Christianity

Jumanji and My Daughters: A father’s take on daughters dating

jumanji-beachFrom the moment my daughter was born, there was a drum beat somewhere in the background. When she was young, it was barely perceptible, but as she has gotten closer to dating age, the drums have grown louder.  The same, infernal beat: boys… boys… boys….  It was a source of stress and trouble I have tried in vain to forestall as long as possible.  Then, this year, along came The Boy.  As boys go, The Boy is a good’un.  He is polite, respectful, devout, comes from a good family, is smart, funny, athletic, and the ladies of the house tell me he is good-looking.  If I had to pick one, I’d pick The Boy.  That doesn’t mean I’d pick one.  If it were up to me, this story would sound a lot like Rapunzel.  But this story is not Rapunzel; it’s Jumanji.

Why Jumanji? Because once this game starts, there’s no way to stop it. It ain’t over until someone puts a ring on a finger and says the magic words… “I do.”  And now, the die has been cast and the game has begun. Except it’s not a game.  There are life-altering consequences for every step and misstep. As an attorney in the criminal justice system, I won’t let my mind delve into the true worst case scenarios, but let’s just say underage premarital sex and unwed pregnancy are up there.  The journey my daughter has begun with The Boy has started us down a long road full of pitfalls and unexpected turns.  I was not ready to begin this journey just yet, but here we are.  Can’t stop Jumanji until it’s over.

narrowpathMy biggest source of fear for my beautiful and intelligent daughter and The Boy comes from the knowledge of how long a path they’re on, and how tempting it is to race further down it.  My fears only increase when I consider the many well-intentioned young people I know who came from good families and had strong Christian upbringings and knew and professed the right things but who ultimately succumbed to temptation.  I will be gently and not so gently impressing upon them that their continued ability to stay on the path together depends on staying right where they are on this path, and NO FURTHER.  They will have oversight, guidance, chaperoning and we will help them to see each other and develop their friendship, but if I get the slightest whiff of an attempt to avoid oversight, to have private and clandestine interaction, that will be it for a while.  Lose a Turn.  We will protect you from yourselves whether you like it or not. We are the guardrails until you can develop your own.

And you must.  The idea is that, although you may be able to resist temptation, it is better to avoid it altogether. You know how not to fall off a cliff? Don’t go near the edge.  Don’t put yourself in situations where your only defense to temptation is your own self-control.  Set up guardrails.  (More below).

JumanjiiJungleGunIn the end, I wish nothing but happiness and good times for my daughter and The Boy. I just hope no one has to get shot.

P.S.  Newhope Church‘s Pastor Benji Kelley had a great series on establishing guardrails as a defense to sin. You might want to check it out. Guardrails: Flee!

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Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness. If it takes my dog being there [in Heaven], I believe he’ll be there.

Rev. Billy Graham

I often marvel at the wonder of God’s creation, from the crashing sea to snow-capped mountains and the beauty and artistry of everything in between. Today, I must reflect on my dog, Copper, whose long life on this earth came to a close today just shy of 16 years.  The dog is well-named as man’s best friend, as there is no greater example of the kind of friend we are each called to be.  What other creature is so loyal and selfless and joyful?  Like many others, I arrive at the question:  Do dogs go to heaven? Continue reading

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Who Am I?

From my pastor Benji Kelley’s blog:

Not sure who you really are? Read this list of Biblical truths that reveal who God made you to be. Be blessed this day and live into who God says you are already are in Christ! 

I am complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10)

I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).

I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me (Isaiah 54:14).

I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).

I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).

I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).

I have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

I have received the gift of righteousness and reign as a king in life by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).

I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my understanding being enlightened (Ephesians 1:17-18).

I have received the power of the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, to cast out demons, to speak with new tongues.  I have power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm me (Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:17-19).

I have put off the old man and have put on the new man, which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me (Colossians 3:9-10).

I have given, and it is given to me; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men give into my bosom (Luke 6:38).

I have no lack for my God supplies all of my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

I can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one with my shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16).

I can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13).

I show forth the praises of God Who has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

I am God’s child for I am born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23).

I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).

I am a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I am a spirit being alive to God (Romans 6:11;1 Thessalonians 5:23).

I am a believer, and the light of the Gospel shines in my mind (2 Corinthians 4:4).

I am a doer of the Word and blessed in my actions (James 1:22,25).

I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).

I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37).

I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11).

I am a partaker of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).

I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).

I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I am the temple of the Holy Spirit; I am not my own (1 Corinthians 6:19).

I am the head and not the tail; I am above only and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13).

I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

I am His elect, full of mercy, kindness, humility, and longsuffering (Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12).

I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).

I am delivered from the power of darkness and translated into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Galatians 3:13).

I am firmly rooted, built up, established in my faith and overflowing with gratitude (Colossians 2:7).

I am called of God to be the voice of His praise (Psalm 66:8; 2 Timothy 1:9).

I am healed by the stripes of Jesus (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24).

I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12).

I am greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).

I am strengthened with all might according to His glorious power (Colossians 1:11).

