Time enough to grieve


When the holidays are over we tend to be saddened by the passing of the feelings of togetherness and love that we experience during the holiday. The gifts, the joy that getting a present brings, the look on children’s faces as they open their gifts, these are all precious and will never be repeated exactly the same way again. For those who may have lost a loved one during this time of year, it is especially hard because the joy of the season is tamped down by the grief and sadness.

Unfortunately, those feelings don’t really go away with time like everyone says, they become a little less bothersome but that is all. The good news is that God knows exactly how you feel and is there with you to carry you through it, no matter how deep the sadness goes or how long it lasts. He never leaves you and He won’t forsake the friendship that you have.

If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then the sadness will be terrible and deep and you may feel that you can’t bear it. For some, this is a reason to “get off the wagon” and get back into a bottle or go back to their habit of taking drugs to ease the pain. This is a really bad idea! Jesus can strengthen you and help you through this, if you will let Him!

He told us in His Word that we would never be alone, if we have accepted Him into our lives. He loves us much more than we can ever imagine or believe and if we will just trust in Him, we can gain the strength that we need to make it through the days and weeks ahead. The death of a marriage or a family member is a hard lesson in life and it is one that many of us have gone through, especially me, but Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace and He will be with you through this if you will ask Him into your heart and life.

Grief is a natural part of life and death and there are many stages to it, but the most devastating is the depression and anger. We feel anger because we weren’t ready for our loved one to leave or for the marriage to end or whatever it may have been. We are depressed because of the loss of our loved one by whatever means that has taken them away and we know that we may never see them again. Cheer up, if you have Christ in your life and they did too then it is only a temporary separation. They are in a more wonderful place than you can imagine and they are with Jesus!

Their salvation could lead you in that direction if you will allow it to. Grief and loss for a Christian are not permanent but temporary because Jesus conquered death and the grave! You will see them again if you decide to give your heart to Jesus and ask Him to come into your life. Once you have done this, your life and that of those around you will never be the same because of the change in you that they can see.

Dad?


During our lifetimes we have all started a conversation, or a question with “Dad? Can I….” It is not a bad way of starting a conversation actually, because it shows that you want Dad’s input or his permission in some area of your life or for something that you would like to do or even as a preamble to asking for something like a gift, whether it is for your birthday or Christmas (if you celebrate it).

What I like to hear from my son is that he would like to do something with me. It doesn’t matter what it is. If I can do it, I will go anywhere and do anything with him as long as I feel that I am wanted…needed in his young life. The reason that I say this is because there are so many father/son relationships which are strained or even broken for whatever reason.

Kids need their fathers. They need them to be in their lives, maybe not 24/7 but they need them nonetheless. It doesn’t matter for what reason, it can be for any reason but children, boys and girls, need their Dad. I barely had one when I was growing up because of a divorce that happened when I was only five years old. Of course, I thought it was something that I did, and something that I could fix. I found out later that wasn’t the reason, that I was not even part of the reason for it. I grew up angry and resentful because of it, mainly because I was so young that nobody thought it was a good idea to tell me exactly why this had happened when I got old enough to understand. Dad’s usually are good at helping kids understand things, especially when they are around.

My point in this is that our father, our Dads are important and should be in our lives, not only when we are young but when we get older as well. I know of many who are taking care of their Dad now because he is older, because he needs his children. Is it too much to ask of us as children to be there for the man who was there for us? If your Dad wasn’t around while you were growing up, maybe you can get together now. Try not to hold a grudge against him, there usually was a good reason for his absence.

Our Father, the One in Heaven, would also like to be in your life. The difference between our Heavenly Father and our Dad that we have here on earth is that we must choose to have a relationship with Him. In some kids lives, they may need to choose to have a relationship with their earthly father as well, but that relationship is important too. God wants a relationship with each of us and He is always with us. His presence in your life can be felt and known at any time regardless of where you are. The reason behind His presence in your life is because He wants to be, but you have to choose to allow Him into your life.

In order for us to have a real relationship with God, we have to come to Him through Jesus. When we do that, we can have a relationship with God forever, not just while we are alive here but when our body dies, we will wake up in His presence. Isn’t that awesome!

That doesn’t mean that we will be in “church” forever. We will be worshiping Him but in other ways, we will be serving Him in whatever ways that we can. The difference in Heaven will be that we have the knowledge to do what needs to be done and we will have eternity to do whatever there is that needs doing.

By choosing to have a relationship with Jesus, you get a relationship with the Father too. He has loved each of us from the beginning, not of our life but the beginning of time itself. He has known you from long before you were ever born or even before the world, earth, was created for us to live on. His love, His compassion for us is so far beyond our comprehension that it is hard to explain. As the Scripture says, “my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts”, God is simply saying that He is perfect in His knowledge of all things above and beyond what we can know. He is not bragging, it is just the truth!

This Father’s Day, think about your father, your Dad and then really think about having or starting a relationship with God, your Father in Heaven. Life is too short to waste it on stuff, our relationship with our family, both here on earth and the family that we have in Heaven, is far more important than is given credit in our culture today. Give both of your Fathers your attention so your relationship with them doesn’t have to end. Think about it.

 

Dad, what are you doing?


You may or may not know where Father’s Day came from, so I looked it up and found it. It came about because of a girl named Sonora Smart Dodd. In 1909, she was sitting in church listening to a Mother’s Day sermon when she had the idea of Father’s Day. She had been raised by her father after her mother’s death, so she wanted her father to know how special he was to her. To make a long story short, twenty-five years later, through her efforts President Calvin Coolidge designated the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day, then President Lyndon Johnson declared it as well but it took President Richard Nixon to sign the proclamation and make it permanent.

