Don’t wait or walk. Run to God’s answer!
“Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman…Running over to her…” -Genesis 24:15, 17 NLT
There aren’t many love stories in the Bible. Ruth is a favorite. David and Abigail is pretty neat. The Song of Solomon is basically a love story/poem. My favorite love story is very un-Western – the story of Rebekah and Isaac.
It’s an arranged marriage, and the hero of the story is Abraham’s servant (Abraham is the father of Isaac). This unnamed servant is sent on a mission to find a wife for Isaac from among Abraham’s people.
Feeling the weight of his task, this servant prays for wisdom and grace. He specifically asks for a woman to come and willingly water his camels. I once did the calculations of what this meant. It would be hundreds if not thousands of gallons of water.
Above is the result of his prayer. Before he even finishes Rebekah enters the scene, and the rest is history. When Isaac and Rebekah first lay eyes on each other, it’s like a movie scene. Everything around them slows down, they run into each other’s arms, and they live happily after-ever. Seriously.
However, it begins with a prayer.
Just as importantly, it takes the faith of a servant. He expresses his faith through his prayer (a woman to come and water his camels). What I love is his expression of faith when he sees Rebekah. He doesn’t wait. He doesn’t walk. He’s not calm or collected. The servant runs to her. He is not going to allow this moment to pass. He’s going to get his (God’s) girl for Isaac.
Too often, I can be guilty of waiting. I walk. I take my time. I want to be calm, cool and collected. I know the direction God has for me, my family, but I hesitate. Sometimes it’s a lack of faith. Other times it’s disobedience. Either way, I give opportunity to miss out on what God has for me.
What about you? Do you wait? Walk?
This week, be a little undignified about the answers to prayer God presents to you. Run! Run to the answer God gives you. Don’t miss out because the answer is coming.
Right on Time.
I hate being late.
That said, I have a weird issue with being early. I’m not great at the awkward hanging around waiting for something to happen. So I hate being late, but I don’t want to be early either. I want to be right on time.
It’s difficult being me (imagine living with me!).
The good news? I’ve figured out how to be right on time – as long as I’m on my own. My problem with being right on time are the people I live with. Specifically, the 5 other people who live in my house and all have different views on being late, early or on time.
Some of my family have no issues with being late. Late is on time. Others want to be early. Early is on time. Then there is me…Mr. Right on Time.
You can imagine the struggles this creates going anywhere with more than just myself. I’m either fighting the “I’m okay with late” ones to get out the door, or I’m being pushed by the “I’m late if I’m less than 15 minutes early” ones.
The struggle is real because everyone’s vision of on time is different.
Is God ever late?
Have you ever wondered if God was late? Is God ever early? I think God is just like me (or my kids or my wife or you). He’s right one time.
There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.
This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. -1 Timothy 2:5-6
It may feel like God is late, or even occasionally early. He’s not. God is always right on time.
As a parent, be encouraged with this truth. God isn’t late. He’s not early. God is right on time with your kids.
The hardest part of parenting spiritually is we can’t control our kids “on time” experience with God. We can’t force our children to live the gospel (especially as they get older). We can’t make them see their need for Jesus. We can explain, share and encourage them in the truth. We can’t make them respond.
It’s a hard truth to swallow.
I was reminded of this struggle reading a two-part article on parenting as a Christian. The title alone will catch your eye – “How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home”. I encourage you to take a moment and read them:
The big idea is clear, we can’t parent our children to be “good”, we must parent them to know Jesus. Which is a much harder job.
We’re forced on relying on God to be right on time.
Don’t worry. He always is.
The New Testament in 40 Days
Over the past two months, we’ve been reading through the entire New Testament. This week, I wrap up my last devotional with a quick thought from two books written by the Apostle Peter.
Today, as a staff, we talked about the immense value it has been as a church to read the entire New Testament. Our eyes have been opened to new things, we’ve been challenged with hard sayings, and we’ve wrestled through difficult passages.
I hope you joined us in the process. If were late to learn about this or fell off along the way, I encourage you to finish it over the next couple of months. It is a lot of reading, and some of it is hard to understand, but it is also the Word of God.
His Word contains both life and power for your journey. Don’t miss out!
More and more and more and…
Have you ever found yourself watching a movie and realized you’ve completely missed an important element from early on? You started the movie, but weren’t fully engaged until later, and now you can’t quite put all the pieces together.
