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Archive for the tag “Family”

Happy Father’s Day

A couple of weeks ago, the family had our annual beach trip. I believe this was our twenty-sixth trip. Usually, we all stay in one house. This year, we had to expand to two or at least both sides of a duplex. There were eighteen of us gathered together this year. There could have been more family members but a few couldn’t make it for the full week or at all.

My Dad wasn’t there for the first time. It seemed a bit strange not to have the patriarch of the family there. This will most likely be the norm as my father has become more home bound over this past year. Actually, after last year’s beach trip, I really didn’t think he would have lived another year. This past year has been a bit rough for him. However, he seems to be holding his own right now. He will be turning 91 in a couple of weeks so we have been fortunate to have him with us this long even though he’s home bound.

I mentioned this annual trip for a reason. This annual trip lets me observe my nephews in a different way. My nephews have grown into great fathers. I can see their daily interactions with their children. I can see how much they love them. I mean, I know they love their children. But observing them on a daily basis, I see how they love them. Yes, it’s correcting them when siblings hurt each other. Cousins get involved in mishaps as well. There were injuries from splinters and a smashed finger; sickness is always a concern as well. The Dads always stepped up to help out. They were right there with Mom correcting, comforting and loving on their kids.

My nephews are representing God the Father well. I know this because of my own Dad. He represented God the Father to me as I was growing up. I have a good Dad. I have a loving Dad. Over the last few years when I have called my Dad, he reminds me before he hangs up “to remember my Dad loves me a whole, whole bunch.” He hasn’t voiced that reminder in a few months, but I remember him telling me this for last few years and it still warms my heart. I am loved and I feel it. My nephews are giving that to my grand nieces and nephews. They will know they are loved and they will feel loved.

For the “grands” it will not be a big leap of faith to recognize a loving Father in heaven loves them as well. It wasn’t for me either because of what I experienced through my own Dad. Yes, there were doubts when troubles arose and discipline was hashed out. But actually, that is more loving than letting us run out into the ocean to drown. (Forgive the beach analogies.)

Boundaries are given for our protection. Sometimes we see them as confining instead of liberating. We see a line and we want to cross it because we know what’s on the other side has to be better. But if God put a line in the sand, there is a reason we shouldn’t cross it. God loves us more than we can imagine and wants the best for us. The best is not to cross the line. However, if we cross the line, He doesn’t love us any less. There is nothing we could do that would cause Him to love us less. It’s the same regardless of what we do. But His best is to stay in His boundaries. That’s His protection.

When the line has been crossed, the Father will allow it but there are always consequences to rebellion. However, like the Father in the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15), God is always waiting on our return. His arms are open wide for our return. And He never condemns us – that’s Satan’s job. God the Father loves us unconditionally.

I remember Ruth Graham talking about her Dad (Billy Graham) when she had a failure in life. She rode up to her Dad’s house and her Dad was waiting in the driveway. He didn’t condemn her for her actions, but wrapped her in his arms and said “welcome home.” That’s how our Father in Heaven responds to us when we have stepped outside His boundaries. Remember God the Father is our good, good Father. His love will never change. He will never change.

If you have had a good father here on earth – thank God the Father for blessing you and your family in this way. Your Dad has been a good example of a good and loving Father in Heaven. Remember your Father in Heaven loves you a whole, whole bunch! His arms are open wide. You are loved. Know it and feel it. Happy Father’s Day!

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:20b-24

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Ho Ho Home for Christmas

No matter what stage of life I’m in, I always want to be home for Christmas. I love being there with my family gathered together. This year is extra special since my nephew and his family is back from the far country where they have been for the last few years. I am grateful that God has brought them home again safe and sound. But I am also grateful for the time they have had serving the Lord in what He has called them to do. As we all gather, my nephews and families, my sisters and husbands, my Dad and his wife – it will be as it should be – together again.