In God’s Word, there is one father that we know of who doesn’t have anything to say and yet he helped to raise and teach and nurture the Son of God. I am speaking of Joseph. In the story of Jesus’ birth, Mary and the angels have big parts to play; the wise men who are seeking the Child are prominent in the story too. Joseph is told that the Child is from God and that it is OK to accept Mary as his wife. Later on he is warned in a dream to take the child and flee to escape Herod’s soldiers.

Nowhere in the story do we hear from Joseph. I suppose if you are told that you are to be the step-father of the Son of God that would take your breath away. But there are many things about Joseph that we can only get from other scripture. Joseph loved Mary, which is what a father is supposed to do. Even though he thought she didn’t love him.

When he was making plans to divorce Mary, God showed him the divine plan in a dream: In a dream an angel appeared to Joseph, “Joseph, thou son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her womb is of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20-21). “When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have relations with her until her son was born; and Joseph named him Jesus.” (Matt. 1:24, 25).

How much better would the world be if every father took responsibility like Joseph? He understood what God expected of him, and he was ready to obey! Even if the village that they lived in considered the child to be a child of adultery. Joseph believed God, obeyed God and accepted the responsibility that God had given him.

About fifty years ago, seventeen percent of the children born were raised apart from their fathers. In 1990, that number was up to 36%. Today, nearly half of all children in the U.S. are raised without a father in the home.

You know, in many ways, we as fathers and husbands, are to be the leaders of our team. The team being the family, we are expected to be the head of the household in all areas. That includes financial, religious, personal, etc. Every part of our lives and the life of our family, we do not control but we are to guide and help and nurture to the best of our ability and the ability that God has given us. That is our responsibility as fathers. We are to be like God as much as is humanly possible, just don’t ACT like a god!

Your wife will take care of that! She will bring you down a notch or two if you do!

Joseph was a devout Jew and made sure to do everything according to the Lord’s teachings in the Law of Moses to the best of his ability. He sought God and led his family to the Passover festival every year.

I read once that “A child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father.” (Austin L. Sorensen) Seeing God in their father is a child’s best way to come to know God as their Father. Let that settle a bit in your mind and think on it. Who else would a child look to if not his or her father? We all claim, if we know Jesus, that God is our Father but can you feel Him? Can you touch Him?

Those sensations of touch are necessary for children and only our earthly fathers can give us a hug or hold your hand or pull the fish that you caught off the hook. We are supposed to be the spiritual leader in our family, like the priests in the Old Testament. If your child sees you reading the Bible, then they will see that you think it is important, especially when the wisdom that you gain from it is applied in your life, to every part of your life.

You are able to instill faith in your children. You are able to show them what a loving father looks like and acts like. You can give them the ability to trust and depend on their Father in heaven, but you can’t give your children something that you don’t have. Before they will see God in you, you have to let Him into your heart and your life. He has to be the top priority and they have to see you seeking Him. When you do, your children will see it; your grandchildren will see it. They will know that it is important, that He is important to you and to them.

A preacher once asked some preschoolers to draw pictures of God. He was going to use them as illustrations for his sermon. At the end of the class, they came up with rainbows and men with big hands. His daughter told him that she didn’t know what God looked like, so she drew a picture of him instead.

Joseph was a quiet man in scripture. Strong in his faith, yet we never heard him speak. His example teaches all of us a lesson in righteousness, responsibility and a lesson in religion. God is our Heavenly Father and He wants nothing more than for you to be a part of His family.

A message for Father’s Day


Today being Father’s Day, I thought we would concentrate on finding out what God’s Word says about fathers and their place in the home. Truly, fathers are the leaders in the home, the ones who set the example for their children to follow. Do we have an example to follow? Did our father or grandfather show by his example how to be a father? These are a couple of references from the Bible which give us some idea about being fathers:

HOSEA 11:1-4

(NRSV) When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.

EPHESIANS 6:1-4, 10-12

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”–this is the first commandment with a promise: “so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”  And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

The way that we can do these things is to make sure that we have a relationship with our Father in Heaven.Then make sure that we live that daily in front of our children. Don’t break the speed limit unless it is a true emergency, don’t cheat on your taxes, you know the drill. Everything that you do is being watched carefully by your children, whether they are grown or not. They watch and they learn by what you say and do in front of them.

When you tell them that God is important make sure that you let them see you doing that, not just saying it. “Do as I say and not as I do” is no way to bring up a child. Your children will do as you do, regardless of what you say. Even in God’s Word, when He told them to do things a certain way they didn’t do it. If they did, it would only be for a little while.

The lives of the next generation are precious to us and to God so we should live our life and our beliefs daily, not just on Sunday. Giving your life to Christ is the most important decision of your life. Living that new life in Christ in front of your family is the next decision that is important because of who is watching. God is watching you and watching over you, but your children, your wife, your co-workers are all watching to see the change that has happened in your life. If there has been a change, it will be evident.

Your character will be affected by that change and it will be what everyone sees on a daily basis. No matter what happens that change can’t be undone once it truly occurs. You won’t lose it and no one can take it from you. You can walk away from God, just as Jonah did, but when God decides to bring you back……He will. Hopefully without a fish swallowing you.  He will guide you back to Him one way or another.