Saturday, May 21, 2016

Just Waitin’ For You, Dad

In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. Psalm 22:4 

A husband and wife on vacation at a lake didn’t notice their three‐year‐old son Billy wandering toward the dock to investigate a boat. He tried to stretch his short legs from the dock to the boat, but didn’t quite make it—and fell into six‐feet‐deep water. The splash brought Dad running. He dove into the murky water, groping with his arms and legs trying to find Billy. His lungs nearly bursting, he pushed toward the surface—and touched Billy, whose arms were locked around a piling four feet underwater. Dad pried him loose, and they hit the surface together, gasping for air. When they had recovered, Dad asked little Billy what he was doing hanging onto that piling. Billy’s answer: “Just waitin’ for you, Dad.” When his life was on the line, Billy knew his dad would come through. It’s true that fathers bear heavy responsibility for the welfare and protection of their children. We parents have a tough assignment, but most of us wouldn’t have it any other way. The most difficult, important, and wonderful task of all is to teach our kids to trust their heavenly Father even more than they depend on Dad.

Just between us…
  • Did you as a child ever have a close call like Billy’s?
  • Was your father there for you?
  • Are we teaching our kids to depend on the Lord? How can we learn to trust God as much as Billy trusted his dad? 
Father, we praise You that You are strong and trustworthy at all times. We say with the psalmist—“The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” May our words, attitudes, and behavior model complete trust in You as a way of life in our home. Amen. 

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
Illustration from Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart by Stu Weber (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1997).

Just Checking In Today


 A Minister passing through his church
In the middle of the day,
Decided to pause by the altar
To see who come to pray.
Just then the back door opened,
And a man came down the aisle,
The minister frowned as he saw the man
Hadn't shaved in a while.
His shirt was torn and shabby,
And his coat was worn and frayed,
The man knelt down and bowed his head,
Then rose and walked away.

In the days that followed at precisely noon,
The preacher saw this chap,
Each time he knelt just for a moment,
A lunch pail in his lap.
Well, the minister's suspicions grew,
With robbery a main fear,

He decided to stop and ask the man,
'What are you doing here?'
The old man said he was a factory worker
And lunch was half an hour
Lunchtime was his prayer time,
For finding strength and power.
I stay only a moment
Because the factory's far away;
As I kneel here talking to the Lord,
This is kinda what I say:

'I JUST CAME BY TO TELL YOU, LORD,
HOW HAPPY I HAVE BEEN,
SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHERS FRIENDSHIP
AND YOU TOOK AWAY MY SIN.
DON'T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY,
BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERYDAY.
SO, JESUS, THIS IS BEN,
JUST CHECKING IN TODAY.'

The minister feeling foolish,
Told Ben that it was fine.
He told the man that he was welcome
To pray there anytime.
'It's time to go, and thanks,' Ben said
As he hurried to the door.
Then the minister knelt there at the altar,
Which he'd never done before.
His cold heart melted, warmed with love,
As he met with Jesus there.
As the tears flowed down his cheeks,
He repeated old Ben's prayer:

'I JUST CAME BY TO TELL YOU, LORD,
HOW HAPPY I'VE BEEN,
SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHERS FRIENDSHIP
AND YOU TOOK AWAY MY SIN.
I DON'T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY,
BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERYDAY.
SO, JESUS, THIS IS ME,
JUST CHECKING IN TODAY.'

Past noon one day, the minister noticed
That old Ben hadn't come.
As more days passed and still no Ben,
He began to worry some.
At the factory, he asked about him,
Learning he was ill.
The hospital staff was worried,
But he'd given them a thrill.

The week that Ben was with them,
Brought changes in the ward.
His smiles and joy contagious.
Changed people were his reward.
The head nurse couldn't understand
Why Ben could be so glad,
When no flowers, calls or cards came,
Not a visitor he had.

The minister stayed by his bed,
He voiced the nurse's concern:
No friends had come to show they cared.
He had nowhere to turn.
Looking surprised, old Ben spoke up
And with a winsome smile;
'The nurse is wrong, she couldn't know,
He's been here all the while.'
Everyday at noon He comes here,
A dear friend of mine, you see,
He sits right down and takes my hand,
Leans over and says to me:

'I JUST CAME BY TO TELL YOU, BEN,
HOW HAPPY I HAVE BEEN,
SINCE WE FOUND THIS FRIENDSHIP,
AND I TOOK AWAY YOUR SIN .
I THINK ABOUT YOU ALWAYS
AND I LOVE TO HEAR YOU PRAY,
AND SO BEN, THIS IS JESUS,
JUST CHECKING IN TODAY .'

