RSS

Tag Archives: right with God

The Prodigal Toddler and the Sad Daddy

Usually on Friday, I like to share stories about lessons I learned from my son.  I did not get a good chance to do this yesterday, but I today I am going to share a story FROM yesterday.

In earlier posts I have talked about getting to spend the summer with my son, NB (see the post, The Monitor and the Incredible Yelling Boy for the daddy-son summer and NB initials explanation).  Over the last two weeks the dynamic has been different.  Last week my wife’s mom was here.  She left on Sunday morning, and that afternoon he was passed off to my parents.  He was with them in the lower part of the state until last night.  His attention for the last couple of days has come from sources outside of Mommy and Daddy.  Okay, there are two better words for it.  He has been SPOILED ROTTEN.

It is probably needless to say that when he is gone for a week, LA and I really start to miss him and can’t wait for him to come back.  I start looking forward to the reunion about halfway into the week.  A part of my longing for being reunited is how he acts.  He is always so happy to see us.  And, because of the daddy-son bonding time over the summer, he usually runs to me first and then wants to be by my side most of the evening.  I love this!  What father wouldn’t?  This is a special time for me, even more so after this summer because he and I had so much fun and our bond is much deeper now.

Last night, the plan was to meet at Texas Roadhouse.  My parents drove up here and went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house, and then we all met there to eat and celebrate LA’s birthday.  I could not wait to get there and get the running-and-jumping-into-my-arms son treatment.  I was excited.  I picked LA up from work and we headed over there.

We went in, with me full of expectations.  We find my family waiting for a table.  I look for NB.  My parents say, “Look who it is!” to him.  He was hanging out with my brother.  He looks at us, gets down from his lap, walks over, and says, “Hi.”  Then he started to walk away.

There went to the wind from my daddy sails!

We both called him back and he gave LA a hug.  I picked him up and held him.  After about a minute he says, “I get down please?”

“NB, we haven’t seen each other in a week!”

“I want Uncle Tommm (he really holds out that M).”

I let him down.  Completely deflated now.

After two weeks of more than adequate spoiling from grandparents, I guess Mommy and Daddy weren’t that big of deal anymore.

It did get better throughout dinner.  Towards the end, he wanted to come sit between LA and I.  Once he did he kept wanting to put his arm around me and then he wanted LA to hold him (which was difficult in a booth and her being pregnant).  His wanting to be a part of Mommy and Daddy’s life returned…though he did cry when we left when he figured out that Grandma and Grampa were not coming with us and he was not going with them.

Needless to say, I was let down by the situation in the beginning.  His love for me and wanting to be near me is awesome.  I look forward to that when he was away.  It wasn’t fun to see that I wasn’t his “all” anymore.  I know that will come and go.  My feelings weren’t hurt, I was just let down from my expectations.

This whole thing, as most things do, brings me back to my relationship with God and reminds me of the story of the Prodigal Sons.  Yes, I know I pluralized it.  I have a new understanding of the parable, thanks to my church and a sermon I was asked to listen to by Timothy (Tim) Keller.  It is called, you guessed it, The Prodigal Sons.  I am going to BRIEFLY summarize it, but I highly recommend listening to the sermon.  He also has a book on it, which I haven’t read but have heard awesome things about, call The Prodigal God.

I almost wrote out the whole set of verses for the parable in Luke, but then I looked down at the word count.  Here is a link if you want to read it for yourself (which I always advise doing): Luke 15:11-32.

