DADS

One of the greatest needs in our homes, churches, schools, sports teams, and nation today is DADS, . . .

Delivered by the gospel.

All of us dads were born spiritually dead, living under the control of Satan, self and the world and under God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). As much as we think as a man we can fix our sinful condition, work our way to heaven, fill the hole in our soul, we are forever lost. We cannot fix the greatest crisis in our lives.

Here’s the Good News! But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)

The most important aspect of being a dad is for Christ to live in us that He may live His life out of us so that our children see Christ and not us (Romans 6-8; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:4-10; Colossians 1:27).

Daily we surrender to Christ. Daily we come to Christ (Matthew 11:28-30). Daily we seek Christ (Matthew 6:24-34). Daily we look for Christ return (John 14:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Christ is our life (John 10:10; Galatians 2:20).

Adores his wife

Merriman-Webster defines “adore” as “to regard with loving admiration and devotion.” According to Ephesians 2:7, the reason God saves us is to show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Dads, just as God demonstrates His grace toward us through Christ every moment of each day, we can through Christ adore our children’s mom, our wife. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).

Dad, show your children how to love and respect their future spouse.

Demonstrate before them a grace-enabled, God-honored marriage (Ephesians 5:18-33)!!

Disciples his children

Dads spend hours teaching and coaching their children how to hit or field a baseball. Perhaps it’s how to drive a car. Maybe it’s training in construction.

The best training a dad can give his son or daughter is how to know Christ as personal Lord and Savior (Ephesians 2:1-9); to love, read, and study the Bible (Psalms 19:7-11; 119:1-176); to know how to share Jesus with others (1 Peter 3:15); to know how to pray (Study how Jesus prayed and the prayers of Paul, Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Colossians 1:9-12); to know how to praise the Lord and enjoy life (Psalms 100, 150; Hebrews 13:15); to know how to live the Christ-life (Romans 6-8; Galatians 2:20) and to know how to laugh and have fun (Proverbs 17:22)!!

Seeks the eternal things

One day your children will depart from your home and your training. May that which they love above all things and seek after be the eternal things. Life here is so temporal as is power, prestige, position, possessions, and property. We will leave it all behind one day.

May you live in such a way that your children see you seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), having set your mind/affection on things above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2)., that in all things Christ has the preeminence (Colossians 1:18) because the passion of your life is to know Christ (Philippians 3:4-10).

Happy DADS Day!! Be encouraged!! Stay the course!! Grace is sufficient!!

So very grateful for my Christ-centered dad, for the blessing of being of dad, and for my sons-in-law who are and will be godly dads!!!

It’s Friday . . . and Sunday’s Coming!

Preacher, are you ready?

May I share three things to encourage you toward Sunday?

1. Prepare your heart

In this atomic age when forces are being released that stagger the thought and imagi­nation of man it is well to remember that prayer transcends all other forces. (F. J. Huegel)

Men, Jesus said, Without me, you can do nothing (John 15:5)! Preparing your heart through prayer is more important than delivering your sermon. Passionate, dependent, scripture-filled prayer says, “Lord, You are able, I am not!”

2. Prepare your message

Men, we have been challenged to Preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) since the day we sensed God’s call to the ministry. Those folks who gather to hear you Sunday need hope and to see Christ. Therefore, preach the Word under the control of the Holy Spirit from a heart set on fire by God!

Give the sheep good grain, a message from God’s Word, not just a sermon.

3. Prepare your family

Saturday evening, gather your family together and share what the Lord has taught you and what you will deliver in the message on Sunday. Have them pray for you and with you.

Make your family a vital part of the ministry team!

Preacher, will you be ready?

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:27-29)

Practice, Brother!!

The oft-spoken adage and biblical advice for preachers is, “Practice what you preach!”

Well, since having completed an eleven blogpost series on overcoming discouragement in ministry, my wife and I put Post #7 to practice.

Last week we “got out of Dodge” and headed for a week of rest at Edisto Island, SC.

To make the week purposeful and full of memories, we took the word “READS” and used it as an acrostic for each day’s goal. After all, you usually spend time reading when you get away like this.

Here’s a sampling of our time with the hopes of encouraging you to “practice what you preach.”

