How to live a long, long time.
How to live a long, long time.
I am sure about two things . . .
I am a son and I am a dad. One came without any initiative. One came with considerable preparation.
Obviously, I’ve been a son longer. However, I don’t think I understood much about it until I became a father. Now that I am a dad, I’m beginning to appreciate everything I was given––all I have. It’s kind of like an “I-told-you-so.”
Looking forward (bringing about the next generation) has a way of forcing you to look backward (considering the previous generation). Being a father has a way of forcing you, once again, to be a son.
Will my son feel the same way that I feel at times? Will he have the same needs that I have? Will I understand him the way that I always wanted to be understood? Will he like me? Will he want to be with me? Will he even care?
No generation stands alone. We, whether we like it or not, are all linked together. The patterns, both good and bad, are passed down the line. Who I am is an aggregate of many folks. I received that which I was given. I give that which I’ve received. He will give what he’s received. The cycle goes on for years.
I believe that to be true. In fact, the longer I live, the more I am aware of it. Although it’s not impossible, it’s hard to disrupt the pattern. I come into fatherhood with suitcases filled with expectation, idealism and hope as well as the bags filled with frustration and disappointment.
As a father, I don’t show up in perfect shape, nor do I show up inept. I show up fearfully aware that I am about to have a great amount of influence on the direction of one’s life. I show up knowing about as much about parenthood as my father, his father and so on. Much like the men before me, I am learning the trade while on the job.
I’ve hauled hay in humidity, dug trenches in torrential heat, and survived the rigors of a wrestling workout, but being a father is the hardest job I could ever imagine. And, it seems even more difficult than ever!
It makes me realize that I need help from above––from a Father that knows best. In fact, it would be great to hear from Him, the One who thought up the whole fathering concept in the first place. There’s a good chance that He, my Heavenly Father, might have some insight into helping me with my earthly fathering issues.
When it comes to parenthood, God speaks clearly through the fifth commandment. He says, “Honor your father and your mother.” It is the only commandment that comes with a promise. You obey “so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
In other words, honor brings longevity. The kid who decides to obey God’s command becomes the father who models it for his kids. His kids become the children who learn from their dad. Their kids repeat the cycle and the blessing of God changes families. God’s advice produces lengthy, healthy family lines.
Honor is respect. Parents want to be esteemed. Dads love to come through the door at night to a family that’s glad to see him. There’s nothing quite like the sound of kids running and screaming with enthusiasm, “Daddy’s home!” I’m pretty sure God had front doors in mind when He spoke the fifth commandment.
So, here’s some thoughts that may help you honor your father and mother. These thoughts are for anybody who has ever been somebody’s child, not just for current adolescents. In other words, these thoughts are for you.
First, begin by understanding that your parents are not perfect. They know it as much as you know it. You see, when your mom was a kid, she figured that out about her mom. She decided to do some things differently. So will you. She saw her mom do a lot of things right. So will you. She saw her mother make mistakes. So will you.
If you stop expecting your father and mother to be perfect, you can start enjoying the people that God created them to be. You can honor them as your parents without needing them to be perfect. And, by the way, the best parents in the Bible were not perfect. No earthly parents are. Stop expecting the unattainable and start enjoying the actual.
Secondly, it is important to understand that your dad was/is a son, not just a dad. Your mom was/is a daughter, not just a mom. This rather simple insight will give you a whole new way of viewing your parents. It will help some confusing issues make sense. Spend time with your grandparents (if it’s still appropriate) and ask them about their children. Let them tell some stories. Ask your father and mother about their childhood. Let them tell you about being a son or a daughter. Allow this information to inspire you to honor.
Next, discover ways to tell your dad and mom that you love them. Don’t wait for them to tell you. You might be waiting your entire life. Just boldly take the initiative: grab your dad by the face, look straight into his eyes, and say very slowly, “Daddy . . . I . . . love . . . you!” Do this everyday for a month straight and you will see a change in your father!
