Carried On To Completion

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My Musings – “I thank my God every time I remember you.”  Really?  Well, family  certainly.  Friends, possibly.  Partners in the Gospel?  Well, maybe not every time.  But you see they don’t always share equally in the partnership.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.”  With joy?  All, all, always?  Well maybe not all my  prayers.  Maybe not all of them.  Maybe not always with joy.  But you, know, some times they disappoint me.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.”  Confident?  But you don’t know them like I do.  They’ve wandered.  They’re inconsistent. They’re far from complete.

Always Thankful – We have the family, friends and partners in the Gospel that God put in our lives.  And He put us in theirs.  If we are not thanking God every time we remember them, maybe it is us who are not sharing equally?

Always Pray With Joy – In all our prayers, if we don’t pray for them with joy, maybe we aren’t as thankful as we should be.  If we were, wouldn’t we always be joyful when we prayed for them?

Confident of Completion – If God did begin the good work, He will bring it to completion.  If we lack confidence in this we are focusing too much on the wandering and inconsistency and not enough on the “author and perfecter of our faith.

My Advice – Always thank God when you remember the people in your life.  They are a gift to you and you are a gift to them.  Pray with joy in all your prayers for all the people in your life.  They may not always make you happy.  Don’t let those periodic lapses and disappointments rob you of your joy because of them.  Place your confidence in God. That He will complete what He started in their lives.  Don’t let their temporary detours cause you to lose confidence in their ultimate destination.  Be encouraged.

Read the text again.  Wouldn’t you like to have people in your life that are like Paul?  Then why not “do unto others what you would have them do unto you?”  What would our family, friends and Gospel partnership relationships be like if we did?  Talk about thankfulness. Talk about joyfulness.  Talk about confidence.  All wrapped up in a passion for Christlikeness.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon “Fueled Relationships” on September 8, 2019.  Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons.  If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m.  We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you too.

 

 

In My Life, I Loved Him So

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My Musings – The above picture was taken three years ago today.  We had gotten dad into DeKalb County rehab for what we thought would be a short stint to get his strength back.  His heart condition had been worsening, but we had no idea how near the end was.  He looked pretty good that day, but my dad died from heart failure on September 15th, less than three weeks later.  The man who used to carry me on his shoulders, was carried away by the Angels to his reward.

In My Life
The Beatles

There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed.
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain.

All these places had their moments
With [family] and friends I still can recall.
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all.

But of all these friends and [family]
There [are few who] compares with you.
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new.

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before.
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you [still].

Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
For non-commercial use only.

One of my favorite Beatles’ songs.  The lyrics move me.  “In my life” I can recall many male roles models that have helped shape my life.  But Dad, there is no male role model that “compares with you.”  We often “stop and think about” you.  The void left by your passing can never be filled. Gone, but never forgotten, and we’ll “never lose affection.”

Time has allowed the grief to dull a bit, but not completely.  But we do not “grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.”  For “according to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15–18, NIV 1984).

My Advice – We are encouraged by these words. My wish for you is that you share the same hope.  If so, be encouraged.  If not, you can share in this blessed hope by believing and receiving Jesus Christ as you personal Savior.  My series of musings on “The Born Again Experience” (see archives) can show you how.

For an inspiring version of the above song, google  “In My Life” by Selah.  It will give you chills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For This Reason

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Matthew 19:4-6“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – My parents couldn’t afford a carriage. Not even a bicycle built for two.  Yet their love and devotion for each other was something money could not buy. They spent 66 years together as husband and wife.  Today would have been 69.  God joined them together and only God was able to separate them.  But only for awhile.

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” – When Harry Met Sally

My mom and dad’s marriage was like this.  They married young (dad was 18 and mom was 16), many times a recipe for failure, but for them a smashing success.  The fact that it was a marriage of three (dad, mom and God) had more to do with it than anything else, I am sure.

“Michael and I had great role models. Though his father has passed away, his parents had an amazingly strong marriage, as do mine. Both weathered really tough times. For us it has been normal to stay together through difficulties. We grew up witnessing that firsthand.”  – Tracy Pollan

Life was not easy for them, scratching to make a living early on.  Working hard for life’s necessities, never getting a chance to enjoy life’s luxuries.  But they understood it was more about making a life than it was about making a living.  They were more concerned about providing a good home for their children than providing a nice house for them.  Weathering “really tough times” made for “an amazingly strong marriage.”  As such, they were great role models for my two brothers and me.

“I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy. First, let her think she’s having her own way. And second, let her have it.”  – Lyndon B. Johnson

In marriage, a sense of humor helps.  In speaking about the “perfect balance” in marraige, my dad often joked “marriage is a 50/50 proposition – I give 50 and she takes 50.”  In reality, my mom and dad usually offered each other nearly 100%, demanding little for themselves.  Now that’s  “perfect balance.”  Sure they had their selfish moments, we all do, but to them marriage was mostly about the other person (and their three boys).

“Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.”  – James Dobson

When my dad passed, my mom could hardly bear the thought of living without him.  When he entered the hospital that last time, never to return home again, it was one of the few times in 66 years of marriage they spent the night apart for more than a couple days.  Yet she still longed for more time together.  That’s real love.  Not what passes for love nowadays.

I like marriage. The idea.  – Toni Morrison

It was more than an idea to my parents.  It was more than an ideal to them.  It was real.

My Advice – If you are married, or are contemplating marriage – Be like my parents.

A Tale of Two Mothers

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Proverbs 23:22-25Listen to your [mother], who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. The [mother] of a righteous man has great joy; [she] who has a wise son delights in him. May your . . . mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice! (NIV 1984)

Mitch Albom – “I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.”

My Musings – Happy Mothers Day to the two mothers in my life.  The mother who gave me life (on the right) and the mother who made me a father (on the left).

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My Advice -Sons and husbands, lets give them reasons to rejoice! Honor them every day, not just on this day.

Walk This Way

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Leviticus 26:12 – “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people.” (Leviticus 26:12)

My Musings – This verse must be read in context.  There is a condition that precedes it:  “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands.”  There follows an impressive list of blessings capped off by this awesome promise in verse 12 above.  Of course, conditions always beg the question, what if the conditions are violated?  Following the blessings are a long list of consequences, which are often overlooked, because the conditions are often overlooked.  The word “if” should always give us pause.  This is the immediate context.

But the overriding context is that this is a promise to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament.  They were under the Law.  Thankfully, we are under grace and don’t have to worry about obedience (ugh, legalism!).  Or do we?  While it is abundantly clear that “it is by grace that [we] have been saved, through faith . . . not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9),” and many can readily quote this, we tend to overlook (and are unable to quote) verse 10:  “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Consider also want James says in the second chapter of his Epistle:

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

This is not a salvation of faith plus works theology, but rather a recognition that true saving faith results in a life that is transformed, and the transformation is evidenced by good works (and avoiding a sinful lifestyle).  A lack of good works (and a habitually sinful lifestyle) is likely evidence of a life that has not been transformed and calls into question whether there really was saving faith in the first place.  Of course, we must be careful here.  While salvation (justification) is a one time event initiated by grace through faith, transformation (sanctification) is a lifelong process.  People mature in the faith at varying paces, with many ups and downs.

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We are all used to people making claims. Politicians make claims about what they will do if they are elected. Advertisers make claims about the benefits of the product they are pitching. Suiters make claims about how much they love the person they are wooing. None of these claims are worth anything unless they are backed up by action. A politician risks not being reelected if they do not follow through with their campaign promises. Inventory will cease to move off store shelves if the product does not live up to the advertiser’s claims. Lovers grow apart when promised affections are not delivered.

So it is with our faith. A faith that transforms is a faith that performs. Faith inaction becomes a faith in action. Doing the least for the Kingdom becomes doing for even the least in the Kingdom. So how are things with you? Is your faith alive or dead? Is your “work produced by faith?” Is your “labor prompted by love?” Is your “endurance inspired by hope?” Are you seeking to do the “good works, which God prepared in advance for [you] to do?”

My Advice – So back to the verse in Leviticus.  If we expect God to “walk” with us, we need to be walking in the same direction.

 

 

In Memory Of Dad

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In Memory Of Dad

This is a re-post from September 15, 2017, the one year anniversary of my dad’s death.  Today, he would have celebrated his 87th birthday.

Proverbs 23:22Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. (NIV 1984)

My Musing – Each weekday, I’ve been focusing on some devotions and advice that I gave my son Joel upon his college graduation.  Today I am going to switch it up a bit, as today is the first anniversary of my Dad’s death.  Today, my devotional musing goes out in memory of my Dad.

Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, the greatest impact on my spiritual development has been my Dad and Mom.  To these I owe whatever spiritual legacy I have.

Over the past year, I often found myself thinking, “What would Dad have thought about it?”  Today, one year after his passing, I find myself thinking, “I wish I could talk it over with Dad one more time.”

Dad and Me

Below is a video that my brothers and I collaborated on and that my son Joel produced.  It is a tribute to my Dad’s life.  If you watch until the very end you’ll hear a recording of my Dad saying, “I love you guys very, very much.”  Well Dad, we all miss you very, very much!

 My Advice – Joel, as you read from “A Father’s Devotions,” remember the example of your Grandfather.

Never Forget

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Proverbs 23:19, 22Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. Listen to your father, who gave you life. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – Today marks the second anniversary of my dad’s passing, a constant in my life for 61 years, and who (along with my mother) was largely responsible for molding my beliefs and character, at least the positive ones.  Today, I simply refer you to my September 15, 2017 and February 7, 2018 musings.

My Advice – Never forget.