Maybe you’ve experienced this reading a novel. So many names and places are being mentioned, you can’t keep them all together. You don’t have context to know where they all fit…so you discount them.
Sometimes I find myself doing this when reading one of Peter or Paul’s letters to the churches around the world (called an epistle). I blow off the first couple of paragraphs. After all, it’s all just introductory remarks…right?
Then I remember it’s God’s Word. It’s all inspired. It all has value.
I had that experience reading 1 Peter and 2 Peter. Normally, I would have missed this small but powerful line, but luckily, I caught it this time around.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance. -1 Peter 1:2c
It’s so important, Peter repeats this same line in the opening of his next letter to these friends.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. -2 Peter 1:2
This is a blessing of sorts. Peter is speaking three things over us the readers, but first let me give you a little context.
Peter is one of the twelve disciples, chosen by Jesus to lead the fledgling church in His absence. At the point Peter writes these two letters, he is leading the church from Rome. The group he writes to is struggling with intense persecution for believing in Jesus. They also are reeling from false teaching within in their churches.
Into their world Peter speaks these words of encouragement – “Grace and peace be your in abundance.”
Grace is unmerited favor. We don’t deserve it, but God gives it to us anyway. We are saved by God’s grace, and we are also given grace in times of heartache or difficulty. Peter speaks this over the church and you.
Are you dealing with pain, suffering, hardship or frustration? Grace to you.
Are you receiving hurtful words or actions for trusting in Jesus? Grace to you.
Peace comes from the Jewish word “shalom” which means wholeness or right relationship. Peter blessed his readers with a life of wholeness – spirit, mind, body and soul – with God. This comes by a right relationship with God through Jesus.
When we have peace with God, we find peace of mind.
Are you struggling with fear or anxiety? Peace to you.
The New Living Translation replaces the word with abundance with the words “more and more”. Abundance means it just keeps coming – more and more and more and…
Peter prays more and more grace and peace in our lives.
It’s never ending. You may not need it today, but tomorrow you will – grace and peace in abundance to you. Your need may increase from a lot today to even more tomorrow. More and more grace and peace to you!
Grace and Peace to you Mom & Dad
As a parent, I bless you with grace and peace in abundance. May you have more and more unmerited favor and wholeness of mind during the good, difficult and hard times with your family.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Paul on parenting (and you too).
As far as we know, the Apostle Paul – found in Acts and author of many New Testament books, was not a parent. In fact, it seems as if he was never married. However, Paul did consider himself a father in the faith to many younger men and women.
Paul’s most famous protege was Timothy. Timothy accompanied Paul on his many missionary journeys, and he watched as he planted and led churches across the world. Paul wrote at least two letters to Timothy (1 & 2 Timothy found in the New Testament). In his letters to Timothy, Paul positioned himself as a grandfather teaching a father how to train his spiritual children.
1 Timothy chapter 4 is a great example of this. Written to Timothy about how to lead a group of believers in the church, it is also great information for parents raising children.
Below are 4 tips we can take from this passage in raising our own children.
1. Godly > Myths
Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly.
-1 Timothy 4:7 (NLT)
It’s so easy to fall into the traps of parenting myths. Here are a few:
- Cleanliness is next to godliness.
- I will always feel love for my kids.
- A good parent is always right.
- Each child is always treated the same.
These myths and other like them can destroy us and/or our children. They can lead us to frustration and heartache. Better than following myths (or even general truths) about parenting, we need to be godly.
We need to hear God’s voice for each our children in every different settings.
2. Spiritual > Physical.
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.
-1 Timothy 4:8-10 (NLT)
Our culture is feeding us a lie – all things physical (sports, dance, art, drama, education) is more valuable than the spiritual. Culture tells us the best way to build character or be healthy is to grow the physical part of our kid’s lives.
All of these activities have their place. They are great to build wonderful traits in our children. They aren’t a replacement for spiritual truths. Good parents constantly look for ways to build their children spiritually, knowing physical means is just one way.
3. Youth ≥ Experience
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
-1 Timothy 4:12
Life experience is invaluable, and nothing can replace its value. However, youth has it’s place as well. Youth brings with it curiosity, joy, strength and passion.
We need to encourage all of these traits in our children. We need to encourage them to take risks and chances. Challenge your children to lead in these things. Sometimes youth is equal to or even greater than experience. Don’t let your children take a back seat because of their youth.
