Happy Father’s Day to Me!

Yesterday was Father’s Day and a really good day.

Why?

  1. I got to speak to hundreds of fathers yesterday morning.
  2. It was a good morning of great worship about God as our Father.
  3. My kids came over to the house after church.
  4. They stayed all afternoon to swim, eat, and talk. 

Some Observations

I spoke with several fathers who were happy because their kids were home from college, or drove a long way or made a great effort to be at church for Father’s Day.

For a Dad there is nothing like having the family all together in church.

It Was Amusing

At both services I asked some younger children what they were doing for Father’s Day. Here are some of their answers:

  1. We bought him some stuff.
  2. We are going to his favorite place to eat.
  3. We are leaving him alone for three hours so he can watch the game.
  4. Mom gave us money to buy him a gift. 
  5. I think we are going out for pizza.

Someone said this,

“Father’s Day is different from Mother’s Day, Father’s Day doesn’t cost as much.”

Well put.

I got Father’s Day cards and a power tool that I didn’t really need but absolutely wanted.

chain saw
Not the power tool I received for Father’s Day, but close, really very close.

I like Father’s Day, it’s a good idea. But if I can speak for Dad’s everywhere we don’t really care about having a special day. We appreciate the gifts because they come from our kids, but sooner or later we will buy whatever tool to tie we need. Men know how to bless themselves. 

No, it’s not the tools, the ties, or eating out.  It’s our kids. Father’s Day is another opportunity to connect and bond with our children. If our kids are grown then its another moment to have them close.

“It’s them, our kids, that are the true gift for Father’s Day.”

To Close

Yesterday was a good day. I got a lovely meal and a great new power tool.

But mostly it was good because my kids were home. We ate together and sat at the dinning table and talked for an hour. We played and frolicked in the pool. Later we watched a movie and snacked on good stuff. Happy Father’s Day to me!

I love being a Father.

“I Love You Dad”

The Many Faces of God

  • Creator
  • Judge
  • Shepherd
  • Rock
  • Lord
  • King
  • Provider
  • Sustainer 
  • Giver
  • Father

Just to mention a few.

God As Father

God as a Father is a dominant theme in Scripture, perhaps the most dominant of all.

Within the Trinity God is a Father. I’ve never heard the Trinity referenced without “Father” being first. Why is that? Is it the strongest and most natural metaphor? 

He is loving, kind, forgiving, patient, protective and reliable. 

This Sunday is Father’s Day. A day to honor Dads, to say thank you. My kids will come over and be nice to me. It’s Father’s Day, perhaps there will be cake.

Not Everyone

Not everyone had a Dad at home, and some who did didn’t have a good experience. Some have a Dad but due to divorce he lives somewhere else. Some have recently lost their Dad and Father’s Day will be hard.

Some would love to be a Dad but as a couple they are having trouble conceiving, which can be deeply disappointing and discouraging. 

Some Dads have lost a child, or children. Father’s Day will be hardest on them.

And Me?

The most interesting things about me are my kids. We wanted more children, but it wasn’t to be. We thank God daily for the two we have. 

I imagined my kids being small replicas of me. They would look like me and talk like me and like all the things I like. Well, there are some similarities, but by and large my kids are not like me. They have different interests and ambitions and neither likes sports. Good grief. 

What I Like Best

  • talking to them
  • eating with them
  • traveling together
  • when they call asking advice
  • when something cool happens to them
  • when they come to me in the hard times
  • watching them mature
  • Christmas morning
  • birthdays
  • any day I get to spend time with them

To Close

God has many faces. My favorite is God as a Father. His example can be tough to follow but everything that makes him a good Father is everything I strive to be. 

Fathers-Day-Cards-To-Make

To All the Dads, Happy Father’s Day

 

 

Button-Popping Proud

There’s some people that I’m button-popping proud of. 

Who Are They?

They just returned from a mission trip after a week of serving people in need. They served by rolling up theirs sleeves to do anything needed and everything asked. 

They are High School teens from our Youth Group. 

Where Did They Go?

They went to a place that cares for at risk kids. A place that takes in single mothers and their children when no one else can, or will. To a place that always has too much of not enough. To a place most of us will never volunteer to serve.

What Did They Do

They broke up and removed concrete, they tore out walls and repaired walls. They painted things in need of painting and spruced up what needed sprucing. They cleaned and helped and they did this and that. Most of it in the brutal Texas sun. 

