Father’s Day-2013

Father’s Day                                                                 June 2013

It used to be for me that Father’s Day was about honoring my father and the sacrifices and example that he has been in my life.  I still believe that to be a great thing to do to honor our fathers and father figures in our lives by letting them know specifically what you appreciate.  If I were to try to take an inventory of the things I could or should say my list as I have gotten older could be large but I think it can be summed up in a word, example.  Although my father was good to us and did many wonderful things for us what I understand as the greater gift now wasn’t what he was or wasn’t able to give but who he was.  It was and is who he is in Christ that my father tried to live out and model in front of me and my sister.  He was not perfect at this anymore than any other father but his faith was real, his intentions were good, and my sister and I are better for it.  There were times when we didn’t have a lot but we had what we had always ever needed a mother and father who modeled Christ in front of us.

I think now as a Father that it is for me to look at the gift God has given me in allowing me to be Josiah’s daddy.  I too think that there are days when I wish I could do some things better for him.  I may not be the cool dad that some kids say they want, but I hope that in his time that Josiah will understand the love I have for him as his dad.  Fatherhood is a gift from God.  I believe all children are really God’s children that we have the privilege of being their earthly parents.  What a great gift and responsibility.  I think it says a great deal on the challenging days how much I look to the example of my earthly father as he would look to our Heavenly Father for guidance and direction.  It is my prayer that my son will come to see and know Jesus.  I think this is too great a work to leave to chance or to give up our blessing and responsibility as fathers by waiting to see if someone else will show them Jesus.

It has long since been widely known that a child will learn these examples in the earliest years and most likely in their homes.  What type of example are we setting, is it one that would help our children to see that Christ is alive and that He can be trusted?  Following Christ’s example should begin in the home with a father,   grandfather, or supportive father-figure, and it should be reinforced in the body of faith.  We in the body of Christ should help to support and pray for fathers and grandfathers but also look to the lives of the precious ones God has entrusted us with and ask are we setting the best example for them?

Looking back I can honestly say that there were great men of faith who lived out that example in my life when I was younger.  Seeing this men live out their faith gave me confidence in Christ at an early age.  The other side of this is that I also saw some men in the church I grew up doing things or behaving in such a way that has changed how I have been able to see them now some 25 years later.  As Josiah’s dad I ask that you pray for me as I want to model Christ to my son, please pray that in doing so I will also honor my father who modeled Christ for me, and as much as possible allow the light of Christ to shine in your lives as well that my son and other children may also see Christ.

The words I have shared is a prayer for myself that I can be a Christian father to my son, and a prayer for all Christian men that we will be the men of God that He desires us to be so that we can allow the children to see Christ in us.  There are many fathers and grandfathers who are struggling and so Lord may you guide them and encourage them to live for you.

Becoming a Healthier Church: Evangelism-May 29, 2013

Becoming a Healthier Church:  Evangelism-May 29, 2013

Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Acts 17:28

When a church things about its health numbers are not always the best sign of health.  A church can be healthy and smaller.  I believe that part of the misunderstanding is in the idea that we are to be growing our church through evangelism.  Although growth is not necessarily a problem we should be seeking to advance His Kingdom.  Too often in recent years through poor examples and poorer motives evangelism has become somewhat of a dirty word.  It has (right or wrong) drawn attention as religious people being pushy, they don’t care about me I’m just a number, and all they really want is my money and could care less about my soul.  Please do not understand me to be saying this is true of all evangelistic efforts, but I think we have to be honest that these perceptions are out there.  In any case even if we did not contribute to that lack of trust in evangelism doesn’t mean that we are not climbing an up-hill struggle.

It may be helpful here at the start to ask ourselves, what do we think of when we hear the word evangelism?  There will most like be some answers that have similar parts but there may also be some differences as well.  I think to begin to look at evangelism honestly we need to define what we mean when we use this word in context of our study here.  Evangelism begins with the idea of fulfilling the Great Commission typically by proclamation.  It is bringing the message of the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord now offers the Spirit to all who repent and believe.”  The methods for doing so will be varied as well as the results, some methods include personal, mass, and saturation evangelism.  The goal is to bring people into a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ and enable them to commit their lives to him.

