Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Answering The Questions"

I read this article over at Relevant today.

The end of the article poses these:

1. God commands us to love others. What are some of the ways you are able to best demonstrate love to those around you?  First, I must identify who "those" around me are every day.  And given my employmentless status, and where I spend all day... and more to the fact that it is summer in Western PA (schools out)... "THOSE" would be 1. my children, 2. my wife, 3. my neighbors... and going from there wherever I may venture in a day.  

So the question in my heart is "how am I demonstrating love to my children?"  And quite frankly the author of the article has gotten straight to my failure.  I need to take on the role of servant in their lives... a willing participant in serving them.  That their need for constant want should only be met with right attitude in my thoughts, words and deeds.  Never laying aside my role as disciplinarian if need be; yet never out of disciplining out of indignant postures.

Love them sacrificially;  never selfishly.

2. God deserves our gratitude and praise. Where/in what context are you most freely able to praise God? What activities, for you, are most conducive to praising God?  When truth is being delivered, by what ever medium possible, I PRAISE GOD! ... no matter what my circumstance, "how I feel" or where I stand.  God's truth that penetrates my heart brings me to a place of unhindered praise for him!

3. God gives us glimpses of his kingdom here on earth. When do you most clearly feel that sense of harmony, that everything is right with the world? Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing?  I have to go back to #2... with a slight twist.  Some times I wonder if any thing I says penetrates the heart of my children.  Do they understand fully who I am striving to be like, and not whom I am trying to escape (that is, the sinful nature that is in me.)  And whenever they speak or act in a manner that is God honoring, at that moment, I feel that "sense of harmony";  I am with them... and I am receiving back from God an immeasurable blessing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"The Ananias In Me"

Now a man named Ananias, together with Sapphira his wife, sold a piece of property.  He kept back for himself part of the proceeds with his wife’s knowledge; he brought only part of it and placed it at the apostlesfeet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back for yourself part of the proceeds from the sale of the land? Before it was sold, did it not belong to you? And when it was sold, was the money not at your disposal? How have you thought up this deed in your heart?  You have not lied to people but to God!”  Acts 5:1-4

Uh-oh, Ananias. Or should I say, "uh-oh, Jake."
You see, Ananias lied to God.  And what's about to happen, well...

But before he lied, and... well... he did something else;  He kept back some thing from God.
In Ananias' case, he kept back proceeds.  In my case, well... pick some thing.
I do it all the time... hold back from God.

I hold back my finances for sure, just like Ananias.  But I also hold back my time, my passion, my love, my help, my work, my prayers... my... my... my... Selling God short of all of me... well, deserves:

When Ananias heard these words he collapsed and died, and great fear gripped  all who heard about it.  Acts 5:5

... died.  Before he lied and died, he held back from God.
What if I would chose to give all to Him, submit to Him, surrender all to Him?
Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.  James 4:10

Before you lie and die... sin then death, you know, the wages of sin... humble yourself, submit yourself and He will lift you up.

After an interval of about three hours, his wife came in, but she did not know what had happened. Peter said to her, “Tell me, were the two of you paid this amount for the land?” Sapphira said, “Yes, that much.” Peter then told her, “Why have you agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out! At once she collapsed at his feet and died. So when the young men came in, they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear gripped the whole church and all who heard about these things.  Acts 5:6-11

And if it wasn't tragic enough holding back from God, there are other ramifications if I do so.
As the husband (and father) my humbleness, my surrender, my submission to God affects others.

But doesn't Sapphire have to make her own choice to avoid lying and dying?  Ultimately yes.
Still, if Ananias doesn't hold back... 

It's time to live it out...
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Jesus, I Surrender
I surrender all.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"10 Things I Hope My Baseballer Learned This Season"

1.  Success Is More Than Winning
 If I am better prepared for tomorrow because of what I learned today, even in defeat, I have succeeded.  It is from some of lifes most disappointing moments we learn the most about others; and more importantly ourselves.  Most importantly, we learn that God still walks with us, even carries us, after we fall.  THAT is certainly success.

2.  It Certainly Does Take A Team
 The mistakes of others, and our own mistakes, added together hold back the team.  How we come together, how we lift each other, how we push on through what bogs us down, all these will define who we are.  When each of us does what we are trained to do, this will also define who we are.

3.  Be Forgetful
One bad play HAS to be immediately put behind us.  A call that goes against us immediately HAS to be put behind us.  The home run we hit HAS to be put immediately behind us.  There will be time after the game to reflect on all of our successes and failures;  but that time is not in the middle of the game.

4.  Nobody Is Perfect
We are not perfect.  Teammates are not perfect.  Opponents are not perfect.  Umpires are not perfect.  Parents are not perfect.  The girls playing the softball game on the other field are not perfect.  NO ONE is perfect.  And where there is imperfect people, don't be surprised by mistakes.

5.  Sacrifice Is Necessary   
The players who make what most consider the highlight reel play are the ones who are not afraid to use there body in the process;  a short stop who uses his chest the keep a ball in front of him, an outfielder diving to make a catch, a first basemen running into the fence after a foul ball, a runner sliding into a base, a catcher blocking home plate...  The pain in the moment may be tremendous, but the outcome of the sacrifice will be the difference in the end.

6.  It's Still A Game
The fun of the game;  the rules of the game;  the results of the game;  we're going to play a game.

7.  Be A Sponge
GOOD advice should be absorbed, listened to and applied.

8.  You Have To Want It
 Our nature is to want to sow a leaf and hide.  Leading by example is wanting to be the one who has to make the play, get the hit, throw the strike that makes the difference every moment.  And even it we fail at a moment, we want the next play to come to us.

9.   Go Crazy
Mostly fun, partly mind game; never rude, crude or obnoxious... GO CRAZY.  
Yell for your teammates... congratulate an opponent who makes a good play;
Kick some dirt around, get dirty... chant, cheer and lift each other up. 

10.  My Dad Is Crazy About Me
That not matter what I do, if I hit the game winning homer, or walk in the winning run, my dad is my biggest fan.  That love is not conditional because of success;  but that HIS love is unconditional because He loves me.