My Debut as a Guest Blogger (sorta)

One of my internet friends, Gary Taylor @ GENDADS, generously used a comment of mine in a post discussing one of the hidden dangers of public “leadership.”

Thanks to TIVO, Carolyn and I completed our interaction on true legacy reported in my last post, then went back to the “60 Minuutes” piece on Nelson Mandela.  What an extraordinary man.  The last 15 seconds spoiled the story, though.    The last few words still has me pondering.

Mandela knowingly sacrificed his children and abandoned them to real suffering to save the “millions who suffered as well.”  I know, sadly, leaders in missions and ministry who were on call to save the world and lost their children.

I got this reply from a friend whose blog, “A Pauper in the Court of the King“.  I urge you to slowly read through his short, deep, clear piece.  What he says is far more central to godly family life and legacy.

“Gary, you raise a very good point. The clear answer from scripture (the example of Eli the priest is a case in point) is that if you fail in your family – you fail period. God never calls a man to win the thousands at the expense of his family. Your first ministry is at HOME and if you fail there you are absolutely disqualified from leadership in the church of the Living God (Titus 1:6, 1 Tim 3:4-5)

The first and primary congregation that a man (EVERY man) is called to pastor and serve is the one born in his own home when he and his bride say “I do”.  To ignore, slight, or fail here is to build with wood, hay and stubble which WILL be borne away in the judgment fire (1 Cor 3:10-15).  To “lead” others without shepherding your own family is merely performing for the praise of men.

May God have mercy on me so that I might be found faithful in my home even if it means being derelict everywhere else. – The Pauper”

GT: “Amen!”

James 1:27

Dr. Russell Moore writes:

I will never forget seeing her pull the measuring tape out of her purse as she talked about the skull of her child.

The woman, standing in an airport in Russia with my wife and me, was, like us, an American. She, like us, was in the former Soviet Union to pursue adoption. But she was worried. She had heard “horror stories” about fetal alcohol syndrome and various other nightmares. She said that the measuring tape was for gauging the size of the craniums of her potential children, to “make sure there’s nothing wrong with them.”

The reason I think about this conversation so much these days is because I am finding—more and more often—that one of the primary obstacles for Christians in advocating for the fatherless can be summed up right there in that measuring tape: the issue of fear. As much as we might not want to admit it, many of us don’t think much about orphans because, frankly, we’re scared of them.

As one whose heart breaks for the Fatherless I think about this issue a lot. Probably because I struggle with similar fears. What if they have been abused? What if they perpetuate that abuse cycle and sin against someone in MY home? What if they reject me and all I have done to embrace the heritage and family that abandoned them? What if? What if? What if? The list can go on forever and it can be truly paralyzing. They are real concerns but the true tragedy is our fear of them leads us to reject the clear COMMAND of our Lord (James 1:27).

Do we really think that the orphans of the 1st century were any less traumatized or victimized than children today? Do we really think that the hurts and difficulty, challenges and fears of orphans have changed much? If we do we are naive and do not know history.

God has been clear through the ages that His people are supposed to be different, they are not supposed to look like everyone else. One of the ways we are to be different is that we are to care for, protect and welcome the widow, orphan and the stranger. (James 1:27; Isa 1:17; Job 31:16-18; Ex 22:22; Deut 10:17-19; Deut 24:17; Deut 27:19; Ps 68:5; Jer 7:6, 22:3;  Mal 3:5; et al)

I am looking forward to the day when we can finish jumping through Caesar’s hoops so we can follow the heart of our God and care for the least of these – in spite of the fear and worry. Obedience to His command is worth it.

By the way – you should really read the rest of Dr. Moore’s article.

My how time flies….

Today I received an email from Gary, a fellow foot-soldier in the battle for generational faithfulness, in which he asked me about my Dad and the role he plays in my life as I struggle leave a lasting legacy of faith in my children. As I began to think about my reply I stared at the date on my computer screen and I could not believe what my eyes clearly told me, 13 years to the day have gone by since the Lord called he and my Mom home to their reward. Man, how the time flies!

