On your 14th Birthday. A Father’s blessing.

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A Blessing

On your fourteenth birthday:

May you stay strong and true

Stand for justice and mercy

Know that your father in heaven made you beautiful

And he loves you more than the whole earth.

Never settle for less

Never learn to compromise

Never be willing to sell out for the thin praise of men and women.

Be quick to serve

Quick to honour others

Quick to love deeply and honestly.

Trust.

Make those around you better

By reminding them they are amazing

By pointing them to the one who gave them life

By refusing to judge and wound.

Find joy in your life and never let go of it

Find reasons to laugh

Find hope in every single person you meet.

Always know that I love you

Always know that I am proud of you

Always know that I am your biggest fan.

What does it mean to love a friend?

I get a little annoyed by how cheap the word ‘friend’ has become.  I have 1000 friends on Facebook, so I must have lots of friends!  Or I have 2000 followers on Twitter so people like me, they are my friends, right?!

Truthfully, most of those people don’t give a rip about you, and some might even be there hoping to see stuff badly in your life, so they can gloat and feel better about themselves.  A friend?  I don’t think so.

A true friend is someone who will support you when the &*$# hits the fan, but who will also kick you in the rear end when you are being an idiot.  I am not being trite, but in this age of co-dependant, enabling, everything is fine if you feel fine about it, the truth has become an endangered species.  Now, let me back up half a step and clarify something.  The truth is NOT your opinion on a matter.  It is God’s point of view.

In the past year or so I have had several moments where I had a tough decision to make.  A friend tells me that they plan to do something, and my heart just falls.  I can feel in the depths of my being that this thing is a really bad idea.  So, I pray about it.  Feeling doesn’t go away.  It gets worse.  So, am I going to be a ‘friend’ and tell them to have fun while knowing in the depths of my being that they are walking a dangerous path?  Or am I going to take the hard road, and challenge them, knowing that they may get angry at me?

Many years ago, I had a friend who really wanted to get married, he wanted to be a youth pastor and be in the spot light and be a mighty man of God.  He wanted to go to the U.S. and start a youth revolution.  He had it in his mind that he needed to be married to have a partner in the ministry.  He told me shortly after that he had a girlfriend.  I thought that was great, and I wondered if God was answering his heart cry.  I met her, and within 5 minutes, I knew there were going to be problems.  However, I kept my mouth shut thinking that my friend’s happiness was at stake, and thinking that they were only dating, so what was the harm.  I figured that they would soon see they were a bad match and that would be that.

One month later, my friend came up to me and gave me a big hug and told me that he was engaged.  I almost threw up.

I started praying for wisdom, for intervention, that he would see the light, that she would see the light, that someone, anyone would say the hard words and tell them that they were making a mistake.  No one else did.  So I gathered my courage and met with my friend, and well, I chickened out.  I Christianesed him.  I asked him if he had really prayed the decision to get married through, and if he was sure that this was God’s will for him.  He said that he had, that he was so excited, that this was the beginning of his youth ministry dream coming to life, that they both had the same vision, that it was going to be amazing.  So I told him I was happy for him and I ‘hoped’ it would all be as great as he thought it would be.  While in my mind I was screaming at him to wake up, that this was all a horrible mistake.

I was so worried that I pretended I was sick so I could skip the wedding.  I ran into my friend a couple of weeks later and he told me how great married life was.  I wondered if I had got it all wrong, and I went away relieved.  Phew, I dodged that bullet!

A month later, they were separated.  Three months after that, they were divorced.  She went on a binge of sleeping with every guy in sight.  He got angry at God and left town in shame.

I am not sure where he is now.

So now, I speak the truth, even if it is the opposite of what everyone else is saying.  It costs sometimes.  Friends get really angry at me sometimes.  Each time I am afraid that my friends will turn and walk away from me.  However, I love them too much to keep my mouth shut.

Sin

Augustine of Hippo is credited with describing sin as  Incurvatus in se 

This is turned in on oneself.  Or living for myself rather than for God.

Simply the most complete understanding of sin that i have ever heard.

Lets start living outward rather than inward.

God first, me much farther down the list.

Peace!

Wherever you go, sow seeds of hope.

This is a challenge to myself, but maybe it could also be a challenge to you:

It is so easy to see the negative in everything.  It is easy to get caught up in complaining about what is wrong with people, services, governments, our children and our spouses.  It is common to spread criticism and complaints, patting ourselves on the back that we were justified and simply told the truth.

What if we choose the less traveled road; to see the good, the lovely, the praiseworthy?  What if we choose to see the very best in others, even when it is hidden under a mile of garbage and they have not lived up to our expectations?  What if we chose to see potential rather than failure?  What if we speak these words of life to those who most need them?  What then?

This is the guy i want to be, this is the father I want my children to know, this is the faith in Christ that I want to spread.  I want to fan into life small sparks of hope, I want to be a blessing rather than a curse, to be filled with and fill others with courage to look to the future with eyes that are not jaded by the curses of others, but seeing instead the beauty our Creator has invested in each cracked and broken vessel of clay.

When I do, I am, simply, a better man.

I had a dream two nights ago

In the dream I was talking with someone, having a random conversation and suddenly a small child came up to me.  She had a piercing set of blue eyes and looked to be about five years old.  She pointed her finger at me and said one sentence: “Everything you do, you need to do for Jesus”.

I woke up hearing those words echoing in my mind, feeling rocked by their impact, and knowing that God had spoken to me directly.

What have we done with our privilege?

To whom much is given, much shall be required:  Luke 12:48 excerpt.

You ever wonder why we have so much in the west?  We have an abundance of food, clothing, water, and housing.  We have relatively stable governments, access to schools and hospitals, freedom of religion and freedom to vote as we see fit.  We live like kings and queens in the eyes of much of the world.  Never in all of history has the church produced so much teaching.

Why have we accomplished so little with all we have been given, with all we have received?

Might we have to answer for that one day?

Words to live by….

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

attributed – sir francis drake -1577