Bible, Life's Moments

Protection From Above

I’m not sure, but I think my son, Daniel, once had shades of Snoopy lingering in his thoughts. You know, that particular image of Snoopy perched in a tree like a vulture keeping watch over everything below. Ready to pounce. Ready to provide. Ready to protect.

It’s okay. I got this.

It happened during that period of time when a mom and dad begin to nudge the responsibility and self-discipline training to the next level. Daniel was about 10 years old. Vanita and I had discussed some timing issues and some method issues regarding Daniel’s training. One of the items we chose was to leave him at home alone for a half hour or so.

“Daniel, we need to run to the store real quick. Matthew wants to go. Of course, Jessica is coming with us. Would you like to go or would you like to stay here and look after the house?”

Now all ya’ll know where this was designed to go. And it did.

“Really? I can stay here,” he asked.

“Yes. You’ll need to be very responsible. You know the house rules, right?”

“Yeah, I can do it!”

“Right, we know you can. So, okay, we won’t be long.”

Driving away produced no small amount of stress, but drive away we did. Training goes like that. A little older…a little more instruction…a little more responsibility…a little more autonomy to achieve success…a little more grace for the slips…and a whole lot of praying. We drove away with the stress and moderated it with the praying.

All these years later, I’m happy to report success. Back then, well, let’s just say I wasn’t always so sure.

We were anxious to get home, but we gave Daniel the time we had predetermined. We pulled into the drive way…and the excitement began. Daniel came on the run…not from the front door, not from the back door, but from up in a tree.

The tree was one of his favorite toys. It was one of those classic climbing trees. Situated just off the front porch and overlooking the front door, it provided a low branch for a swing and a tall climb for rambunctious kids. Apparently, it also provided Daniel with a fantastic ninja position.

“Dad, Dad…Mom, I saw this lady. I saw her.”

“What lady, Daniel?”

“The lady, the lady walking up the street. I could tell she was gonna come to our house.”

“Did she come to the house?”

“Yeah, I knew she would.”

“Oh, Daniel, did she knock on the door or anything?”

“Uh-huh, I knew she would.”

“You didn’t answer, did you? You know you’re not supposed to do that.”

“No, no, I didn’t. I couldn’t.”

A little bewildered, we just kind of stood there looking perplexed.

“I couldn’t answer the door. Instead, I said, ‘Who goes there!?’”

“What,” his Mother asked.

Daniel answered, “I said, ‘Hey, who goes there,’ and the lady jumped and screamed. I took care of it, Dad.”

“Daniel, wait, wait. What are you talking about,” I asked.

“Well, when you left, I was kinda scared, but I wanted to take care of everything, so I decided to climb the tree. That way I could be safe and watch over everything. So, I grabbed the hatchet…”

“The hatchet? Daniel, what? Why the hatchet? You know it only has certain uses and I need to be around when you use it,” I said with a nod to authority. On the inside, though, I knew where this was going and my Father/Daddy/Papa/Dear ‘ol Dad pride meter was climbing at break-neck speed.

“Yeah, the hatchet, Dad. (Breathing kind of fast) I was a little scared, but I knew I had to protect everything, (breathing a little harder) so I got the hatchet, (taking a gulp of air) turned everything off, locked the doors, put the key in my pocket, and climbed to the top of the tree. (Big breath, from corner to corner his smile stretched as far as the east is from the west). I did it Dad. Everything’s okay.”

“And the lady,” we asked.

“Oh, after she screamed and asked what I was doing in the tree, she left.”

Just like that, it was okay. It was okay.

Mom gave him a big, long hug.

I gave him a high five.

It was okay. Still is.

In just less than two weeks, Daniel will marry the lady for whom he has been praying, hoping, and looking for since he was a teenager. Her name is Abby. Daniel will perch over her. He will protect her and provide for her. He will pray with her, play with her, plan with her, and parent with her. He will be passionate about her. peaceful for her, and patient with her. Because he has such a wonderful Dad. No, take it easy, I’m not talking about myself. At night, before falling asleep, he’ll check in with Dad. After each long day he will say, “Dad, Abba Father, I did it. Everything is okay. The house is locked up. Abby is safe. (One day, hopefully) The kids are okay. I did it, Father. Everything is okay. Thank you. Amen.”