In some ways it seems like just yesterday and in others it seems lifetimes have flown by the white cross beside the highway where they were ushered into eternity. I often wonder what they would think of their legacy if they could see me now. Would they be proud of the man the Lord is trying to create in me or would they shake their heads at the mess I still am? Would they rejoice in the deliberate choices we are making to invest for eternity in our children or would they think we are full of nonsense like others around us now? There are a million questions without answers when you go down this road but it does not stop the mind from wondering, at least once a year.

As a man interested in generational faithfulness I try to write something meaningful each year on this day to proclaim the excellencies of the God who worked in and through my parents to shape them and thereby shape me. It has been my desire from the moment I heard that they were called to glory to “not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thess 4:13) but rather to give glory to the Sovereign God who ordained before the foundation of the world, the number of my parent’s days and the valley for me that would follow them. Some years I have felt very eloquent, this year – not so much. The reflection time necessary to meditate deeply on the Word of God and what it says about this journey have been scarce. However, I do not want this day to go by without telling of the glorious deeds of the Lord to coming generation (Ps. 78:1-8). So allow me then to reprint my thoughts on this day from 2007:

(Originally printed August 2007 in a letter sent to a team of prayer warriors who, for reasons known only to themselves and God, choose to love and pray for this pauper.)

I pray that this finds you well and enjoying the bliss of the great favor of the Almighty who out of His great providence and beneficence elected to lavish His great love and blessings on you! Think of it for just a moment, the God Most High, King of All, Creator, Sustainer, Yahweh himself, obligated to no one, chose to make Himself known to you and not only known, but to grant to you unfettered access to Himself, His love, His care, His power through the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ! What an amazing truth!

Forgive me if I am waxing theological but I have been in a contemplative mood this week and I felt compelled to share of the greatness of my GOD! If you will indulge me, can I tell you of the wonderful work of God in my life? Some of you have walked with me long enough on this path following the Master to know my story well (and if you tire of hearing of my ranting, please read no further and accept my apologies for troubling you); some of you do not so let me share with you the glory of God! Some folks who have heard my story have looked at me as if I have accomplished something, as if I am somebody and I am compelled to set the record straight.

The historical story of this week in years passed will not easily be forgotten in the recent future for those of this generation, this is the week that Princess Diana died. The world pauses to remember her passing every year because she still captures the imagination of the West. This very anniversary makes this week and the contemplative mood it brings to me inescapable. Before some of you begin to think I have lost my mind and become a tabloid connoisseur, no my thoughts have nothing to do with the late Princess of Wales. My thoughts turn to another anniversary, one that is very personal to me, the home-going of two of the greatest examples of godliness I have had the privilege of watching, my parents. These two events are forever tied together since they happen a day apart, Diana on 08-31-1997 and my parents 08-30-1997.

It is hard to imagine that it has really been ten years since that defining moment in my life. What is ten years really? Is ten years only the 315,532,800 seconds; or the 5,258,880 minutes; or the 87,648 hours; or the 3,652 days which comprise the passage of the clock? In a very concrete sense our lives are bound by the unyielding march of time but must that define our existence?

There was a time in the early part of the decade that has passed where I was not sure I could make it through the passage of time. The pain was incredible, the loneliness crushing, the frustration of powerlessness consuming. I was not sure I would ever be able to contribute again because the smallest thing incapacitated me with grief, the words of my Mom ringing in my ears telling me that my name meant “Valiant Warrior” and all I seemed able to do was cower in the corner pleading with the God on whom I had staked all of my existence for deliverance and help.

Praise the Lord that His character is true, He is eternally faithful, He is completely good, He is perfectly loving and He had begun from eternity past to prepare the way for His work in my life through this dark valley of the soul. He was meeting my need before I knew I had one. From the details of my school experience which allowed me to spend more time with my parents than some of you will spend with your’s in a “normal” life time, to the financial convictions that Jesus had laid on my parents hearts that allowed me the freedom to grieve in a home that was paid for before my parents died. Even the intentionality of the parenting in our home that instilled in my heart from a young age the awareness of the constant presence of God and the rightful utter dependence we have on Him for all things even the material things. Every step was laid out to accomplish the will of our God in my life.