Then, after working and sweating all day they spent their evenings playing with the kids. They played basketball and whatever else could be played. They sat and talked and listened, and made new friends. They found depths of care and compassion they may not have known they had.

They spent a week being Jesus to others in need.

I didn’t have mission trips when I was in High School. I didn’t go anywhere to help anyone. Mostly I focused on making money, working out for Fall football and hanging with my friends. All good summer stuff, but not quite the same. 

“But these times they are a changing.” 

At a time when the news is captivated with stories of kids killing kids there comes a story about kids helping kids. In fact, this summer Youth Groups from all over the country will travel near and far to serve others. 

I wish those stories could headline the news for a few weeks.

To Close

Thank you Parker for leading them. Thank you parents for going and helping.  

Thanks Southeast teens for being the heart of Jesus, for demonstrating the splendor of his love, and for reflecting the radiance of his light, for you are the light of this world.

And I am button-popping proud of you.

cross_jesus_wood_236183

Feeling Blessed

I’m blessed every day in so many ways.

But this morning I’m appreciating my blessings a little more than usual.

On Retreat

I’m writing this blog from my room at Camp Allen, a Christian Retreat and Conference Center about an hour outside of Houston. It’s beautiful and the accommodations are fine. The bed was a little stiff in the way that a concrete slab is a little stiff. But I slept well, woke early, and rose to write.

I’m here with our church’s elders, ministers, and spouses. We arrived Friday for dinner then had an evening of sharing our lives and getting better connected, what a blessing.

My Daughter

My daughter and son-in-law live in the down town Houston area. They are young, urban professionals and think that coming to our house in the suburbs is a two day drive with a hotel stay. She texted me this week to say that she thinks about her Mom and Dad everyday and that she loves us, what a blessing. 

My Friends

I have great friends, not many, but they are enough. They are enough in the way that warm maple syrup covers the whole pancake. The way that a cool, sunny, Houston morning in February is an absolute pleasure. They provide a wonderful sense of belonging and connection, what a blessing.

 To Close

I could go on, but won’t. I’ll close with this. Garfield the cat once said:

“Ah, Christmas, it isn’t the giving, it isn’t the getting, it’s the people.” 

The Christmas season has passed, but I like the sentiment. My friends and family are more than what I get or give. It isn’t about that, it’s about the people, the bonds of caring and mutual acceptance.

god lending a hand

The true joy of life is the people.

Shalom

It’s A Snow Day In Houston!

The 4:00 AM fireplace check list.

  1. Clean fireplace of ashes.
  2. Stack kindling wood.
  3. Use a piece of newspaper or turn on the gas.
  4. Have larger logs ready to go.
  5. Check the flue is open.

Wow, it’s a beautiful fire! And just in time because it’s a cold Houston morning with sleet and snow in the forecast. The schools are closed and if we get the sleet and snow, it’ll bring the city to its knees.

snow
Ah, palm trees in the snow! Not my street, but close, really very close.

I love it!

Apparently, Not Everyone

Lately, I’ve heard complaining about the cold weather. Houston has had more subfreezing days than normal. And more days in the 30’s and 40’s than normal. It’s almost like winter!

But people are getting tired of it, and I understand, but I’m not one of them and can’t share in the cold negativity.

For Seven Months

For most of the year Houston is a sauna. If Arizona has a dry heat then Houston has a wet one. Temperatures soar into the 90’s and triple digits are common. The humidity hovers like a wet blanket. It’s inescapable and void of value for human life.

The summer is when I join the complainers, when I’m suffering the smothering dampness of virtual asthma. 

Wait, Forgot Something

I had just begun blogging when I noticed the smell of smoke. A minute later, I noticed an uneven layer hovering above me. Uh huh, Check List Item #5:

Open the flue.

Oops. I would have bet the farm that it was open, but it wasn’t. Maybe that’s what I get for betting the farm. I don’t actually have a farm, I lost it years ago on a silly bet.

Do you agree with this, “Everybody complains about something?” Or maybe this, “If it isn’t one thing it’s another?” Or, “I wish they would give me the key to the thermostat box at church so I could set it where it belongs.”

There isn’t a key. There isn’t a thermostat that can be changed. It’s all software driven, a computer runs the entire system. But people still ask.

