Monday, November 26, 2012

Responsible Parenting

God blessed me with a wonderful child, thus making me into a father.  God represents the ultimate in parenting, as He is The Father.  Therefore, I think one of the best ways I can learn to become more responsible as a Christian, ultimately becoming more Godly, is to become a better father.  I've come to find that the most direct and simple way to do this is simply by being there with my child.  During normal waking hours, we partake in normal routine activities together.  I cook, the kid watches (or pretends to cook too).  The kid colors in a coloring book or on an easel, I spend time sharpening the drawing skills God gave me.

I think this provides me with regular and important opportunities to remember that parenting is a form of worship.  Since God so loves spending time with His children, by reflecting that in time spent with my own child, I feel more closely connected to God's presence.  I realize that the joy that He experiences watching me grow up as a Christian greatly dwarfs the joy I experience watching my child grow into adulthood.  But, in terms of our faith, we all have some growing up to do.  And, with a little help from our Father, I think all Christians can grow into responsible and strong stewards of His shaping.

I love spending time with my child.  It provides me great joy, wonderful laughter, and an intimacy that can only be experienced between a parent and a child.  The kind of love my child gives me comes about as close to God's true love as I can imagine.  It's unconditional, it's raw, it's powerful, and it's always there.  My child constantly wants more of my time (if only I had more to give), and so does God.

While I work on becoming a more responsible father, so too am I working on becoming a more responsible Christian.  By modelling my fathering after The Father, as best I can, I can be assured that I'm doing the best I can to raise a well adjusted child.  God bless all of the fathers of the world, and help them to care as much as You do. Amen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kids Without God

I imagine God shed a few
tears seeing this created
I was reading the blog of a fellow believer here: Taylor, Made for Him which pointed out to me the existence of this website: Kids Without God.  This website promotes atheism to children.  While I worry about the youth of this country, and what would drive them to such a life, I want to echo a point.  As believers of God, we are not afraid of atheists.  We pray for them, and we hope for them.  While Dr. Taylor finds this website intolerable, I like to think of it more as a telling reflection of our society today.  While I cannot bear a life without teaching His way to my child, I also know that He knows all about the people who are not His followers.

The website talks about parents of atheist children being afraid of Hell and Damnation for their children.  While I think this is correct, to a certain degree, I do not agree that it is fear that drives faith, neither does Dr.  Taylor.  While I do worry for children that turn away from God, it's not because I am afraid of what God is going to do to them.  I am afraid for all of the Joy they do not know, and the love they have given up. God loves each and every one of us so much, that he gave us a free spirit to express our beliefs in ways that make Him proud.  I know the joy of parenthood, and each child of God, when created, probably brought Him joy unlike any I've ever experienced.  For each child that turns away from Him, I imagine the amount of sorrow He experiences would be enough to crush a human soul.  If my child were to ever turn away from me, no longer trusting in or believing in me, I would be devastated.  Stories abound in the bible of those who turned away from God.  And, in the end, some became believers, and others lived an incomplete and unfulfilled life.

I don't know what will become of the atheist movement in this country.  I hope that as believers, we can help to direct the unfaithful back into a life of His servitude, but some are so convinced of a reality without Him, they cling to that reality vehemently.  While I don't think Christians should bear to hear the name of God blasphemed, I also don't think we can simply respond in kind with angry words and harsh retorts.  If we really want the atheist community to understand the grace of God, we have to love them. Hard, and completely.  We have to show them why we love God so much, because he loves us so much.  He still loves them too.  It's like a bumper sticker I once saw, "God loves you, whether you like it or not."

So, God Bless the atheists.  May the strongest non-believers find their way home, for once they do, they too can help others to understand the glory of Our Father. Amen.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Darkness, or Light?