Does this mean that everything that my parents did was correct or good? No. As a matter of fact God used a misdirected attempt to expand my skill for wise living by my Dad in the final weeks of his life to teach me that I could not use my parents as my canon for life, their experience and wisdom had to be measured against Truth found in the Scriptures.

What this does mean is the story that everyone needs to know is the story of a God who is faithful and who has continued to deliver on His promise to “[cause] all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” I would have never chosen to walk this path, but I would not chose to not learn the truths my God burned into my soul about Himself either.

What did I learn from the hand of God in the past ten years? I learned the power of a faithful life when I saw 1500+ people cram into a church and overflow into the parking lot to honor a simple homemaker and a high school educated handyman. Heaven will only know the impact that final testimony of the gospel that my parents loved had in the lives of those who watched it walked out in a simple ordinary couple.

I learned that God sometimes uses a house-cat to be His arms of comfort in the dark of pre-dawn hours. (Why do we sometimes discount the miraculous way God will use every aspect of His creation to accomplish His purpose?)

I learned that I personally need the Body of Christ to operate as God intended. In the years that have passed I have seen the Body in it finest work as Christ’ representative on the earth and I have seen the church in its most broken and corrupted debauchery. God has given me a burning passion for the Truth which molds the Body into the image of Christ because I was carried by the Body when it resembled the Savior and I was wounded by the church when the cancer of sin destroyed the image of Christ within it.

I have learned what the scriptures meant when it says, “Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” (Gen. 24:67)

I have learned that God is in absolute control and He desires to work in an environment where He alone will be glorified. This requires us to be in a place of utter dependence which, while completely contrary to our flesh, is the place where God is nearest. God placed me in a position where He alone could carry me, He alone could provide for me, and He alone could raise me up for I was powerless. In that place of such broken impoverished spirit He began to teach me about Himself in a way that was unprecedented in my life.

I have learned what it means to be led by the Spirit in even the mundane things in my life. As I struggled under the mantle of manhood that was hastily thrown on my shoulders as my earthly Father went home, I was forced to seek the face of God as never before and I have had the joy of watching Him lead me!

What then is the point of this very long letter? First, the point is that I am thankful for the journey Jesus has carried me on for the last ten years. I am thankful for the wonderful heritage my parents gave me. I am thankful for the great privilege and responsibility of having godly parents, I have been richly blessed! I am thankful for the anchor of knowing God’s character that can only be forged in the fires of great pain. I am thankful for all of you! You have been tools in the hands of a loving God to shape and mold me.

Secondly, I wanted to give testimony of the greatness of God during times of great pain because some of you may be in the dark night of the soul right in this moment. The King of the Universe is not slack in His promises and He is working. It has taken 10 years and gallons of tears for me to see the joy and gratitude that will come from traversing the valley if we only cling to Him who loved us more than His own life, Jesus! Do not confuse love manifested with the absence of pain. Many times in life the most loving path is one of great pain. Love is manifested in that not only has Jesus Himself promised that He is with His children always but that He is also the sympathetic High Priest who lived here and experienced life’s incredible pain as a man which allows Him to intercede before God the Father for you as one having experiential knowledge.

Finally and most importantly, it is my greatest desire that God be glorified! He alone is the reason for any good thing in my life. He has sustained this servant and has more than sustained, He has richly blessed me. I am incapable in myself of producing some of the incredible evidences of His presence that I have seen come out of this journey. He alone is wise and good. I am nothing, He is of infinite value. I am powerless, He is Omnipotent.

There is so much more I could say about the glory of God in His work in my life but this letter is long enough. If you want to hear more, give me a call, we can take a walk in the park and I will tell of the greatness of God while we walk on the way. I am not sure why I felt compelled to write this but I could not rest until it was finished. I pray that God will show Himself to you today and I pray He uses His story in my life to His glory even in your life.