Then, discover ways to tell your parents they did something right. Let your dad and mom know that you’re proud of them.
“Dad, thanks for working hard each and every day!”
“Mom, I am proud of you.”
“Dad, thanks for coming to my game! I was proud to have you there.”
Finally, understand that the way in which you honor is, more than likely, the way in which you will be honored. What you sow as a child will be reaped as a parent. Your children will learn how to honor you by how you teach through example. Whether it’s the conversation in the car as you drive away from a family gathering or the stressful decision of choosing the right senior care, you will be writing the script for your children to follow.
A script filled with honor is a script that will lead to longevity. May your obedience to God’s command bring joy to your family. And may you “live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”by Pastor Doug
Gaining An Extra Day
As a kid, I used to look out the window of our family station wagon and count along with the gas pump. I remember counting the scrolling dollars one nickel at a time. That’s how cheap the gas was, not how slow the machines were.
Gaining An Extra Day
As the total grew larger, it was a thrill to my sense of adventure––one that kept me guessing for that unknown ending. The magical moment would always come when my counting would be brought to an abrupt stop by a full tank.
I still find myself playing the same game. Although it is almost impossible to keep up with the high-speed cost of the pumping gas, I still find myself anxiously awaiting the sudden stop of a full tank––a moment that comes so quickly and unexpectedly.
It seems like yesterday that I was a senior in high school, until I realize that the class of today wasn’t even alive back then. Boy, how time flies.
I’m not as young as I think I am. Final exams in college, registering for our wedding, holding my first newborn child, all these vital rites of passage are now memories from my past.
Time stares me down. Its’ face cannot be ignored. It is fleeting. The problem with time is that the more you understand it, the older you get. About the time you realize how precious it is, you realize that most of it is behind you.
The earth rotates and the sun gives way to night and day. Days flow into weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, and even millenniums. Fractions of seconds, minutes and hours help us to identify the passing of this precious commodity called time.
Have you ever felt betrayed by these faithful, persistent caretakers of time? Have you ever run out of time? Has the day ever arrived too quickly? Has the bell ever sounded before you were finished?
Time can get a grip on your life and damage your perspective. It can confuse your purposes. It can bring unwanted anxiety. It can hinder the peace that your life so desperately seeks. It can seem to spin wildly out of control––just about where most of us live.
So, why did God set it up this way? Why did He create this mess? Didn’t God realize that we would all need a bit more time? Didn’t He know that this thing called time would strangle us? Why didn’t He build into our systems a better “time-coping” device?
He gave us the fourth commandment. It says to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Just as God modeled in the creation of the world, we, likewise, should work hard for six days and honor God by resting on the seventh. His pattern should be our pattern.
I have heard about the creation story all my life. From my earliest years in Sunday school, I have been taught about the seven days of creation. Even at an early age, I grasped the complexity of creating the whole world in a week. I figured that it was six tough days at work––the ultimate work week!
So, did God get tired? Did the omnipotent God need to sit down and catch His breath? Was He exhausted? Did He need some sleep? If not, then why did God take a day off and rest? Was it for Him or for us?
The scripture says that when God rested, He, therefore, “…blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” It doesn’t sound like a tired, weary God. It sounds like a God who knew what time would do to His creation. He wanted to make sure that we knew the importance of taking a day to get a grip on our time.
In simple terms, God wants you to take a day off. He gives you seven days. He expects for you to give Him one in return. The Sabbath day should be used to focus on honoring God. That’s why you go to church. Churches all over the world gather once a week to honor God. It’s not that you forget about Him the rest of the week, it’s that you take one day and intensify your efforts to honor Him.
It’s an issue of faith. It’s trusting God enough to give up the very thing that you want to control most. You must realize that God is the keeper of time– He owns the sun and moon, every calendar and clock. You are simply living on loan from Him. Giving Him back a day is not for His benefit, but for yours.
