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.

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.

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.

Acquit Thee like men!

Texas Faith and Freedom Tour – Day 1 cont.

7-5-10
San Antonio, TX

Today we walked holy ground. I don’t mean spiritually holy ground  but holy in the sense of consecrated ground, ground set aside by the blood of the men who died there. We walked the grounds of the Alamo today. As an unwilling hostage in the state of Texas I often think that Texans have an inflated view of themselves and their state. This sense has certainly filtered my thoughts of the Alamo through the years. However, today I began to understand why the Alamo should matter to every christian father in the US and maybe the world. You see this little band of 180+ Texicans stood against tyranny in the face of overwhelming odds and they did so like men!

These brave men, knowingly or not were firmly in the middle of a battle of worldviews. On one side the Spanish heritage and worldview of the divine right of kings, Catholicism, imperialism driven by greed, and hunger for power was represented by Santa Anna who had set himself up as dictator and had as his aim the subjugating by force everyone within his reach. On the other the heritage of freedom born of the Protestant Reformation, incubated in Calvin’s Geneva, birthed and given legs in the Puritans of the American colonies and carried out through the vision of settling families to create a nation which would become a city on a hill to light the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ represented by the Texas colonists. There was no mistaking the prize in this battle, it was the fate of freedom that was being decided at this little Spanish mission. Both sides recognized it and neither was willing to cede their position.

It is these high stakes that make this significant to us today because when Santa Anna raised the red flag over his headquarters, he was declaring he would give no quarter. It is this declaration that makes these Texans important, they could have tried to run or sue for peace in the face of overwhelming odds but instead they did not hesitate but returned this ultimatum with a cannon volley declaring that they would rather die like men then shrink from their duty. Today we have lost most of the ideals of manliness and do not understand what it means to fight and die like men but those men did not. They clearly understood what Col. Travis was saying when he drew the line in the sand and asked who was willing to die with him. Every man who stepped across that line would die within the walls of that mission and they knew it but they crossed the line anyway. What is even more significant is that many of these men were not merely adventurers but family men who many would say had so much for which to live. Yet they saw it as they had so very much for which to die. And to the last man, they acquitted themselves as men fighting so long as they had strength, each one meeting his maker on that fateful day but each one meeting him as one dying like a man.

What is the lesson for us? What is your line in the sand? What is so important to you that you would go down fighting to the last man? What is so important in your life that you are willing to suffer deprivation, ostracision, persecution, and even prison or death to follow your convictions? May we as fathers be the protectors we are called to be and may we acquit ourselves as men fighting even to the death if neccessary in defense of our families, country and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A Quote I Just Can’t Shake

“Flip pointed to a friend of his in the audience who has 16 children. He told of how this family went to stand in the gap for Terry Schiavo when she was being killed. The father was arrested in front of his children as their eyes filled with tears and fear.

‘Watch, children’, he said. ‘We are in a battle for life and truth. It’s a battle you will be called to fight too. And if I die in the battle, you trample over my dead carcass and continue to storm the gates of hell‘.” (Emphasis mine)

– Kelly at http://generationcedar.com quoting a message by Flip Benham from The Baby Conference

Family Vision

Moses Austin

Day 1 Texas Faith and Freedom Tour

Father of Vision

07-05-10
San Antonio, TX

Today as we embarked on this 3 day odyssey we began the day at the monument to Moses Austin. Here the historians leading our tour began to unpack the heritage and vision of this man and how he fit into the larger picture of providential history. Here was a man who had such a vision for his family that when he led his family to move from the east coast to Missouri he wrote a 37 page letter to his not yet 4 year old son, Stephen F. Austin, to explain the reasons why they moved so that when he was old enough to read it he would see and embrace his father’s vision. Then when Stephen was 11 Moses would again be writing his son to help him become a man and stressed that this was important because he never knew when death might come to Moses and Stephen would then be the family patriarch so he needed to be ready should that occur. Little did Stephen know that a mere 11 years later he would be called to leave his comfortable study of Law in New Orleans to do just that, fulfill his father’s vision to settle Texas. So equipped was this young man at 22 that he was named the Empressario of the new settlement effort and acquitted himself with distinction.

What a challenge to me as a father. Will my children be able to take up the family vision of victory if I am called home to heaven? What am I doing today to prepare them to lead our family after I am dead and gone? What markers am I leaving that point them to our mission for the Kingdom of Christ?

Father’s Day – Part 2

I posted this a couple of months ago after a conversation with my Papa and I can think of nothing more appropriate than to repost it today:

“I love you with all my heart” – simple words but they come with a lifetime of impact. I am not sure I can describe what hearing these words from my Grandfather means to me. He is the Patriarch of our family. A man who has, as best he knew how, led us as he has followed Jesus. A deep thinker with wisdom won from a less than perfect life lived in the constant awareness of the presence of Almighty God who was working even the terrible things in his life for his good and God’s glory. A man who at close to 50 uprooted his household to follow the leading of God into a 15 year ministry in one of the hardest areas of the country. Only to be abused, beat up, maligned, and slandered by those he was called to serve. All the while he loved them, served them, wept for them, prayed for them and guarded their souls. He is a man who has modeled to us Christ-like love and sacrificial servant leadership for his bride for over 50 years. He has been a father to the fatherless in our family. He has passionately loved and rejoiced in each child with which the Lord God has blessed our family. Some of my earliest memories are of Papa lifting high in the air each of the Grandchildren, smile on his face and his deep rumbling laughter rolling out of his big heart. From the “secret” good-bye rituals he taught each of us grandchildren to his attentive ear he was quick to give each of us, he has spent his life communicating to us we mattered, we were special to him and he loved us. Even when each of us have been our sinful-selves, he has loved us and prayed for us. He is a 3 John 4 kind of man.

3 John 4

4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Lord, may I be a cause for Papa’s joy and not sorrow. Please allow me to maximize the impact of the godly heritage he is leaving us daily. May you give me wisdom not to squander the opportunities to learn from and be around him. Thank you for allowing me to be loved by such a godly man. In the might name of Jesus who is the Christ, Amen. 

Happy Father’s Day!