Practical Proverbial, from 1 Peter, 27 April 2020

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV).

My Concordia Bible references this verse to the Lord’s Prayer.   That makes sense when you consider that the first line of it says, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name.”

Because He is holy.  To be holy is to be consecrated, sinless, clean, without error or blame.   That’s God; that’s Jesus.  Is it you?

Do you or I ever step back from our daily lives to consider that God sees us as holy?   When God the Father looks at us, He looks at us through the lens of the perfect life of His Son, Jesus.   He sees Dave Terry as His very good creation.  Instead of seeing all the ways I’ve messed up His very good creation, He sees me covered in Jesus.   The blood in my veins is His blood.   The clothes I wear are His royal robes that are sparkling white.   The look on my face is careworn but through love, not trials.   When God the Father looks at me or you, He sees us through our faith in Jesus and doesn’t even remember that we’ve ever done X, Y, or Z.

God sees us as holy.

So how are you doing with that, today?   Have you messed up your holiness yet on this last Monday in April?   I’m betting the correct answer is “yes.”   Maybe you’ve already messed up big today; maybe you’ve barely scratched an indiscretion.   No matter what has happened, chances are that, because you’re a human being, something has already happened, because of you, that put up a wall of sin between you and God.   But then here comes Peter with his call for us to be holy.   It’s barely Monday here and already I’ve tanked that expectation for the week.   How can this ever be?

You know the answer.   You really do.   You’re a smart, discerning, Spirit-led person of faith.   You’re no longer ignorant of the saving faith of Jesus or the fact that He’s coming back soon to make all things new.  You know the Father, Son, and Spirit are holy, and you know deep inside that they see you as holy, too.   And when we put a divide between ourselves and God, the ONLY way to bridge that divide is to go back to Jesus.   Yet again; maybe again and again.   To go back, confess our wrongs, and submit to Him again (and again and again).   He sees us only in love and forgiveness.   It’s we who see ourselves as something else.

Pray that Lord’s prayer again today and give it another go.   And be holy because He has made us holy.

For further reading:  Leviticus 11:44, Isaiah 35:8, Matthew 6:9, Revelation 21:5, 1 Peter 1:17

Lord Jesus, YOU make me holy.   Lead me to think and act holy in Your service today.

Practical Proverbial, from Titus, 14 July 2019

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:4-6 (EHV).

Let’s expand on that idea of “represent” Jesus anyway by adding a sentence.   The kindness of God and the best of His Spirit He gives to us, pours out on us, through Jesus.  Mind-blowing thought.

Perhaps these verses are yet another exposition of the three-in-one Godhead.   You won’t find “trinity” anywhere in the Bible, but in verses like these, you’ll find mention of God, His Spirit, and His Son Jesus.   They are all one and the same and He is in all Them.  God the Father sent the Son to save humanity.   God the Father and Son renewed us through His/Their Spirit, who was given through Jesus the Son, who sent Him (Holy Spirit).  When you see One, you’re seeing the others.   Pray to One and They all hear.   Hear from One and They each said it even if One speaks separately.   Confusing?   Perhaps.   But if you simply take it at face value, then it makes sense, because it’s our God of loving mystery.

Part of the reason it makes sense is because He gave us things with which to remember Him.   Baptism, communion, worship, festivals and holidays:   He doesn’t need those things but knew we would.  God’s Spirit came to us to renew us.   “But I don’t feel like I need to be renewed,” you might say.   Oh yeah?   Ever feel tired?   Ever feel anxious?   Ever get depressed, or overwhelmed, or nervous, our just plain upset?   Ever felt like that but didn’t really know why?   If you’ve felt those things, you need to be renewed.

When you sense that – and when you don’t – you need to have Him pour Himself out over us.   I think of it like standing under a waterfall.   Or maybe in a rainfall…or a thunderstorm.   Sometimes I need the gentle spring rain; other times the summer downpour.  Yet however I need Him, even when I don’t know how I need Him, He’s there, pouring His grace down on me like rain.   Like cleansing, purifying, feeding, nurturing, forgiving rain.  Like a stream of living water to freshen and renew.   Like an ocean full of life, power, and adventure.  Like a cleansing hot shower, coursing down over me, washing me clean again.  He feels like pure water, poured gently from a crystal pitcher into a clean glass.  Poured out.   He empties Himself to fill up others.