4. Cultivate Gifts
Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.
-1 Timothy 4:14-15
One of the most life giving actions you can take as a parent is encouraging the gifts built into your child. If they are an artist, encourage them in art. If they are a scholar, encourage them in school. If they are an actor, encourage them in drama.
Further, encourage them in their spiritual gifts – exhortation, teaching, giving, mercy, leadership, etc. Place them in opportunities to excel in their gifts. Pair them with men, women or other children to learn these things.
Grow as a Parent this Month!
Pastor David challenged the entire church to read through the entire New Testament during February and March. I’m reading along, and I’m really enjoying the discussion it has sparked. I encourage you to read along with us.
As you read, look through the eyes of a parent. What is Paul and the other authors of these books telling us about parenting our children toward Jesus?
If you would like to join in, it’s not too late! Grab a Bible at the information desk, or use any of the free resources HERE (includes a children’s version).
Something to Take Seriously
The last two weeks I’ve shared with you my New Year’s “resolution”. It’s the Word of the Year project. I’ve been practicing this for the past 6 years (2017 is my 7th year), and it’s changed my life. In case you missed those emails, find the what and how here:
Here’s one thing I didn’t share in either of those emails. The Word of the Year isn’t just for individuals. It’s a great project for a group or organization.
You can practice it in your family, business, work group, school or class. Any place you want focus, change or growth is a great place to incorporate a Word of the Year.
We’ve practiced this as a church. In 2015, the Word was REACH. In 2016, it was GROW. This year the CPC Word of the Year is OVERFLOW. Each of those years (and we expect this year) these words came to pass in Cross Points Church.
We also are using the Word of the Year in Cross Points Kids. Last year (really the last half of 2015 and all of 2016), our Word was JOY. I can’t tell you how much our JOY increased over the course of those 18 months. From our youngest baby class to our 6th graders – teachers and students alike – we encountered more JOY. As a parent, I hope you felt it too.
Our 2017 Word of the Year is DREAM. I want kids, parents, volunteers, staff to DREAM – corporately and individually. Let’s dream and do some big thing for God this year!
Saddled with a Dream
King David was the greatest king in all of the history of Israel. It started with defeating the giant Goliath as a boy, and continued to being crowned as king and then taking control of the known world.
David’s ultimate dream wasn’t defeating his enemies. It was building God a permanent temple. Until that point, God’s “house” was a tent (called the Tabernacle). It was originally built by Moses and Aaron, hundreds of years earlier. David felt God worthy of a home to display His power and glory.
Yet the job to build the Temple fell to Solomon, David’s son. David made great preparations for Solomon, but didn’t live to see it happen. In a grand ceremony David handed the dream to Solomon – from father to son. In that ceremony, David said this:
So take this seriously. The lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work. -1 Chronicles 28:10
Take this Seriously
Each of us has a dream – something special and unique to you. Your dreams God chose specifically for you. In some cases it is for you individually. At other times it is for us corporately.
Here are 3 things to do with the dream God gave you.
- Take it serious.
Solomon adopted David’s dream as his own. He took it serious. He immediately went to work on this project – which took years. He planned, schemed and dreamed some more. The one thing Solomon never did was blow it off.It’s so easy to blow off a dream or idea. It’s too big, crazy, weird, hard. Don’t blow it off! Attack the dream God has given you. Plan. Think. Strategize. Do everything you know to do with the dream God has placed on your heart.
- Be strong.
In those years, I’m sure there were moments people questioned Solomon – especially when it came down to the details. Solomon remained strong.Taking God and His dreams seriously requires serious strength. People around you may not understand – they probably won’t understand. In the midst of questions, be strong. Remember what God spoke to you weeks, months or even years ago.
- Do the work.
Day in and Day out, Solomon got up and worked on the Temple. He met with crews. He observed progress. He made changes. Dreams require hard work. He “dug ditches”.This is where the rubber meets the road. It’s the ditch digging of building a dream. It is not glamorous work, but it’s vital to accomplishing a goal. If you want to see the dream come to pass, do the work.
Dream with me
Will you dream with me? Will you seek God for your family, your job and our kids ministry? Will you take it serious, be strong and do the work?
In two weeks, I’m having our annual parent meeting. I encourage you to attend (see below). Let’s dream together for our kids!