Fathers, Don’t Miss This

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

It’s unfortunate that the majority of fathers have fallen into positions of only managing “dad duties”, rather than truly leading their families. We’ve become referees, chauffeurs, babysitters, coaches, repair men, financial managers, judges and juries, chief TV remote operators, master grillers… the list is endless. It all conjures the image of a father as “King of the Castle”. Take caution though. This is no throne you should wish to usurp.

As leaders of our families, our responsibilities have literal and lasting “Kingdom” implications. Strong families are the backbone of truly successful churches, and effective communities. As a father, if you’re missing these next points, you might be missing what it means to be the leader in your home.

Primarily, a godly father will love his wife. Ephesians 5:25 says “for husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” I believe the greatest gift a father could ever give his children is to love their mother. The confidence of knowing their home is secure, provides the best foundation for every lesson to follow.

Secondly, Ephesians 6:4 says, “fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” Warning: this means you need to be there first, under His authority, leading by example. A godly father isn’t going to respond to disobedience as a knee-jerk reaction, born of frustration, as his anger boils over. He’s grounded in the Word, having no need to fish for behavioral guidelines, since they’re clearly provided for us. Trust in God and His Word. Set them as the standard by which you lead your family.

As fathers, God’s blessing is that He allows us to partner with Him in raising the men and women of His Kingdom. On earth, we call them our sons and daughters. Be assured, however, that this is only a temporary relationship. We have a responsibility, and are accountable to God for the warriors our homes produce. What will you do with the gift you’ve been given, the opportunity to lead them?

Get In The Game

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

So, let me start with this confession. I’m pretty terrible at Basketball. This is no secret to the guys I play with each week. This small fact, however, didn’t keep me from winning five straight games last Sunday. That’s right. My team was on fire, little thanks to my physical ability.  Over that stretch of five games, where the first team to seven wins, I was responsible of only one of the thirty-five points my team scored to earn those victories. Admittedly, it was an off day, even for my standards. Regardless of my lack of relative skill, however, I received every benefit of being on a winning team. I never had to sit on the sideline and watch, waiting for my turn. I didn’t have the bitter experience of being defeated. I got a good physical workout. I was a winner!

It’s like that in God’s Kingdom.

I think about Romans 5:1-2, where it says, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

When will we finally let go of any remaining notion that we have to be someone of significance to be an effective participant in God’s Kingdom? When will we stop holding back our contribution to God’s work on earth, believing we have nothing to offer. In the meantime, we find a certain comfort on the sideline. We grow accustom to our limited victories, almost expecting defeat. We forget the feeling of experiencing a solid spiritual workout, supposing everything would be different if only we had the “skills” and “abilities” to make an impact on the world around us.

Can we finally get to the place where we understand that it’s all about Him? It is He who works through us. It is He who speaks through us. It is His love, His grace, His mercy  that draws people and changes lives. The only real danger is that we never open ourselves to being used, and get into the game.

Senior Management

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

It’s pretty easy to sit back and complain. Think about it. How often do things just get under your skin? It’s as if there’s no limit to the offenses that trigger our frustrations (political opinions, social differences, family drama, the check out line at Wal-Mart). Our first instinct is to lob insults and accusations, supposing things would be different if we were in charge.

So tell me, how exactly would things be different? What political powers would you replace? What social changes would you trigger? What injustices would you correct? If you had a direct line, a position of influence with the heads of all the world’s major corporations and economic and political powers, how would you exercise your authority?

Can you picture it?

Now, ask yourself, what are you doing with your position in the Kingdom? We rarely stop to realize that God has placed us in Senior Management. We have direct access to the throne of God. Read Ephesians 2. To paraphrase, it says, “You used to live in sin just like the rest of the world, but God gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. He seated us with Him in the heavenly realms. Now, all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit, because of what Christ has done for us. Now, you are members of God’s family.”

WHAT!?