R – REST

  • Each day, we did not let ourselves be driven by a clock. We had quiet, leisure mornings on the deck overlooking the golf course with our Bibles, journals, study books and coffee. We did read a lot on the beach, too!
  • When we went to the beach, which we had basically to ourselves, we just sat or strolled along the shore. One day I looked at Denise and said, as if I was being asked by someone at home, “Well, preacher, what did you do on vacation?” “Nothing!”
  • Wherever we went in the car, it was slow driving; no hurry.

E – EXERCISE

  • Although I did not get to run on the beach, I really enjoyed running through the Ocean Ridge Wyndham property!
  • Denise and I walked around the property hand-in-hand in the evenings!

A – ADVENTURE

  • Played Putt-Putt golf (Denise won, made four hole-in-one’s, just missed two others). So I bought her an ice cream cone for her “trophy”!)
  • Botany Bay shoreline at high tide with a storm brewing!
  • We have always said that the vacation begins when we leave home and ends when we arrive back home. Therefore, our “out-of-the-way” trip to Charleston, SC, was a great adventure: Handy & Hot Restaurant, King Street shopping, and strolling along King and Meeting Street to view the historic homes.

D – DINNER

  • We had seafood every day!! Some of the best was at Roxbury Mercantile (Twice), Edingsville Grocery Restaurant, and Pressley’s!!
Roxbury Mercantile

S – SPECIAL

  • The historic Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island is a must see! There is a small Prayer Chapel on the property. We stopped on Tuesday and Thursday (National Day of Prayer) for a time of prayer together that was very special!
  • Since we love ice cream, each evening I served Denise mint chocolate chip accompanied by a mint chocolate chip cookie served in a tall stemware glass. Cheap ice cream, Aldi’s cookies, but served up in special way.
  • Cheese sandwich picnic!!
  • Sunsets
Prayer Chapel

Practicing can be fun when you have your best friend, wife, and sweetheart of 41 years alongside!

Now! That was a great way to stay away from or overcome discouragement!!

Do you need to practice what you preach?

“The Pastor’s Wife”

Last evening I was sitting in our family room chatting with my wife. She shared some thoughts from her heart about an upcoming speaking opportunity to be addressed to pastors’ wives.

Almost every Sunday in the morning gathering in my introductory remarks, I introduce my wife as well as our assistant pastor and his wife. “I’m Pastor C and this is my wife, Denise.” More often than not, she is characterized as “the pastor’s wife” or perhaps in the minds of those who have known us here for almost 21 years, “our pastor’s wife.”

I love the sound of those descriptions. You see, I have had the privilege of being a lead pastor for 39 years, and my sweet wife has been by my side through it all . . . as my wife.

For every pastor, his most important ministry is his wife, then his children, and then his “neighbors” (next door, down the street, church, town, the world). For the wife, her first ministry is always to her husband and then her children and beyond.

A long and varied job description for “the pastor’s wife” has been created by thousands over the years, but the truth is, the pastor’s wife is his wife first and foremost. Her “job description”(as a woman, a wife, a follower of Jesus Christ) is found in Proverbs 31:10-31, Ephesians 5:1-33, Colossians 3:1-25; Titus 2:3-5, 1 Peter 3:1-12, as well as other passages. As to how she serves in ministry, that is between her, the Lord and the loving leadership and protection of her husband.

The pastor’s wife is a born-again believer, saved through the cross-work of Jesus Christ, and living out the Christ-life (John 15:1-11; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27) through the power of the Holy Spirit within her (John 14:16-23). She is no different than the other ladies in the church who are under the same guidelines as the passages listed above.

She is not the “first lady the church.” or Mrs. Preacher or “the pastor’s wife.” She is a servant of the Lord as is every other born again lady in the local church. She does not have a position. Her identity is first of all in Christ, and then, as in the case of my wife, just that, my wife, my best friend, my sweetheart, as well as mom to our daughters, Gigi to our grandsons, and Denise to everyone else.

She needs prayer, friends, love, her family, compassion, prayer, grace, kindness, space to grow, not placed on a man-made pedestal, prayer, laughter, fellowship, encouragement, and prayer.

