"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands." - Psalm 143:5

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dream Coat


 

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It wasn’t technicolored or fancy looking by any means, it was a simple grey-black winter coat and it was just his size. He was the younger of two boys, maybe six to seven years old, with eyes as wide as saucers. Accompanied by an older woman of a different ethnicity, they all had come to a local coat drive hosted by the Hyde Park Methodist, a church that graciously allowed people from my church to help staff the event.

It was near the end of the day and most kid’s coats had been chosen by the early crowd. His other brother ( I assumed) had found one from the slim pickings and the woman was working on the gray coat, trying to get the zipper to work. All the while the little boy was looking on with those big saucer eyes.

It was the eyes that got me.

I went over and offered my help to fix the zipper (which seemed way beyond my skill-set as time past by) while she looked for a coat for herself. The minutes piled on themselves as not one, but two zippers evaded any attempt to follow the path of least resistance and behave like normal zippers do. I was sweating; the boys have been at the bin holding free stuffed animals and now were back, holding a monkey and a Winnie-the Pooh.

Now I had eight eyes watching me.

I wanted desperately for that little boy to have this coat and the underneath my breath prayers were as fervent as any I’ve prayed…I wanted God to heal this zipper…now!

The little boy never said a word…he just keep looking, waiting and silently hoping.

I started to choke back tears over a used, hand-me-down, grey winter coast…and those beautiful eyes.

In those eyes, I saw myself.

When I was around eight, I remember walking into a huge building, full of strangers and somebody handing me a coat and boots…just my size. I remember being somewhat stunned and confused…more than likely my eyes were as wide as saucers, trying to take in all the events happening around me. The eyes of that little boy took me back in time and helped me see this day in a whole new way.

The woman came back (good naturedly) laughing, seeing that I was still trying to compel this stubborn fastening device to submission and quite innocently said…”Maybe, there’s a third zipper?” I thought to myself, “What coat has three zippers?” This coat didn’t look like the kind of coat that would have three zippers if such coats existed! Hesitantly I started to look the coat over for the elusive third zipper option. To my surprise, near the top, hidden under the collar, was the treasure we hoped to find. I pulled the zipper into place, zipped up the coat perfectly, hive-fived the woman all with laugher erupting from both of us.

The young boy, handing his stuffed animal to his brother for temporary safe keeping, put on his coat and smiled. A huge smile now competing with his eyes for who would win for being the largest expression on his happy face. I was smiling too… my prayers were answered and today a coat became more than a dream. It was a promise from Father God and His provision.

As they left, the little boy turned to look at me with those same eyes…

I was fighting back tears and thanking God for an amazing grey colored dream coat, complete with a third zipper.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

God Bless you all and I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What Did You Expect?


 

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You find yourself, at age 58, pretty comfortable in your own skin. You’re taking some risks, stretching in areas unfamiliar to you. “Not bad for an old guy” you think and that brief thought puts some swagger in your steps.

Yet swagger, like comfort… is very temporary… I believe a better word would be fleeting.

I read this quote yesterday and it disturbed me, souring the milk of swagger in me.

“He was swimming in a sea of other people’s expectations. Men had drowned in seas like that.” - Robert Jordan, New Spring

Any husband, any father, any man following Christ, who is committed to those callings will feel the weight of other people’s expectations. It’s in our job description, to evaluate and examine expectations, and then pray to determine how to deal with them. All of this challenging the man you are and the one you want to be. Yet, I find grace to stay afloat and the ability to surf above the waves of what is expected of me by others.

So where’s the sinking feeling from? What caused my swagger to float away like “Wilson” in the movie Cast Away? Like a lifeguard blowing their whistle, the answer is a powerful warning to keep from drifting into danger. It’s not other people’s expectations threatening to drown me.

It’s my own.

My own interpretation of “how things should be”, these imaginary water wings that I rely on to keep my swagger afloat. I find myself struggling against the riptide, clinging to the raft of how I should act, (as a husband, father, brother, pastor) and where I should be in my walk, in my relationships, in my career and so on. The truth is…these weights dunk my head under the water more than anything else. I often fail in living up to my own expectations and the gurgling sound you hear is my pride.

I think (selfish) expectations are assumptions gone wild. They move you from reality to likelihood, a place full of suspense and potential but sometimes built like a shady real estate deal. Promising one thing but delivering an uninhabitable piece of property you never wanted (or expected).

You think you know…then He shows you. As always… it comes down to my heart.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

My heart needs something beyond expectations… even great expectations… it needs hope in Father God and Him alone. When I live in the reality of who He says I am, my expectations drift away from my spirit and I find myself filled with assurance of becoming all He wants me to be.

“For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.” Philippians 1:20

All my expectations are in Him!

 

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Killing Lions – A Review

 

 

_200_360_Book.1331.cover Many of us are hunting mice - while lions devour the land. - Leonard Ravenhill

In the book Killing Lions: A Guide Through the Trials Young Men Face, John Eldredge (Wild at Heart) is joined by his son, Sam, for a conversational journey of what it takes to become a man. II bought this book for my sons (I have five) but found it revealing my heart as I read it through several times (I’m a fast reader). I grew up without a strong father influence in my life and many of the questions Sam poses resonated with my heart.

Dealing (father and son together) with subjects such as relationships, money, getting married and life calling…each chapter was a picture of how to coach your son’s heart through each stage of life. A beautiful example of how simple conversations can create opportunities to impart and impact as fathers.

I appreciated the honesty and openness of John and Sam as they challenge each other’s view and the way they loved each other through these times. The powerful moments are when they acknowledge their absolute need of God to teach, guide and rescue their hearts…wonderful moments indeed.

Disclosure: While I received an advance copy of this product free, I have purchased a few copies to give to other fathers and my own sons.