Many times I find myself anxious and not knowing which direction to turn. Circumstances in my job and in life beyond my control are overwhelming me. Problems are coming my way faster than I can even comprehend them and I “jump the tracks”. Mary Magdalene had approached Jesus’ tomb early in the morning to find the stone had been rolled away. While Mary was weeping, Jesus approaches her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Mary was distraught and overwhelmed. Mary was confused, anxious, and trying to understand the situation. It was then that Jesus said to her, “MARY!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!”(Teacher) As I read this text from John 20:16 what stuck out to me was the “!”. When your kids have become distracted and engaged in doing something that requires correction. When chaos and uncertainty come into your life. When we are anxious, distraught, overwhelmed and have lost our confidence, we need re-direction. When we put our trust in our own abilities, limited understanding and are shaken; we need to be alerted and recognize as children of the Almighty God He cares for us. We need to take confidence in the many of God’s promises such as Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who is against us!”. We need Jesus to call our name “JEFF!” and re-direct our attention and focus back on Him. It is then, the fog clears and we can begin to replace our anxiety with confidence in His TRUTH. He is calling your “NAME!” today. Will you listen?
It has been said that we are all just 2 bad choices away from disaster. Think about it. You might receive forgiveness or be able to rebound from one bad choice, but two bad choices will almost seal your doom. Our job as a parent involves training our children to make good choices so that when they are not with us or when they are adults they will make good choices.
Our daughter has been an outstanding gymnast progressing up the levels, winning or finishing in the top 3 in every event. She trained over 20 hours a week and had one of the top all around scores in the nation for level 6 gymnasts in 2013. As she progressed, the sacrifice to perform at this level increased. She could not participate in other sports, could not enjoy being with the family most nights, could not participate in the school musical and on and on it went. She absolutely loved gymnastics. This summer she had a lingering injury and took 3 weeks off to go to camp and rest at home. It had been years since she experienced this type of margin in her life and I think she recognized the sacrifice that was otherwise shielded by the non-stop routine of school and gym. Following the break she went back to the gym and came home in tears saying she wanted to quit. We listened, but this was not a decision that she could take lightly. We had some long discussions about her talents, desires, dreams and wishes and instructed her that she should go back to the gym for two weeks, get back in the routine and see if her mind changed. This was too big of a decision to make on emotion coming off vacation. We told her that this was her decision and we would support whatever decision she would make. If she decided to remain in gymnastics we would give her 100% support and if she decided to quit gymnastics that we would be excited for her decision and give her 100% support, but it was very clear that this was her decision and hers alone.
At 12 years old beyond trusting in Jesus as her Lord and Savior, this was the first really big decision she had to make. As parents we had the privilege to allow her to think through the consequences, picture what life looks like on the other side of the decision, and completely own the responsibility of the decision. Fortunately, either decision was not going to have significant negative consequences, but did make a huge difference on her young life. It was exciting as a parent to be there over the next couple weeks to listen to her reason out and become comfortable with her decision. In the end she decided to stop competitive gymnastics and enjoy more of her friends, participate in the school musical, run cross-country, and volunteer at the church with the children’s ministry. As a family we got to have our little girl back for evenings, dinners, and weekends. We will not plan our lives and schedules around the gym. We are just a month or so beyond the decision and she is still very pleased with her decision. As her parents we are very proud of her stepping up to make this decision on her own and support her along the way. These are the great moments of being a parent and witnessing your young ones mature and grow in their ability to make good decisions.
During our lives we have lots of two degree adjustment decisions, but only a few ninety degree turns that shape our future and life. Decisions of who is Jesus and what do I do with his claim, where we go to school, what career we pursue, who we marry, kids, and mid-stream career changes. These are all life changing and life shaping decisions. To give our children a place to practice and experience making a few of these decisions in the safety of their home before the consequences are so great puts them in a position for successful decisions in the future. Be there for you kids. Recognize the opportunities to help shape and develop your children. Nothing will make you prouder than to share in their success.
