Friday, December 30, 2011

Glimpses of the Father in Vaccination

Annabelle Marie just turned two months old last Friday. As you can see, she is adorable! But what you can't see is that her daddy thinks that she is the most adorable little girl in the history of little girls. I am absolutely enthralled with my daughter. When she smiles it melts my heart. When she coos and talks to me it is the greatest thing in the world. When she cries I want to do whatever I can to make it all better for her.

But she is two months old which means that today she is going in to get her vaccinations. I remember her crying when they gave her a shot on her first day of life. I know that today will be no different. She will be hurt. She will not understand. She will cry, and Rebecca will rock her and hold her and assure her that we love her. But we will do this, we will purposely allow the doctor and nurses to inflict pain on our precious little girl, because we believe that it is what is best for her overall health and well-being. At the heart of this, we will do it because we love Annabelle, and yet she won't be able to see it that way for quite a long time.

I'm reminded that in many ways I am like my little girl in relationship to my Heavenly Father. Like me with Annabelle, He has the overall larger picture in view. In fact He knows everything, while I in the larger scheme of things know very very little. He knows what is best for me, while most often I am like Annabelle, able to only perceive my own pain or pleasure. He, like me, is willing to see His child go through painful experiences because He knows that it will result in great good in my life.

Scripture is filled with this imagery. One of the clearest explanations is Romans 5:2b-5.

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (NIV)
Paul tells us that suffering can be much like our vaccination of Annabelle; it can result in our greater good if we allow it to draw us closer to God rather than to push us away from Him. My prayer for myself is that I will see the hard and painful things of life in this way. May they draw me closer to my Heavenly Father who loves me even more than I love and adore my baby girl. May I refuse to turn bitter towards Him, and stop trusting His goodness and love no matter what my circumstances may be.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Power of Authenticity

I'm reading the book Search and Rescue by Neil Cole. It's a great one, I highly recommend it. I ran across the following quote which really resonated with me, and wanted to share it. I can often fall into the trap of thinking that I have to have it all together or else people will think badly of me.

"Confessing sin regularly will make others more receptive to the message we bring. Often we think that if we confess our inner secrets to others, we will lose credibility in their eyes. Many have found, however, that the opposite is true. When we have the courage to confess our inadequacies, we often gain credibility in the eyes of others because we demonstrate humility, honesty, courage, and a willingness to take sin and righteousness seriously. We are seen as authentic, brave, and most of all human. This will tend to raise us in stature, not tear us down. It is important to make our confessions in a safe place where confidentiality is a value, but often our fears of exposure are unwarranted. On the other hand, when there is not confession, often there is suspicion and hypocrisy. People know that humans are fallible. When we pretend not to have faults, it raises suspicion not credibility."
(Search and Rescue by Neil Cole, pp 108.)
I think Neil Cole is on to something here. James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." Cole, I think correctly, urges some caution, that confession be done "in a safe place where confidentiality is a value", but that can easily become an excuse to hide behind. What if we began to pray for the Lord to give us such a safe place, a group of like-minded people? What if we began to act like He answers those prayers and began to try to initiate these types of relationship? We could unleash the power of authenticity, confession, and prayer in our own lives. May the Lord give us the courage to do so.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Glimpses of Redemption at Penn State Last Saturday

Much has been written and talked about concerning the sexual abuse scandal which has enveloped Penn State University and its storied head football coach, Joe Paterno, in the past week. It seems that Paterno had knowledge of one of his assistant coaches molesting boys on the premises of the Penn State. Instead of immediately calling the police, he told his superiors at Penn State. For not being more proactive, Paterno, the winningest coach in college football, was fired a week ago Wednesday. With this in the background, the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Nebraska Cornhuskers took the field Saturday, November 12 at Beaver Stadium.

I am a Cornhusker fan, so I tuned in and what I saw at the beginning of the game was one of the most profound moments I've ever experienced as a fan of college football. After both teams took the field, they left their respective sidelines and met at the fifty yard-line. They knelt and prayed together in a show of solidarity about what was truly important that day, that this awful situation would be redeemed by the power of Christ. In the center leading the prayer was Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown. As he prayed, the stadium of over 100,000 fans grew quiet and then responded as one as the gravity of the moment sank in. I had chills up and down my spine and a mist in my eyes, and as the cameras panned the crowd I knew I was not alone.

