. Today I am so thankful that our persistence in trying to keep them in line has paid off. They are wonderful young adults who not only listen to us…but more importantly, listen to God….

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Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! (Psalms 100:2)

God Smiles When We Trust

Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)

RAMBLINGS from Connor’s dad – Last week on the way back from Maryland, I picked up our oldest from Liberty University. I called Connor a week earlier to tell him I’d be passing by, just in case he could get out of school 2 days early for spring break. He talked to his teachers, rearranged a lab, and on Wednesday afternoon I picked him up.

With his mom clueless about the plans, he was heading home early. He drove for the first hour so I could wrap up some end of the day stuff on my computer. Somewhere around Danville, we switched and I drove and he talked. We caught up on school, roommates, the food at school, that morning’s convocation, politics, and life in general. I am glad he was talkative because I was pooped from the last two days of driving and meetings.

A week later I don’t recall all the details of their convocation he mentioned. I do remember how moved he was by the speaker’s faith. Connor said you could hear a pin drop in the arena holding 12,000 people as the speaker shared. When the speaker ran over several minutes, no one got up to leave. The trials and tribulations, and the faith that brought that speaker through life, was apparent. It was refreshing.

Eventually the conversation came back around to food. I asked Connor what he wanted to eat and then gave him several fast food choices. His answer was interesting. He wanted something unique. At first I thought he wanted something unusual like “southern fried cabbage with tarragon and trout”. But then he went on to say the food at school was good, but it all tasted similar with its seasoning. He just wanted something that was unique in taste. He soon saw what he wanted, and we pulled in to grab a quick bite.

I wonder if that is what true faith is like? The majority of the world is just coasting along, buying the right jeans, driving the right car, talking on the right phone, reading the right books, and interested in the right things. A lot of it can even be good. But it all “tastes” the same. But a person of true faith, one who walks the walk, and talks the talk, will stick out as unique.

Jesus was definitely unique. This God/man walked around and talked about radical stuff for His time. He talked about loving your fellow man. He talked with people it was not cool to talk to. He ate with people with whom you did not want to be seen eating.  And then He did something really unique-He died in our place. He selflessly took our place on death row.

Today I hope my faith helps me be unique….

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By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.  (Hebrews 11:7 ESV)

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