Evangelism is really a practical continuation of the work of discipleship.  As disciples we are called to present people with the life-saving message of Jesus Christ.  Evangelism is the good news itself, and those who share this can be called evangelists, but in the original language angelos meaning angel, herald, or messenger.  When you think about it biblical most angels were bringing a message from God to the hearers.  In the last session we spoke about discipleship in terms of the communication of information or knowledge, seeing it or lived out, and then imitation.  I believe evangelism is the extension of these three to a fourth which is participation.

Truly, we will never be able to adequately imitate Christ with the same result but we see ourselves in sharing this good news as those who are participating in it.  We are witnesses of the work of God in shaping the world around us and on a more person level our own lives.  We are them become the embodiment of the message and all of life becomes the message of the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ.  We are now participants in the grace that saved us and gave us new life.  It is not our plan or our work but His we are the proof and the product if you will.  The product should sell itself (sorry could help the cheesy analogy).

Discipleship is more of an inward function of the life of faith but also begins to move us in grace from the place where we are to share the mighty act of God upon our lives.  In so doing we will be bringing not only the message in word but in flesh to the world as they see us as both recipients and participants in the grace of God in Jesus Christ.  This is what it is to be the body of Christ that we as recipients of His grace become participants in that same saving grace and in so doing help with world to see that there really is good news.

A Witness Transformed-Memorial Day-May 26, 2013

A Witness Transformed-Memorial Day-May 26, 2013

Romans 5:1-11

Memorial Day is the last Monday of May each year.  When we think of this day many are content to see the day as another day off from work or school, still others think of Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer.  The day is to not only honor our service men and women but to especially honor those who gave their very lives serving this country.  There is no greater gift that a person gave give than their life for another or others.  For those of us who are the beneficiaries of this selfless sacrifice there is nothing we can do to truly repay that sacrifice.  We will, however, attempt to honor not only their great sacrifice but the memory of the lives of those who have given so much in service to our country.

The sacrifice and sufferings of the families who have lost those serving in the military while dealing with the great loss of a loved one know that their loved ones willingness of serve was also based on a belief.  Many serve because they believe that their life and service is to help preserve the hope of freedom for American and for the world.  Freedom itself does not originate as a something tangible as an ideal or belief.  Freedom is never tangible of the ideal or belief first is not in place.  It is this belief that the promise of this ideal is so precious if it is realized that men and women are willing to fight and yes even die to preserve that dream for others.

It is in this ultimate sacrifice that will advance the hope of their belief and add weight and substance to their convictions.  It is their very willingness to put their lives on the line that is the strength of their convictions and the realizing of the true reality of freedom they are seeking to preserve.  There is power in suffering, commitment, love, and sacrifice that many do not understand.  This world’s way is to tell us to become slaves to our own selves and our selfish desires.  It is in this kind of living that, men and women seek for themselves the greatest rewards and glory as if trying to steal what really belongs to God will bring blessing upon us.

When a person thinks about any sacrifices or the ultimate sacrifice it will be the hardest transformation to make.  Ultimate service whether to God or Country begins with the belief that our beliefs and ideals are greater than our selfish attempts at faded glory because it may be easier for the enemies of God or our Country can kill or harm the body, but the belief with which the sacrifice is given is present in a people not just an individual.  The enemies will have to kill and destroy something that at its core is not tangible but nonetheless very real, and that is nearly impossible to do.  There can be a hopeful sacrifice is there is also a full belief that the purpose is greater than our part of it.  In a great sacrifice to God or to our Country there is a transformation in the hearts of those who witness and understand their sacrifice.  It is in this place the things we say we stand for that begin as belief or ideals are becoming very real in the tangible gracious sacrifice of those who see the reality of that transformation quicker that we often times do.

