Monthly Archives: June 2009

Fatherhood continued…

Yesterday at Ephesus we took the opportunity on Father’s Day to look at the biblical standards God calls dads to live out. You can download the podcast and listen in if you’re interested. It should be posted soon. Today as I read my Life Journal reading (more are now available for $6 at the Connections Table), I read a story that grieves me each time I revisit it. Jehoshaphat was a great king of Judah who loved the Lord, followed Him closely and heeded His prophets. He did not make a move without seeking the Lord first. J. has always held a special place in my heart for 2 reasons. 1) He was truly a man of God and ruled by His grace. 2) In middle school I was in a church musical called “Fat, Fat Jehoshaphat.” It was a retelling of the time J. was faced with enemies on all sides, fasted, prayed and sent the musicians out first and God won the day. Good times. But I picked something up in the life J. a few years ago. As great a king as he was and as much as the Bible tells us he loved God, he failed as a father. This has always grieved me. Today in the Life Journal reading we pick up the story of the son of J.

2 Chronicles 21:4-6-Now when Jehoram was established over the kingdom of his father (Jehoshophat), he strengthened himself and killed all his brothers with the sword, and also others of the princes of Israel. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel (who followed Baal and Asherah), just as the house of Ahab had done, for he had the daughter of Ahab as a wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.

You can read more of Jehoram’s story in 2 Kings 8 and 9, but you get the gist. He blew it, killed his brothers and worshiped false gods. What grieves me so much (he was one of many Hebrew kings who worshiped false gods) is the failure of his godly father Jehoshophat. A godly man and godly king who loved and followed the Lord, yet failed to raise up a godly son. We read of no good excuse as to why this would have happened. We only can see that Jehoshophat failed as a dad to pass on his love for God to his son. This struck me today again as we focused in on honoring and challenging fathers yesterday during our service.

Men, we are called to love God, have a personal relationship with Jesus and pursue personal righteousness. But we must not ever neglect to pass this legacy on to our children. One of the points we talked about yesterday was a father’s responsibility to pastor his children. To teach them about Jesus. As great as Jehoshophat was, his reputation is tarnished in my mind because of the horrendous failure of his son. Don’t pursue godliness or accomplishments at the expense of your children, or those God has placed in your life to mentor and lead. Your legacy matters! After your time on this earth is complete, what will you leave behind? My desire above all is to leave children who love God and advance His kingdom in ways I could never imagine!

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Life Journal 6/17/09 How then shall you live?

Young folks especially READ ON!!

Reading Colossians 3 today as a part of my Life Journal reading (If you haven’t gotten a Life Journal yet, there are some on the way). I read in my NKJV but then popped in for a rare visit (at least these days) to the Message translation of this same chapter. Eugene Peterson brought some good paraphrasing to this particular chapter. Paul is laying out some basic standards for living as Jesus-followers. This ties in with Jesus’ teachings on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. If we have really given our lives to Jesus and accepted the love, grace and mercy available because of the cross and resurrection then Paul challenges us to truly change the way we live. I see this chapter especially poignant to young people. Our faith in the US has experienced somewhat of a backlash against religious legalism, and for the most part I’m all for it. There has been added “requirements” placed on Christ-followers that aren’t based in Scripture. This backlash has been especially true among young adults and teenagers. One of the things I love about Ephesus Church is the freedom to truly be ourselves. To be discipled and challenged and grow while not bogged down with false legalism and requirements.

However…there are some dangers to this new exploration of “freedom in Christ.” Taking it too far. As Christians we are called to righteousness in our thinking and our actions. Jesus sets this up in Matthew 5-7 and Paul continues it through much of his writings (probably because it’s all from God and is useful for teaching!), especially here in Colossians 3. Too often young people who are Christians push the envelope a little too far in how they live life. Too much drinking, too much “passion” (Col. 3.5), too much filthy language, etc. Another element that Eugene Peterson translates in the Message is good stuff: “killing off everything connected with that way of death:…doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it.” Then later, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men.”(both Colossians 3)

Young people, hear me, how are you going to live? Jesus is calling us all to more than just acceptance of the cross, He’s calling us to righteousness in every aspect of our lives. Live free, enjoy life, don’t get bogged down in legalism. Those of you that have hung out with me know I strive to live this way. BUT, there is a balance. Don’t be like the world just because you have “freedom.” Choose to live differently as Scripture challenges us to live differently in those areas of your life. Read and meditate on Colossians 3 and see if there are areas in your life where some shifts need to take place.