If this blesses you, pass it on. Many people
will walk in and out of your life, but only
true friends will leave footprints in your
heart.

May God hold you in the palm of His hand
And Angels watch over you..
Please pass this page on to your friends
& loved ones. If you aren't ashamed.
Jesus said, ' If you are ashamed of me,'
I will be ashamed Of you before my Father.'

If you are not ashamed, pass this on.
So, FRIEND, this is ME ...
"Just Checking In Today"

The Daily Readings for May 21, 2016

Proverbs 8:22-36
The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth-- when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world's first bits of soil. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race. And now, my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD; but those who miss me injure themselves; all who hate me love death."

3 John 1:1-15
The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely how you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even though they are strangers to you; they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on in a manner worthy of God; for they began their journey for the sake of Christ, accepting no support from non-believers. Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may become co-workers with the truth. I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing in spreading false charges against us. And not content with those charges, he refuses to welcome the friends, and even prevents those who want to do so and expels them from the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. Everyone has testified favorably about Demetrius, and so has the truth itself. We also testify for him, and you know that our testimony is true. I have much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink; instead I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face. Peace to you. The friends send you their greetings. Greet the friends there, each by name.

Matthew 12:15-21
When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope."

Morning Psalms


Psalm 20 Exaudiat te Dominus
1   May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble, the Name of the God of Jacob defend you;
2   Send you help from his holy place and strengthen you out of Zion;
3   Remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice;
4   Grant you your heart's desire and prosper all your plans.
5   We will shout for joy at your victory and triumph in the Name of our God; may the LORD grant all your requests.
6   Now I know that the LORD gives victory to his anointed; he will answer him out of his holy heaven, with the victorious strength of his right hand.
7   Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will call upon the Name of the LORD our God.
8   They collapse and fall down, but we will arise and stand upright.
9   O LORD, give victory to the king and answer us when we call.

Psalm 21 Domine, in virtute tua
1   The king rejoices in your strength, O LORD; how greatly he exults in your victory!
2   You have given him his heart's desire; you have not denied him the request of his lips.
3   For you meet him with blessings of prosperity, and set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
4   He asked you for life, and you gave it to him: length of days, for ever and ever.
5   His honor is great, because of your victory; splendor and majesty have you bestowed upon him.
6   For you will give him everlasting felicity and will make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7   For the king puts his trust in the LORD; because of the loving-kindness of the Most High, he will not fall.
8   Your hand will lay hold upon all your enemies; your right hand will seize all those who hate you.
9   You will make them like a fiery furnace at the time of your appearing, O LORD;
10   You will swallow them up in your wrath, and fire shall consume them.
11   You will destroy their offspring from the land and their descendants from among the peoples of the earth.
12   Though they intend evil against you and devise wicked schemes, yet they shall not prevail.
13   For you will put them to flight and aim your arrows at them.
14   Be exalted, O LORD, in your might; we will sing and praise your power.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 110 Dixit Dominus
1   The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool."
2   The LORD will send the scepter of your power out of Zion, saying, "Rule over your enemies round about you.
3   Princely state has been yours from the day of your birth; in the beauty of holiness have I begotten you, like dew from the womb of the morning."
4   The LORD has sworn and he will not recant: "You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."
5   The Lord who is at your right hand will smite kings in the day of his wrath; he will rule over the nations.
6   He will heap high the corpses; he will smash heads over the wide earth.
7   He will drink from the brook beside the road; therefore he will lift high his head.

Psalm 116 Dilexi, quoniam
1   I love the LORD, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.
2   The cords of death entangled me; the grip of the grave took hold of me; I came to grief and sorrow.
3   Then I called upon the Name of the LORD: "O LORD, I pray you, save my life."
4   Gracious is the LORD and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
5   The LORD watches over the innocent; I was brought very low, and he helped me.
6   Turn again to your rest, O my soul. for the LORD has treated you well.
7   For you have rescued my life from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.
8   I will walk in the presence of the LORD in the land of the living.
9   I believed, even when I said, "I have been brought very low." In my distress I said, "No one can be trusted."
10   How shall I repay the LORD for all the good things he has done for me?
11   I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the Name of the LORD.
12   I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
13   Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his servants.
14   O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant and the child of your handmaid; you have freed me from my bonds.
15   I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon the Name of the LORD.
16   I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
17   In the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah!