For further reading:  Matthew 17:20, Matthew 21:21, Mark 4:35-41, Mark 11:22-24, Acts 22:16, Romans 5:5, Romans 11:14, Ephesians 2:9, 1 Peter 1:3, Titus 3:7

Savior God in three and one, I praise You for being You.   For all You give to me; for pouring Yourself out on us all.

Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 27 February 2019

“… to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Timothy 6:14 (NIV).

That’s the rub of it, isn’t it?   Keeping the command (to be made righteous in the sight of God by the love of Jesus) is a tough thing.   We like our control.  Me, I messed it up yesterday in more than a few ways.   You did too.   Let’s not list all the ways we failed yesterday because it misses the point.   Confess your sins to God in private; I’ll do the same.

But remember this:  Jesus saw it; God the Father saw it; God the Spirit saw it.  He/They saw every time me and you did and said awful things yesterday.   He knew them when we thought them.  We repeatedly demonstrated it; He saw it every time.

And He loved us anyway.   He loved us though we spit in His eye.   He felt dirty when we felt dirty because He loves us enough to go through what we go through.  He knew we wouldn’t keep His command, not even the easy one to just love each other.   He knew it, and He loved us anyway.   He loved us enough to provide air, water, food, shelter, and anything you know of yesterday and today.   He blesses us with provision, with His love that we get to share with each other.

He COMPLETELY forgives.  Always and every time.

He loves us enough to come back again to rescue us because He doesn’t want our eternity to be marred.   He promised to come back and He kept all His words the first time around, so His promise is reliable.   He loves us and said He’s coming back, so we can believe it.

When is He coming back?   Look up the details in Daniel, Revelation, 2 Thessalonians, and the other prophecies.   You will won’t find the date and time.   Could be today; could be in a thousand years.   Be ready now.

But also get ready to have your world rocked:   He’s already here.   He came back to you already.   Here, now, in the flesh…your flesh.

Yep:   Jesus will physically come back in majesty the way He said He would.  Yet His Spirit is in us now.   It’s Him, part of Him, part of the Trinity that He is.   He lives and acts and thinks and loves through you.   He’s with us during the secret sins; He’s there to walk us back away from them in repentance.   And He’s there in praise, speaking when we don’t know how to.   Jesus will come back in His body and all the world will see Him, but the world can see Him now through us.

Do they? Do we show Him in us?   Yes, that’s the rub of it.

For further reading:   1 Thessalonians 3:13, 1 Corinthians 1:7, 2 Timothy 1:10, 1 Timothy 6:13-21.

Mighty Jesus, I let You down yesterday; I’m a sinner.  Forgive me and guide me to show You better today. 

Practical Proverbial, from 1 Thessalonians, 10 May 2018

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief1 Thessalonians 5:4 (NIV).

Not in darkness…can we even fathom that thought?

My friend Patrick preaches a lot about light versus darkness.   In many places in the New Testament, Jesus refers to Himself as the light, and how in him there is no darkness.   There can’t be.  Darkness symbolizes void, emptiness, ignorance, the absence of light (and what is good).   Jesus is none of those things.   Where Jesus is, there is undeniable, life-giving light that makes the darkness flee.   It fills the void, replaces the emptiness.   In Jesus, there is everything.

Just yesterday I was reading a devotion where it mentioned how Jesus revealed everything about the Father to His disciples.   Imagine that.   Jesus revealed EVERYTHING about the Father.   There was nothing about Him that Jesus knew that He didn’t reveal to His friends, these imperfect, sinful people like you and me.  The voids, nooks and crannies of their empty souls were filled by Jesus’s revelation of the Father.  Everything that there was to know about the Father was told, and there was nothing more that anyone could know.  The Bible verse was in John, and it was short and subtle, understating the importance of such a mind blowing concept.   God the Father, the creator of all things, making Himself fully, completely known through His Son.

What’s the point?   The light that filled the disciples made it so that there was nothing about the return of Jesus that would be surprising.  They had known Him fully, and would soon know Him in death, then again in resurrected life.  After that, NOTHING about Jesus could or would surprise them in any way.   The Father had revealed everything they needed to know about it to prepare to meet Him for eternity.