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

I love and miss you Mom and Dad!

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle….

Amy over at Raising Arrows makes a very good point:

In this day and age children are a hobby. They are part of a bucket list…something to do before we die.

Get a high paying job – CHECK
Visit another country – CHECK
Have a baby – CHECK

Eventually, they are relegated to the status of “pet”, we put them in “quality kennels”, pat ourselves on the back for making such sound decisions, and head off to pursue the next thing on the list.

(Read the rest of this great post HERE)

The Case for Siblings

Given the current events at the Pauper’s Hovel (bed-rest and pre-term labor hospitalization at 21 weeks and then some more indefinite bed-rest) the article below was a great reminder of why we believe what we believe and why then we welcome that theology to impact our lives.  In the last few weeks we have heard some of the strangest thoughts voiced in regards to the current difficult pregnancy, many stemming from the same mentality that Simcha has experienced:

“But everyone else seems to think that a new baby is bad for the other kids. Dozens of times, I’ve had strangers peer around my enormous belly to coo at the toddler, “Aww … now you won’t get to be the baby anymore.”

Thanks, lady. Thanks for informing my child that she’s suffering. Luckily, she doesn’t know what you’re talking about—and neither do you.”

You see a man-centered, materialistic (meant in the basic sense of tied to the material world as opposed to the spiritual one but the common usage relating to the pursuit of material wealth fits too) worldview does understand why anyone would want to go through the madness of a large family! One of my favorite quotes from the article gives a great reason:

“Because one day, I won’t be here, and the kids will only have each other. They are getting used to caring for each other, and care engenders love.”

– Click Here to read the whole article

Thanks to Kelly for bringing this article to my attention. It resonated with me as well!

Tears of a 4 year old

The Baby Conference – Day 2

July 9th, 2010
San Antonio, TX

Tonight we watched many things for which happiness flowed. We watched Michelle Duggar receive the “Mother of the Year” award and heard her testify of the grace of God in their lives. We watched John Moore preview his next film which like his life will give great glory to the God he serves. We watched as the audience used feedback devices to share a bit about themselves and the work God is doing among the conference attendees. Each of these moments came with deep emotion and more than a few moist eyes.

However, the hardest part for this dad came when the  evening was drawing to a close and Doug Phillips began to give a report on Vision Forum’s mission to Rescue Haiti’s Children. As the footage rolled of the story of the 1,000,000+ orphans in this tiny nation the tears began rolling down the face of my tender-hearted 4 year old. My heart broke while I watched and prayed as her little mind began to try and process such horrors that even adult minds are left reeling. Her little heart broke with a godly sorrow and compassion that wants nothing more than Jesus to give each of these children homes with godly mothers and fathers. What is a father to do in such a moment? I held her tight and began to speak the truth to her, that God was not surprised by this horror and that he deeply loves each of these children, that God has not abandoned them and the same God that gives her confidence to sleep in safety (Ps 4:8) will do the same for them. I also reminded her that we have been praying for these children and supporting the efforts to care for them from the beginning. I also reminded her that we have been praying for the opportunity to adopt one of these precious ones. I shared with her that our tears and our “thinking” of them is useless but our praying is not.

A 4 year old does not understand the intricacies of international adoption law. She cannot fathom the all out war the UN, UNICEF, and Hollywood are waging against Christian adoption. All she knows is that she wants Rood and the other boys and girls to have homes where Christ is taught and they are loved. She could not sleep until she was confident that God was working for these children and that our family is committed to being part of the solution.

Oh that we could be more like The Little Pauper, that we could be so moved with compassion that we could not sleep until we are sure of God’s answer and help.

The Baby Conference – Day 1

We have come to pick a fight

July 8th, 2010
San Antonio, TX

Tonight 1500 people met together to declare war on our culture. As Doug Phillips declared in his mince-no-words fashion, “[We] have come to pick a fight.” The culture that surrounds us has become one that without even realizing it or thinking about it, has embraced a culture of death instead of life. We prioritize convenience, temporary financial security, leisure, “freedom”, and ease over responsibility, obedience to God and his Word, and life.