It does not matter where you work or what you do. If you work with and around people your presence, attitude, actions and words are consumed in the social order of your organization. Remember who you are through your relationship with Christ. Remember that you have been set apart for the work of the Holy Spirit. You are different because the very Spirit of God lives in you and your interaction with co-workers, vendors and customers directly impacts their lives. This is where most of us serve. We serve as teachers, truck drivers, salespeople, customer service agents, managers, purchasing agents, schedulers, line workers, designers, welders, machinists, engineers and in every role in every type of company or organization in existence. We practice and live out our Christian faith in the real world. We make decisions, we relate with people and we make mistakes in our professions. The confidence in which we have in the future, the way we treat others, the words we say, and the relationships we make all are part of our life and our calling as disciples of Christ in the world and workplace we practice our trade.
I am going to share a few illustrations from my own experience in hopes that it may give you practical examples of how you can demonstrate characteristics of a Christ follower in the places you work. Keep in mind that there is not one “right” way to live our your Christian faith in the workplace. Your personality, role and calling to share with others and minister is unique to you. Some may have the gift of evangelism and be bold in your ministry. Others may have the gift of counseling or prayer. God has given each of us talents and gifts that we are to use for His glory and to lead others to Him.
How you respond to crisis – In early 2004 I was leading the effort to rebuild a small company following the loss of a big customer and recession of 2002. It was a privately owned family business and the owner had a heat attack. He went in for by-pass surgery and experienced complications that nearly took his life. For months we did not know if he was going to survive. As a family business the employees job security and confidence in the future was connected to the owner, who had led the company for more than 50 years. During that period I would periodically bring in the managers and leaders of the business to give them updates. My job as the one responsible for the company was to provide confidence that the business and their jobs were safe so I would report on the reality of his condition, but give assurance that plans were in place to continue the operation. The people listened to every word to help them understand their future. In my role I had the opportunity to share the source of my confidence. Following the medical update that sometimes looked hopeless, I would say regardless of the circumstances I know that God is in control and that my confidence was in His plan for us. I would conclude by inviting all to pray with me and lead the group in a prayer for his healing and for our business. When faced with a crisis people will watch how you respond. My reaction was only natural and demonstrated my hope and confidence in the future was in our God.
Pray for co-workers – I am not as comfortable with straight evangelism in the workplace. One morning many years ago I was compelled to pray that God would give me the opportunity to share about Jesus that day at work. Several hours went by and I was now in the heat of the work activity and had completely forgotten about my prayer that morning when I heard a knock on my door. A young woman who worked in customer service came in and sat across the desk. What happened next was amazing. She simply asked how to become a Christian? Chills ran through me as I recalled the forgotten prayer of the morning. I told her of the prayer that morning and shared with her and prayed with her to accept Jesus as her lord and savior. Evangelism is not my gift or style, but God gave me the privilege to respond to His work in her life. What a gift for me to participate.
Today in my role of the company I sign the payroll. Each week I am presented with a stack of checks that I sign. I have the privilege to reflect on the personal needs that I know of and recognize the fact that many are in the midst of trials that life brings. Having a weekly schedule allows me to fulfill my commitment to pray for every employee and trust in God to work in their lives so that they can testify to His glory.
Pray with co-workers – For me I am occasionally presented with opportunities to pray with employees. I am very careful not to overstep boundaries or make people feel uncomfortable. There are occasions such as funerals that is natural for me, as the leader of our company to share of God’s grace to His glory. If it is known that someone is going through a particular sickness or trial, I can ask how they are doing and if I can pray for them. When invited, taking the opportunity to pray with them right then can be a great ministry and let them know you are sincere in your concern and recognize that the Bible tells us that God cares for them and is able to heal their illness or carry them through their trial.
Give credit to God for His glory – As we live life and trust God in our personal and business life we see His provision, we experience His healing, and we trust in Him for our future. I Peter 2:5 says that we are to be living stones or living testimonies of the great things God has done in our life. Recognize that God cares for our business life and give Him glory for the difficult pruning that allows us to grow and the success that we enjoy.