That same thing is true for us today.   I struggle with the practice of turning everything over to Jesus, of so fully opening up my heart to Him that He crowds everything else out.   In futility, I cling to “I can do it” and push Jesus aside.   Is it any wonder when I feel alone?   And when I feel alone, there is darkness.  Yet I also know that, if I let my guard down to Him fully, He’ll fill me back up with His light.   His light feels like love because that’s what it is.   It’s peaceful, patient, understanding.  When I feel the presence of my faith in Jesus, even though I have tried to keep Him at arm’s length, I feel good.   That’s something I can fathom.

For further reading:  Acts 26:18. 1 John 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:5.

Lord, fill the empty places of my life with Your holy light.

Practical Proverbial, from 1 Thessalonians, 1 March 2018

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NIV).

If a Dad’s number one job is to introduce his kids to Jesus, here’s the biggest reason why.  God’s word, through the Spirit of Jesus, works in us every day.   God’s word is at work in those who believe in Him, reshaping thinking and remolding hearts.   God’s word is at work, too, in the lives of those who reject Him, because He still provides everything even for them.   Indeed, God’s very nature is revealed in nature itself, the world He created for His glory and our livelihood.

To recognize God’s provision, dads are also responsible for teaching their kids how to be thankful.   The apostle Paul began many of his writings by expressing thankfulness for the recipients of his letters.   It’s something he learned was part of following Jesus because one can’t follow the Savior of love without being thankful for His love.   Being thankful is central to living out one’s Christ-walk.

We fathers are responsible for teaching our kids many important lessons.   An introduction to Christ, how to be independent, how to think for yourself, how to persevere, the character in a man of integrity; how to fish, how to selectively hear during your favorite TV show, how to say “back in the day” like you know what you’re talking about:   these are all supposed to be “important” things.

But all kidding aside, the most important thing we can teach our kids, next to introducing them to Jesus, is to be thankful like Him.   Jesus continually gave thanks for His friends, for food, for everything.  Paul later modeled that for the churches he mentored as he worked to live out Christ’s calling.

You know we should do the same.   You and I both know people who seem ungrateful, who walk around with a little black rain cloud hovering over their heads, who seem to want happiness but fail to realize that the only real happiness in the world is found on a walk with Christ.  Those people matter; they’re our family and friends.   The first, best thing we can and must do for them is be thankful.   We should be thankful for them, thankful for our lives, thankful for every breath God gives us.   If we emulate this Christ-like thankfulness, there’s a better than average chance it’ll rub off.

It starts with you and me.   Today, every chance we can, let’s remember to thank God for everything we can think of.   Thank other people for even the smallest of things.   Before you know it, things inside of you will start to change.

For further reading: Psalm 8:3-4, Romans 1:8, Hebrews 4:12, 1 Thessalonians 2:14.

Lord, thank You for providing, for all You do.   Help me to model this for others.

Practical Proverbial, from 1 Thessalonians, 27 February 2018

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.  1 Thessalonians 2:111-12 (NIV).

Dad’s love unconditionally and hold you accountable.   Dads love their kids, or at least they should, and they impart of themselves into their kids by encouraging, comforting, and urging them to live lives worthy of God.   That means teaching them how to make their ways in the world, how to do what they love to do, how to be strong, how to get along with others.   Dads are supposed to also teach their kids about Jesus, imparting to them lessons that the Maker wants him to tell them so they can come to know the Maker as well.

At least that’s what we’re supposed to do.  News flash:  we dads don’t always do a great job at it.

Take me.  but I do wish I had done better for my own kids.   I wish I had not obsessed so much about grades, making their beds, the music they listened to or the movies they watched; you know, things that don’t really matter that much.   Sure, it’s important to work hard to get good grades, and it’s important to garner the self-discipline you get from making your bed.   Those things are important, but compared to Jesus they don’t matter very much.  More than anything else, I wish I had done more to live out my life for Jesus and be a better example of Him to the three people who watched me most.   As a young dad, I did a poor job at this.

None of us are blameless; I’m not blameless.   I let my job, my selfish desires, and my own obsessions get in the way of being a better dad.   But if the best thing we can say is “I did my best” then that applies to me too.   My dad did his best with me, and I can say I did my best with my own kids.

News flash again:   it’s not about me.   That’s the first lesson we dads should teach our kids.