Game on!

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Discipline

Just read this article by the leadership ninja master, John Maxwell this morning. He’s talking about discipline with a great example in Mickey Mantle. In the last month or so as we’ve moved into the beginning of the 2nd year of Ephesus Church’s life I’ve realized a huge need to step up my game. I’ll be honest, I’ve been able to coast through much of life. Occasionally the challenges will come and I’ll push through them and then kind of settle back. But this new season of leading Ephesus Church has challenged me like never before, and God has made it very clear that the coasting days are over. As I’ve pondered that I’ve looked around me for examples of getting past the coast and starting the climb. Leaders I admire and respect DO NOT COAST! The foundation of their intentional life, from my observation, is discipline. Discipline in life to do more with what they have, with what God has blessed them with. Leaders I admire exercise, eat right, read, challenge themselves in areas that they already excel in, etc. To do that takes discipline. And here’s the kicker, discipline is hard. You have to roll out of bed when you don’t want to and get to it. I’m not there, I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m trying hard. My challenge is that you will too. Stop sitting around, making excuses and coasting through life. God deserves so much more! Read this article and be challenged!

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Life Journal for 6/3/2009

I’m going to journal from today’s Life Journal reading for today in a moment, but first I need to take a moment to say today marks the 9th anniversary of Casey and my wedding! Yippee! I’m so blessed to be married to such an amazing girl! She loves Jesus with all her heart, cares so deeply about other’s loving Jesus that it often leaves her in tears, loves our children deeply and is an AMAZING mother, smacks me around when I need it (which is often) and is truly an Ephesians 5 wife, plus she is super hot! We married in 2000, but met in 1998 completely by God’s sovereignty (I’m rather Calvinistic in that regard!) and in true Armininian style she decided to give me a shot. I love you Casey, and can’t wait for another 90! Now on to the journaling

Proverbs 26:20: Where there is no wood, the fire goes out.

This is such a short verse, in fact it is only half of the verse, kind of sitting there by itself as many of Solomon’s proverbs do. No other context around it. On it’s surface it seems rather Boy Scouts 101, but it caused me to stop as I read it this morning. Anyone who’s tried to start a fire AND keep it lit without the use of lighter fluid or Roman candles or in the brush of Southern California, knows the challenges of starting a fire. It requires fuel, wood. But it requires certain types of wood at strategic points to truly become a self-sustaining useful fire. Solomon is not talking about the intricacies of Smore creation, he’s talking about our spiritual life. The fire must stay lit, but it happens in stages. At the beginning small twigs and leaves, kindling are needed. They light fast and bright, but quickly burn out. Too often we stay at the kindling stage. We light fast and then burn out because kindling isn’t the right fuel for long-term “burning.” You have to step it up a notch and throw some medium sized sticks on there to get the heat level a little higher and longer-lasting. Once those begin to burn you move up even more to the big logs. Big logs take much longer to develop into useful fuel, but once there they burn hotter, longer, and much more usefully. Isn’t that our spiritual life? Personally and as the local church? We need to move from kindling to log burning if we’re going to sustain and be useful to God’s Kingdom purposes.

Kindling provides a quick bright flame that is exciting when we see it shoot up in the air, but it burns out so quickly if it isn’t used to get the next level of wood burning. It provides a great “show” but does not change the surrounding campsite. It doesn’t really provide useful warmth nor is it useful for cooking. Again, sticks will burn for a while, but aren’t the best for the long term. You’ve got to put in the work and effort to get the big logs burning, that’s where the true value in a fire is. We have to want to move past the kindling to the big logs. It’s work! It’s not as flashy as the initial burst of flame, but that’s where true growth happens. We should desire to burn long and hot and change our world, not just ourselves, just as there is a difference between a fire of kindling and healthy fire of logs. Otherwise, too quickly, the fire goes out.

Lord, let us be a people willing to put in the work to become logs in your fire. As individuals and as churches. I don’t want my fire, or the fire of Ephesus Church to go out. Lord I also pray for churches all over the world that we might all be challenged to become fires built on logs and not kindling. Amen.

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