Ladies, if the pastor’s wife listens and prays with you after you have shared your burden with her, or confronts you about some habitual sin in your life because she cares, or wants to have lunch with you so she can disciple you and lead you further in your walk with Christ, it’s not because she’s “the pastor’s wife.” It has everything to do with her love for you, her obedience to the one another’s in Scripture, her love for God and her neighbor and her passion to disciple (Matthew 22:37-39; 28:18-20).

So, the next time you see your pastor’s wife, embrace her as your sister in Christ, your friend, and one who is growing and walking with Christ on your journey Home to Glory, not just “the pastor’s wife.”

From a pastor’s heart,

Dale

It’ll Get Away From You!

My wife is a planner, organizer, and a go-getter! I owe the warmth and coziness of our home, demonstrated in so many ways, all to her. And, she doesn’t just sit on her accomplishments, she maintains certain areas of our home with daily care. According to her, if she didn’t, “it would get away from her!”

This reminds me of marriage; it too requires daily maintenance. If not, “it’ll get away from you!”

What are some daily maintenance needs to keep your marriage moving forward in the early days and even after 40 plus years?

Touch one another. A warn embrace, a long kiss, an arm around her shoulder, holding hands, sitting close to each other at church, massaging her shoulders, etc. How easy it is to become mechanical and monotonous in your relationship. Furthermore, do not let your children and schedule drive you apart. Spend time daily in each other’s arms. If you don’t, your marriage will get away from you!

Listen to one another. Last night after supper, we sat at the dining room table and talked for 30 minutes or so. No one was in a hurry. We shared about the day and about a huge burden on our hearts. We connected and made an investment in our marriage. If you don’t, your marriage will get away from you!

Forgive one another. This is an ingredient that is so necessary to maintain your marriage on a daily basis. Because a marriage is made up of two sinners, grace and forgiveness are extreme necessities. Here’s great biblical counsel—Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32). This is an action that must be obeyed no matter the circumstances. If you doubt this is true, look at the cross. If you believe it is impossible, look in the empty tomb. If forgiveness is not a sweet (and sometimes hard, but always right) part of your marriage, it’ll get away from you!

What will you do today to maintain your relationship in a way that honors God and keeps your marriage from getting away from you?

Don’t Come Home

If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know that I have done a series on The Empty Nest, Part 2, Part 3—-words of encouragement, help and preparation for when your children leave home to launch out on their own.

Today, I’m sharing the testimony from a son whose parents are an example of handling the empty nest.

“Eighteen years ago, we moved [north]. I’ll never forget the firm words my dad had for me. It seemed out of his gentle character as he nearly made me promise to do what he requested. ‘Son, one of these days your mother and I will get old and sick. Don’t come home! The Lord has a work for you to do in [up north], and we don’t want to get in the way’.”

“My family has been so supportive for all these many years. Dad got cancer, had other health struggles then passed away. Mom has had health ups and downs over the years. She is currently at home having been recently released from the hospital due to many health issues.”

Denise and I met this son and his wife three years ago. They ministered to our hearts in a very special way and have continued to do so. Their love and sacrifice for the gospel, the ministry of Jesus Christ and his parents are quite evident. Even though they moved miles away from parents, what a blessing to serve the Lord knowing that family was “in their corner” praying and cheering them on!

Parents, don’t hold your kids so tight that they feel guilty serving where God has called them if they can’t get home as often as you think. If you are all born again believers, you will spend forever with them. Let them go! Trust the Lord for their well-being. God is always a better parent, refuge, and source of wisdom than we can be.

Release them, love them, remind them often of your support, and most of all, pray fervently for them!!

This son is currently visiting with his mom, and he wrote, “Even though Daddy said not to move back home, I’m pretty sure he’d be ok with a visit.”

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

The Empty Nest – Part 3

In the previous two posts, I have suggested that you can prepare for the empty nest by making daily investments in your marriage, by making your home a joyful place and by preparing your children to leave home.

Today, I submit to you that the greatest step in preparing for the empty nest is to release your children into the hands of God!

Truth is, we do not own our children. They were created by God and belong to Him. Parenting is His work, not ours. Grace to raise our children and send them out only comes from the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10). Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward (Psalm 127:3). For you (God) formed my inward parts; you (God) knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14a).