Manage our own actions – By my sink I have a poem “Walk a little Plainer Dad” that talks about how our kids watch our every move and that we should be the example that they can follow. It is the same in our workplace. Our peers and co-workers are acutely aware of you actions. Do you come early to work to study the Bible? Do you have a reference Bible handy. Are you different because of the Holy Spirit that lives in you? Do you demonstrate the characteristics of Jesus? Do you serve others? Do you love all people? Do you use your tongue to praise God, lift others up and discipline in love? It is said that I would rather see a sermon any day. Living out your love of God and faith in Christ in the midst of a messy competitive world is a great testimony.
Admit when I am wrong and show grace – It is not uncommon for me to make a mistake or have to bear the consequences of someone else who made a mistake. How we handle these situations is a strong testimony to God’s grace. Recently one of our engineers made a huge mistake in calculating the cost of a job. As a result I had to go back to the customer, admit the mistake and try to work out something that would be satisfactory to both parties. I was fully prepared to take responsibility and accept the loss. Fortunately, our customer agreed to work with us. We accepted a lower margin and they worked to accept a higher price that was not able to be passed on. In this situation no one felt worse than our engineer who was in error. It was not a time for discipline, but a time for grace. We all make mistakes and God gives grace. Sometimes we are spared from our bad choices and sometimes we reap the consequences of our bad choices. In our circumstances we will bear a portion of the lost and am thankful for my customer who is also a friend and fellow believer that abide in grace.
Make right choices – We all have the same amount of time and how, we use this precious resource is a reflection of who we are and what are our priorities. Making it a priority to be involved in a church fellowship, serving the community, and making a commitment to attend every week establishes your trust in God as a priority. The hours you work and the activities that you participate in also represent where you put your priorities. Making right choices that are in line with your faith testify to the reality of your faith and the importance of following Christ. Again, good choices that are rooted in following Christ will minister to others.
Be available – I am a list maker and find satisfaction in checking off the list. The downside of this is that I work like a bee going from flower to flower and don’t waste any time knocking off the next task. The result is that I convey that I am busy and don’t want to be bothered. I have to recognize this characteristic and be disciplined to linger from time to time. I may ask a couple open-ended questions and wait through a sometimes awkward time of silence until they fill the gap. When I take the time to stop and a few extra seconds to listen I then get to “peel back the onion” and see what is below the surface conversations that take place all day. When we are available to listen and let others share we demonstrate another characteristic of Christ. Do you think anyone has ever been busier than Christ? He had a short time to change the world, yet much of his ministry was taking the time to stop in the midst of life to talk to a women caught in the act of adultery, to meet with a woman fetching water at a well, to recognize a tax-gatherer in a tree and take the time to share a meal with him. Taking the time to recognize others and linger a few moments to allow them to open up communicates our concern for them and opens the door for communication.
Respect boundaries – I have been asked a number of times if I would be interested in leading a workplace Bible study. In my role I have not felt that it was appropriate for me to lead a Bible study. I am certain that many may argue with me on this point, but this is an area that I have sought council and decided that this may put me in a conflicted spot as the President of the company. Would it be looked at as a way to get close to me? Would it breed jealousy? Would it be viewed as trying to proselytize the organization? I am called to love others first. If I start with loving others I am free to lead in love, discipline in love, give grace in love, serve in love and celebrate in love. In the spirit of Christ’s love there will be many opportunities that open doors that I can appropriately share the Bible and use the Bible as my reference for decisions that I make and as a foundation that I can stand on. We have many religions in our company and I find it important to balance respect for individual boundaries while being genuine to my own faith and beliefs. I do not feel that I need to hide my beliefs, but be authentic to my faith and respect the faith of others. It is not I that work, but the Holy Spirit that works in the lives of others. When I respect boundaries then I can be able to catch the opportunities that God presents to me.