I’m betting that’s how Paul and his companions dealt with the Thessalonians.  It’s a good bet to assume they worked to be selfless, to be caring and patient and loving with these new friends.   Unless they were those things, it would be difficult at best to encourage, comfort, and urge the Thessalonians to live Godly lives.   Only someone who’s living selflessly and teaching selflessly can really impart those Christ-like qualities to the people they love.

In other words, Paul and his friends acted like dads.   Like the men Jesus wanted them to be.

For further reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

Lord Jesus, thank You for being my Maker, my friend, my Savior, but my brother.  Thank You for letting me be a dad.   Always help me to do my best for You and others.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 21 September 2017

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  Hebrews 12, verses 9-10.

The other day I mentioned my parents, stating that they weren’t physical disciplinarians.   After my sister and I entered elementary school, I don’t remember Mom or Dad ever spanking us.   Especially Dad.   Spanking and physical discipline just wasn’t part of him.  Yet for years I thought my father was a weak man.   It was only after I grew up that I realized how wrong I was, that he was actually a good and fundamentally decent man who stood fast on principles.   Dad ‘shook off’ a lot because, if it didn’t interfere with his principles, then it didn’t matter so much.  But he rarely gave an inch when his principles were called into question.

One of those principles was that a person, especially a man, should always do their best.   I never really knew the side of my father who worked in an office.   Dad was an ammunition inspector for the Army, and I don’t recall ever seeing him in the office (because he worked on Army bases where we usually didn’t go).   But I have a box full of awards from his 30 years of work testifying that he had always done a great job.   I do remember Dad working around the house, doing all kinds of home improvements.   He self-taught those things; nobody taught him how fix electrical wiring, hang drywall, or make home repairs.   When I was growing up, except for a two year period where we lived in a house that needed no work, I don’t think I could have named a weekend when my dad didn’t work hard at something.

He always did his best.

Since I got out of the Air Force 21 years ago I have worked for eight different companies (nine if you count my own in that I’m currently an independent consultant).   I can honestly say that, for most of those jobs, I did my best.   A few times I didn’t, and one time I didn’t cost me a job last year.   I felt betrayed by those people; maybe some day I’ll share the rest of the story.   But the long and short of it was that they abandoned me so I abandoned them and it showed in my work.   These days, I love what I’m doing.   I enjoy the work, I really enjoy the team I’m working with and the ones I’m leading, and I am energized at the challenge of the task.   It’s a pleasure to do my best.   When you think about it, I wouldn’t be where I am in this job if “those people” last year hadn’t launched me along the trajectory I’m traveling today.   That’s something to be thankful for.  See what happens when you do your best?

Have you considered that God is doing His best as well?   Moreover, He’s doing it for you, on your behalf, for your good.    God made you legitimate.  He bought you back from the consequences of your sins and set you on a better path.  He gave His Son for you.  He gives you food, air, water, shelter, other people, and love and you don’t have to do anything to deserve them.   You and I are on God’s mind 24/7 even when He isn’t on ours.   Have we really considered that God does His best for us every day, even when we refuse to notice?

It seems so easy to question God when things aren’t going well for us.   It seems so easy to curse His name when we’re up against the wall, or when we don’t get what we want.   Yet have you considered that these are times when God allows (or brings) adversity into our lives to refine us for better things?   I know this is true in my own life, and it hurts when it happens.   But things always turn out for the best eventually.  God gives us only what we can handle and asks us to handle the negative things only so that it will lead us back to Him somehow.   Through them all, He still provides those things mentioned above whether we are in want or in plenty.

God’s a father like me, like my dad.   He gives us His best in all things.   It’s a trustworthy, true thing to believe, to make the bedrock of your life.  Today would be a good day to make sure we do the same for others because of Him.

For further reading:  Numbers 16:22, Revelation 22:6, Isaiah 38:16, 2 Peter 1:4.

Lord, thank You for doing Your best for me.   Your best is simply You because nothing is better than You.

 

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 18 September 2017

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”  Hebrews 12, verses 5-6.

If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know I have three kids (and three grandkids).   The most important task I have on this planet is to “go and make disciples.”   I do that by using the talents God has given me to shine in front of others.   All that starts with my kids.  When I was a young man, I wasn’t interested in being a parent.   I wanted to see the world, do great things, be ‘somebody.’  Long before my kids were born, I thought I was destined for greatness, to be famous, to do big things in a big world.   As a dad (and now a grand-dad), I’ve done all that.  Looking at life from the other side of the parental glass, God guided me to see the world with my kids, to do great things with them.   I’m somebody in their eyes.   They think I’m great, I’m the world famous Dad Bod from Paris, and I’ve lived large because of them.

