Tag Archives: Father

Where My Love Comes From

I’ve been listening to Third Day’s new album Miracle for a while now. I have to confess that I don’t like this album as much as Move or Revelation, but a number of the songs have really started to grow on me.

One song that I am really starting to love is Your Love Is Like a River.

This life can be hard and we suffer hurt and darkness from every side. We are hard pressed to remain standing through it all. We need love, light, and stability just to survive. God’s love is like a river that never stops flowing if we let it. His love is like a fire that keeps the darkness at bay. His love is like a rock that is a firm and stable foundation for every day.

“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:2 (NIV).

What this world needs is God’s love and they will know that love if we, His people, let that love flow from our hearts. We must always remember that He is the source of our love. This song reminds me where my love comes from.

Another thing I love about this song is the underlying message of the Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The river is like the Father ever flowing throughout eternity; the fire is like the Holy Spirit who lights our way; and the rock is like the Son who provides a firm foundation for our faith.

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Remembering My Dad

Today would have been my dad’s 91st birthday. He died too young and I miss him a lot. He was a great dad!

In honor of his birthday, I wanted to share a bunch of memories of him, and I certainly have plenty. But I ended up deciding to just share a few that illustrate how he was always there for me.

When I was in the sixth grade, a friend from school invited me to go to church with her and join the youth group. I don’t recall ever going to church with my parents, but when I wanted to join my friend my dad was happy to drive me there. Three days a week he would drive me to the church – for Tuesday night Missionettes, Wednesday night youth group, and Sunday school and church on Sunday. Plus sometimes we had youth group activities on Friday night, and he’d drive me to those, too. Someone from church would drive me home, but my dad always made sure I got there. I suspect that the Bible my parents gave me for Christmas that first year after I started attending that church was my dad’s idea, too.

When I was in high school I was on the speech and debate team. I needed some dressy clothes for tournaments, and my dad took me shopping to find a suit. He helped me pick out the nicest pinstriped suit. I loved that suit and wore it for years. I wish it still fit me, but at some point I had to admit it never would fit again and I gave it to Goodwill. I’m still fond of pinstripes, though, because they remind me of that suit.

When I was in college I was a long way from home. Every student had a P.O. box at the student union building, and one of the best things was to go check your box and find some real mail in it, not just college flyers (or worse, an “air box”). Every once in a while when I checked my box there would be a card from my dad with a $20 bill in it. He’d always write the same note: “Here’s a little mad money for you. Don’t tell your mother. Love, Dad.” Those cards from my dad always brightened my day because I knew he was thinking about me.

When I was in my first year of law school I decided that I wanted to be baptized in the Lutheran church that we were attending. Even though it was a long drive for him to come down from Washington, my dad came to visit specifically to attend my baptism. I remember him beaming with happiness to see me baptized and choosing to embrace faith.

Several years later he was very sick with emphysema and living with his second wife in Desert Hot Springs. My husband and I went to visit him. I remember sitting on his bed going through a box of old pictures and photo albums from when I was a kid. Among the photos we looked at were his and my mom’s wedding pictures. There was also one of him and a woman I didn’t recognize that said “Bob and #1″ on the back. “Number 1 what?” I asked. Apparently it was his first wife, but the marriage was annulled so it was as if he was not really married to her. After we finished going through all the pictures, he gave them to me to take back home. These photos are still very special to me and are all that my son knows of his grandpa.

Later, when he had become more ill, he called me and asked me to come see him. At the time I wasn’t working and had the time, but we didn’t have a lot of money so I bought a plane ticket to fly down two weeks later. About a week later he died and I didn’t get to see him again before he was gone. Of all the things I’ve done in my life that I might regret, this is probably my only real regret. If I had a time travel machine, I would go back to that day he called me and I’d buy a ticket on the next flight to Palm Springs so that I could have spent his last week on this earth with him.

But even so, I know that I will see him again. There will come a day when my memories and photos will no longer be all I have of my special dad.

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My Dad Was Tall – A Poem

Visiting with extended family this week, and especially seeing my dad’s younger sister Dot, reminded me of how much I miss my dad. He died Oct. 25, 1993; he was far too young when he died, if you ask me. I always miss him, but talking about him, hearing stories of when he was young, and looking at old family photos with him in them has kind of been hard and made me miss him even more. So I decided to write a poem about him.

My Dad Was Tall

My dad was tall
and handsome, too
He had a lot of sisters
but only one younger brother
He was even taller

My dad always smiled
a big, friendly smile
with sparkling eyes
But sometimes he was serious
when he needed to be

My dad was in the Merchant Marines
serving his country in the war
He loved the sea
and he loved to travel
to see exotic places

My dad took my mom
to Niagra Falls for their honeymoon
He was quite a catch, she thought
He was blessed to have her
and missed her when she was gone

My dad was an auto mechanic
He owned his own shop
and was excellent at his trade
He learned it from his dad
He was tall, too

My dad was a talker
He would walk around a campground
and talk to all the campers
complete strangers
but he was friendly just the same

My dad loved fishing
whether for bullhead in Lake Marina
when I was just a kid
sturgeon trolling in Oregon
or fly fishing at Yellowstone

My dad loved his children
all five of us, a son and four daughters
Some of us gave him a little trouble
but we all loved him, too
We all love him still

9/10/11 Update – I linked this to dVerse Poets Pub as an example of a poem dealing with loss in response to the Saturday prompt Poetics – In Memoriam.