Here’s the important part…

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Update: Daniel and Abby, happily married, love one another and our Lord more and more everyday, help others and their little Rachel to do the same thing, and expect a brand new little baby boy any day now!

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Bible, Life's Moments

Where is he? Where am I?

Saw this spoken word by way of a random search. Awesome.

Think I’ll get a coach and learn how to do this. I really like what young people are doing with different forms of communicating the hope found only in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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Bible, Life's Moments, Uncategorized

The Ethos of a Navy Seal

The Navy Seals have been in the news a lot lately. They cause us to stand in wonder. And standing in wonder has caused me to wonder what drives these guys? Well, perhaps, the statement of the Navy Seal ethic can help. Here it is:

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men.Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time.  I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.

Wow! Awesome! I am absolutely thrilled with the whole, but these words from the sixth paragraph are off the chart: I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity…if knocked down, I will get back up, every time… I am never out of the fight.

I believe the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write a similar motto for fully devoted followers of the Savior. You can find it in Philippians 3:7-16. Here it is:

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Passion. Does anyone doubt that Navy Seals possess it? Does anyone doubt followers of Christ possess it? As Arsenio used to say, “Just something that makes you go hmmmm.”

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Bible, Life's Moments, Sports and The Savior

Seeing Jesus In Dan and Tim

Recently, I enjoyed the privilege of listening to a preacher who without doubt pointed his listeners to Jesus. As he spoke, I thought of my favorite hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” His name is Dan Wolgemuth and he is the President and CEO of Youth For Christ USA.

Now I do not know him (apart from a brief introduction), so I had only those two hours or so at a YFC banquet to learn. Still, I was certain that here was a brother who leads not so much from position, but from a heart enamored by the Savior. So, I decided to look up his blog. (You know…it’s always a good thing to learn from people who love the Savior.) While visiting his site, I was impressed with some of the subjects he touches upon. However, one title jumped off the page right away. It was a recent post about another man I am learning to admire, Tim Tebow. Here is what Dan wrote:

Tebow Time

by DAN WOLGEMUTH on MARCH 9, 2012

“And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.’”  ~Mark 10:47-49  (ESV)

Nearly 2,000 people had hung on every word that Tim Tebow had spoken. First the focus was football, then personal, then faith.

I closed the time by praying for Tim and as soon as the “amen” was out of my mouth Tim was whisked away to travel to a middle school assembly where students sat in bleachers waiting.

We traveled in two vehicles and I was in the trailing van. As we pulled out of the parking lot at the University of Montana, the only Missoula venue large enough for the gathering, we were immediately snagged in traffic. As we sat in the congestion, I noticed a man in a wheelchair that had obviously been at the “Tebow event.” He rolled his electronic chair down a driveway and toward the sidewalk. It was then that he realized that on the road in front of him, sitting in the passenger seat, was Tim Tebow. With that reality in front of him, literally, he began to wave and to shout and to reach for a camera in his pocket so that he could shoot a picture of Tim.

But instead of shooting a picture of Tim, the tables turned, instantly. Tim Tebow had witnessed what I had witnessed… and he decided that he would do something to impact the situation. So, in an instant, he was out the passenger door; traffic jammed around him. He ran to the man, and in an instant handed the camera to someone else while he positioned himself for a picture with the man in the wheelchair.

This was not a media stunt, it wasn’t a political step… it was raw, unconstrained compassion. It was stewardship of position and status and popularity. It was as authentic and real as it was inconvenient and intrusive. Tim didn’t calculate, he responded. He didn’t measure, he stepped out. And by doing so he walked onto holy ground; into caring for the “least of these.”  His powerfully strong legs carried him into the sphere of helplessness.

Just as quickly he was back in the car; moments later he was standing in front of students and parents while the cheers ricocheted off of concrete walls. But on the way, with the video cameras absent, Tim Tebow lived his mission as he made someone else’s dream come true.

In the moment; in response; from his heart… living and loving like Jesus.

This put touchdowns and trophies in perspective. This showed the character of the man, even as it lifted high Tim’s Lord and Savior. This exposed Jesus.

No fourth quarter heroics. No scrambling from the grip of onrushing defenders. But make no mistake – this was full contact. The clock was winding down. This was Tebow Time. Raw, compassionate, unconventional, effective.

Like Jesus.