The Apostle Paul in writing what is now the letter to the Roman church is doing so as a prisoner himself.  Paul does not know if he will be released from prison or put to death for his belief and preaching of Jesus as the Christ the true King of Kings.  This is perhaps one the most reflective letters of Paul.  Paul who was once known as Saul of Tarsus, this same Saul who sought to justify himself and his actions in relation to the letter of the law rather than the giver of that law.  The tangible reality had become more important to Saul that the belief that the one who gave it to us for our benefit and His glory.

We are not worthy because of the law, we are worthy because of our belief in the giver of all good things, God.  In one very real and yet surreal moment Saul of Tarsus is confronted with what he could not deny or physically fight.  The real presence of Jesus is a reality Saul had not counted on and now he is confronted with Christ.  Saul might could round-up and kill the followers of Christ but how do you kill a man who was already killed once, rose from the grave three days later, remained some forty days before ascending to His Father, the God of all the universe and now is in his face as a blinding light on a road to Damascus.

I cannot imagine the horror that Saul must have felt he had forgotten God the giver of the law for serving the lesser god of his interpretation of the law and now truly understand that he has been fighting for the wrong team.  This great God that the law and Prophets that Saul had been studying for his whole life had not been silent but had spoken His Word into flesh and bone.  Now this Word of God who had been dead was very much alive and had questions for Saul.

The encounter left Saul blind for three days until God sent another faithful believer to pray over Saul to receive his sight and he became a new man.  No more was his name Saul of Tarsus but Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ whom he formerly persecuted.  We may never know the impact that our lives will having during the years we have on this earth.  Paul became a faithful servant of the Christ he once believed was a phony and the greater belief that he could not see was also not something he could control nor kill.  Paul is given credit for writing what is now roughly two-thirds of the New Testament.

Paul has in the years since that fateful day that he met Jesus made many sacrifices for his belief that Christ is the Son of God.  Paul is has been willing to go where God said to go, he has been shipwrecked, beaten, put in prison, almost killed.  Although his sight and body maybe failing his he sees more clearly than ever the glories of God and is strengthened day-by-day to live for Christ.  It is out of this lifetime of service that Paul writes about suffering that eventually leads to hope and that hope does not disappoint because of the love God has poured out on us.  The legal scholar Saul is now Paul, a much older man who sounds more like a dreamer and a poet seeing both things as they are and trying to help with world live into the reality of how God wants it to be.

Paul begins to talks about how at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Paul then reasons, that there might be a man who would be willing to die for a righteous person, just maybe someone who would die for a good person, but God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.  It is Christ’s sacrifice that has made us worthy, not us and the glory is His and His alone.

Christ’s sacrificial death was so that we would not have to die for our sins and that also we would be set free to live for Him who made all this possible.  Once a person believes, and I mean really believes, it may be possible for an enemy to kill the body but not that belief or ideal for which that life stood for.  It is in this reality that our individual lives can find purpose and meaning that will outlive our time here one earth, for if we live for ourselves the fleeting glory of our lives will fade with the ending of our lives.

On Memorial Day we honor our heroes of peace, liberty, and freedom.  These brave men and women, and their families paid a great cost with the ultimate sacrifice of their lives or the lives of their loved ones.  It is to those of us who have known or have had a loved one that has paid the ultimate sacrifice that the weight of that cost becomes personal.  In honoring and remembering these we stand now in their place proclaiming that peace, liberty, and freedom cannot be killed with by an act of terror, enemy fire, or the will of any one individual.  These ideals are such a part of the fabric of our everyday lives that they have become our American identity that makes us all proud to be Americans.  Most people today define what it is to be an American by embodying the very ideals that these brave gave their lives to advance.

It is interesting early on that American was referred to as the “American Experiment.”  Some four hundred years after the first settlers arrived our identity is shaped by this collective national identity that we will be a people who seek peace, liberty, and freedom for ourselves as a national and for our global friends and neighbors.

Perhaps too, we should look back to an older time of belief that extends beyond the ideals that shape our national and personal identity.  We should also look back to the brave men and women who have given their lives by following the Christ very few believed in and have been willing to enduring suffering that produces hope if not for their own lives but that those future generations who stand in the power of Christ.