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Music Monday Extra Tribute to My Dad

Today would have been my Dad’s 90th birthday. Unfortunately, he left this world too soon, at the age of 72, because of 50 years of cigarette smoking. I miss him a lot. He was a wonderful Dad.

I decided to post a tribute to him by posting videos of some of his favorite music. I remember hearing these songs from a set of old vinyl albums with silver labels on which my Dad had drawn pictures so my sister and I could tell what songs were on each album before we knew how to read. There were lots of others, but these were always three of my favorites.

Hank Williams Sr. singing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

Tennessee Ernie Ford singing “16 Tons.”

Finally, Johnny Cash singing “The Great Speckled Bird.”

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The Gardener Prunes

Last week I wrote about a woman of God, Ruth Handy, who had told me to read John 15. In that post, I focused on the one verse that she directed me to. But as I read all of John 15 that night, another verse spoke to my heart. The chapter starts out with Jesus speaking to His disciples:

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” John 15:1-4.

Working with my rose garden, I know how pruning works. During the flowering season, old spent flowers are cut away. And early in the spring before new growth begins, most of the plant is cut away so that only a foot or so of the main branches remain. If roses are carefully pruned and maintained, they bear beautiful roses all summer long. But if they are not cared for in this way, their beauty is diminished.

My roses don’t have feelings or nerves, so this pruning is not painful for them. But for us humans, pruning is never fun and can even be painful as it involves have a part of ourselves cut away so that something better and more fruitful can grow.

I have read John 15 many times before because John is my favorite book of the Bible. So as I began to read this chapter I was only a few words in when I knew the subject of pruning was coming quickly. It has been a difficult and challenging year, and I must admit I don’t really feel up to more pruning. But then my eyes fell upon this phrase: “You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.” Wow! What a blessing that one sentence was to me. I felt in my spirit Jesus telling me it’s not my season of pruning because I’ve “already been pruned.”

Now I know that another season of pruning will come. It’s an annual thing for my roses, and I know I will probably see several more pruning seasons in my life. I know He’s not done with me yet. But for now, I need only to remain in Him.

Are you in a season of pruning? Never forget that it is for your benefit and for the glory of God. And it will not last forever. There will be a time when He says “you have already been pruned.” Better to be pruned than to be the branch that is cut off and thrown into the fire. Better to be a branch that is pruned and bears much fruit. Seasons of pruning are temporary and the glory you bring to Jesus is forever.

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A Life Worthy of God’s Call

Last night I was reading 2 Thessalonians while waiting for the sleep study technician to come in and hook me up for a good night’s sleep. Actually, it was a terrible night’s sleep full of weird dreams and frequently waking up to find I was still connected to a computer monitoring my sleep patterns and vital signs. Then today 2 Thessalonians 1 came to mind twice, though I couldn’t recall what I had read that seemed to stick with me somewhere in my subconscious. So I decided I better go read it again. It was then that I remembered the part that stood out to me when I was reading last night.

In teaching about the second coming of Christ, which the Church was looking forward to and we still look forward to now, Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church:

When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him. So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12.

Three things stood out for me in this passage and the book of Thessalonians as a whole. First, Paul says the Thessalonians are included in those who will praise Jesus on His return because they “believed what we told you about him.” Consistent with his teachings elsewhere, and the words of Jesus Himself, belief in Jesus as their Savior and King is what Paul says ensures that the Thessalonians will be part of the saved on the coming Day of the Lord. There were no good works that they could do, or their goodness itself, that would secure for them a place in God’s kingdom. It is the same for us.

The second thing that stood out to me was how the “life worthy of his call” came after belief and was enabled by God. Paul asked that God give the Thessalonians (and us) “the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” Good works and obedience are definitely part of the Christian life, but they do not precede belief in Jesus as Lord, and they do not happen because of our own ability or power.

The third thing I noticed was that the Glory and Honor because of the Thessalonians (and our) good works and worthy lives will go primarily to Jesus because it is His grace that makes it all possible. On the Day of the Lord we “will be honored along with him.” However, there is no indication that we will receive any honor before that time or on our own. We will be honored only because we have relied on Jesus.

I tend to be very methodical about things and in my thinking about problems and their solutions. Perhaps that is my legal training, or maybe it is just a gift from God. Because of that I see this simple, logical progression of the human soul from lost to obedient child of God:

  1. God the Father draws the unbeliever to His Son, Jesus our Savior. John 6:44.
  2. The unbeliever hears the call and believes in Jesus as his Savior and atoning sacrifice for his sins. John 3:16.
  3. The new believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. Acts 10:44-47.
  4. The Holy Spirit works in the heart of the new believer to give him or her the desire to know God’s will and understand His Word, and the power to live a life worthy of God. 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

I know I’ve left out a lot of detail in this short list. And number 4 can take a lifetime of work. But that’s okay, because God is patient. He is much more concerned with a humble and contrite heart that desires obedience than perfect outward actions done to look good in the eyes of others. As Psalms 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

“Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’” John 6:29. All else is the work of the Holy Spirit.