I am submitted to God, and the devil flees from me because I resist him in the Name of Jesus (James 4:7).

I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward (Philippians 3:14).

For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

I love this song on who we are to God:

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Practical Tips for Praying at Work

Practical Tips for Praying at Work.

Emily Page Thirty-One direct sales work from home wahm sahm income employment business jesus husband christian father prayer

Prayer at work… not like this. Tempting, though.

From the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and Urbanfaith.com:

 

What does it look like to “pray without ceasing?” How might a prayerful heart oriented towards God express itself at work? I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Mark Herringshaw, teaching pastor at North Heights Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Nicole Symmonds, managing editor at UrbanFaith.com, recently created a helpful list of “21 Ways to Pray at Work.” They write, “Many of us will spend the majority of our waking hours behind a desk, having only one prayer – the one that we prayed in the morning – to keep us throughout the day.” Here are some of their tips. View them as suggestions for what “pray without ceasing” might mean – not as a list of rules which you have to follow.

1. Pray on your way into work in the morning: Glance at the sign or logo of your organization. Thank God for his provision to you and your family. Ask God to bless all the individuals who are a part of this enterprise.

2. Pray while working on your office phone and contact list: Pray the ancient Hebrew blessing for your contacts: “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance on you and grant you his peace.”

3. Pray while you’re in a meeting: Pray to focus on the message that is being delivered, that you will ask the necessary and appropriate questions and make sensible comments.

4. Pray when you hear of firings and layoffs: Pray to not be taken by the spirit of fear or anxiety, but of calmness and peace. If you hear of colleagues getting fired or laid off, pray for their peace and provision.

5. Pray when you have to work late or travel: Pray that God would protect your family in your absence and give them patience and understanding to adjust to your business and travel schedule. But also pray that he give you the courage to erect the proper boundaries so that you may not become more consumed with your work than you are with your family life.

…This list is also not meant to be a checklist, something we have to do out of obligation. It’s important that our prayer be Spirit-led. True prayer is “in the Spirit.” There is a difference between forced or rote prayer and spontaneous prayer led by the Spirit. Ephesians 6:18 says, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” Our places of employment are the areas of responsibility God has called us to cultivate. We can walk and converse with God through our offices and construction sites and classrooms the way Adam walked with God through the Garden of Eden, in a spirit of total dependence on him to equip us with what we need to carry out our responsibilities.

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Don’t be afraid.

Jesus says the greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.  I may have a pretty good idea what #3 is*:

Continue reading

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Grace for the Non-Prodigal

I’m pretty good.

I don’t say that as a brag. In a weird way, I mean that to point out something I lack:  true gratitude for the grace and forgiveness I’ve received through Christ. I’d bet your experience is much like mine.  Many of the most passionate Christians I know are those who were some of the worst sinners before they knew Jesus.  The gratitude they have for the forgiveness they’ve received, and the work that Christ has done to bring them from where they used to be is powerful.  I don’t have that.

Continue reading

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No Ifs

Different churches have different forms of wedding ceremony.  In some, the groom repeats lines like these:

I take you to be my wife;
and I promise,
before God and these witnesses,
to be your loving and faithful husband;
in plenty and in want;
in joy and in sorrow;
in sickness and in health;
as long as we both shall live.

In others, the pastor asks a series of questions and the groom answers, “I will.”

Will you have this woman to be your wife, to live together in holy matrimony?
Will you love her, comfort her, honor her, and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?

Some weddings have the participants write their own vows.

Regardless of the precise wording there is one noticeable absence.  No “if”s.  Continue reading

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What to give up for Lent

tubthumpingWe are in the midst of the Lenten season between Ash Wednesday and Easter.  Coming from a Protestant tradition, that hasn’t meant much to me over the years.  Even if it did, I don’t get drunk, I don’t smoke, I’ve been on a diet since March 2013, so I didn’t have anything to give up for Lent anyway. Or so I thought.  Continue reading

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Inconceivable

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard or read these two passages of scripture as uplifting and encouraging:

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:13 NLT

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

In countless places, these verses are cited as a way to tell Christians that they can “do anything with Jesus’ help” or that “God has good things planned (soon)” for us.  While I firmly believe that God loves us, wants good things for us, and gives us strength, when we look at these verses out of context it leads to all-too-human perspective rather than thinking in terms of God’s eternal plan.  It makes me want to go all Inigo Montoya… Continue reading

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Keep Moving Forward (aka Get up, ya bum!)

I’ve been down a lot lately.

This is not a sympathy bid, because it is frankly embarrassing to me that I can’t seem to shake the urge to mope about some of my circumstances.  I should be able to find hope in Him.  I spend hours in scripture looking for that verse that will help.  I spend time in prayer, though not as much as I should.  I know, intellectually, that I should have joy, hope and peace, holding tight to the promises of God.  I know that.  I do.

I struggle anyway.

More often than not, my inspiration is a little more tangible, a little closer to home.

Her.

This is what inspiration looks like to me: Continue reading

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