You see, tonight as many women go to bed they will take a benign looking little pill the goal of which is to prevent pregnancy. Many of these women are unaware that one of the mechanisms by which this is accomplished is not by preventing conception but rather by making the reproductive tract inhospitable to the child which is already conceived. This pill in fact causes an abortion (even the AMA admits that there is no such thing as a non-abortifacient form of oral contraceptive, see here. Or here for non-AMA argument ). The human baby is already conceived and is therefore ensouled but is then by human action caused to die by making the very womb meant to nurture it, comfort it, protect it, by making this same womb toxic to its life, a life already created by a sovereign God who willed this child into existence by his own divine decree.

These mothers, many of who profess to by pro-life, will decide by taking that pill to reject the blessing of God that the bible declares children to be (Ps 127:3) and will instead take active steps that will kill their own children in their wombs by taking this little pill, many without even knowing it. They do this for many reasons, some will claim financial reasons, some will claim they are trying to “be wise”, others will be honest enough to specifically say that it is for convenience. Whatever the reason, they have, knowingly or unknowingly, chosen death of their children over life and trust in God.

I have already offended many of you by even typing these paragraphs because the culture of death has so permeated our world. It is offensive to you that someone would even suggest that you should not “control” your reproduction. But stop for a moment and ask yourself, what if God really does have something to say about this issue? What if the Bible does address how many children you should have? What if our culture is wrong? What if obedience to God requires an entirely different worldview and value structure? Are you willing to examine your prejudices? Are you willing to lay your worldview on the table and admit your sin if the Word of God points it out? Are you brave enough to seek the face of the God of the universe with a heart to obey what his Word commands? If so then hang in here with me for the challenge of a lifetime, hang in with me for a battle that has been raging for 6000 years and which will rage until Jesus returns, hang in with me for a painful, challenging journey of obedience!

(Look for upcoming posts on the Theology of Birth Control after this series on The Baby Conference concludes ……)

Faith and Freedom Tour – Day 3

Today I Walked among Giants

July 7th, 2010
Fredericksburg, TX

Today I walked among giants as we walked the streets of Fredericksburg, TX.  No there are not nephilim roaming the streets, I walked with men who are giants of the faith. I spent time following Doug Phillips, Scott Brown and Lt. Bill Brown around listening to them tell the stories of the true history of our nation. I watched them with their families. I heard them cast the vision given them by the Lord and watched the passion such calling brings. Their vision and excitement is contagious.

It also made me feel very small. Feeling small is not necessarily a bad thing, we all need humility. I am reminded of how far I have to go, just how little I measure up to the biblical standard of manhood. I am reminded how measly my own vision for my family is and how poor my leadership is. I am rightfully known as The Pauper for I am a mere beggar among such godly men as these. It is not that I believe that they somehow do not put their pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us or that I think they are perfect for they are not. They are merely the type of men who inspire the rest of us to excel still more. They are the type of men who I wish I  could spend time with regularly to hope that some of their wisdom, vision and passion could somehow rub off. They are the type of men a godly man would want as mentors. They make me long for that discipleship in my own life, they make me long for the company of real men, men unafraid of challenge, men ready to defend what God has given them to guard.

Since God has seen fit to move  me away from the men who have done that in the past for my life, I am glad for 3 days to follow such men at a distance and learn. However, it makes my desire for such companionship of arms that much stronger and deeper. It casts my lack in  sharp relief. So what is one to do? I am that much more committed to encouraging the men God has put in my circle. I want to inspire them to be the type of godly man the Word encourages, men of action not words, men of fearless mettle, men who will defend the innocent with their last breath, men who will fight to the end for their families, who will die fighting the good fight. I aspire to this not because  I have arrived but because, I have not and I need those type of examples in my own life.

Lord, make me a better man. Make me faithful to the end and give me a vision for your kingdom that will outlive me and my grandchildren. May your name be great in all the earth and may we be known as your faithful servants.