Paul himself now as an older man has bravely given the younger years of his life for the risen Christ that he could not kill.  Many of the other men and women who knew Jesus paid that ultimate price with their lives when they were younger, but Paul suffered for the gospel for most of his life.  In these later years he finds himself a prisoner for the very Christ that gives him freedom.  He looks through the sufferings of his present time to the hope that it will produce not just in his own life, but for all those that believe.  He was uncertain about the future but unafraid of the outcome for the glory of the eternal Christ whom he served would outlive and outshine his own.

Paul in his letter to the Romans takes an honest look at his life of suffering and finds hope.  Although he is uncertain about the days ahead he is making plans to continue the work of Christ with the days he does have even making plans to go into Spain.  He also trusts that the outcome of his life will bring honor and glory to the one whose glory will last forever.  Paul found out throughout his life that one may be able to kill the body of the believer but not his soul and certainly not the Christ whom he loves.

My friends on this Memorial Day let us remember our patriotic heroes and our martyrs of our faith.  We honor our heroes for their commitment to the ideals of our founding identity and the martyrs for the Christ that died to set us free from the meaningless life of self to live for the glorious life of Christ.  Patriots and martyrs alike are not identified as such by their ages but for their transformation they have seen in their own lives because of their ideals and or faith.  Their transformation was not because of what they did but what they believed to be true.  It is this belief that their lives are different because of this reality is beyond them.  They have come to know that the secret to losing their lives is that apart from these greater realities life that their life has no meaning if it is only lived for our present desire or fading glory.  So these men and women gave their lives for the only things they believed their life was worth living and dying for.

What about us?  Would you be willing to lose your life to embody the greater realities of peace, liberty, freedom, and faith in Christ?  Even if we are never asked or called upon to make that ultimate sacrifice there are many who have done so, so that we can live for the greater reality for which they gave their very lives.  Will you stand for the things that these brave men and women laid their lives down for?  It is not a question of if their lives were lived and given in vain, but are ours lived in vain because we can’t find what is worth living for and worthy of dying for?

Becoming A Healthier Church: Discipleship-May 22, 2013

Becoming a Healthier Church:  Discipleship-May 22, 2013

Matthew 28:16-20

Why is discipleship all that important you might ask?  It is the lifeblood of the church.  Discipleship is the daily work of maturing in Christ and helping others to do the same.  It is more than just recognizing that God is worthy of all our praise and our very lives which is worship, and the coming together as a fellowship to support one another but also provide opportunities to reach out and new believers to find vital connections to the body of Christ.

Discipleship is a daily task that is part of a maturing process for the believer.  It is not just studying the bible although that is part of it, it is much that just scripture or doctrine memory but it is transformative to our inner nature.  It is this transformation that begins to change not only how we see God, but how we see ourselves and others too.  Discipleship is the groundwork that makes effective evangelism possible.

In our focus text for the evening there are two things that really stand out for me.  First, is that the first disciples of Jesus were asked that as they go about their daily lives they make other disciples.  Second, is that they are teaching them the ways of Christ.  I think these are significant.  Jesus doesn’t ask His followers to hire an evangelist and come up with a strategy to reach the lost.  He doesn’t say “Go, ye therefore unto the world and get converts or make church membership.”  Christ does, however, charge the eleven that as they go, as they do, as they live, as they preach, as they …that they make disciples.  The verb in the Greek sentence structure is not “to go” but rather “to make.”

A disciple is better than a member because a true disciple is always seeking to mature themselves, help others mature in Christ, and reaching out to non-believers.  A disciple is not one that says thinks like, that’s what we hired them for.  If you are a living breathing Christian then God desires that daily you be drawing closer to Him through worship, closer to one another and the world through fellowship, and growing deeper in His word through discipleship.   The growing in the word is just the beginning of discipleship not the end of itself.

The second point is the phrase “teaching them.”  When we say that we are to teach someone it implies that the thing being taught is something that can be learned.  We may be tempted to think that discipleship is something you are born with or gifted at and the great news is that it is really the work of all believers.  Teachers or coaches whether they realize it or not are really teaching those to whom they are responsible by what they say or don’t say, model in front of them, and empower them to imitate.