While I intend on spending my writing and devotional time thinking about being a more responsible servant of God, He gave me a message this morning that I feel inspired to share.  I was sleeping on the couch in an upright position with my daughter, because it soothes her coughing.  As I woke up with the sunrise, in the kitchen I saw a couple of objects belonging to someone close to me (not my wife), which I assumed were something completely different than they actually turned out to be.

I saw these objects in the dim light of the rising sun.  Veiled in the darkness, I made an assumption about them that made me concerned and confused.  Because I couldn't see them clearly, I thought they were something completly different than they turned out to be, and the things I thought they were carried a negative connotation with them, or at least one to raise alert in my mind.

However, the objects themselves turned out to be completely innocuous.  So, the message that God sent to me had nothing to do with what was actually on the kitchen table, but instead about the way I make assumptions about people.  I was dead wrong with what I assumed, because I assumed it based on an idea veiled in darkness.  When I finally saw the truth, and in the light, everything was revealed as just fine.

So, God was asking me a very important question.  One that I'm going to have to spend way more time considering, for sure.  Am I seeing life veiled in Darkness, or Revealed in Light?

He was also asking me another important question.  How do I make assumptions about people, and what right do I have to judge anything based on those assumptions?

Though this person isn't even awake yet, I'm going to have to ask for forgiveness for what I assumed.  I could say nothing, but that's not the way Jesus would teach us to interact with others.  Open sharing is the only way to strengthen an important bond.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Call Me Irresponsible

Irresponsibly Mad for God
It's a funny thing, that word responsibility.  There's a good chance that I'll use it again, and often. I created a strengths finder profile some time ago, and my number one most obvious strength came back as responsibility.  God created me to be responsible.  According to strengths finder, this pretty much means that  I believe in the idea that honesty is the best policy - if I promise something, I believe in fulfilling that promise.  It gets me into trouble, sometimes, because responsibilities can and often do, conflict with one another.

Imagine promising to deliver a project on time to your supervisor.  Now, also imagine promising to your family that you will take more time to spend quality time with them.  Uh oh... here comes a potential conflict. If the project timeline starts to slip, do you give up time with your family?  But, then, family should rank higher than work in order of importance, shouldn't it?  Like I said, responsibility can get me into trouble. I believe that I have to earn the trust of those around me, but the most important trust I have to earn belongs to God.  He provides me with challenges, which in truth, are opportunities to prove that I deserve the responsibility he gives me.

Responsibility given by God sometimes provides interesting and challenging barriers, some of which put me into positions that are counter to the idea that I am, first and foremost, responsible.  I trust that God made me the kind of soul worthy the responsibility he gives me, even when I do screw it up sometimes.  I know I'm only human. And, sometimes when I'm trying to be a responsible steward in some cases, it makes me irresponsible in others.  I'm still actively learning how to prioritize my responsibilities.  I'm also still learning how to shut my mouth and open my ears so that God can help me put first things first.  I can even say that I've made some serious mistakes recently, counter to the core of my responsible being.  I've been irresponsible recently (though, not lately) and I intend on spending time reflecting and working on earning the trust of those I hurt, and also showing God that I am the responsible person He made me and wants me to be.

So, I have some things that I need to be more responsible for, and I have some things that I need to move away from, because it would actually be the responsible thing to do.  With God's help, the next few posts I write will actively concentrate on several things:

  1. Putting God in first place in my life - Being a better Christian
  2. Putting my wife in second place in my life - Being a better Husband
  3. Putting my daughter in third place in my life - Being a better Father
  4. Learning to trust others, and myself, with my professional quality at work - Being a better Employee
As I continue down the path to being more responsible for these things, I thank God that he will offer me enlightenment as I work on them.  I also ask Him to help me make my journey a successful one, because there are times when I will fall. He knows that I fell hard recently, and He knows I have a long way to go in rebuilding some broken trust. But, He also knows that I'm seriously committed to working on it, and for the fact that he gave me a heart committed to being responsible - I am certainly thankful.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fiscal Responsibility

While I could probably write a lengthy bit about our family and what we do to maintain fiscal responsibility, instead I'd like to focus on why He wants us to have fiscal responsibility.  Even now he has an eternal home prepared for us.  He also has a role for us to serve in eternity.  He expects responsibility, and trusts us to follow through in the life eternal he grants us.  So, we must prove to him in our mortal lives that we are worthy of our eternal gifts.  If we manage our family finances with grace and without worry, then the larger eternal gifts and responsibilities that await us will surely bring Him a smile when we receive and manage them properly.