Giving back to God is a principle that will add value to your life. Honoring the Sabbath gives you a wonderful opportunity to experience His blessing. When you give back a to God a portion of all He has given to you, He takes what remains and makes it go further than what you had to begin with. Simply, six days under God’s control is far better than seven days under yours.
It also, amazingly enough, produces freedom. For when you give back to God a portion of all the time He has given you, He miraculously frees you from the chains of time that enslave you. Rather than being anxiously bound by time, you are free to make it serve your purposes to glorify God.
Life is fragile. Time slips away. You were not placed here to just build things, labor endlessly, worry anxiously and find yourselves racing to the finish line. You were lovingly placed here to honor and glorify the Creator. Time should be your ally. The Sabbath is our reminder that this week is yet another gift––another moment––to use our remaining days to honor Him.
And, in so doing, He’ll make it worth your time.by Pastor Doug
What’s In A Name?
All three of our children spent the first day out of the womb nameless. We weren’t trying to be cruel, just trying to be sure.
In our arms, with a look at their angelic faces, we tried multiple names until we found one that fit. Names that seemed special and significant weeks before didn’t necessarily seem appropriate anymore. And, likewise, names that had never been thought of––all of a sudden––seemed right.
We figured that whatever names we chose would help define our children for the rest of their lives. We wanted to be sure we picked the right one.
So what’s in a name?
Back in Missouri, I once asked a girl from school to go on a church hayride with me. When I attempted to introduce her to my other friends, I could not remember her name. Needless to say, it was our last date.
You don’t really know a person until you know his/her name. Ol’ Whatshisname, Whatshisface and Whatchamacallit cannot really be considered significant friends. They are, at best, just nameless people passing through the hallways of our lives.
Names are important. Everyone loves to be called by their name. In all honesty, I am probably more apt to shop where they know me, regardless of the price. Somehow, my heart is drawn best to those who know my name.
Therefore, when you understand how significant a name is, you will be careful to use it wisely. The Vietnam War Memorial is a solemn sight. What makes this rather simple structure sobering is the volume of names etched across its walls. More than just strings of letters from the alphabet, these names represent people who gave their lives for our freedom––each having a family, a hometown, a past and, unfortunately, an unrevealed future.
The scripture says that a good name is better than riches. A name is a powerful thing, representing the reputation and character of the person who bears it.
So it is with God. We know His name and what it represents. His name is special because it carries His personal identity. The name of God is inclusive––it can only be given to Him. His name should be attached to praise and worship, not curse or jest. We should not abuse or dishonor His name.
The third commandment says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”
In other words, God takes His name pretty seriously. So should you and I.
Being an Israelite meant that you were one of God’s people. Being a Christian meant that you were a follower of Jesus Christ. God’s name should not be taken lightly. The use of God’s name goes beyond words, for it also includes our deeds––who He is should be represented by both. As His agents on this earth, taking on His name should influence our behavior, for the way we use God’s name conveys the way we really feel about Him.
Whether he likes it or not, the driver of the company van is a moving advertisement for that business. Being cut off by this vehicle doesn’t endear me to shop there.
For those of us who are God’s moving advertisements, we must realize that our deeds will speak as loud as our words. Using the name of God in vain has as much to do with our actions as it has to do with our words. The apostle Paul encouraged the believer’s behavior, “whether in word or deed,” to be done in a way that honors God.
Using God’s name in vain goes beyond swearing, cursing and other forms of vulgar language. It involves everyday decisions.
You can use the name of God in vain when you claim His name but live in opposition to His ways. Attaching yourself to Him must go beyond descriptive convenience. It should influence the way you operate. Most employers would not allow their employees to abuse the company name in the manner that people handle the name of God.
You can, also, use the name of God in vain when you use His name for selfish ambition. The salesman who uses his faith to push his product better be sure of his approach. The husband who subjects his wife to emotional bondage in God’s name does God (and his wife) an injustice. The televangelist’s use of God’s name for personal gain must grieve the heart of God. The politician who only attends church during an election period does not get God’s vote.