My prayer is that all believers, not least of all me, will stop thinking we can live a life worthy of God on our own, and call on the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to accomplish all of the good things our faith prompts us to do. Then Jesus will be glorified and honored, as it should be.

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Comprehending the Trinity

According to the liturgical calendar used by many Christian churches, last Sunday was Trinity Sunday. This is the day that the Church celebrates the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It falls on the Sunday following Pentecost, which is when the Holy Spirit came upon the Church.

The doctrine of the Trinity is one that causes concern for many people, and some churches that consider themselves Christian refuse to adopt this doctrine because they believe it involves the worship of three gods instead of the One True God. This is because of how the doctrine is typically explained. It is said that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the three persons of the Triune God. But how can three distinct persons be one? Christians are monotheists; we believe in one God, not three.

The problem with rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity is that to do so one must say that Jesus is not God. And yet that is exactly who He claimed to be. Jesus said to the people, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8:24. Later in this same conversation, as the discussion turned to Abraham and how the people claimed Abraham to be their father, “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:58. The Jews of His day clearly understood this statement by Jesus to be His claim that He was God. As they plotted against Him and threatened to stone Him, they said, “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:33.

But why did this statement by Jesus — “before Abraham was born, I am” — lead the Jews to the conclusion that Jesus claimed to be God? To understand this, we must return to the Old Testament and the stories the Jews were intimately familiar with. When God sent Moses to rescue the Israelites from Egypt, Moses was afraid to go.

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” Exodus 3:13-14.

When Jesus said His name was “I am,” the Jews understood this to be His claim that He was God. Jesus went on to make six other “I am” statements as recorded in the book of John, and to also claim that He and the Father are One.

Despite this and other scriptural evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity, many have trouble with the concept because scripture also says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Deuteronomy 6:4. This past Sunday the guest pastor at my church spoke of the Trinity in a way that made this apparent problem or inconsistency a non-issue. It was a way of understanding the doctrine of the Trinity that I had not heard before.

The word “personae” that is translated “person” in most explanations of the Trinity is a Greek word that does not actually mean person. This is an incorrect translation of the Greek word. The word “personae” actually means “face,” “mask,” “role,” or “appearance.” One American Heritage Dictionary definition of the word is “The role that one assumes or displays in public or society; one’s public image or personality, as distinguished from the inner self.”

Used in this way, one can understand Jesus as the role God assumes or the mask He displays to humans who are not able to stand in the presence of God the Father. The Holy Spirit can be understood as the role God plays or the face He displays within the hearts of believers to guide them in their daily living. Each “personae” of the Trinity serves a different purpose or role, but He is only One God. God’s appearance as Jesus here on earth served a specific purpose, and His indwelling in the hearts of believers as the Holy Spirit serves another purpose. But always He sits on His heavenly throne in all His glory and splendor as the Father.

The Christian band Third Day sings a song called “You Are So Good To Me” that is a song to the three personae of the Trinity. Whenever I hear the closing reprise, I better understand this complex but simple way in which God reveals Himself to us:

You are my Father in Heaven
You are the Spirit inside me
You are my Jesus who loves me

When I sing along with this song, I know that the “You” I sing to is One God, and He is all three of these wonderful things to me.

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My Smoking Soapbox

This post is going to be a bit different from my usual because it is about my earthly father instead of my heavenly Father. This past Sunday would have been my dad’s 89th birthday. I say “would have been” because he died when he was only 72. I miss him a lot, even though it has been 17 years since he died. I think I will always miss him.

My Dad, Christmas 1977

My son, who is 15, has never met his grandfather because my dad died before my son was born. I show him pictures and talk about my dad, but it’s not the same. My son knows he is taller than both me and my husband in large part because his grandfather was 6′ 5″ tall, but only because I’ve told him that. This makes me sad because my dad was a great guy and a terrific grandfather to his other grandkids.

My son is like his grandfather in other ways, too. He has a sense of humor and loves to talk to people, even people he doesn’t really know. We used to go camping when I was a kid, and my dad would walk around the campground striking up conversations with other campers. My son does the same kind of thing, like the time when he was 7 and started a conversation with the people at the shuttle stop at Disney World. I think my dad and my son would have gotten along great, but they will not get that chance in this life.

This week, as I have thought about my dad’s birthday and how much I miss him, I have been more aware of people around me who are smoking, whether it be in the smoking area at work as I drive by or in a car in the grocery store parking lot. Many of these people are young women and men, some are people I know are well-educated and should know better.

My dad died of emphysema from 50 years of smoking cigarettes. When he started, the dangers of cigarette smoking were not well known. But we have known cigarettes cause cancer and kill for a long time, and I don’t understand how people can still smoke.

If you smoke, I urge you to quit NOW! If you have kids, do what you can to increase the chances that their kids will get to know you. None of us has control over the number of our days on this earth, but we certainly owe it to our family and friends to not do something that is highly likely to shorten those days.

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