There are so many more applications that I could share, but will end with the instructions that Jesus gave to his followers in the sermon on the mount recorded in Matthew 5.
Matthew 5:1-16: When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the [a]mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the [d]gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Disciples and the World
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how [e]can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a [f]hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a [g]basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Our relationships, careers, circumstances and culture are evolving. The core beliefs that God has clearly given us in his word are unchanging. How we effectively apply them in our daily lives and exercise our gifts and talents for His glory will change and are unique to each of our environment and circumstances. It is my prayer to be an effective steward of the talents He has given me and give testimony of the great things he has done and is doing in my life in all areas of my life. It is my privilege to share my thoughts and experience with you in hopes to be an inspiration and encouragement in the authentic and genuine exercise of your faith at home, work, recreation and worship.
I am a water person, but sadly we don’t live on the water. So, we make the most of what we have. I have been writing about the adventures we find in the heart of the city of Houston in a series entitled Camp Applegate. These are easy and fun things to do as a family by exploring and enjoying the nature that surrounds our neighborhood.
My daughter and I have been spotting the dewberries for several weeks in the fields behind our home, hoping that we would have a good crop for her May birthday. We invited our family over for dinner and berry picking. We drove the 4 wheelers and walked to a field on the other side of the property where we found lots of ripe dewberries. Dewberries are related to blackberries. The berries themselves are difficult to harvest. They grow on thorny vines, which make for dense nests to protect the berries. Unfortunately for berry lovers, they taste good. Very good.
We ended up with a large bowl full of ripe berries for cobbler. Tonight the kids worked together to make the cobbler which we enjoyed for dessert with some Bluebell Ice Cream. Nothing can beat it. What a great way to enjoy being together and building lifetime memories. I hope you will be encouraged to find fun things to do with your family, create memories and maybe even learn to enjoy Texas dewberries.
So how shall we then live?
God’s word is complete, providing instructions and illustrations as to how we shall live. His Word covers every human institution, reveals God’s character and His perfect love toward us. As Christ followers or disciples of Christ we seek to model the life that Christ lived for us. The entire new testament and specifically Paul’s letters to the church and his friends are full of exhortations and specific instructions how to follow Christ’s example.
Romans 6:4 – Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Ephesians 4: 17-24 – So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
In our family we have established a list of core values or core beliefs. It is those statements that describe what we believe and what we stand for. It is impossible to categorize these or separate these from how we live our lives. We cannot have one set of core values that we believe in on Sunday and another that we follow during the week. We cannot have one set of values we believe in at home and another in the workplace. Core values establish who we are and are unchanging. If our actions are not reflective of our core beliefs then we at a minimum deny ourselves and as Christians deny our faith.
When graduating from college I had a fear that the workplace would challenge my values and relatively untested faith. I had a fear that I would be required to participate in activities or be faced with temptations that would lure me into decisions contrary to my values. I determined that I would strive to operate in a way that I would not compromise the values that I stood for and try to learn how to properly live out my faith in the workplace. In my various roles in sales and management and in the various companies and cultures that I operated in I have considered and practiced this strategy. I have made many mistakes and course corrections. I have had men who have walked beside me for decades that I could share my thoughts about how to appropriately live out my faith in a secular workplace. The circumstances of my responsibilities and influence have changed and, as such, my strategies to appropriately live out my Christian faith in the marketplace have evolved. I would submit that there is no “one size fits all” approach to properly being a disciple of Christ in the workplace. The position you hold in the company, the culture in which you operate, the size of the company, the rules of the company, the people in which you work, and the influence that you have all impact the way you should act. In my personal journey located in the “Bible belt”, where being a Christian is common and in my position of leadership in a small privately held company I have come to agree with a few guidelines. Guidelines that are consistent with my calling as a Christian and as a business leader. Guidelines that I believe are appropriate for other men and women in the workplace who wrestle with the question of how then, being a Christian, can I be consistent to the calling of Christ to be His disciple and be an effective producer and leader in the marketplace. Fortunately the Bible has much to say with how we are to operate in the workplace. The early church was made up of laymen. Men who were fishermen, farmers, blacksmiths, herdsmen and other trades that came together as a “church” or body of believers for worship, fellowship and instruction how to be a “Christ follower.” There was no category of “full-time ministry” as if there was a higher calling to be a preacher or pastor. There was no separation between their vocation, community and faith. Family, friends, neighbors, laborers, managers, and landlords came together under the common goal of being Christ followers. They followed the instructions of Christ and the apostles and lived out their faith in all of their lives.