Basically, the story goes that there are two sons.  One decides he doesn’t want to live with the family and work the land.  He cashes in his inheritance and goes off and lives “wildly”…basically parties and “hangs out” with prostitutes.  The other brother stays home and works the land which will all be his one day, since the other brother is “out”.  Eventually, the younger bro runs out of cash and options.  He decides that working at home is not so bad and that he would try to go back and enlist as a servant.  He does.  Before he can get there, Daddy sees him, runs to him, clothes him, and throws a party…remember, all of this is now at the expense of the older brother’s future inheritance–whatever Dad spends now are things that he won’t get later.  While the party is going on, the father then goes out to meet the older son (who, like the younger was not at home at the time, but it was because he was out working and being the “good son”.  Daddy asks him why he doesn’t want to come in and enjoy the feast for his brother’s return.  All that “good boy” can do is complain that it isn’t fair.  He is doing all the right things and he doesn’t get a feast.  And then comes my favorite part.  I am going to quote this part.

“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

The older brother missed the point.  It was about enjoying the father’s company.  That is what was important.  A part of enjoying the father is celebrating and rejoicing in what makes him happy.  Both sons were lost.  The father sought them both out.  Only one came back to enjoy the father.

I lived the life of the older son.  It was to the point that I was not a Christian for most of my life, and I did not even know it.  God has done A LOT to cause many, many changes in my life and relationship to him, especially this year.  I am not going to get into my story now, but if you have not read My Time Travel Testimony, please do.  I love to share how Christ has changed my life.  In that post I tell my story about being the older brother and how God helped me learn how to “join the party” and to “enjoy the Father.”

Back to NB.  How beautiful it is for me when my son just wants to enjoy time with me.  I love it.  As a father, I need that.  Parenting is not easy.  “Raising up a child in the way he should go” drains all the life and energy you have.  But it is for a purpose.  I want NB to learn to enjoy his True Father one day.  I want him to go into the “party” and not let the world or his own goodness hold him back.

God has a secondary purpose for parenting, to point us to him.  To reveal his longing for us to enjoy him.  Everything here is a picture to point us to him.  Even if you are not a parent, think about your relationship to your parents.  What can that teach you about your relationship to God?

What do you think about this?  Are you a younger brother or an older brother?  What is holding you back from joining the party and enjoying the Father?  Can you relate to what this means?  Please leave comments.  If you have any questions about what I mean by enjoying God the Father or if that is a foreign idea to you, please comment with your email.  I won’t share the comment on here (I have to approve them all), but I will contact you.

If you haven’t, please think about becoming an email subscriber.  It is free, and you will get instant updates sent to your inbox.

Performancing Metrics

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Debt-Limits, Deficits, and the Paul Plan

http://media.syracuse.com/news/photo/9827123-large.jpg&w=275&h=253&ei=jw4wTsiAL8ragQfB6r3mCg&zoom=1

Before you skip this blog because you think it is going to be about politics, please consider reading.  Politics is not the point.  God gave me a pretty cool spiritual insight based on all of the debate going on in our government.  Please read on to the end…there is a point!

For those of you who may live under a rock, let me rehash the current dilemma in the Ole USA.  The government is currently running at a sizable deficit (fancy talk for more money being spent than is being brought in).  Though, most families in our country are living in a deficit, spending slightly more than we are making (i.e. credit card and loan payments being a reality), our country is spending a lot more than it is making.  Which brings us to the predicament that is eating up most of the “news hour” on any given station.

With a lot more money going out than coming in, just as I mentioned is the case for most American families, Uncle Sam (the US Government) has run up a large debt (in the sum of trillions of dollars) through borrowing money (like the aforementioned loans most families have to pay on).  The only problem is that our loan payments are compounding the “money going out” issue.  Roughly 40 cents of every dollar that goes to our government is sent back out as interest on the loans it has taken out, and that doesn’t count any money to pay off the debt or payments to other government programs and obligations.  To be able to pay all we need to pay, the government has to take out more loans and run up a bigger debt (which, yes you guessed it causes bigger payments to be paid and more interest owed).