Home has changed throughout the years. When my parents and I moved when I was twelve, home moved with us. However, the dynamics changed because my sisters didn’t move with us. Christmas became a moving event. We either went to my sisters or my sisters came to us. Sometimes it was just for a day, sometimes it was for two or three days; every year was a bit different. But when my parents settled back in my hometown after their retirement, it once again felt like it should be. It was home in every sense of the word.

When my Mom died, it felt like everything got off kilter and we lost our center – our anchor. The first year was a tough year. But we managed through it. As the years have passed, I have come to realize Mom wasn’t the center of our family. Mom was a representation – a physical presence – but what lives on is love. Love is the core of who we are as a family. It wraps us up in a warm embrace. It feels like home.

This morning, I read about Jacob’s dream (found in Genesis 28:10-17) about seeing God and the angels that went to and fro from the place where he rested. God gave Jacob a promise that night. God said that Jacob’s descendants would possess the land where he rested. That land was going to be home to millions. But at that time, Jacob had no one. He was alone and running from his brother. God promised Jacob “Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 28:14). That’s a big promise.

Eventually, Jacob did make it back to that place and settled in that land. Eventually, there would be millions who would come from his family line. God fulfilled His promise to Jacob. But the bigger promise of everyone being blessed because of Jacob’s family was much more defined by a person than the family itself. The blessing came centuries after the promise through Jesus Christ. A baby would be born in Bethlehem to a virgin; an announcement from the angel under a starlit sky to shepherds watching over those sacrificial lambs; God had done this thing He promised to do. The blessing was born – the promised fulfilled.

The author who wrote the devotional this morning (Tim Gustafson, Our Daily Bread, December 21, 2017) had this take away from the Jacob’s dream scripture: “Home is not so much a place on a map, as it is a place to belong. God gives us that place.” Jesus is our home. He is the love that surrounds us and gives us that belonging. He is the center of our family and He is the one who draws us close.

Sometimes we can run away from home, but love will always bring us back. If we are truly Jesus’ followers, no matter how far away we run, He will always search for us and receive us back. He wants us to be home with Him forever. He went to great lengths to assure us of His promise that we will always have a place with Him. “Home is where the heart is” but it’s Jesus at the center of that heart that makes it true in every sense.

Jesus gave us another big promise at the end of His life. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3) Just as the promise for Jacob was fulfilled through Jesus, we can trust that what Jesus promised will also be fulfilled by His word. We have a home being prepared for that day and it’s going to be glorious.

During this Christmas season as my family gathers, I recognize that this is just a small representation of what heaven will be like one day. The larger family will gather in a glorious place filled with love. There will be a feast beyond imagination and a celebration of Jesus that we cannot fathom at this time. This is the idea that helps me celebrate with more enthusiasm every year that passes. One day, I will be home for Christmas and the best gift of all will be the eternal blessing with Jesus.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4 (ESV)

Perfect Reflection

I am very grateful for my Dad. Yesterday, he had his eighty-eighth birthday. Last month was my parent’s the sixty-fourth wedding anniversary. My Mom is already in her heavenly home, but my Dad is still here with us. Dad didn’t remember their day, but I did. I still like to remember how special my parents were together. My sisters and I are a result of their union. My sister has four boys of her own. They in turn have their children. Three generations, so far, have come from my parents union. I am grateful for my Dad because he is a good Dad. I don’t really have any daddy issues that I can pinpoint. I had a good upbringing. So when I think of God as Father, I am okay with that. Dad did a good job reflecting (as best as he was able) the picture of God as a good Father. But my Dad was still an imperfect Dad. He did much that was right and a few things that could have been better.

In a perfect world (as the world began), God put the perfect reflection on earth in a family setting. However, sin entered the world and everything changed. And we have been suffering the consequences of sin ever since. The perfect reflection became imperfect. There are many in this world do not have such a good image of a father. To them, the idea of God as Father is a poor reflection of who He really is. A father is one who is supposed to support us; to be in our corner cheering us on. He is supposed to love us without conditions. He is supposed to catch us when we fall. He is supposed to hold us close when our hearts are broken. That of course was supposed to be the perfect reflection of a good Father. Jesus gives us access to the only good and perfect Father that we will ever have. We are adopted as God’s son and daughter when we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. We become God’s children!