It would be impossible to teach or disciple someone in the journey if you are not at a more advanced point than the learner is.  It is impossible to teach people something you yourself don’t know and so it is vital that all disciples continue to grow in their knowledge as to continue to help our brothers and sisters in the faith to grow in theirs.  Disciple making is also difficult because the person learning is not just learning from what is being said but also from what is being model.  In other words they want to see if we are living out the reality of what we are teaching them.  Lastly, after hearing the sound teaching of the word, and seeing the word modeled in the life of a mature believer, the learner needs to be encouraged to begin to imitate both what they have heard revealed to them and what they have seen modeled to them, which includes seeing their teacher as a life-long learner as well.

It is been the pattern in recent years to think of discipleship as a bunch of classes that a church does, or as personal reading and studying of the Bible and it is those things but so much more.  It is truly the daily component of our faith.  It is the place where our knowledge about God and our living for Him meet.  It is in this place that we also grow deeper in our own faith by taking the responsibility to share what we know with others and give them the daily visible example of that faith, and then to encourage them to begin their own journey of discipleship learning, modeling, and encouraging others to imitate.

So as you go about your lives do so in such a way as to make disciples, encouraging one another to grow in faith, love, and unity.  Growing toward maturity in Christ we are strengthening ourselves from within the body so that the body also may be the unified presence of Christ to the world.  We are fulfilling the Great Commission and joining the work of the faithful believers of generations past.  What a great heritage, blessed responsibility, and wonderful opportunity to grow together as the body of Christ for the sake of His glory and His Kingdom.

The Witness of Nature and the Praise of Man-May 19, 2013

The Witness of Nature and the Praise of Man-May 19, 2013

Psalm 104:24-34

God provides for creation at their proper time.  They are always in His care.  When they are provided for the creatures are satisfied with the good things.  How about us?  Do we trust God for our provisions?  Are we satisfied with His good gifts?  Perhaps it is easier to say we trust God but much harder to really let go and trust Him.  Even worse would be that we say we trust God and then try to provide under our own power, and treat God’s way like the back-up plan if our plan doesn’t work.  Then we want to get upset or frustrated when things do go as planned.

Another scenario is that we want to do what we wish and hope God will bless our plans and expand them with extra blessings.  The witness of nature proclaims a different reality that a perfect loving God created us, and He does not create creatures without a capacity or contingency to provide for them.  When those provisions do come they give thanks because they know it is by His hands, and never wanting or asking for more but are satisfied with all the creator has given them.

Humanity on the other hands seems to forget its blessedness.  Rather than trusting God we try to trust our own sweat for provision and curse God that we are not blessed.  The reality is that we are blessed, but we in this land of opportunity and plenty are unable to see our own deeper hunger of the soul.  We cry out that we are not satisfied and blessed because we can’t see the provisions of God because our own “to do” lists are in the way.

If God were not to be present anymore or we were unaware of His reality, would you feel alone, terrified, or helpless?  His is the creator and sustainer of all without Him life would not be possible.  What would happen if there was no God?  Most of us if we are honest unless we have been very sick or have a breathing disease take for granted each breath that we are taking and how God is part of even the seemingly simple things in life.  Consider the planets in their courses would they remain if God were not there?  What about the fine tuning of this planet to allow us and all the creatures to be able to survive?  We serve a terrifying, awesome, great, and wonderful God.  It is because of God that all things including our lives exist.  Without breath or the Hebrew word ru’ah meaning spirit we would cease to exist and just become the stuff we are made of, dust.

How is it that we are so blessed that many times we don’t recognize His presence until something shakes our world and we believe that God is not there or He has turned away.  This feeling is not unique to our time, consider the silence of the Egyptian enslavement, forty years of wondering, four-hundred years from the close of the Old Testament until…until the word and present action they were looking for became the Word present and living among them.

The gift of life is from God and we are but the stuff of this earth.  The rise and fall of each breath gets choked out on the dust of this world that we are constantly trying to drink in.  Dusty things like pride, envy, jealousy, consumerism, and vengeful justice.  This dusty list is not exhaustive but it is expensive it could cost us our very lives.  When our breath is gone and our bodies are dust it will be too late to protest.  The question then becomes will we see the signs of nature that know the creator, will we terror when He is gone rather than trying to ignore Him, and will we praise Him for His mighty works?