To Close

So, cheer up good friends. Hot or cold, windy or calm, dry or wet, life goes on so we might as well go with it. I’ll finish with:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a depraved generation…”  Philippians 2:14-15

Shalom

Forty-Five Million Turkeys, Pt. 2

Not everybody likes turkey.

Really?

Yep. Some find it bland, uninspired, and over-hyped. Others say it tastes like chicken and if they wanted chicken for Thanksgiving they would cook one, or get take-out.

Maybe that explains the gallons of delicious brown gravy, a beloved food group.

51ulg5ffoxl
Not our turkey or our turkey platter, but close, really very close.

It’s Iconic

Millions of Americans will have a traditional turkey dinner. Some because they love it and some because it’s traditional, for the turkey is the icon of Thanksgiving. Is that a good reason to have it, because its traditional?

Family Thanksgiving
A nice looking family and a really big bird. Probably not chicken.

3.5 Millennium

About 3500 years ago, a million slaves walked out of Ramses. The final straw for their freedom? It was the death of Egypt’s first-born sons, a terrible night of grief. But it was a very different night for the slaves. They had painted lamb’s blood on their doors, and so death passed over.

That evening the slaves ate a special meal, the Passover meal. It was special because of what it meant, and because it was their final meal in captivity. There are some interesting similarities between the Hebrews and the Pilgrims.

The Hebrew Slaves                                  

  • Ate roasted lamb                                  
  • Shared with family and neighbors                             
  • It was a meal symbolizing their freedom             
  • The meal was about leaving for the Promised Land   

The Pilgrims

  • Ate roasted turkey
  • Shared with family and friends
  • It was a meal symbolizing their freedom 
  • The meal was about coming to the New World

Their Gift

If not for our Pilgrim forefathers, our world may have turned out differently. Would the United States have even happened? Would we know and enjoy the religious, political, and social freedoms that we cherish? Do we owe them our gratitude?

Our Response

Each November, we gather around our tables to give thanks. We practice the grace of gratitude by remembering those who sacrificed so much to bless so many. 

We say thank you God!

thanksgiving

To Close

Whether you adore or abhor the turkey, let’s resolve that 45-million of them will not die in vain. Along with the food, the football, and the naps, let’s take a moment to say thank you on Thanksgiving Day.

For we are free, prosperous, and alive to enjoy it.

Happy Thanksgiving

Forty-Five Million Turkeys, Pt. 1

So many turkeys to be roasted, fried, or smoked.

How Many?

About forty-five million. Seems like a big number, but we’re a nation of big people, and Thanksgiving is one of our biggest holidays.

turkeys
45,000,000 of them, their days are numbered

The National Bird?

Benjamin Franklin argued for the wild turkey to be our national bird, but he lost the argument to the Bald Eagle. For 364 days, the eagle soars majestic and free. But on Thanksgiving, the humble turkey is king, in our hearts if not on our plates.

Alexander Hamilton said, “No citizen of the United States shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” Well said, for we were never going to eat roasted eagle.

But it was President Lincoln, in 1863, who made a proclamation for a national day of Thanksgiving. And here we are, 154 years later, serving up forty-five million turkeys.

A Social Bird

Thanksgiving is shared with family and friends. The Pilgrims shared with the Wampanoag Indians. Edward Winslow recorded that there were fifty Pilgrims and ninety Native Americans at their feast. Must have been a big table!

So, we will gather around our tables, or in front of our big screens, and enjoy the turkey, cranberries, dressing, homemade rolls, and lime-jello. For desert: pumpkin pie,  pecan pie, and berry cobbler. Yum, dinner is served. 

Family Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks

They lost half their people that first year, a disheartening start for those who sacrificed so much to get so little. But the colonists soldiered on, possessing a profound faith they believed that God had led them there to live in freedom and prosperity.

For Us?

Our Thanksgivings don’t usually follow bitter winters of sickness and death. It’s more about being together with family, with plenty of good food, and football, and pie.

But maybe it’s more. The Pilgrims made a perilous voyage across a violent sea to seek a new life in the new world. Did God truly lead them here? Was their faith well founded? Is our own house of faith, freedom, and prosperity built on their foundation?                                                                                                                                       

To Close

This Thanksgiving, don’t let the turkeys die in vain. For they will make the last full measure of sacrifice, and for what reason? Just so I can over-indulge and fall asleep during the game? Is that how I say thank you?

51ulg5ffoxl

Part 2-Wednesday morning.