Since this is true, He knows what is best for our children. Therefore, as they go from the “crib to college” or the “Johnny-Jump-Up to a job,” your goal is to . . .

  • Teach the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), live out the gospel, and teach your children how to live out the gospel. Our prayer was always, “Lord, may (name) come to know you as personal Lord and Savior at the earliest possible moment/age.” (10 Ideas For Living Out the Gospel In Your Home)
  • Make Christ preeminent in your home as you live out the Christ-life (Romans 6-8; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 1:15-18).
  • Live with your sights set on the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) and eternity (John 14:1-3) not the world’s values.
  • Teach your children to love God’s Word, to know God’s Word, to speak God’s Word and to apply God’s Word (Psalm 119). A great way to do that is through the Inductive Bible Study.
  • Teach them to follow Christ all the days of their life (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 14:26; Philippians 1:21; 1 Peter 2:21)
  • Give your children the best gift . . . parents who Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 4). If our children have left home and are following Christ, give Him praise, for it is all of His grace. Enjoy your empty nest and fill it with much love and prayer together.

If your child has left home and is not walking with the Lord, certainly that will be a burden to your heart, but our sovereign God can do greater things than we can imagine. Make your empty nest a place of prayer and submission to the omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence of God. Lean hard into His promises. Perhaps this will encourage you: Comfort For Weary Parents of Troubled Children

May you all find comfort and encouragement in the Truth as you face or live in the empty nest of parenting. Wherever you are and wherever your children are, God is there. Rest and rejoice in Him (Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4:6-8). Husbands, enjoy the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18). Release your children to God.

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

The Empty Nest – Part 2

One of the most critical times in a marriage is when the only child or children begin to leave home, especially when “the baby” departs. My wife and I have experienced this, but can say with confidence, “You can look forward to the empty nest!”

Yesterday I began what I hope is a helpful set of posts on this subject of preparing for The Empty Nest. Here’s another step as you move toward that day.

Prepare your children to leave home. Denise and I had a dear lady in our church watch our second daughter for a couple of hours one month after she was born so we could continue our habit of dating. Certainly, Alli did not know about us being gone, but it set the stage for when she did understand, and it was an ongoing example to her older sister. You see, Denise and I were preparing our own hearts for when the girls would leave home. How?

  • Send your children to junior and teen camp. We highly recommend The Wilds.
  • Get your children involved in sports, 4-H, Sunday School, youth group and its activities, college trips, ministry within your local church, etc.
  • Teach them how to work and to have a godly work ethic. Let them get a job as soon as possible, but refuse to let them accept a job that will keep them out of church.
  • Train them how to clean up their room, do laundry, set the table, cook, wash dishes, vacuum, drive a car, mow the lawn, plant a garden, build a fire in the outdoor firepit, be financially responsible, how to dress for the occasion, how to treat and respect the opposite sex, etc. In other words, do not let your children grow up dependent on you.
  • Do not give your children everything. Let them learn the value of waiting on certain privileges as well as the value of earning certain privileges.
  • Allow your children to make mistakes within reason. They need to learn how to rise from failure and how to lose with a gracious heart yet be competitive.
  • Teach them to respect, honor and obey authority.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing one of the most important steps in this preparation process. Stay tuned!

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

The Empty Nest

One of the most difficult times of parenting comes when your children are ready to leave “the nest.”

I distinctly remember when we left our firstborn at college. The drive out of town was absolute silence for at least 30 minutes with some sniffles, tears and the need for Kleenexes.

When our second child, our last one here on earth, left home for college, this too did a major tug on our hearts.

Nevertheless, this is the way God planned. Genesis 2:24, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Our children cannot “leave and cleave” if we as parents are still cleaving to them.

How can you be prepared to release your children and eventually enjoy the “empty nest”?

Make daily investments in your marriage. Remember parents, you did not marry your children. Your spouse came first and hopefully your spouse will still be there after the kids depart! Therefore, portray before your children a transparent, honest, grace-filled, forgiving marriage that will be a model for them to follow (Ephesians 4:17-5:33). Continue to date your spouse. Be lovingly demonstrative toward your spouse in the presence of your children. You want your children to grow up with the undoubtable knowledge that their parents love each other! Moms and dads, when your marriage is strong, your children will find an element of security in their own lives because they know their parents will be okay.