Psalm 117
Laudate Dominum
1   Praise the LORD, all you nations; laud him, all you peoples.
2   For his loving-kindness toward us is great, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures for ever. Hallelujah!

Forward Day by Day Meditation for Saturday, May 21, 2016

3 John 13-14 I have much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink; instead I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face.

Several of the epistles are the oldest writings of the New Testament. They are letters to individuals and to early Christian communities. Reading them is essentially reading someone’s mail, written by real people to real people in real situations.

Some readers may think there is not much substantial theology in this Johanine letter. Maybe. But as I read the names of these very real, Jesus-loving people, I am comforted to read that the early church, while inspiring on many levels, was not so different from our church today. Hospitality is still a hallmark of the church.

This small letter, with its names, its intimacy, its referral to things not clearly known to us, and its hope for a face-to-face meeting is a holy document that informs our legacy of relationship. The words of scripture are words of intimate relationship, of very real people and a very real God.


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Having and Raising Good Kids

Luke 1:5–25, 57–80

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” Luke 1:13

The Second World War was thundering to a close when the young soldier stepped onto the troop carrier that would carry him from the United States to Europe. Halfway across the Atlantic, word arrived that an armistice had been signed. The war with Germany was over.

Of course, the ship could not turn around; there were clean-up operations to be done in Europe. So the ship kept going, and the young man did his duty.

After his tour was over, the soldier married his sweetheart back home. It took some time to find work, but they finally found employment at a farm. Growing a family was more important to them, though, than raising crops. Unfortunately, after years of trying, they learned they were not likely to have children.

They prayed that God would trump the doctor’s word. Against human odds, a healthy baby girl was born in the fifth year of their marriage. A baby boy followed, then three more girls and another boy.

The couple had a good life on the farm, but none of their six children followed them into the family business. Instead, the four daughters became teachers in Christian schools. One son wed a doctor, and together they have been active in cross-cultural mission efforts; the other son became a pastor and Bible teacher.

To this day the postwar couple shrugs when asked how it all came about. “We just begged God to give us kids,” they say. “Then we learned to pray for our children every day.”

I know. I’m their eldest son. And I’m only now beginning to realize how much my parents were like the infertile couple Elizabeth and Zechariah, who one day felt ecstasy as well as fear when God actually answered their prayers for a child. They could only vow to do their best and ask for God’s help.

There is no magic formula for having kids, let alone having them turn out well. Many couples remain childless after years of agonizing prayer. And even miracle children, bathed in spiritual significance, carry with them no guarantees of piety. The old priest Zechariah and his wife celebrated the day of John’s birth. But what did they think when their son lived like a wild man in the desert, provoking the wrath of Jewish leaders and priests with his scathing sermons and unorthodox baptisms? Were they alive when their son was imprisoned, then beheaded?

Should we stop asking for children because they bring pain into our lives? No. This story and others remind us that we live in a broken world in which we depend on one another for encouragement when the waiting is long or when children don’t turn out the way we had hoped. With the help of others, and with God’s encouragement and strength, we can have hope.

Wayne Brouwer
 

Let’s Talk

  • How do Christian couples spiritually prepare to have children? What are some requests we make of God? What happens when the waiting is long—where do we go for help?
  • In what formal way do we declare that our children belong to God? How will these ceremonies be carried out? What part will our parents and friends play in them?
  • What plans are we making to educate our children in the ways of the Lord? Who, besides us, is responsible for their ongoing instruction?

PERSECUTION CAN HAPPEN HERE!

I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:14b

Colleague Ron Boyd-MacMillan recounts an interesting experience in China:

There’s a house church in Beijing I like to take my friends to visit. The members are all young professionals, about twenty of them, and they meet in a huge, darkened, open-plan office at midnight once a week. It’s totally illegal. Some of them are quite high ranking members of the communist party. If their faith is discovered, it would end their careers…or worse.

At the beginning of each meeting, the leader goes round and asks each member this question – the most challenging question I’ve ever heard in church: What are your wounds for Christ this week?

On one occasion I had brought two pastor friends, and the same question—through translation—was put to each of them. They replied, “Oh, we are not wounded or persecuted, you see, we live in Britain, where we have religious freedom, and we are so grateful for that!”

This reply was greeted with uncomprehending silence by the Chinese house church. Then a young woman spoke up, and without a trace of irony asked, “You mean they don’t let the devil into Britain?”