What an amazing picture of the grace and power of God coming to redeem and to help heal a tragic situation. There is certainly much more that needs to be done, but this seemed like a starting point for going forward. In the days leading up to the game, Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini contemplated if they should play the game for concern for his players. Nebraska fans were warned not to wear red for fear of violence from Penn State fans, but it seems that this moment changed the entire environment. Reports are that instead of responding violently, Penn State fans cheered both teams as they left the field that day. I believe that we witnessed, on national television, the power of God unleashed in the stadium last Saturday.

Coach Brown quoted John 1:14 in his prayer, the passage reads...
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (NIV)
Jesus Christ was and is the full expression of grace and truth. In this broken world you and I can never live this out perfectly. But, I pray along with coach Brown that His power continues to be unleashed so that boys everywhere will grow up to true manhood. May we live lives that reflect the Lord Jesus to those who are watching us. May we live lives that are more and more full of grace and truth like the Lord Jesus.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A New Glimpse of the Fatherhood of God

We are celebrating the birth of our first child, Annabelle!  This has, for obvious reasons, got me thinking more and more about being a dad.  Before she came I wondered what she would be like.  I imagined how she would act, look, and smile.  How would it feel to hold her?  Would she like me?  Now that she's here,  I ponder what she will do when she wakes up each day.  What will our moments together be like?  How will she melt my heart with a smile or a look? That's my heart for my little girl.

And then I think that my heart for her is not that different from my Heavenly Father's heart for me.  I wonder if when I wake in the morning if He has a heart full of joyful expectation for what I will do that day.  Of course, He knows everything so I can't surprise Him, but does He look down on me with the anticipation that I look forward to with Annabelle?  Does He take great joy in the things that I do? I think He does when the things I do honor Him.

There are many passages of Scripture that demonstrate the Lord's care of His children.  Psalm 146:8 describes how God feels towards his children, "the Lord loves the righteous". 2 Chronicles 16:9 speaks of the Lord's ever-present watch over his child, "the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." Job 1:8 shows us that God is very aware, even watching, the lives of his people.  Psalm 121 speaks of the Lord's care and concern for His people. Over and over again I find that God's eye is turned towards His child.

As I meditate and think of God's love and care for me it gives a whole new meaning to the words of the  Lord's Prayer. It starts "Our Father".  He is my Father.  And I believe He looks down on me with all (and more) the fatherly emotion that I have for  our sweet Annabelle.  But He's not just an earthly Father, He is the Almighty Creator of everything that is, so the line continues "in heaven". He is able to do anything because of His position as Lord over the universe. This should bring great comfort and hope to His child, especially when life is hard.

"Hallowed be your name".  May You be glorified in my life today Lord.  When I glorify Him it brings Him such joy!  So He looks on me with joyful expectation, like I look upon my newborn daughter.  "Your kingdom come".  May the actions of my life reveal Your coming kingdom and bring You glory!  Not only this, but my heart longs for the coming of Your kingdom to earth.  This is the prayer of the child who longs to be closer to his or her father.

"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". May You be establishing Your kingdom through my life today and may it give You great joy as You watch me live it with Your help.  "Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." As my Father, please provide for all my needs today: for my physical needs and for my spiritual needs. Please keep me from falling into temptation so that I do something that will grieve your heart. Amen.

Fatherhood is helping me to better understand and appreciate God's heart towards me, what a blessing in so many ways!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Glimpse of Freedom Online

Covenant Eyes is a company that creates and administers software to “protect your family online”.  I have been blessed by using their Accountability software for the past two years.  It is simple, relatively inexpensive, and very helpful in keeping your accountable for what you view online.  

The software is easy to install and even easier to use.  It works by keeping a log of all Internet usage on every computer and device on which it is installed (it can be installed on multiple machines and devices, all for the same monthly rate).  From this log it “looks” for suspicious search terms and websites.  Then Covenant Eyes generates an email to men who I have designated every two or four weeks.   This tool has been invaluable in the battle for my eyes.  At the cost of around $8/ month it is worth every penny!  

