Big Father

20130714-231117.jpg

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” – 2 Chronicles 16:9

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
beholding the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3

If you have even a casual interest in the news, then you’ve probably heard of Edward Snowden. He is the former NSA employee accused of leaking sensitive data about the U. S. government’s extensive surveillance program.

Apparently, millions of phone calls made every day are monitored, recorded and stored to gather information about potential threats to our nation’s safety. No one really knows how much of our private lives are monitored and known. Millions of Americans voluntarily reveal details about their private lives through Facebook, twitter, Instagram, and many other social media outlets.

One thing is for sure: our private lives are not so private anymore.

George Orwell in his book “1984” describes a society controlled by a government that knows all and sees all. The term “Big Brother” was coined in this book. Even though this book was written in 1949, it is eerily prophetic of modern day society.

Yet, no matter how extensive man’s surveillance is, there are some things they can never know. Man cannot read the mind or know the heart. Some actions and decisions we make from day to day are data that cannot be hacked into.

But there is a God in heaven who knows all and sees all.

“Big Brother” is a scary thought on its own. To know that the government monitors much of what we do and where we go can be frightening. But what is truly terrifying is the “Big Father” who knows every intricate detail of our lives.

Did your eyes gaze at a woman other than your wife today? God saw. Did you harbor hate in your heart for your fellow man today? God saw. Did pride well up within your soul? God saw. Were you dishonest with your time and efforts at work? God saw.

Revelation 21 gives a frightening glimpse into the surveillance program of God:

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened:and another book was opened, which is the book of life:and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them:and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Not only does God know and see all our thoughts and actions, but He also records them. Every evil deed is recorded in the library of heaven. Nothing slips past the gaze of God. And we will be judged from these books.

But there is one book that has the sole purpose of recording a single event in our lives. The moment we trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, our name is written in that book. And this book overrules all the others.

Is your name in this book? God sees and knows. If it’s not, ask Him to write it in today.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

M&M Moments: Trust Fall

20130520-202949.jpg

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” – John 10:28

The “trust fall” is a game people like to play where one person crosses his arms and falls backwards trusting in a person behind them to catch them. Mattie and Macie like to play this game as well. Sometimes it’s on purpose and sometimes it’s not.

Macie is a pro at the trust fall. She performs this stunt nightly after the girls’ bath. This is the time of the night when they tend to act really silly. Macie gets so excited that she goes limp and falls backwards onto the carpet or onto one of us who is usually sitting in the floor with her.

Sometimes Macie falls back and bumps her head against the wall or some other hard object. Then the tears begin to flow. She trusts us and has the faith that we’ll always be there to catch her.

20130523-204018.jpg

There are other times when they fall back unintentionally. An example of this happened the other day at church. We were waiting to do a sound check and we were sitting at the bottom of the platform steps. The girls were walking around, and, of course, they thought it would be fun to climb the steps.

Everything was going fine until Mattie fell backwards. I gasped and lunged forward and caught her with one hand just in time to stop her head from hitting the lower step. We were all shaken and Mattie cried. I thank God that I was there to catch her.

I am also thankful that God is always there to catch me when I fall. I have total safety and security in His strong arms.

There are many ways we can fall in life. We can fall into sin. We can fall in failure of a task that was dear to our heart. We can fall when trials and storms come our way. But we can rest in the fact that, though we fall, God is always there to catch us. He will never let us slip from His grasp.

I won’t always be there to catch my girls. I may be away at work or not close enough to catch them. One day they’ll grow up and my hand will be out of reach. But I can trust that God will be there to catch them.

He can catch you too. When you fall, just trust in His hand.

20130522-230518.jpg

<a

M&M Moments: Heaven On Earth

20130515-144321.jpg

My favorite day of the week is Saturday. I know as a good Christian that Sunday should be my favorite, but Sundays are very busy for us and leave us exhausted. Saturdays for us are usually our day of rest. I think it’s more how God envisioned the day of rest to be.

The modern day church has transformed Sunday into a day of work. With its programs and performances, the church had become a machine. This is not true for the casual churchgoer, but, for those active and involved in ministry, it can be exhausting.

This is not the case on Saturday. For us, it’s fun, family, fellowship, and faith. Sunday used to be this way, but, somehow, we’ve lost it. We’ve chosen the part of Martha when we should be with Mary at the feet of Jesus.

Last Saturday was one of the best I’ve been blessed with. It’s a perfect example of the point I’m trying to make. I spent the day playing with the twins and working around the house. This work was enjoyable and restful.

Then, that evening, we drove to Mennonite country for a meal at Yoder’s restaurant. It’s a neat little place in the middle of a wheat field surrounded by views of hay bails and silos. And the food is amazing. Cream corn, fried chicken, and fresh rolls tantalize the tastebuds. Homemade pies of every shape and size tempt even the most strong willed.

20130515-150732.jpg

After when had eaten as much as our stomachs could contain, we took a walk outside the restaurant. Next door is a barn that was converted to a gift shop. Beside the barn is a pet goat the kids can torment and a row of old retired tractors.