It doesn’t stop there. Proverbs 21:1 (NLT), reminds us that “The earthly king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lordhe guides it wherever he pleases.” Furthermore, we’re told to bring our requests to God, concerning anything. (Philipians 4:6)

So, the next time you think to yourself, “something needs to be done about this,” take responsibility. God is in ultimate control, and you have His attention.

Miracle For Baby Charlotte

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

There’s undeniable evidence of God, for those who’ve experienced his miraculous power, especially when it comes as an answer to our prayers. I asked my friend, JB, if I could share the testimony of her daughter’s healing. This recent miracle is just one example of God at work in her life.

JB pic

JB’s baby, Charlotte, was born with what her doctor described as a tracheoesophageal fistula, an abnormal connection between the esophagus and the trachea, which results in the aspiration of fluids. This caused her to breathe in milk instead of it traveling down her esophagus to her stomach during feedings. Basically, she was drowning every time she ate. Over time, this could result in chronic fluid in her lungs.

Not willing to wait for the doctors’ suggested plan of action, JB and her husband brought their request to God.  They met that Wednesday night before service, for their Pastor and friends to lay hands on baby Charlotte, and “boldly ask the Lord for no sign of a cleft or fistula.” In prayer, Pastor claimed that no abnormalities would be found when she went into surgery.

The next day, they handed Charlotte over to the doctors, believing that the Lord had restored the structure and function of the connection between her esophagus and trachea, and that repair, therapy, feeding tubes etc. would not be a part of their lives, and that the Lord completely restored their baby girl. After some time, the doctor emerged from surgery and said, verbatim, “well, what we saw Tuesday just isn’t there! There are no abnormalities and no further repair or surgery is necessary!”

Before they left, the radiologist asked, “when you talk to the Lord again, could you ask him to help out with a few of my other patients too? You guys get good results!”

Praise the Lord for what he has done, is doing and will do through those who truly believe in him! In an instant, Charlotte was healed and able to breathe and feed without a choking or drowning sensation. Mom and Dad say she’s one happy and alert little girl.

1 John 5:14-15 says, “we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” Praise God, that his power is at work in our lives today!

CHRIST IN YOU THE HOPE OF GLORY

Nick Koop (profile pic) by Nick Koopalethes

With Eyes Wide Open

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

Has this ever happened to you?

The other day, I walked out to the garage to get something I needed. Thinking I remembered where I left it, I puzzled over why I couldn’t find it quickly. Without wasting too much time, I returned to the house, assuming I’d find it in one of  the several places that I typically lay things down (because my wife loves when I do that). Still, nothing. I bounced between the garage and the house a couple of times, before I finally found what I was looking for, laying just inches from where I originally looked.

It made me think, how many times do I miss what’s really happening around me, because I’m so sure of what I think I know. It’s as though we develop blinders of sorts, over the course of our lives. We grow so focused on the “truths” we’ve been delivered, that we lose the ability to see things as they really are, even when the answers are right in front of us.

I believe there’s much God is trying to reveal to His people. If we really take a step back, and ask Him to let us see our world and His Word with a fresh perspective, I think many would be surprised by what social, political, religious and familiar norms are just residue of some well-intentioned but misguided voices we’ve allowed to speak into our lives.

Holy Spirit, help us live with our spiritual and physical eyes wide open. Help us see ourselves as we are, and for who we’re called to be. Allow us to recognize the needs we’ve been designed to meet. Show us what we’re missing, where you’ve placed us. Give us a willingness to let go of the comfortable ideologies that aren’t inspired by the Father. Let your grace and mercy be experienced through our lives, as You empower us to be a demonstration of your love to this world. Amen!

A Father In His Image

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

Parents, how many times have our reactions me and boysto our children been triggered in a moment of our own frustration or anger? I’d guess that, in an easy majority of those instances, we’ve reacted with emotion and consequences that were well disproportionate to the perceived offense. Let it stand as reason enough to live in the power of The Holy Spirit, relying on His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control to rule over the emotions we’d otherwise release.