So, How shall we then live? The following are six points to consider and follow to help you be a disciple of Jesus in the workplace.
1. There is no distinction between “full time ministry” and living out our daily life at home, work, worship or recreation.
2. We all have been given gifts by God and are responsible to exercise our gifts and talents to the best of our abilities.
I Corinthians 12:4-7 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
3. We are first called to love others.
I Timothy 1:5 – “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
4. We must earn the right to be heard.
5. We must be living testimonies – I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day. The greatest sermon is to be watched than heard. Speak of the reality of
6. Work to a high standard Colossians 3:23 – ”Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,”
The last part of our 4 part series provides some of my own personal experience and the practical ways I have sought to apply these principles in my workplace. I hope that these provide ideas and inspirations to see your ministry be effective in the life and the relationships you make in every area of your life and work.
Following a conversation with a friend regarding faith in the workplace I realized the considerable amount of thought, prayer and effort I have put into aligning my faith and talents into a lifestyle of ministry over the last 25+years. Upon reflection of my own journey and the things I have learned and continue to learn I thought I would present a 4 part series to share some of my thoughts and experiences with the hope that it will encourage and inspire you to think about how your Christian faith and God-given talents permeates your church, family, vocational and recreational life. This writing is Part 2 in the series, You Have Been Set Apart.
- Your Identity In Christ
- You Have Been Set Apart
- So Then How Must You Live
- Practical Applications To Share
Part 2 You have been set apart:
Romans 10:9 says “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved:”
We have been saved from the consequence of our sin and set apart as a child of God.
Romans 8:14-17 – 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Titus 2:11-12 “ For the grace of God has appeared ,bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”
Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Do you believe you have been set apart? If you have been set apart by the almighty God do you recognize yourself as a child of the king and fellow heir to the kingdom of God? Do you recognize the power given to us through Christ’s sacrifice and giving of the Holy Spirit? Focus on the Family’s, Truth Project, challenges us with the saying “Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?” If you really do then it should have a profound impact in every aspect of your life.
This week I had the opportunity to share with another Christian business owner how God provided for our business in ways nothing short of miraculous. I shared my vision and confidence for the future that involved a belief that God is actively involved in shaping the future. He looked at me as if he did not understand. The whole notion that I would actually believe that God could be involved in my business was foreign to him. We pray that God would be active in resolving problems and shaping the future. We say that we believe that God is active in the circumstance of our life and even acknowledge every once in a while that a near miss was possibly God’s mercy, blessing, or even a miracle. But do we really believe it? Do we march forward with the confidence that God really does have a hand in the circumstances of our life and business? Many of us have claimed our business life as our domain. We take sole responsibility for the results of our hard work, determination and perseverance. God may be there at church on Sunday or maybe there to comfort us during loss or even providing some kind of mysterious “hedge of protection” over our family. But could God have an active involvement in directing the circumstances of our work? It is this faith that makes us different. It is this confidence that lets us make decisions that are not understood by the world and be recognized as different, possibly even as a “light to a dark world”. When you stand on your faith and operate in a chaotic world with confidence that God has a plan (Jer. 29:11), and willingly accept the success and the times of waiting or suffering as ways to grow you and shape you for a better purpose, then you really live. Do you believe that you have been set apart? Do you make decisions that reflect the fact that you have been set apart?