Wow. I love it that Dan admires Tim. I love it more that he sees Jesus through Tim. I love it even more that he directs us past Tim to Jesus. And I really love it that Dan is a leader less dependent upon his time spent with Tim Tebow than he is upon the Savior.

I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul as he wrote to the Church in Philippi: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Philippians 3:7,8).

Thanks Dan for showing us Jesus.

Follow Dan Wolgemuth, President/CEO YFCYSA at http://fridayfragments.com/

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Bible, Life's Moments

Evangelism Hero…for Guys

One thing I think we can agree on is this: every man would give treasure and fame for one moment in which he could rescue a damsel in distress while delivering a Chuck Norris round house kick to the dastardly villain. Sweeping the fair maiden up in one arm, he would first use his free hand to tuck his nunchuks in his belt, tie the bad guy up with the telephone cord just ripped from the wall, then jump to safety from the third floor window, deliver the damsel into the waiting arms of her awed, but now annoyed boyfriend, and then disappear into the quiet of the night with the soft voices of the crowd drifting along in the wind, saying, “Who was that guy?”

In fact, if truth be known, there are few men who would not heed the call to battle if it meant saving someone’s life. He would run through fire, swim through ice, sling rocks at giants, wield a sword against the talons of a dragon or an M-16 against a terrorist. He would offer his final half-ounce of water in a burning desert, tie the last parachute on the back of anyone but himself while the plane spiraled toward the ground, or dangle by the strength of only his finger tips over a precipice of peril to reach a fallen and frightened stranger.

You would do this. Wouldn’t you? Though the socially polite thing to say when asked this question is, “Well, I would like to think I would act heroic, but I guess you don’t really know until you’re faced with the situation for real.” However, deep inside, deep in your heart of hearts, you just know. You know you would take up the challenge. It would seem like instinct, but upon further reflection, as you looked back on your David against Goliath moment, you would know. You would know that you had been preparing for that moment your whole life.

“3, 2, 1, swish. Buzzzzzz!”

“Bottom of the ninth. Two outs. Bases loaded. Down by three. Pitcher’s ahead, no balls, two strikes. Pitcher seizes his advantage. It’s a fast ball low and away. You have to protect the plate. Swing. Foul ball. Next pitch. Same location. Change up. It throws your timing off a fraction. Swing! Another foul ball. Next pitch. Heater high and inside. Foul ball. Pitcher starts to sweat. He delivers the pitch. The fatal mistake. A curve ball intended to leave you standing. But you know it’s yours. One micromeasurement too little from the pitchers wrist-snap. The curve ball hangs. Crack off the fat of the bat. Walk off homerun.”

“Run, run, dive, tuck, roll, back up again. Bopbopbopbopbop fires from the barrel of your Thompson 45…and then you see it…the white flag of surrender. Your enemy has met his match.”

“You hear the creak of a floorboard and a small thud as something goes bump in the night. Every fiber in your radar starts to tingle. You pick up your 19 inch, 6 D-cell MagLite and silently position yourself hidden behind a corner. Soft foot steps indicate someone drawing closer. A stranger! An intruder! In less than a second you realize your precious family is in jeopardy. Swing! Down slams the 50 oz MagLite against the jaw line of the creeper’s head. He goes down. He’s out. You turn on lights. Check for weapons. Secure them. Remove his belt. Bind his hands behind his back. Only then does anyone else finally enter the same room. Quickly, you demand, “Call 911.” You stand sentinel over the bad guy.”

A thousand scenarios have played themselves out through your imagination. You’ve been preparing. You are prepared.

In fact, even this one seems possible: “A left, a right, a round-house kick. Down goes Chuck Norris!”

In true moments of victory, your evaluation would not be pride. It would not be arrogance. No, it would be a simple evaluation of something you have always known. There would be no need to inform anyone else. It would be more than enough to have that certain knowledge now safely tucked away in your Man Portfolio. Stamp it bright red with “For Your Eyes Only” and then file it under H for Hero. Pull it out every now and then, not to gloat, but to prepare yourself even better for the next magical moment.

You can relate to this, right? Then why is it that so many of us who know Jesus as our Savior, know his truth as our wisdom, walk with his Spirit as our scout, and acknowledge his Father King as our Liege Lord, fail to heed his call to arms? Why do we pass by as Satan’s victims languish in the bowels of his infernal kingdom of darkness?