The house church leader patiently explained to the visitors the biblical understanding of persecution. “In the Bible, to be persecuted means to be pursued by the enemies of Christ. When we become a Christian, his enemies become our enemies, and we are pitched into a battle with the world and the devil, and this fight will draw wounds. So it doesn’t matter whether you are in Beijing or Birmingham, the fight is the same, only the degree and type of suffering may differ. You’re going to get pursued…that’s persecution.”

“But we thought persecution was legal discrimination, or being put into jail for one’s faith” replied the pastors. The house church leader answered, “That’s the extreme tip of it. Look, we may not sit on the same thorn, but we all sit on the same branch.”

Still the pastors did not look convinced. Another Chinese member said, “If you don’t have wounds for Christ, how do you know you are alive in Christ? Wounds bring joy, because then you know you are making a difference.”

This struck a chord with the visitors. As preachers, they knew that nothing communicates like joy. That’s why persecuted churches are growing churches—they are alive in Christ, and they know it because they have wounds! So find the source of resistance to the gospel in your local area, and when you apply the gospel, watch the fight begin.

RESPONSE: Today I will accept negative reactions as a sign that I am making a difference in my community.

PRAYER: Lord, may I also experience the joy resulting from doing right and opposing evil in my sphere of influence.

Verse of the Day - May 21, 2016

1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV) [ A Church Divided Over Leaders ] I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Read all of 1 Corinthians 1

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

by Philip Gulley

My wife and I waited eight years to have children. I was in college, then graduate school, and I thought I was too busy. My mother had five children in seven years, was principal of a school, and attended college all at the same time. And she did a good job, which I point out to her every Saturday when I visit her at the Home for the Mentally Distraught.

Despite our childless state, my wife and I were willing, indeed eager, to share our perspective on child‐rearing with anyone who would listen. Now that we have children, we seldom offer advice. The moment you tell other parents how to raise their kid, the odds increase that your own child will turn up on America’s Most Wanted.

So we don’t give advice anymore, because we’ve realized we don’t know anything about children. Before we had children, we knew everything. Now we have children, and the only parent we feel superior to is Ma Barker.

It’s been hard to admit my ignorance about child‐rearing. It’s easy to be smug when you’re driving home from someone else’s house saying, “When I have children, they will never act like that.” Now when our childless friends visit, I tell them when they leave, “Don’t talk about us on your way home.” They know what I mean.

Most experiences don’t turn out the way we’d planned. Parenting is one of them.

Take Spencer’s second Christmas. Someone in the church gave him a nativity set as a gift. He was particularly taken with the wise men, one of whom he used as tableware. He dipped Balthasar up to his ears in ketchup and licked him clean. My wife said, “Honey, don’t dip the wise man in the ketchup.”

There are many things we anticipated telling our children—things like, “Because I said so, that’s why!” and “Not in this house you won’t!” and even “Don’t put that in the toilet!” But we never imagined ourselves saying, “Don’t dip the wise man in the ketchup.”

That’s the kick about life. We think we have it figured out, but then we wade in and discover otherwise. Kind of like Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

All in all, this is a good thing. For when our future is sure and certain, when all the corners are tucked in nice and neat, there is no need for faith.

Consider King David. He grew up a shepherd, which was nothing to write home about. If a dog can do your job, it’s time to worry. So David grew up a shepherd, but he died a king. Goes to show we never know what direction life will take.

This is especially true of being a parent. We never know everything there is to know. The only solution is to do your best and trust God for the rest. At least that’s what my sainted mother used to tell me, back in my younger days when I knew it all.

Looking ahead…

Is there any endeavor that husbands and wives are less adequately prepared for than parenting? The task of raising a child is daunting, exhausting, frustrating, discouraging, humbling—and just to keep it interesting, it comes with an unexpected twist around every corner. Yet when guided by dedication and prayer, parenting is also the most fulfilling and wonderful experience in living. And it doesn’t have to be as chaotic as Phil Gulley’s tongue‐in‐cheek description makes it out to be.

Those of you who are parents already realize that you will make mistakes and that you’ll never know it all. But nothing worth accomplishing comes easy anyway, and it’s the very challenge of child rearing that makes success so satisfying. This week we’re going to talk about how to make the most of the experience.

- James C Dobson
  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!” by Philip Gulley. Taken from Front Porch Tales by Philip Gulley. © 1997. Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, Inc.