After we played with the goat and sat the girls in the tractor seats, we took pictures with one of many giant bales of hay that sat behind the barn. Then we turned the girls loose in the field. They played as hard as they ever have.

The girls have recently started walking, so we usually restrict where they can roam. But in this field, they could toddle as they pleased. It was heart warming to watch.

20130515-151511.jpg

As we drove home with the girls asleep in the back seat, Lauren placed her hand on my leg and mentioned how much fun it all was. It was a great day. It was heaven on earth.

God once placed a thought in my heart that never left me. He told me that the family is the closet thing to heaven on earth. Before sin, this is what Adam and Eve experienced.

Therefore, the closet thing to heaven on earth is a saved, Godly family spending time together. This gets us as close to Eden as we’ll ever get this side of eternity.

That’s what’s so great about camp meetings and dinner on the grounds. It’s about family. I believe a happy, Godly family makes God smile. That’s what church used to be: family. We’ve lost it. I can only pray we’ll get it back.

Until then, I’ll settle for Saturdays.

Saturday. It’s waking up to a quiet house and spending time in prayer as the girls sleep. It’s listening at the nursery door as the girls wake up and giggle at each other. It’s bacon and biscuits made by my wonderful wife. It’s cleaning the house together with the girls at our feet. It’s taking a walk through our peaceful neighborhood. It’s an evening meal with family and friends. It’s bathtime and the last burst of playtime before bedtime. It’s talking with Lauren before we go to sleep.

It’s heaven on earth.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:” – Psalm 127:3-5

20130515-154338.jpg

M&M Moments: Bloody Lip

20130508-230216.jpg

It was a typical night at our house. Lauren was busy cooking, and I was emptying the dishwasher or doing whatever I could to help. All the while, the twins were playing under our feet. They love to play in the kitchen. They explore the cabinets where we keep their food and they play with clean dishes in the kitchen floor.

Mattie had discovered the puffs canister and was carrying it around while she toddled through the kitchen. Lauren had gone outside to check on the grill and I had turned away for a second when I heard a thud. Then I heard Mattie crying. I looked down and she was laying on the puff canister crying.

Falling is a common occurrence for toddlers, but, this time, she was really upset. I quickly picked her up into my arms to comfort her. Then I noticed something on my hand. It was blood. Mattie had cut the inside of her lip and it was bleeding.

Mattie turned out to be alright as it was just a minor cut, but the image of my daughters blood on my hand stuck with me. I didn’t like it. Seeing her hurt, especially bleeding is not something I like very much. I can’t bear the thought of my little girls being hurt.

The blood on my hand turned my thoughts to my Savior. Jesus Christ shed all His blood for you and me. And, His Father watched. His Father forsook Him. He allowed the blood of His only Son to be shed. The thought of this is too much for my feeble finite mind to comprehend.

I could never fathom allowing my daughters’ blood to be shed for anyone. No matter the cause, I couldn’t allow that to happen. No matter how good and noble the person was that required my child’s blood, I couldn’t allow it. Yet, God shed the blood of His Son for us who are the opposite of good and noble. We are full of corruption and sin.

Oh, the love of our precious God for us. To sacrifice His Son for us. What love this is.

I’ve learned a lot since becoming a father, but the one thing that has become crystal clear is the love of God. How could I ever doubt Him or the lot I’m given if He first gave me His Son. What a thought.

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

20130509-225212.jpg

M&M Moments: Macie walking!

20130429-212807.jpg

M&M Moments is a new segment that I’m starting in my blog to chronicle our various adventures with our twin girls Mattie and Macie. They have just turned a year old and they are surprising us daily with new tricks. The latest accomplishment was Macie taking her first steps. Mattie has been walking for a while now, but Macie hadn’t tried too much. She was always too busy playing to worry about walking. Crawling worked just fine for her.

We have been helping Macie walk by holding her hands while she takes a few steps. She would get so excited, but she was too nervous to venture out on her own. Then, all of a sudden, she started taking a few steps, and, this past Sunday at church, she walked in the lobby. I was so proud of her. Macie still hasn’t quite perfected the art of walking, but she’s working on it.

Raising children constantly reminds me of my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Just as I work with my sweet girls in basic things like walking and talking, God is working with me to teach me how to grow as His child. I was so proud of Macie walking, and I can imagine God being proud of us when we finally grasp some spiritual lesson that He was trying to teach us.

Sometimes we think we are pretty good the way we are, but God is always trying to lead us closer to perfection. Macie was perfectly content crawling from one place to another, but she didn’t know the possibilities that walking would open up to her. We hold on to our opinions and methods, but God has a better way. God desires the best for us and He just might be leading you to a better Christian walk. We just need to let go and trust Him.

Walking seems such a simple task, but it’s a huge accomplishment for a one year old. With time Macie will perfect her walk. She’ll progress from toddling behind us to running and skipping in the back yard. Her walk will carry her to school, to her first job, and on to college. One day her walk will lead her down the aisle to meet her groom.