I Thessalonians 3:8 “For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord”
Following a conversation with a friend regarding faith in the workplace I realized the considerable amount of thought, prayer and effort I have put into aligning my faith and talents into a lifestyle of ministry over the last 25+years. Upon reflection of my own journey and the things I have learned and continue to learn I thought I would present a 4 part series to share some of my thoughts and experiences with the hope that it will encourage and inspire you to think about how your Christian faith and God-given talents permeates your church, family, vocational and recreational life.
- Your Identity In Christ
- You Have Been Set Apart
- So Then How Must You Live
- Practical Applications To Share
Part 1 Your Identity in Christ
When you recognized your sin, inadequacy and inability to have a relationship with a pure and Holy God, realized the need for a savior from your sin, accepted Jesus’ death and resurrection as the perfect plan for redemption of man and invited Jesus in your heart you were changed for eternity.
Romans 10:9 says “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved:”
II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
As a Christian you have been “born again”. Born again as a new creature with God’s Holy Spirit residing in you, giving you access to God’s power to fulfill His commandments. In the book of Acts, Luke gives an account of Jesus telling of the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church following Jesus’ ascension and day of Pentecost.
Acts 1:8 – “,but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Are we so entwined with this world that we fail to recognize the power that has been given to us through the Holy Spirit? Through the blood sacrifice and resurrected Son, we have been given privileged access to bring our petition to God Himself. Matthew records the instruction of Jesus to the first disciples of Christ instructing them as models how to act in the power given to them through the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 10: 5-8 – “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”
We have been saved from the consequence of our sin and set apart as a child of God.
Romans 8:14-17 – 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him
God’s mercy and grace has been bestowed on you and redeemed you as a child of the almighty God. This provides the foundation for your life and ministry. Once we recognize whose we are and the power that has been given to us through the Holy spirit we are in the right frame of mind to consider our talents and gifts and how God can use us in our family, community and career to accomplish His purpose for His glory.
Next we will see that you have been uniquely gifted and set apart for His work and can begin to consider how you can accomplish His work in your life.
The first of our three children is turning 16 and we have been surveying and considering all of the strategies our friends have used in helping their child get their first car. At the school our children attend many, if not most, are given a new car of their choice. This is not a standard that we wanted to follow or could afford to follow for 3 children over the next six years. We knew our first priority was safety and wanted to find a car with good safety ratings. We also wanted reliable, affordable, good gas mileage, insurable and something he would like. My mother offered her 10 year old Toyota Camry with 75,000 miles. It seemed to fit all of our criteria, but our son was not excited about driving Grandma’s car. After talking with several friends we came to the following strategy.
- Budget of $10,000. We figured that $10,000 could get a dependable later model car that would last through college.
- We pay half and our son, Drew would pay half. Drew pays a minimum of $500 down and $150/month, but can pay off faster if he wants. This gives him ownership in the vehicle and teaches him about responsibility of making payments on time. If he misses a payment, he loses the keys.
- Let Drew pick out a car with our veto authority. This ensures that he finds something he likes and is likely to take good care of the vehicle. The Jeep was vetoed.
We would add him to our insurance. We transfer gas money to his checking account monthly to cover travel to school and some afterschool activities. He will be responsible for the cost of any extra gas required. He landed on a Nissan Xterra and has been thrilled with the purchase. The one thing I did not expect that has been a good surprise is his pride in participating in the purchase. Most of his friends may announce that they “Got” a new car. While at another family friends home for dinner Drew announced that “He Bought a new car”. I did not expect the reaction to the subtle difference. “So, you BOUGHT a new car?” I enjoyed listening to Drew share his pleasure in participating in the ownership of his new vehicle and believe he will enjoy and care for his new vehicle.
We never forget buying our first car and all that comes with the new freedoms of driving. It is a milestone that marks your son or daughters progress to independence and it is a great opportunity and privilege to help them think through the options and make good choices.
This week I had the privilege of celebrating my son Drew. Drew is growing up to be a very fine young man and I planned to do something with just him. Drew is a few weeks from his 16th birthday. I am so proud of him and want to recognize his good choices and introduce him to some other men that I look up to and have shared deep friendship for many years. So we travelled to Aspen Colorado for a long weekend. These men are three of the men that have invested a weekend of retreat, reflection and planning for 16 years together.