At some point in US history (I am not sure when), Congress decided to put a “cap” on how much debt our country can have.  It takes an act of Congress to raise this “cap”.  This is the “debt limit” you keep hearing about.  The current debate is whether or not to raise this limit, how to increase revenues (money coming in), and how to cut spending (and everything that comes along with this).  The republicans want to increase the limit by the smallest possible increment, not raise any taxes, and drastically cut spending.  The democrats want to increase the limit as much as possible, raise taxes for revenues, and only cut spending on what can be done without affecting many people who rely on government programs.  I am not going to chime in on my thoughts on this, this is not my reason for writing today.

God used this whole government issue, along with something from the Bible, to speak to me in a pretty profound way this morning.  Okay, get your Bibles ready: Romans 3:9-19 and Romans 6 (yes, the whole chapter).

Here is the thing.  We are all up to our eyeballs in debt to God.  Sin (falling short of who God is and what he expects…or as Watchman Nee said it is the act of leaving God’s path) puts us at odds with God.  Sin makes us have to pay a price to be made right with him…the price to pay is our “debt”.  Every sin deepens the hole we have to dig out of.  Every time we “fall short” of who God is, we are even more indebted to him.

A lot of people think, “Alright, then I will just live right and do the right things from now on.”  This is a GREAT endevour…but it does nothing to make any of our “debt payments” to God.  Not sinning will only keep us from getting deeper into debt.  Even if you could spend the rest of your life as godly as God expects, you still have a price to pay.  The first half of Romans 6:23 says that, “The wage of sin is death.”  We owe God death.  You can’t pay for that by not sinning anymore.  You can’t.  And, unfortunately, the bad news is that even death does nothing to make us “right with God.”  It only pays our sin debt.

We can try to stop sinning, go to church, give all of our money to the poor, go to another country and tell others about Jesus, or anything else you can think of to try to balance your debt, but it won’t work.  The payment is still due and you aren’t impressing God.  The only way for the debt to be paid AND allow us to be right with God is for someone who doesn’t have to pay the debt for themselves to pay it for you.  To die for you.

Tadaa!  That is why Jesus, God’s son (fully God and fully man), had to come, live, and die for you.  He did not sin.  He did not have pay with death for his own sin, so his death can be a payment for your account.  And even better news, HE WAS SEPARATED FROM GOD FOR YOU.  Not only did he pay the debt, he took the “interest payment”.  His sacrafice allows you to be made right with God.

“Mr. OneCupof Joe Guy, how do you know this makes us right with God and ends our separation?”  I know because the tomb Jesus was laid in was empty a few days later.  Jesus was raised from the dead!!  This means the price was paid, punishment was carried out, and Jesus left the debtors prison with the keys in his hand!  All you have to do is put your faith in the fact that this is true!  Read the book of Romans and see for yourself!

Okay now back to the debt debate and to bring this all home and tie this one up.  This is where Romans 6 comes in as a whole.  Once we have put our faith in our debt being “balanced”, does that mean we can go on sinning and living like we did?  No, of course not (to quote Paul)!    We can’t keep running up the debt!  If we do, it was never balanced for us in the first place!  If we are truly free from our debt of sin (and the power it had over us), we will be changed.  We will live and “do the right things” because our hearts (and the Spirit now living there) will drive us to.  Our actions will be from internal motivation of acceptance by God and not the external motivation of trying to pay off our debt to him!

As for our country, who knows what is going to happen (well, God does), but I don’t think it is for me to obsess about.  I think I need to focus on the debt debate in my heart and life…and thank you, Jesus, it is not a long debate!  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-24929779-2’]);
_gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]);

(function() {
var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
})();

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Gospel and Faith

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Great Coffee Famine of 2011

About two and a half weeks ago I was challenged to do something.  My chiropractor has been talking to me for years about drinking coffee.  He knows that I have been drinking way too much (several cups a day), and he pushed me once more to give it up.  We talked about addictions and the health effects of coffee drinking.  It is a diuretic, and without coffee I barely drink enough water every day already (putting aside the recent news that the minimum amount of water that have come up in the last couple of weeks).  Long story short, he convinced me that coffee has been putting me in a water deficit.  On somewhat of a whim that day, I decided to stop drinking it cold turkey (mmmmm…cold turkey).

