Why my Dad is my hero

A pic of US 35N on my way in to work this morning

This morning I woke up to 4 inches of snow that blanketed frozen rain on the ground. I started the truck first thing and then took a shower and got ready for the day. It was a long drive to work. I planned on taking double the time to make my normal drive here in Dallas. As a Michigan native, I am familiar with these kinds of conditions, yet when I drive here in this city, my fear mainly comes because of other drivers who only see these conditions one or two days a year and try to be a cowboy and brave the elements.

So, there was plently of time to think on the way in. I listened to the radio- mostly- but there were times when my heart raced as a pickup in front of me went sideways, or when I saw an 18 wheeler in the ditch. I kept saying to myself, my goal is to get there safely, not to get there quickly.

(This helped me to be patient as I thought of my wife and kids back at home. 2 of my children currenlty are battling the flu. I know that more than getting to a destination expediently, they eventually need me back home. So I was extra careful on my way in.)

As my tires rumbled over the chunky and icy ground, there were also times when my mind warped back decades in time. I recalled as a kid seeing my dad leave out the door every morning in the winter so that he could provide for us. I remembered one time when he was in a car accident on his way to work. He was driving a car that had recenlty been given to us by a family member. It was a total loss. But God provided another vehicle for us.

I also remember the many times my dad went under our trailer and took a heater, or heat tape or a hair dryer to thaw or water lines in the subzero weather. While I didn’t understand the signifance of that back then, as I look back now, I can have a greater appreciation of the amazing things my dad did to take care of our family.

At one point of time, I would have never thought of calling my dad a hero. As a child I did not understand our poverty. I was often bitter because we couldn’t afford the name brand clothing or food. I despised that we lived on government subsidies. I was humiliated by our living conditions. I was hurt often by the fighting and anger I saw in or home. Those memories will never leave. But they don’t have the same bite that they once had.

I kept driving. My mind kept wandering. My instincts were heightened as that pickup truck in front of me turned sideways. I was far back enough where I could slow down and go around and avoided the vehicle. Moments like these can be defining. I became more eager to make it to my destination safely, looking forward to working hard today and getting back to my family who needs me.

After I got to another point, the vehicles around me disappeared. There was a long stretch of road before I saw another vehicle. My mind went back to where it left off. I remember at an early age how my dad, even though he struggled with anger that I despised, always took care of us spiritually.

We were always in church- Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday. There were times he attempted doing devotions with us as a family. I remember those moments. My most vivid spiritual memory with my father was when he led my brother Tim to Jesus. I too knew that I was a sinner and wanted to be saved. So that day, as a 5 year old boy, I knelt at my bedside with my dad and confessed my sin to my Father in heaven and asked Jesus to come into my heart.

It was the best I knew how then to commit my life to Christ. That moment was a defining moment in my life. It has shaped how I view every aspect of my life. It has kept me from numbing my pain with sexual sins, alcohol, drugs, social life, technology, and whatever other idols I could have made. That decision has helped me to constantly return to Jesus when I have tried to find life in other places. That decision ultimately is what has helped me to forgive my dad and others who have harmed me over the years.

(I can still remember my dad weeping at my bedside, running his fingers through my brown childish hair one night because his heart was torn from the way that he constantly struggled with losing his temper. He hated his sin that he had difficulty controlling.)

As I pressed on toward my destination, I thought about heroes. I certainly did not want to be driving to work so early in the morning, especially as I was up several times last night helping my own son manage his symptoms of the flu, and knowing my wife would be home caring for both he and my oldest daughter who is sick with the same.

But I remembered how my dad was always faithful to do what it took to care for his family. I also thought of all the people who I may be serving today, how God would use me, like he used my own father, to be a light to others. So I kept driving. And I thought about all my dad did for me, and all he has done for others. And it dawned on me like never before what a hero my dad has always been.

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Stewardship

Pslam 67

Focus: 67:1-2, “May God show us his favor and bless us! May he smile on us! (Selah) Then those living on earth will know what you are like; all nations will know how you deliver your people.

There is nothing like coming terms with the idea that I own nothing. Nothing is mine. Mine, mine, mine, it’s ALLLL not mine! When the democrats were campaining, they were all very intentional about coming to Texas. Why? Because there is an abundance of wealth here! This is one of the first things my wife and I noticed when we first moved to Dallas. Keeping up with the Jones’ is an epidemic in this ocean of wealth. But I suspect that in the midst of the materialism that grips people here, the Biblical concept of stewardship is foreign.

I am certainly not against wealth. I am against the notion that wealth is ours. Biblically speaking, God owns it all. One of the prayers in this beautiful Psalm is for God to show His favor and to bless his people. I don’t believe there is necessarily any spiritualizing necessary to properly interpret this request. The prayer is for an abundance of wealth to be poured out on God’s people, but blessing would also include health, relational, spiritual, and more. This prayer is for God’s people to be blessed in every way! This is a wonderful prayer. But often people read this Psalm and stop at verse 1. This is a mistake!

The prayer is for God to bless His people so that those on earth will know what God is like. That is, everything we are blessed with is a means to make God famous- NOT for our own glorification! God does not smile on us to make our name great! Rather, everything we have is a tool to direct people’s attention to Him. We should all be careful to examine how we are managing our wealth. Biblical stewardship is simply recognizing that we don’t own anything and that we will be held accountable for how we manage the resources God has entrusted to us.

When we examine our wealth, can we see a pattern of self-glorification and pride because of what we have? Have we taken opportunities to share with others about the Giver of our resources? And finally, what are we doing with the resources we have been given?

When God smiles on His people, it is so that people from the outside of His community will be able to look inside and ask, “How can I serve a God who blesses his people like that?”

Did God Forget?

2/16/2009 5:00pm

Exodus 1-5

Pericope: Exodus 2:23-25.

My wife and I attend Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Tx. A few months ago, our pastors returned from Congo, Africa, the most impoverished area on the globe. We have a justice ministry in different regions of Congo and in other parts of Africa which fight for the rights of the underserved- orphans, widows and impoverished. Our church helps bring food aid and other supplies, but what was amazing from this trip is the people’s response when they knew there was a Church thousands of miles away who was praying for them and loves them. Tears of joy were shed because they knew they were remembered.

One of the most devastating circumstances in life is hopelessness. There are several reasons why one would feel hopeless. Unrelenting stress at a job, poverty, victimization, and general aimlessness are just a few. In Exodus, the story begins with God’s people lost in the misery of slavery. The text shows how God is protecting his people, yet they are enslaved. God is making them multiply, yet only to be whipped. Israel was in slavery for over 400 years! What happened to God? Did God forget?

On face value, it seems that God does not care about his people. But the writer of Exodus (probably Moses) records, “God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob…” As the writer looks back in history, he attributes whatever happens next to God. God remembered not only his people, but the covenants he had established. In other words, there was never a time when God fell asleep and was AWOL. The writer is acknowledging that God knew his covenants and was sovereignly working not only to deliver his people, but to be faithful to the covenant. As the rest of Exodus unpacks, we will see that is exactly what happens!

Some of us may be in a bind. Sometimes we know God asks us to do something or has put us in a circumstance. Yet, we are caught up in a bind that we cannot be free of. It is in these moments we must remember that God is faithful! He never leaves us hanging. He is always knowledgeable, able and active in history. No one’s situation is unique. God was faithful to deliver his people in a mighty way. Ultimately he brought redemption to a people who were undeserving. We can look back on God’s past work and find hope for our present situation. God did not forget. God has not forgotten you!