Finally, you can use the name of God in vain by casually carrying His name around with little regard for its significance. When we show Him minimal reverence; when we have no freshness in our relationship with Him; when His name, when heard, has no impact anymore in our lives, we should be extremely uncomfortable attaching it to ours.
I want my name to be honored. I like my name. It is who I am. I want it to be used correctly. Yet, I am merely human. God, on the other hand, Who is not confined to my humanity, expects the treatment of His name to be worthy of His reputation.
And, what an honor that He trusts me to do so.by Pastor Doug
Many years ago, we bought a house in Brea. Since then, I have been living out my adult dream of being a do-it-yourself handyman.
One of the first chores I chose was to install new floor tile––about 800 square feet of it! I sought help from my tiling buddy, Rob. Together, we did tile. He was the skilled laborer and I was the “grunt” laborer. Quite a team we were.
Since preparation was part of Rob’s secret to having beautiful tile, he assigned me the task of removing all the old stuff from the floor. This would clear the way for the new tile.
It was one of the hardest days of my life. I worked my tail off!
Let’s face it––removing old stuff is always tough work. It is hard to get rid of something that’s been around for a long time. Attachments don’t come away easily. Our connections become everyday fixtures. Dislodging a bond is sticky business!
So it is with God.
The second commandment (of the ten) is to remove all forms of primary attachment from our lives. Anything “in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” should never take the place in our hearts intended for Him alone.
The Bible calls it “idol worship.” We’re commanded to not make, bow down to, or worship idols. Idols are visible; God is invisible. Idols can be seen, touched, smelt, heard and tasted. A belief in God requires faith. Idols are tangible things that replace the intangible reality of God.
We all like to hold onto that which has ultimate value. Possessing and treasuring something in your hand seems to make a lot more sense than worshipping the unseen. That’s why man is prone to worship idols, for at least he can see for himself what it is he treasures most.
So, what might be primary in your life? Could you be guilty of worshipping an idol? Have you replaced the abstract quality of God with something that is material?
Has your hedging, trimming, tinkering and sprucing become an act of spiritual devotion? Has your house become a shrine dedicated in your honor for all to see? Is your life being spent worshipping a building––a building that cannot possibly last forever?
Even though you’ve never considered “bowing down” to it, is there an activity that consumes your life? You dream about it, think about it and do it whenever possible. You’re addicted. It has become a daily devotion of love and allegiance. Could this favorite pursuit be your idol?
It could be a title or an office attached to your reputation. It could be the constant need to be in control. Fame or financial ledgers can become idols. Workaholics bow down to seven-day work weeks.
In our culture, it is impossible not to notice the idols fashioned to sexuality. Everywhere you look is the perfect body selling the perfect product. The need to be seen as sexy is an intoxicating addiction. Sexuality, intended to be a good gift from heaven, can be used to replace the God who created it.
And, finally, even for “the sake of the kids,” we risk the temptation of bowing down to the desires of our children. When the activities of your children rule and guide your home––taking priority over all other things––you have established and enthroned your home’s idol.
For nowhere in the scripture is a parent instructed to give a kid every single thing he wants or desires. In fact, we are to provide wisdom for our kids that they cannot possibly see for themselves. We show them––by our actions––that God is the only One worthy of our complete worship.
Removing those tangible treasures from the floor of your life is hard work. It means you will make painful changes. It means your priorities will be scraped and replaced.
It means working your spiritual tail off!
You begin by checking the floor of your heart for any remaining signs of other worship, giving God the ultimate adhesiveness in your life. In fact, you come back to it time and time again to make sure that everything has been removed, for God cannot coexist with other reverent remnants––other forms of spiritual devotion.
God wants your full attention. Not because He has an inferiority complex or a lack of security. It is just that He, quite simply, has spent thousands of years watching the outcome of those who’ve devoted their lives to the worship of the temporary. And, out of that vast experience and His great love for you, He wants you to live better than that!by Pastor Doug