One of the most important aspects of achieving personal fiscal liberty lies in having the ability to support others who are unable to support themselves.  Only when our own family finances are in order and responsibly managed can we afford to give to others without fear.  Tonight my wife wrote a sizable check for a  Good cause, one that I know He would be happy to see us donating towards.  If we didn't take care of our financial gifts properly, there's no way this would be possible.  I've heard of families with incomes double or triple ours, yet unable to give due to squandering their financial gains.  I won't call it wealth, because the truly wealthy are those that respect what they have been given by Our Lord (in my opinion).

Now, this isn't to say that my family is "financially perfect" with our responsibility.  However, I can say we strive very hard to take care of our financial independence and growth.  We truly see debt as four letter word to be avoided.  Credit is a close second, and must be treated with great respect when used, because credit really is just another fancy word for debt, at least if we buy things we cannot pay for in cash.

I thank God that my wife and I are on the same page about having a family budget, and about just about every aspect of managing that budget.  As our financial wealth continues to grow (God willing), I hope that we can use our finances to help His purpose in our lives evident.

I ask God only for the wisdom to continue to grow our finances for His glory.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Don't Worry, Be Happy

"Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' "For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:31-34
I find myself being human much to readily.  Granted, God designed me to be human, so that's OK.  But, I also find myself worrying too much about every day things.  Now, some of these things do matter in the context of my mortal life, and even matter in terms of eternity - as our role in this life directly impacts our place in the next.  But, much too often I forget that there's a difference between human business and God business.  I forget that some of the things I worry about are really none of my business at all to worry about, God will take care of it for me.

Something that I believe as helped me in the past, and will continue to help me as I grow spiritually, is to look around at the things God has provided for me. Much like a father provides for his family and children, God provides for his spiritual family.  He certainly does love me, and I know this because of the love that I have for my child.  While my love is grand, His love is immeasurable and He desires nothing more for that love to come back to Him. When I remember the fact that I have a happy and healthy child, a (usually) happy and healthy marriage, and I am healthy, I see no reason not to be happy.

Anxiety comes completely from humanness and desire to control things that are beyond our own grasp.  I know the anxiety demon well, I grapple with it on a regular basis - often many times a day. Satan really likes it when I worry, he plays tricks on me and gets me to thinking I can handle things on my own.  Thankfully, God knows how to brush Satan aside, sometimes it takes me a while to ask for His help though.  I need to remember that all of my strength was given to me by Him.  All of my abilities and know-how, He ensured I'd have in place when I needed them.  When the anxiety of mortal life becomes a burden too great to bear, I find it important to remember Him.  After all, on the last day of each of our worries, we will meet Him face to face.  And, for that, I am certainly most thankful.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Make Good Choices

At my daugter's daycare they regularly tell the children "make good choices."  Sometimes this comes when the children step out of line and need a reminder.  Other times it comes as praise, when in deed they do make good choices.

I think it's important to apply this life lesson into a God-driven life.  For grown ups, we need a reminder sometimes not to step out of line. When we forget our purpose in life came from God, I beleive we can expect him to remind us to make good choices. And, if we decide to stop listening to Him, He might even have to put us in time out. Not because it gives Him pleasure to do so, but because He loves us and wants us to grow up into good people.

We are always growing, learning, and shaping into the spiritual adults that He designed us to be. How we choose to reflect that in every moment proves to our Father that we, too, make good choices.