Nowadays, I see that the most important task I’ve been given on this planet starts with sharing Jesus with my kids and grandkids.   I didn’t always see things this way; it’s been a long time coming.   Along the way, I’ve made serious mistakes, I’ve been a hypocrite, I have failed over and over.   Yet I’ve also usually done my best, and I realize now that the good things and bad alike are gifts from God.   I give them to my kids as gifts by sharing how I behave, what I believe, what I do with them in the perspective of trying to live out the words in my Bible and the things I share here.

Here in America, we idealize our kids.   We put them on pedestals, spending exorbitant amounts of money spoiling them.   Nothing is too good for our kids; nothing they want is out of reach no matter what it costs us.  Have you realized yet that we have it backwards?   Our kids (usually) don’t want lavish spending.   Our kids want we parents to lavish love on them.   We don’t do that by buying them things.   We do it by first sharing the lavish love of Jesus.

And it aint always easy.   Sometimes I still rebuke my grown-up kids.   Sometimes I say things they don’t want to hear, but I rarely do so off the cuff.  When I speak up it’s because there’s something I want them to know, even if it’s just “I love you.”   We have to remember that the core of “discipline” involves a disciple and discipling.  More than any other role in this world, I want my kids to be disciples of Jesus.  I’d my honor to parent them along that disciple’s path.

Larry Elder is one of the people I follow on Twitter.   He often quotes that the single biggest problem in the ‘black community’ today is the absence of fathers.  Statistically and realistically, kids do better and have a better shot at a happy, successful life if both a mom and a dad are present in a committed relationship.   I believe that’s true in every situation, not just in the black homes of America.   No I’m not disparaging single parent homes, especially single mom homes.   I’m simply sharing a factual statistic with which I agree.   After all, it’s the model Jesus instituted and the one He modeled in His own life.

We don’t know what happened to Joseph after Jesus became an adolescent.   Sometime after the incident where Jesus was left at the Temple, Joseph disappeared.   He probably died; he’s absent from the rest of the Gospels and Jesus doesn’t say.   Some folks would think this means Jesus was raised in a house where there had been a deadbeat dad.  Some infer a message of “see, dad’s don’t matter.”   Both of those interpretations are greatly lacking in both insight and common sense.   A better way to look at it is that Joseph’s role was complete.   His mission was complete (and successful) and his purpose fulfilled.  http://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/joseph-the-father-of-jesus-faq.htm says that “Perhaps the cause or timing of his death is not nearly as important as the strength of character he displayed.”   I like that interpretation, because it jives with the entirety of his adopted son’s life.  Joseph trained Jesus in the worldly skills of carpentry and working with people.   He stood by Him even before He was born by refusing to deny Mary as his wife.   He took Jesus to the synagogue, and he imparted on Jesus patterns of behavior that were displayed all through the adult ministry we know about.   Joseph raised other sons and daughters with Mary, and he taught Jesus how to be a big brother, how to be both family and friend.  Have you ever considered that Jesus did some of the wonderful things He did not just because He was God, but because He was God who also learned at the feet of a good step-father?

Someday I’d like to ask Joseph how he handled things as a father.   Dad to dad I’d like to ask him a few questions.   I’m betting that, in the conversation, Joseph might just say it was the most important task of his life:   discipling the Man who he would follow as the Savior of his life.

For further reading:  Psalm 94:12, Psalm 119:75, Revelation 3:19, Proverbs 3:11-12.

Lord, help me as a parent to live out a good example for my kids and all the folks around me.

 

Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 18 January 2016

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Mark 13, verse 32.

We’ve talked about this before, about how end times prophecies boil down to our being prepared for the world to end any minute now.   Admit it:   the idea of the world ending, of God calling an end to time and of everything that we know or has ever happened coming to a conclusion seems far-fetched.   It seems preposterous, illogical (worse:   it’s logic-defiant). The end of the world seems contrary to everything God created us for, right?

Wrong.