In addition to a great Accountability software, Covenant Eyes maintains a blog and a podcast which are extremely beneficial.  There are amazing stories of families who were devastated by pornography, but redeemed back by the power of Christ.  There are heart-wrenching looks at the devastation caused by pornography in the lives of women who pose for it, yet whose lives can be put back together by the forgiveness and healing of Jesus.  There are eye-opening looks at how pornography actually feeds the demand for human trafficking of children.

I cannot recommend Covenant Eyes enough because of its help in guarding my eyes in our sex-saturated culture.  If you have struggled, are struggling, or think there may even be a remote chance of struggling, Covenant Eyes would be a great resource for you!  Prior to having Covenant Eyes we didn’t have the Internet at home because of the high-level of temptation on the web today.  Today I know that there are men who will look through my Covenant Eyes report and ask me the hard questions.   The software is awesome, but only if you have a network of people to hold you accountable.

What an amazing glimpse of how the body of Christ is to help and encourage one another.  It reminds me of Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Jesus' humility changed everything.

I was introduced to John Dickson’s book Humilitas at the 2011 Willow Creek Leadership Summit.  Honestly, I went into the session with low expectations, what else would you expect for a talk on humility?  But I came out of the session thinking, "I have to read that book."  Humilitas did not disappoint.  It is a humble little book, small and easy to read, but it is evidence that big things come in small packages.

John Dickson’s main idea is that “the most influential and inspiring people are often marked by humility.”  He works this thesis out by first defining humility (“the noble choice to forego your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself”) and then showing how reasonable and beautiful humility really is, especially in leaders (chaps. 1-4).  Dickson uses concrete examples out of history to illustrate his points.  Sir Edmund Hilary, Albert Schweitzer, Muhammad Ali, and Joe Louis are just a few of the lives he examines throughout the book. For me chapter five and six were entirely new and beautiful.  Dickson shows that our modern conception of humility as a good and beautiful thing would have been looked down upon by the ancients.  However, all of that changed around one central figure in history-his name- Jesus.  Dickson shows that the thinking about humility changed 180 degrees because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  So today humility enhances our perception of someone, instead of subtracting from it.  

In the last major section of the book Dickson notes four concrete benefits of humility, particularly for leaders: humility generates growth, humility determines influence, humility lifts those around us, and humility is better than tolerance.  Overall, this is a fantastic little book with big time implications in the lives of leaders.  The chapters fly by, but the concepts will be with you for a long time.

In this book the thing which stuck out most was how the life and particularly the death of Jesus transformed history in such a profound way.  Before Jesus humility was looked down upon.  After Jesus everything changed.   His life, death, and resurrection turned the thinking of its time on its head.  I'll close with one of my favorite passages, the one that Dickson focuses in on in Humilitas which tells us that not only did Jesus humble himself, but that he is now exalted to the highest place.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ” (Philippians 2:5–11, NIV)

Friday, September 30, 2011


Have you ever waited at the airport to pick up a loved one?  You find the right area, perhaps sit down, and then, if you're like me, begin to scan the disembarking people for your person.  Sometimes you may get lucky and only have to wait for a few minutes.  At other times you may wait for what seems like forever.  Whatever the case, that initial glimpse of the person you care about brings a smile to your heart. 

I've found that my relationship to God often comes in glimpses. Sometimes I only have to watch and wait for a few minutes to catch a glimpse of him or what he's doing. At other times I watch and wait through long and difficult days to catch a glimpse.  Those times when we catch a glimpse of him and what He's doing make all the watching and waiting worth it.  Watching and waiting, though, can be very hard.

1 Corinthians 13:12 says, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face."  In this life we don't see clearly.  Rather we see a little bit here and a little bit there.  We catch glimpses of eternal truths and reality, but its usually here and then gone.  Sometimes almost as quickly as it comes, it is obscured by something else.  

This blog is to share specific instances when I've caught those glimpses of Christ and His work, and to share resources that have been valuable to me and some of my friends.  I hope that you find it helpful and feel free to share glimpses you've had or resources that have helped you in catching those glimpses of Christ.

Next time I'll share a glimpse from the book Humilitas by John Dickson