Friday, April 25, 2014

My Prayer for Single Dads Today

I have always loved this picture. It reminds me to pray for my kids...and for you who read this blog. What I’m praying for is that you will feel the weight of single fatherhood lifted by the grace of God, the final work of Christ’s blood on the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through you. My hope is that you’ll walk away from these blogs humbled, knowing you can probably improve in some areas. But I also hope you’ll be encouraged, knowing there’s nothing you can’t do when Jesus is on the throne of your heart. “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed”  (Deuteronomy 31:8).

During interviews, singer/songwriter Amy Grant has said a few times, “Life is messy.” She ought to know. She has survived a controversial and highly publicized divorce. Even after widespread criticism and losing a huge fan base, she continues to recognize God’s grace in the midst of a broken world. Despite ruined relationships, destroyed homes, and shattered hearts, we can survive this season of single parenting and be able to point back and say, “Look what the Lord has done.”

In order to say that however, we must first remember to keep our direction focused. Too often on a long journey I begin to ignore my GPS. Even turning the volume down so I can hear the radio better. Before long I realize I’ve lost my way and must reestablish an effective route. When you find yourself there, don’t lose heart, my friend. That’s what recalculating is all about. 

When do you most feel the weight of single fathering weighing you down?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Yuck. I hate talking about patience!

Whether you’re waiting on traffic lights or the fulfillment of dreams, you still have to wait. No one is born with patience—just look at newborn babies. They have zero tolerance for hunger and discomfort.
I can be a big baby too. I want instant everything, especially with my kids. Perhaps you share my frustration. Just trying to get your little ones out the door in the morning can be a test. Shoes can’t be found, hair won’t get combed, lunches are forgotten. If patience isn’t already in us, it’s going to show, and it won’t be pretty. Yet even in the midst of these annoyances, the Lord can mature us. 
We need to understand impatience is about not trusting God. For me, embracing that fact was like trying to insert contact lenses on a roller coaster. It took me a long time to finally get it right. I just couldn't seem to understand how impatience had anything to do with a shortcoming in me. Wasn't it about other people or things slowing me down? After all, I wouldn't be so impatient if it weren’t for things like my outdated mobile device slowing me down, keeping me from being efficient.
The Lord in his mercy finally helped me connect the dots and repent. My problem was I didn't think God was doing a good job at planning my day. I didn't trust his sovereignty and control.

While most of our irritations are minor and short-lived, some can stretch over months or years. It can be tremendously significant when it involves illness, financial trouble, or a strained relationship. Being at the feet of Jesus during these times can fix much more than if we’re hanging in the kitchen with Martha trying to do something productive. In desperation we might give God deadlines, but he rarely works on our timeline. One sign of spiritual maturity is the ability to calmly abide during the stress of temporary irritations or prolonged hardship. It’s a great testimony of your trust in the Lord and teaches your kids the same as they watch your response. What things make you most impatient...Id love to read your responses.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Joy and Peace

I believe joy is different from deep happiness. Happiness can change with our circumstances. Joy comes from spending time in God’s presence. So maybe it’s more accurate to call it “the joy of the Lord."
When we fully understand how hopelessly dead we were, how desperately we needed a Savior, and what Christ did for us—joy can bubble up and drive us to worship even on the most trying days of parenting.
I find I’m most joyful when I’m gripped by the fact that I was perilously close to hell when Jesus snatched me up. In those moments I can’t do anything. I just want to sit still and be the rescued one. We need to learn what real joy is.
I used to know a woman who had a habit of creating crises in her life. It seemed she was addicted to turmoil. I’m not sure if it made her feel more alive or if she merely enjoyed the attention, but every crisis that came upon her was self-inflicted. It was always something, like an unexpected NSF charge from her bank, a pending eviction, or an embarrassing car repossession. She never seemed to see it as her fault because she felt she was the victim. Her world was never in a state of peace very long, and it was sad to watch.
Isaiah 26:3 reminds us that our Master will keep us in perfect peace if our minds are steadied on him. It’s easy in the early years of a divorce to lose tranquility when you’ve embraced the world’s peace. A lot of doo-doo hits you. If the peace of Christ isn’t your soap of choice, then even a really good fire hose won’t help.
It’s no secret we dads struggle with peace. Even the disciples who hung out all the time with Jesus wrestled with this. In Matthew 14, Jesus had just finished feeding thousands of people with one boy’s lunch. They saw the miracle—they were part of it. Yet only a few hours later on a stormy sea, they were freaking out, thinking they were going to die.     
This wasn't a single incident. The need for reassurance was an ongoing essential for them. Even after he died, Jesus reminded the frightened followers to rest in his peace. They were likely thinking they might be next to die at the hands of the Romans. Then Christ appears and comforts them with a greeting of peace. In fact, John 20 shows us three times in just a few days where Jesus needs to give this blessing to the fearful disciples. He knew that they would go through tribulations, but He wanted them to “take heart” because he had “overcome the world” (John16:33b).
Scripture makes it clear: peace is a gift. Yet I so often try to obtain it on my own. Dads, you can’t do 

peace. You can only be peaceful. So don't be anxious about stuff but lift up your requests to the Lord 

with thanks. Then the peace of God that goes way beyond your comprehension will protect you 

against worry (adapted from Phil. 4:6-7). When do you find you most need to pray for peace?