Do Not Turn From It

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Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  (Proverbs 22:6, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Thanks Dad, for the Godly training that you provided.  I hope I am a good reflection of you, and the Lord you served.  I’ll do my best to not turn from it.

In memory of my Dad, who would have been 88 years old today.  I miss you.

The Measure Of Significance

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Some have entertained angels unawares.”  (Hebrews 13:2, KJV).

My Musings – There would be no graduation celebrations. No major birthday milestones after his first, as he never lived to see double digits. No coaxing him to take those first few steps. No teaching him to ride a bike or drive a car. No playing catch with dad or baking cookies with mom. No petty fights his brother Joel over what television shows to watch or toys to play with. No Cub Scout meetings, father son campouts or pinewood derbies. No first dates. No coming to mom or dad for advice. No visits to see which college he would attend. No awards to hang on the wall.

And yet there are so many other memories that are indelibly inked into our mind. So much of our own character development we owe to having been privileged to care for him.

He was never destined for greatness, as the world measures greatness. The severe physical and mental handicaps suffered at birth prevented that. The prisoner of a broken body and broken mind, developmentally he remained an infant for all of his nine years.

He was never destined for the long life that so many covet. In frail health, he seemed to recover from one serious illness just in time to begin the next one. Until the final illness that claimed his life.

These things, perhaps, would indicate a life of little or no significance. And yet if insignificant, then how do we explain the sense of loss that we still feel after so many years? It is explained by realizing that our loss would be so much greater had he never been a part of our lives.

Unable to say that he loved us, he taught us how deep love can really be. Too weak to wage a valiant fight against the tremendous odds he faced, he taught us a thing or two about courage and faith. He was a living portrait from God. Reminding us that if all we live for is what this life gives us, then we are the ones who are handicapped by such a limited view.

  • Greatness? Perhaps not in the World’s view. But in our mind, for sure.
  • Long life? Not as measured by the calendar, but when measured by the memories he left us with, eternal.
  • Insignificant? Hardly. The impact he had on so many other lives cannot be fully measured.
  • Loss? Indeed. Because we gained so much from him while he was with us and lit hurts so deeply to be separated.

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We received this card from a work colleague when Joshua passed. The verse touched us and reminds us of the butterfly effect. What is the butterfly effect? It is where a small change at one place can result in large differences in another. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.

So it was with Joshua’s life, that seemingly insignificant, broken life that could not possibly have been expected to have an impact at all. His life seemed to be a small and insignificant change in a vast expanse, barely noticeable. Yet, he touched lives in a way that we could have never imagined causing large differences in how they viewed life and eternity. But “God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are.” God chose the butterfly. Incredible as it may seem, God chose Joshua.

One of my favorite holiday movies is “It’s A Wonderful Life.” If you are familiar with the movie you might recall this reference to the butterfly effect by Clarence, the angel trying to earn his wings: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” Well, Joshua’s life touched so many and would have left an awful hole if this seemingly insignificant life have never been.

My Advice – We will not be separated forever. Someday we too will be a memory for someone else to recall. But when they do, we will have been reunited with him. For this we thank a God who understands. For you see, He lost a Son once too.

Cherish those you love while they remain in your life.  Sometimes, you have to give them up way too soon.

For This Reason

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My Musings – Forty-four years ago today.  We were just kids with no idea of what lay ahead of us.  But whatever it was, we knew we wanted to do it together.

My Advice – “May you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”  (Proverbs 5:18, NIV 1984).  As you can see from the picture on the right, the youth is long gone (well, at least for me), but the rejoicing continues.

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.