God is not a reflection of our earth father. He is the perfect image of a perfect Father. We don’t have to be afraid of the Father who loves us unconditionally. We don’t have to assume that we are going to be condemned for doing something wrong. He tells us that we don’t have to earn His love. And believe it or not, He also likes us. He made us in His image! What’s not to like? When we receive the truth of that in our hearts, it may give us a new perspective of ourselves and we could actually love (and like) ourselves too. Our earthly fathers may have done a poor job in being a good Dad, but we can change our perceptions of who God is to us when we identify with Jesus as son and daughter of the heavenly Father. When we read that Jesus is the reflection of God – He spoke what God told Him to speak; He did the work that God wanted Him to do while He was here – we will see a new image of God as Father. Jesus was the perfect reflection on earth of our heavenly Father.

We have already inherited a glorious future that we really didn’t deserve, but He gave it to us anyway. The Gospel of Jesus Christ death and resurrection gives us the access we need to become who God meant for us to be – His beloved children. God asked us to obey and honor our earthly parents. It was a commandment that we were supposed to obey, and the only one with a promise. When we do that, we are told it will go well with us (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:3). The promise wasn’t that it would be better for our parents, but better for us as children. It’s not easy to obey and honor when our parents are not the best people in the world, but when we have the power of the Gospel message living in us – all things are possible. When the world sees the power of the Gospel message living out in us, they see the reflection of Jesus in us that will draw more to Him. We are image bearers. And we have a higher standard to live by. We live it by the power that lives in us. I may look like my earthly Dad, but I want the true reflection of my heavenly Father living out through me.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:1-2

Message by Louie Giglio – May 3, 2015 – A God to call Father

Pennies from Heaven

I was having a bad day. I had been writing all morning. I was struggling to get through writing about the worst days of my life. I was having fits of crying from emotionally draining memories. I listened to a sermon while I ate lunch. It was about worrying. I’m really not much on worrying. Sure I have concerns, but I can’t call them worries, can I? I listened to the sermon and the last point the preacher made was about uncertainties of the future – hmmm… maybe I do have a “worry” after all. He said to bring the whole truth to God, and He would give me peace which transcends all understanding. It really wasn’t about the uncertainty, but about the “fear of the unknown.”

The section of my life I was writing about was the death of my Mom. It was the hardest thing I have lived through in my “relatively” short life. I had to sit down after that sermon and discern what my real concern is about the uncertainty of my future. I am single. My whole life, my parents were my family. Yes, I have sisters but they have their own lives and families. Oh, I know I am a part of their families, but it’s not the same. When push comes to shove as the saying goes, they think of their families before they do me – as it should be. If I was married and had kids, I would be doing the same thing, but I don’t.

A year after my Mom died, my Dad got married again. Praise God, he found someone to live out the remaining years of his life. Once again, I am left in a bit of a predicament. God has shown me my real fear. I am afraid of being alone. I know I have family and friends, but I really am totally alone. This was my deepest, truest revelation I have had in quite some time. As I was in the midst of this struggle on this day, I decided to go for an afternoon walk. I was tired of thinking about these deep issues.

Once again, God opened up my heart to look down. I saw two pennies lying on the street as I walked along. If you remember from a post several months ago, God places pennies in my path to remind me “in God we trust.” I have only one who really is my source of strength and who I can rely upon. The future is uncertain and no one is guaranteed a long life. I could be alone whether I was married or single. I acknowledged God’s providence and continued on. My fear of the financial future came up as well. I don’t have money coming in, and I don’t have any prospects of the future. Again, a penny was placed before me. God will work it out. I have to trust Him with everything! Yes, I have anxious times ahead, but God is faithful in everything. He is in control!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

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