It’s Father’s Day, a day to celebrate dads. I am so blessed to be a dad; however, I cannot help but miss my dad. He died 11 years ago. I would love to pick up the phone and ask him a few questions. I would love for him to meet my two youngest children and see how much my oldest child has grown. I would love more than anything just to sit with him and be in his presence. My wife is experiencing Father’s Day without her dad for the very first time. He died just a few weeks ago. She will soon learn, time doesn’t heal all wounds. Time seems to make wounds all the deeper. I miss my dad far more today than I ever have. If your dad is alive, give him a call, visit, tell him how much you love him. If your dad is not around, remember that you have a Father in Heaven, who loves and cares for you very much. It is to Him we can cry out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
My sweet wife and her mom recently had a wreck in New Orleans. (Her car is on the left. The other car is on the right). They were in New Orleans visiting my wife’s father at the hospital. Lori was hit on the way to the hotel, and her car was totaled. I was glad she was OK but worried because we would have to file yet another claim on our insurance, though it was not her fault. This whole incident is a reminder of how silly it is to worry. For instance:
Our insurance premium just increased to a crazy amount. I actually called our company to ask about it the very day before her wreck. So, we needed that “expensive insurance” after all. It has definitely paid for itself.
My wife’s car was hit last summer in the front left bumper by a minor “hit and run.” So, I did my best to repair/paint the area myself. I spent hours trying to make it presentable. Well, in her wreck the other day, guess where the person hit her – the front left bumper – the very spot I so worried about – what a waste of energy!
I now have to buy my wife another vehicle. Though we will get money from our insurance, we’ll still have to spend several thousand dollars to cover the difference. Guess what? I don’t care anymore. Really, no worries! My wife is safe. Her mom is safe. Her dad is at death’s door. It helps keeps things in perspective.
What are you worried about? Does it really matter? Is it making your life any better?
These three jars of pennies stay on our kitchen counter. Each of our three daughters has a jar. What are the pennies for? Each penny represents one week until they turn 18. Notice the jar on the far right is our oldest daughter’s, her jar is almost empty. The middle jar is our middle child’s. The jar on the far left is our youngest’s. The jars are reminders of how precious time is. We have just a little time to lead them and influence them for Jesus. How much time do you have left with your kids? It’s not as much time as you think. Perhaps the jar is already empty, and they have grown up and moved on. Either way, consider how to make the most of your time and use it for Christ.
BTW I got this penny idea from a book –
My oldest daughter and I went to the movies recently. We saw Spider Man, the cartoon version. It was pretty good. Afterwards, we stopped and enjoyed some ice cream. It was a great daddy-daughter date. Then something happened on the way home. A large piece of metal was in the middle of the road, and I couldn’t avoid it. I heard a large thump and the tire light clicked on my dashboard. I pulled over and there it was, a flat tire. I wish that was the end of the story. It wasn’t just the tire that was gashed. The wheel was damaged, too. I put on the spare and notice it isn’t in the best shape either. We were able to get home, but the spare was too old and dry rotted to keep. When you add up the movie trip, the new tire, the new wheel, and the new spare tire, the cost exceeded $400. Yet, I am happy we went. Creating memories with your family is priceless. Besides, we were safe and that’s what really matters. Your day may not turn out as you imagined, but count your blessings. God is always good!
This is the back of my house with a cross in the background. The cross is part of the Methodist church in town, which is across the street from my house. This is a bit ironic since I am the pastor of the Baptist church in town. I have occasionally glanced at the cross and thought how neat it was to see, but I have never given it much thought. I was playing chase with my two youngest children a few days ago in the backyard. I looked up at the cross and thought, “I am so glad the cross is over my house.”
It is a reminder that I need the cross, not just over my house, but over my home. It is a reminder for me to die to myself for the sake of my family. It is a reminder that I need to show my family the very same love that motivated Jesus to die. It is also a reminder that the greatest need of my children is not to be good at sports, to have fashionable clothes, or to even get a good education. It is to submit their lives to Jesus, enjoying the benefits of the cross: Peace, Forgiveness, Love, and Joy, to name a few. You may not live across the street from a church, but is the cross over your home? Your family? Your marriage?
God is far more important than football. This is what I am reminding myself after the Saints, my favorite team, lost in heartbreaking fashion. Not only that, I was rooting for the Chiefs to defeat the Patriots for several reasons. That didn’t happen either. What a disappointment. This is a good time to pause and remember that life is not about who is or isn’t in the Superbowl. It isn’t about whether our team wins or loses. God must be the greatest passion and pursuit of our lives. Jesus must be the source of our joy and value, not who wins a ballgame. Perhaps we worship football a little too much. Perhaps we have made it into more than a game. We have made it an important part of who we are and how we feel. Maybe your team lost too. We need to ingest our humble pie and go back to God. Maybe your team won. Guard your heart. The source and joy of life is Jesus, not Tom Brady or Drew Brees.