Why, especially since one of the most often used motifs in the Lord’s Great Commission strategy is the motif of rescue?

Look. In Luke 4:14 through 19 we read,

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  

In Mark 10:45, we hear the Savior say, 

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In John 8:34-36 we read about when Jesus said,

Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The Holy Spirit of God moved the Apostles of God to pick up this motif and record it in the word of God.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:17 and 18,

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

When writing to a young pastor, Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:2 through 4,

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he wrote (10:3-5),

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Let there be no doubt, there are damsels in distress. There are feeble men with neither the physical presence nor spiritual strength to engage the spiritual combat of our times. There are weak-willed women walking like zombies into the pit of despair. There are wonderful little children, confused and frightened, covering their eyes both at night and in the broad day light. There are teenagers acting brave on the outside, but running scared from what torments them on the inside. And there is a dragon on the loose (Revelation 12:1-17). He’s looking to scorch every man, woman, and child. And there is a roaring lion on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8). He is looking to devour the rich and the poor, the big and the small, the busy and the lazy. The dragon would torch his own mother if he had one. The lion would consume his own pride if he thought it would help his cause. The dragon is foul of breath and the lion is fierce of stench…for those with spiritual sense. For the blind, the lost, the unbelieving…the lion covers himself in light…a flimsy raiment of white silk…and the gullible fall for it until it is too late. They have but one hope: the Lord of Hosts and those of his who will rally to the sound of his voice…Go, therefore, into all the world.

The enemy’s challenge is no different than a rude man talking offensively to your wife, mother, sister, or girl-friend. This is the same as a neighborhood bully slapping your precious ten year old daughter. This smacks of the same evil as the users and abusers who lead our boys and young men away. This is terror. This is abuse. This is crime. This is kidnapping. This is false accusation, slavery, discrimination, and torture. This is war!

This is why the Holy Spirit guided Jude to write in verses 20 through 23,

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

When we leap into the fire, when we charge across the battle field, when we bend down to lift a child from the dung-heap of humanity, when we take up weapons of spiritual warfare, we are to outfit ourselves in the gospel armor. This is not jihad. It is the firm conviction and faithful compassion of a tender warrior. The Apostle Paul wrote this very thing to the First Church of Ephesus:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

When Jesus readied himself to return to his Father’s side he prepared his disciples for the departure. Central to his instructions is what we have come to call the Great Commission. It was not the Great Suggestion. It was not the Great Sound Bite. It was not the Great Encouragement. It was delivered as marching orders…it was the Great Commandment, the Great Objective, the Great Cause, the Great Commission. So, if like that first batch of disciples, we want to be ready in season and out we need to ask ourselves some questions. And just so it lands close to home, let’s be sure the questions are voiced in the first person singular.

1.         What am I celebrating lately regarding my part in the Great Commission?

2.         Do I really believe people need to be snatched from the fire? How is the prospect of a Christ-less eternity for the lost demonstrated in my worldview?

3.         In Mark 2:40-45, I can read about Jesus touching a leper. The Bible said he (Jesus) was moved by compassion. Is this true of me? If I prepare like a ninja to protect my family or to rescue damsels in distress, what would preparing for this kind of compassion look like?

●  How do I assess the needs of people I know who do not know the Savior?

●  How do I assess the needs of people I meet occasionally?

●  How do I assess the needs of those I may only meet once?

●  In what ways do I have consistent contact with unchurched people?

●  How do I identify and build relationships with the pre-Christians in my life?

4.         When I look at the following chart of evangelism styles, where do I see myself? If I asked my closest loved ones, what might be their evaluation?

Let there be no doubt, only one of these quadrants is biblical: missional. Let there also be no doubt, I do not have today’s nuance in mind when I use the word “missional.” In stead, I mean it in its normal sense: the sense that points to every believer being on mission. With this in mind: the Church is a missionary force and every born-again believer is a missionary.

5.         In what ways do I help my local church to corporately work at evangelism?

●  If the following statement is true, “Some give so others can go,” what am I doing to facilitate its truth?

●  What other resources do I have or can I acquire to facilitate the above statement?

●  When was the last time I balanced my Great Life-style vs. my Great Commission ledger?

Just thinking out loud. Peace.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”  Romans 10:14.15 NIV

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