Make your home a joyful place. Parents, enjoy the Lord, enjoy life, enjoy your children, and enjoy each day. Even in the midst of sorrow, difficult parenting days, Covid, financial strain, the Spirit of God produces joy (Galatians 5:22-23) and gives us hope (Romans 15:13). Here are three ingredients for a joyful home that come with the grace needed for daily fulfillment—Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12). Recently I heard someone say, “Our home should be such that our children are prepared to leave but look forward to returning, not for what they get or to be a shelter enabling their laziness, but for the atmosphere that is set in the early years of child rearing.”

Yes, when the time comes for your children to move on in life, it will bring a dramatic change for you and your children. No matter, the grace of God and preparation today looking toward tomorrow and the future will enable this transition to be God-honoring and a blessing to your children. Remember, you left home and your parents, too, right?

More tomorrow.

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

Guilt-Free Valentine’s Day

Who’s getting married this Valentine’s Day weekend?

According to the LA Times, “Valentine’s Day is L.A.’s hottest wedding day” of the year. “In the last decade, Los Angeles County couples have chosen Valentine’s Day for their weddings more often than any other day — by far.” (LA Times, February 14, 2019)

The subject of Valentine’s Day and marriage is way cool to me! Having been married 40 1/2 years (June 20), I can tell you that romance, love, dating and all that comes with being married is a rich blessing! It’s fun, adventurous, takes daily maintenance and is way cool! Now, hang on a minute. Don’t get the idea that our marriage has been “and they lived happily ever after!” because that has never happened in any marriage!!

Although God created marriage (Genesis 2:18-25) in a perfect state and environment, sin crept in and marred the blessed arrangement. The issue today is not marriage but two sinners coming together in marriage.

Speaking of sin, there is a one that has been swiftly gaining ground in America and around the world for the past few decades, especially in the 2000’s—-couples living together before marriage or living together and never being united in marriage. Folks, I say this from a heart that cares for you and is at the same time grieved by how sin continues to mar the sacred gift of holy matrimony.

First of all, no matter how hard you try to make life work your way, God’s way is always the best because His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30), righteous and holy (Psalm 145:17), one of steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 25:10), and higher than your ways (Isaiah 55:9). We are exhorted in Galatians 6:7-8 that you cannot “out-box” God nor can you get away with your sin. Therefore, living together outside of the bonds of marriage is an affront to God. It is living in rebellion, sin, and pride.

Second, God says marriage is to be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous (Hebrews 13:4). Please let this passage sink into your heart! Because marriage was created by God, it is to be held in honor.

Grant Richison in his commentary on this passage says correctly, Marriage is “honorable” because it is a divine institution. It is the basic building block for society. The word “honorable” means to hold with great esteem. Physical love among married people is “honorable.” It is something that must be held in great respect. It is intimate companionship (Gen. 2:18). Any form of sex outside of husband and wife is dishonorable in God’s eyes.

The undefiled marriage bed belongs only to a husband and wife who have been united in marriage. Sex between a man and his wife is holy, pure, and beautiful, but is defiled and perilous to the couple who choses to live together and have sex outside the bounds of marriage.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality . . . . Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 18).

He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. (Proverbs 6:32-33).

Sex is for marriage, and marriage is for sex. God wants us to save sex for marriage not because it’s “bad” or “dirty”— but because it’s unique, exclusive, and wonderful. Sex isn’t just casual fun. And it’s not just a feel-good way of expressing mutual love. It’s about two people becoming one flesh. Jesus says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-5, ESV; quoting from Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24). [Focus on the Family]

As noted earlier, God’s ways are always best. God created marriage and has laid down His instructions for marriage. Life does not work in rebellion against its Creator. Furthermore, you don’t own marriage, God does. Therefore, you do not have the right to “call the shots” as to how you will handle marriage and all that God has intended for it. A man who surrenders to the will of God will never live with regret and shame (Psalm 32).

If you are living with someone outside the bonds of marriage, repent and run to the cross of Christ and accept God’s forgiveness. Also, please read the following: Three Lies About Premarital Sex

Valentine’s Day can be a guilt-free holiday of romance and joy if you follow God’s way!