One day our walk in this life will end and we will begin a new walk as we stroll down the aisles of Heaven with our bridegroom Jesus. Along the way, He’ll perfect our walk day by day.

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” – Colossians 1:9-11

20130429-231315.jpg

Shattered

20130206-000040.jpg
And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:
Genesis 44:28

Sometimes no matter how hard we try, things seem to work out differently than we had planned. This was the case one day as I was working at a local printing business. We had been called to install a new light on the outside of the building for security purposes. The kind of light I was installing is called a wall pack, and it was big and heavy.

These lights have a large hinged cover on the front with a thick glass lens that is used to cover the bulb. The hinged cover stays on the light fixture securely except for when it is open. Then it can be completely removed by sliding it to the right. A safety wire is usually hooked between the cover and the rest of the light to prevent it from falling.

I had finished mounting and wiring the light and I was attempting to install the hinged cover. All I had to do was hook on the safety wire and I would be done. The whole time I was doing this, I was consciously aware of the fact that I needed to be extremely careful not to drop the cover. I was constantly thinking “be careful” as I was screwing on the safety wire.

Then it happened. My hand slipped and time seemed to slow down as I watched helplessly as the cover fell in slow motion. It landed on the pavement and shattered into a million pieces. I was sick. Sick that it had happened. Sick with myself for letting it happen. Wondering how it happened when I had been so careful to make sure that it wouldn’t happen. But it did happen.

My incident with the cover is insignificant compared to the hopes and dreams that have been shattered. Jacob’s world was shattered when he came to believe that Joseph had been torn to pieces by a wild animal. I’m sure he had big hopes and dreams for his favorite son. Perhaps he would inherit all of Jacob’s possessions and lead the family and his herds. It was a noble dream. But God had other plans, and Joseph was taken away. The dream was dead.

Either we have had that happen to us, or we will have it happen. God tends to bring us to a place where he asks us to let go of that which is dearest to us.

It happened with me. I had great and mighty plans. I had fasted and prayed for hours each day to make sure that I was on the right path. I had planned out the girl I wanted to marry and how I would go into the ministry as an evangelist. I would sing and preach. But God had other plans. The girl broke my heart and I watched as all that I had planned shattered and crumbled. I was broken.

Maybe you are broken as you read this. Maybe your world has come crashing down beyond your control. Maybe you have obeyed God and done everything right and, yet, the bottom has fallen out. Take heart for you are not alone. Many great Christians of old have been where you are and watched as God took their broken dreams and replaced them with His own. And His way is always better. His way is best.

Soon your Joseph will be restored, and, this time, he will be a prince. Jacob could have never fathomed in his early years the riches his family would know. He was placed among the elites of the day. God’s way is best.

The pain I suffered caused me to leave my church of 16 years to attend a new one. I needed a new beginning. I arrived there shattered and broken. There I met my wonderful wife and now we are blessed with beautiful twin daughters. I play my guitar and sing in front of hundreds of people every week. God restored and renewed my life. His way is best.

I drove to the shop that day hoping that I might find a replacement cover. I walked in and was thrilled to find a spare cover laying on the shelf. It worked perfectly and I thank God as I rode back to install it.

If you are broken today and your dreams have been shattered, turn it over to The Lord. He may just have a place for you in the royal halls of Egypt. Our plan may be beloved, but God’s plan is best.

When All Else Fails…..

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” Proverbs 3:6

I arrived at the job site with a truck load of assorted parts and 33 pages of blueprints. We had been hired to install some equipment at a local distribution center. I had never seen most of the parts that were sent to us and I had no clue how to install them. It was boxes and boxes of camera, motion detectors, and door lock controls. I was scratching my head and trying to figure everything out. I am an electrician and I have very little experience with security systems.

It’s an old saying, “when all else fails, read the instructions.” I tend to subscribe to that philosophy, but, in this case, I was so lost that I had no choice but to consult the blueprints. After four hours of studying the blueprints and a long lunch break to think it over, I was beginning to get an idea of what needed to be done. In the following week, I had to consult the blueprints many more times to make sure that I was handling everything properly. We finally finished the job, and, by the grace of God, everything worked!

In life, we make many of our decisions based on the knowledge we have. We take the “when all else fails” approach and we only go to God if we absolutely have to. But there are times that come that are so perplexing that don’t know what to do. Life sends us a truck load of assorted problems and situations and we are not sure how it all fits together. We are so lost and confused that we need some blueprints for life.

God has provided the blueprints we need in His Word and through prayer. His Word says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” All we need is to just acknowledge God and He has promised to guide us. I try and make this a constant practice in my life. Each day I pray over the jobs that I work on and I ask God to bless them. I ask God for guidance in purchases I make and every aspect of my life. I have never asked God for guidance and had the situation turn out bad. God blesses every time

Maybe you’ve recently had a truck load of problems come your way. Maybe you have lost your job. Maybe you are having marriage problems. Maybe you have lost a loved one. Consult the blueprints of God and He will guide you and bless you.