I remember the excitement Christmas once brought. As I child I would sometimes sleep under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, excited to awaken and open presents. I now enjoy seeing the excitement of my children. Still, I admit, Christmas all too often loses its wonder. We unwrap presents, stuff our faces with ham, potatoes, and pies. Then we go back to feeling miserable, tired, and discontent. We often lose sight of what Christmas, and life, is all about – Jesus Christ. Yes, we mention the birth of Jesus. Your home may even display a nativity scene. Yet, Jesus seems to take a backseat to all the glitz and glamour of lights, trees, and gift cards. He seems to take a backseat the other 364 days of the year as well. As we say goodbye to Christmas and 2018, put Jesus front and center. He can bring you far more joy than any video game, purse, or tasty treat.
When you think of Winnie the Pooh, what comes to mind? Probably his love for honey! He is also a happy go lucky bear, that sees all of life as a grand adventure. What comes to mind when you contemplate Eeyore? He is always throwing a pity party, feeling sorry for himself. We could also talk about Piglet’s issues with anxiety and fears, but let’s focus just on Winnie and Eeyore. Which one are you like?
Do you wake up seeing the day as a new adventure? Or do you wake up assuming the day will be terrible?
Are you excited and passionate about life? Or are you bitter and in a foul mood?
Do people get excited and encouraged when they see you, or would they rather avoid your negative, sour attitude?
I admit, there are times I am like Eeyore. I feel down and discouraged. Life is good and life is bad. Which aspect we focus on determines our outlook and attitude . Sometimes I have to remind myself to cancel the pity party. To pray for God to give me joy. To call to mind Psalm 118:24, which reminds is that “this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” If it helps, eat some honey, too!
RUN GOD’S RACE
Anxiety Source: The rat race of life
Solution: Run God’s race
Arnie once had a rat named Stan. It was in middle school, which seems ages ago. Stan was technically a hamster, and his home was a small plastic box. A tiny exercise wheel was his one source of recreation. Stan would climb onto the wheel and spin it around. He stopped when exhausted. The next day he would start all over again. Poor Stan never got anywhere, but he sure worked hard at it. Arnie sometimes feels like Stan, stuck in the rat race of life. Arnie does his daily work schedule. Then he scurries to the grocery store, to the ballfield for his son, and then back to the store. Arnie keeps the wheel spinning at home with dishes and laundry. It’s an endless cycle with no end in sight. No wonder he’s so exhausted.
Hebrews 12:1-2, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”
Arnie realizes this rat race mentality is a source of his anxiety. The solution is to run God’s race, not the rat race. Do you ever feel like Arnie, like you are running the rat race of life? Do you keep the wheel spinning around, with no end in sight? If so, maybe it’s contributing to your anxiety.
This passage in Hebrews reminds us that life is a race. God never intended us to run the rat race of life. We are to run the race of faith instead. It’s a life that pleases God, a life that has eternity in mind, not just surviving the day. It’s a life that builds God’s kingdom, not ours. It’s full of meaning, not emptiness. We cannot avoid responsibilities at work, home, or church. However, the goal is to live each day by faith, trusting God, not running ragged like a weary rat. Get off the wheel. Run God’s race, not the rat race. Fix your eyes on Christ, not cheese!
Think: Am I focused more on the rat race or God’s race? How is this affecting my stress and anxiety? What will it take to run the right race?
Pray: “Lord, it’s so easy to fall into the rat race mentality. Help me run the race of faith instead. Show me what’s holding me back. Keep my focus on Jesus.”
Do: Eliminate something from your schedule contributing to your rat race mentality.
An excerpt from Truths for the Anxious Christian
My dad died 10 years ago today, on July 20. 2008. It’s hard to believe it has been that long. It some ways, it seems like it just happened. It also feels like an eternity ago. It especially seems like an eternity since this cheesy family picture was taken! What precious memories. I will never forget the times I spent with my dad: Hunting, fishing, working, worshiping. I will never forget his strong love for God and our family either. What is ironic is I am preaching a funeral today. It seems that I cannot escape the reality of death. But the reality of death makes life all the more precious. Treasure the gift of today. You never know when it will be your last. You never know when your dad, mom, or spouse will pass. Hug them today. Kiss them. Tell them you love them.