Ephesians 6:4 says, “And now a word to you fathers. Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.

A comment to this verse in my Life Application Study Bible says, “The purpose of parental discipline is to help children grow, not to exasperate and provoke them to anger or discouragement. Parenting is not easy. It takes lots of patience to raise children in a loving, Christ-honoring manner. But frustration and anger should not be causes for discipline. Instead, parents should act in love, treating their children as Jesus treats the people he loves. This is vital to children’s development and to their understanding of what Christ is like.”

I like the way Paul’s letter is interpreted in Colossians 3:21 (NLT), where he warns, “Fathers, don’t aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying.”

God, help us to love like you love and discipline like you discipline. Help us to nurture the tender spirits in our children. Help us to always build, and never tear down. Holy Spirit, help us exhibit the image and character of Jesus in our interactions with those over whom we’re in positions of authority. Allow us to clearly see the mercy and grace we’ve been shown by the Father, and dispense guidance and correction accordingly. I pray that your peace and presence will rule in our homes, as we yield ourselves to Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Honor Where Honor Is Due

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

Saturday, we laid to rest my grandmother, E.E.. I had the great privilege of sharing some thoughts at her funeral. I’m posting them here, as a memorial and testament to the spirit of family that she embodied.

EE 1God is a great and wonderful mystery. In some regard, I’m jealous of E.E., because part of that mystery is now revealed to her. I wonder, what is she seeing? What is she hearing? What is she doing right now?

When I read the Bible I run into parts that make me scratch my head and think. What are these mysteries? What are these things that God hasn’t revealed to us yet? What does all this mean? Surely, there must be some way for us to study and research and seek to have these things revealed to us.

As Christians, we’re called to sacrifice our desires to bring God glory, to please Him. So, how do we do this in a world that’s so complicated, with scripture that, at times, can be so full of mystery?

Then, you run into a verse like 1 Timothy 5:3-4 and you’re confronted by just how plainly God has revealed parts of His plan to us. What Paul says here is “Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God.”

I never knew anything but the sweetest, purest, most sacrificial love from E.E.. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, to see a daughter and two sons give so willingly of themselves to return that love and selfless attention to their mother in her time of need. My Mom and Uncles (“Bubba” and “Uncle David Too”) set examples and showed honor to their mother that literally fills Heaven as worship to God, and He’s pleased by it. It testifies to the uncommon person my grandmother was, and the precious gift Heaven reclaimed when she left this world.

It’s a great hope we have, to believe that one day we’ll see God, face-to-face, and be reunited with our E.E..

 

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Priorities and Boundaries

Nick Koop (profile pic) by Nick Koopalethes

We must establish priorities and boundaries to accomplish a goal.

 

Contagious Love

Chris Jones by Chris Jones

God is love, right? It really doesn’t get more basic than that. It seems a common sentiment, however, that there just isn’t enough love in the world. So where’s the breakdown?

Think about it. How many person-to-person interactions do you have each day? Hundreds? Thousands? Each point of contact is an opportunity to be an expression of God’s love to the world. Since we’re His representatives, people we encounter should know God’s love by knowing us. So, why does the idea of a loving God remain a foreign concept to so many?

1 John 4:7-8 says, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Is there a limit to God’s love? Is there a point at which it runs out? Is there a situation to which it can’t be applied, or have we simply failed to be effective instruments for administering His love to those around us? As followers of Jesus Christ, love should be our core competency. When God’s love saturates our lives we recognize the healing power of His grace and mercy. It compels us to become unreserved expressions of that love to others, EVERYONE!

Take a moment to think. Who do you have a hard time loving? Who, in your world, ranks the lowest? Be challenged to intentionally express God’s infectious love to them this week. There is enough love in this world. It’s contagious. You’re infected. Go spread it.

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