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry immediately following His baptism by John, God the Father announced from heaven “This is My Son in whom I am well pleased”. God provided His affirmation and blessing on His Son in a public way. So I also was pleased to present my son to these men. I shared with Drew the characteristics of these men that I admired and allow each of these men to speak a word of affirmation and encouragement to Drew. I really had no formal agenda or ceremony, but allowed it to happen naturally over the 3 days we were together.
We stayed with one of my friends with his family and he really went out of his way to roll out the red carpet to maximize our ski time and make us comfortable. What a privilege to invite us into their home and let Drew experience their family and witness another family committed to following the truth of Jesus in their lives and in their community. We could not have picked better days to ski. We knew we had hit it right when all the locals were taking the day off to get the 8” of fresh powder. We had 3 days of great snow, no lines and even got what the locals call a “bluebird day” of clear blue skies. What a blessing! Following our second day of skiing our friends invited us to hike to the top of Buttermilk mountain at sunset and swiss bob down. If there was a right of passage test this was it. We hiked for over an hour straight up to the top. The sunset was beautiful, but the ride down was CRAZY! Sitting on 12 square inches of plastic like a bob sledder flying down the mountain totally out of control and mostly blind from snow. What a blast!
When you try to think of all the things you want to share in a time like this it can be intimidating so we let the conversations happen and the circumstances direct our discussions. I don’t think I could have planned or scripted a richer time together. Some of our discussions flowed from a book that I received in a Christmas gift exchange that I had not idea how well it work for stimulating meaningful ideas. The following are a few highlights from The River by Michael Neale that served as great food for thought and good advice for a young man.
- We are made for so much more than we often realize. Don’t settle for what is familiar or safe. We cannot let our fear of the unknown hold us back. The only true joy and fulfillment in life comes from living out our purpose and destiny in the greater story of life.
- We were not made to walk alone. We were made to journey together.
- When I am weak, I need another to help me go on. When someone else needs help, I need to get out of myself and do what I can to lift the load.
- Connect with things bigger than you. It’s part of what makes life beautiful. If you stay connected only to that which is small enough for you to understand and control then you have nothing. – no adventure, no destiny, and no purpose.
- The pursuit of “things” can get in the way of what life is all about.
- Dare to leave the safety of what you’ve always known for a better place…a place you were destined from the beginning.
- Life is not merely to be survived – it is meant to be lived.
- You are here for a reason. Don’t ever think you’re not vitally important to the mission. Whether you are doing a big job or a very low job do your best.
- Yesterday is gone and you cannot change it. There are no guarantees for tomorrow, so save it. The best stuff is now, so live today and don’t dare waste it.
- True love can and will bring out the very best in us.
- Live with adventure! Love with abandon! And to be Loved!
As John baptized Jesus, God the Father blessed His son and proclaimed His pleasure in sharing Him with the world. So are we Fathers to have the great privilege to introduce our sons and give them our blessing. This is my son in whom I am well pleased.
Some of the best memories of my childhood are the great swings that we made. My dad started this journey by hanging a rope on a huge pine tree that grew on a steep hill across the street. That led to a childhood filled with adventures searching for perfect trees to hang a rope and a series of bigger and better swings that provided many thrills, danger, and great memories. As a parent, I want my kids to have the share in the same experiences. The only difference is a healthy respect for safety and the importance of managing the risk of a big swing.
With small children we started with a small swing over a creek that provided a good thrill and a few wet afternoons falling into the creek. We graduated to bigger swings and have ended up with this great swing on an absolutely gorgeous live oak in the middle of the forest. It is our secret place that is about a quarter-mile hike into the woods. We have spent many hours together hanging out and swinging with friends. If you are up for a little adventure, grab a rope, find a good tree and build some memories that you will share with your family for a lifetime.