I am ruined

Well it is official, all of this Bible study and Jesus stuff has ruined me. Tonight I did something I have not done in a very long time but something that holds fond memories for me – I watched a John Wayne movie. You see I loved watching John Wayne movies with my Dad growing up and so tonight I thought I would watch one I had recorded. So after the Dear Wife had gone to bed and the Little Pauper was asleep I settled on the couch for a bit of fun and nostalgia with The Duke in “The Wings of Eagles”.

As the opening credits began to roll for this John Ford film, I was really looking forward to seeing this film about Frank “Spig” Wead for the first time. The opening scenes set up a typical Wayne military movie with side splitting hijinks  and the usual fisticuffs. Oh, what memories and the fun. The only problem is that as the film portrayed this very real man and his trials and successes, all I could see was the sub-plot of his failings as a family man. You see while “Spig” was making a career in the Navy it was at the expense of his family. Then when he realizes what a dolt he has been and is trying to put his family back together he has an accident and is rendered a quadriplegic. After a surgery to save his life and hopefully help him walk again, when he would most need his family, “Spig” does the “heroic” and I guess “expected” (for the era) thing and tells his wife to go make a life without him since he will “never” be any good to her now. She foolishly listens to him and leaves. The story then goes on to show how “Spig” eventually walks with 2 canes and leg braces, goes on to be a successful screen and playwright. All the while his DAUGHTERS grow up without him and while he saves his money for them, it is not until he is old and they are in college that he attempts to re-connect with them. Then just when he and his wife are about to once again try to put their marriage back together again WWII breaks out and his mistress the Navy calls him like a Siren away from his family and into active duty once again. The only thing that stops his march into the Naval War in the Pacific is a heart attack. The movie ends with all of his Navy buddies saluting him as he rides a ship to ship transfer seat headed home.

Now John Ford meant this movie to be a tribute to his friend who no doubt made a lasting and significant contribution to the Navy and the War effort. The problem for me is I can’t get lost in the fantasy painted by those without Christ anymore. The father’s heart that beats in my chest watched this movie and broke for a man and a family I have never met. I am not sure how much of the movie is “real” and how much is “dramatic license” but for me it did not matter. You see as one who YHWH has begun to teach about the importance of fathers and who has turned my heart to the hearts of my children (Mal. 4:6) all I could see was the mess left by an absent, albeit ambitious, father.  I could not see the achievements, all I saw was the sad story of a man who had gained the adulation of the world (even played a part in saving it from the Axis Powers) but had traded the souls of his wife and daughters to get it.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Ephesians 5:25, ESV)

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4, ESV)

“For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25, ESV)

See I told you am ruined. As one for whom Jesus is turning on the lights of his wisdom through his Word, my flesh might want to return to bliss of the dark where movies are just harmless entertainments but I can’t. Even if the lights went back out, the brightness of His truth would be so burned in my retinas that the illusion of the dark would still reveal its horrible ugliness.     ………. Sure makes you want to come and watch a movie at my house doesn’t it?

What Legacy will You Leave Today?

Today you have the chance to impact your children’s future for many years to come with a mere 15 minutes of your time. The question is will you invest the time to take your children with you to exercise your right and responsibility to vote or not?

Today you have the opportunity to disciple you family as they walk along the road with you (Deut 6:1-9). What better opportunity to implant your values into their heart will you have?

So take your family, get out there and vote!

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.

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 ……)

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?