Now, let me in on how big of a deal this is for me.  I love coffee.  I don’t just drink it because I like the caffine boost, which I do…decaffinated coffee is pointless to me.  I actually love the experience of drinking coffee.  Smelling it.  Breathing it in.  Tasting it.  It doesn’t matter how hot the temperature is outside, a cup of steaming hot coffee gets my day off right.

More than this, I love coffee enough to be very picky about my coffee.  It must be black (nothing in it), and it must be GOOD coffee.  I am what some may call a “coffee snob.”  I don’t like it from resturants, for the most part, and I usually feel like I have to make it myself to have a good cup.  I will go out of my way to buy great coffee beans, and I even have a coffee pot that will grind the beans for me.  I can smell the delicious aroma of great coffee in my mind as I write this.

I obviously have a passion for coffee.  The problem was, and I agree with this, my passion was a borderline addiction.  The other side of my love of coffee is the amount I would drink.  I am pretty sure my average was hovering between four to six cups on a normal day, and possibly a lot more on some days, especially during the school year.  This was not a healthy relationship with my beloved drink, to say the least.

It was hard, but I committed to stopping.  On Facebook I gave updates on the progress every other day for the first week or so.  My body took awhile to adjust, but it did.  I stopped thinking about it.  I stopped wanting it all the time.  I was even able to make a pot for my parents when they visited without being overly tempted to drink some.

I made it from one trip to the chiropractor to the next, about two and a half weeks.  I was very proud of myself, but something occured to me.

I had a sudden realization, I gave up coffee but somewhere inside of me I was always thinking about it…even if that thinking was only thinking about how well I was doing in not drinking it.  This seemed odd to me, so I started to think about my motivation for not drinking coffee.  As I did this, all I could come up with is that I drank too much and it kept me from drinking enough water.  This did not balance out with my obvious love of coffee…something God created and is okay, in moderation.

A story about Peter in the book of Acts came to mind when he was challenged by God, in Acts 10.   Summary of the story: Peter was praying, a sheet came down from heaven covered in animals, a voice said “Kill and eat”, Peter said, “I have never eaten anything unclean”, the voice said “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”  The story goes on to talk about how God opened the Gospel to the Gentiles and did so through Peter (and Paul).

I know it is a bit of a stretch, but it showed me something in my approach to coffee.  It was focus.  There was no real, hardfast reason for me to give up coffee outside of the vague idea of too much coffee and not enough water.  It made me think about coffee all of the time, even more so than I was thinking about it too much.  Coffee is not a sin.  It is not something to battle over my flesh with.  I was fighting it in my own strength, and in doing so it almost made it want it more than I did before.

Here comes the big lesson.  Sin.  When I focus on fighting my sin on my own, in my own strength, I fail most often.  I focus on the Law.  The Law that makes me guilty before God.  My reasoning is that I need to follow the Law and because sin puts me in a “deficit” before God.  That is the WHY I am battling my flesh.  This makes me focus on it even more, and more likely to fail.

I need to realize I do not have to fight against sin.  I am dead to sin.  I am dead to the Law.  The Law was fulfilled through Jesus Christ.  I do not have to battle my flesh to be made right with God.  Jesus “balanced” my “deficit” with God.  I battle with my flesh, not because I HAVE to, but because I now can, sin no longer has a hold on me.  I can discipline myself now because I am free to and because I am given power to do so by the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead and who gives me the strength I do not have.

Coming back to coffee, I have decided to have one cup a day.  No more.  Less is okay.  I will drink extra water on the days I drink coffee.  It is no longer a struggle.  I can have the taste I love, but it now longer has the hold on me it had.  I am not focused on it because I now have a balance.  Mmmmm…coffee.

This, by the way, is the inspiration for the name of my blog: One Cup of Joe.

Performancing Metrics

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Sin

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,