In fact, the end of time is exactly the event for which God created us.   God created us out of His perfect love and grace.   He created us to be in full communion with Him forever, to enjoy His blessings and share His love with us with Him for all time.   However, the sin that we embraced so long ago stands in-between us and realizing God’s real plan.   He’s holy and can’t have anything to do with our sins.   Enter Jesus, who atoned for our sins and clothed us with Himself so that we can stand in front of the holy triune God blameless and made holy again.   God created us to share His love perfectly, as He does, and in our current state we can’t do that.

Yet when that will happen nobody here knows.   Jesus’ own words in this verse confirm this truth.   He says them just after assuring us that His words are truth and are reliable, that when everything else goes away He and His words will remain.  Jesus Himself doesn’t know.   The Spirit of the Father and Son doesn’t know.   NSA doesn’t know; neither does Barack Obama, Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Donald Trump, Rick Warren, your pastor, your BFF since fourth grade, nor any person we can think of. Only God the Father Himself knows when it will happen.

Maybe it follows that either me or you would think “so why doesn’t He just tell us?”   Kind of presumptuous, don’t you think? Let me answer your question with a question: “would you really want to know?”   Don’t bother digging up the “why” to that question; that’s your business.   But would you really want to know when the end of time is happening?   Wouldn’t it cause some of your passion for life to cease, the very thing that makes humanity into what we are?   If we knew when things would end, how many of us would simply give up and not truly live?   Worse, how many of us would sink further into debauchery in the false belief that this life is all there is, so we’d better live it up now because at X time we’re done.

That’s not what God intended for us at all.

Nobody we can conceive of knows when all this will conclude; perhaps it will happen before you read my next blog entry; even so, come Lord Jesus.   And if it doesn’t, then let’s thank God for another day to make the most of the lives He gives us.   Let’s live today to find ways to advance Him in our lives, to dedicate our time and talents to His work, to be Jesus and share Jesus for someone who doesn’t yet know Him.   Doing that, then it won’t matter when comes the end of all things.

Lord, I praise You that you, my God, have ordained an end to this world.   Come Lord Jesus in Your good time.

Read Mark 13, verses 32-37.

 

Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 12 February 2015

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.20 ×

References for Mark 4:33

Cross References

He did not say anything to them without using a parable.21 But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. Mark 4, verses 33-34

Do you use your private time for teaching?

My kids are grown.   One is married with a son, one is working full time and is about to move to Maryland, and the third is a student at college.   Mind you, I don’t have many regrets about how my wife and I raised our kids.  I can say that we did our best, and perhaps that is the best thing a parent can say.   It is a blessing from God to be able to have and raise children, and it’s an even bigger blessing to be able to do the best you can in raising them to be strong, independent, Godly young men and women.

Yet when I look back I wish I had done a better job at being a Godly man for my kids.   I spent most of their young lives earning a living as a traveling consultant.   You do the job you can and do the best you can at that as well, but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that I enjoyed both the pay and the perks of traveling.   To have it all meant I was away from home over half the time or more.   Worse, I made some terrible choices and did things that directly or indirectly affected my family, especially my kids.

When I was home, I tried to spend time with each of them but usually felt pulled in too many different directions.  I did not do what Jesus did.  I did not teach those closest to me the kinds of things He would want them to know.   In this respect, though I say I believe I did the best I could, in reality, I still chalk up some of their struggles to my own failures as a father and inadequacies as a role model and teacher.

Now that they are grown, I still work as a traveling consultant.   My wife and I have a stronger spiritual life together than we did when they were kids.   We’re still doing the best we can, and sometimes that isn’t enough.   But usually it will do.  We are learning to involve Jesus in every aspect of our lives; that’s part of “doing your best.”  I still sometimes feel pulled in too many different directions, but I’m learning to do better for them in private:   to spend time in God’s word, to listen and not talk, to regularly communicate with them even when we’re apart.  It’s the single best way I know to mentor them because, even when our kids are grown, they still want our involvement and our guidance.

What’s the point?  Who you see is who you get.  That’s the way Jesus interacted with his disciples.   It wasn’t that He taught them different things in plain language than he said in public in the parables.   It’s just that He was more intimate with them in private, ‘going deeper’ into opening their eyes to who He is.   Away from the crowds, He could open up more, be more relaxed, and take the time to explain further with a loving touch instead of a rushed hand.  Just like a father would.

Lord Jesus, I pray You would open up to me and teach me Your heart.

Read the rest of Mark 4.