My friends it is not all bad because our God is in the second-chance saving business.  He is the God of renewal of our lives, restoration in our relationships with Him, and is ready for us to praise Him for His glory and not because of our blessings.  Don’t look at what you have as a reason to praise God, but rather look at Him and praise Him for who He is and the greatness of His glory.

Our days on this earth can be days of praise.  I hope that we will not have to wait until God hides His face before we will know the brilliance we have been walking in every day.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?[c]

You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e]
and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their[g] feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!-Psalm 8

And 34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.-Psalm 104:34

The power of Pentecost is the fulfillment of the promise of Christ that he would be with us always. If we look at Pentecost as an event for the Holy Spirit, tongues, and extraordinary emotions we miss the greater blessing. The greater blessing is the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit for daily living. It is this Holy Spirit that first gave the afraid disciples courage to leave the safety of the upper room before they could preach the gospel.

On many of our toughest days we need that same encouragement to get out of bed or the house, to face the world, and to live our lives. Trusting the Holy Spirit for daily living will always come before we see the Spirit’s power at work. We need to recognize how the Holy Spirit has sustained us each day and that will help us to trust even more for daily living.

The work of the Trinity is that of creating, redeeming, and sustaining. Do you need help for daily living? Trust the promise of Christ and the presence of the Spirit that you are not alone. Your life is being sustained through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit’s presence encourage our days ahead, and the power of that promise is better than a 1,000 sermons.

 

Nicaragua Mission Team-May 15, 2013

The Pastor was out-of-town at a preaching conference, but Cynthia and Taylor shared with the group about their mission trip to Nicaragua and the plans for the group going with year.

A Heritage Witnessed-May 12, 2013

May 12, 2013-Mother’s Day-A Heritage Witnessed

Scripture:  2 Timothy 1:1-7

This is the second letter we have from Paul to Timothy and it is a very personal letter from a man later in life to a younger man just getting started in ministry.  There great moments of encouragement and instruction.  Paul calls Timothy his dear son.  Timothy is Paul’s son in the ministry he is a young man who Paul is pouring his life into Timothy.  When we think about Paul’s example this can and should be an example for all Christians to consider how we might be able to pour ourselves into others whether they are our children are or not.  Those who are newer in the faith can learn from the pitfalls we have endured and be encouraged during their own times of difficulty.

I mention Paul’s relationship with Timothy because we can all be spiritual mothers and fathers to newer Christians helping them during their journey with Christ.  In the body of Christ we need both the energy and vitality of youth and the experience of dedication faithful Christians.  This is the beauty and diversity of the body of Christ that God intends for His Bride to be with both wiser and less experienced journeying together through this life together.  It is a spiritual heritage that is at stake.  Today we may wonder why so many churches are closing their doors and becoming places of the past rather than light and hope for the future.  When those coming into the church as either seekers or new Christians do not witness that faith on display then the heritage is lost and is never more than one or two generations from extinction.

I am not telling you this to depress you or to paint a bleak picture, but rather to help us understand the vital role each of us plays in encouraging those newer in the faith.  In pouring our lives and hearts into them we are helping them to grow to maturity in Christ.  When we are growing in maturity in Christ we are also growing in unity with one another as the body of Christ.  Remember Jesus said of the church that if its foundation was right then the church will grow and mature and that the not even the Gates of Hell would prevail against it.  How confident do you feel about your church?  Are we becoming a better, stronger body of Christ day by day that the Gates of Hell stand no chance?

It begins by securing our faith in Jesus Christ and being willing to grow and mature in faith.  Second, it is out of this maturity that we seek to help others who are newer in their faith and those who still need to come to faith.  It is not just about talking and teaching although that is truly a part of it, but is about witnessing the faith of others lived out.  This is truly the value and secret to the body of Christ although it is really no secret at all.  The strength and benefit of the body of Christ is that during difficult times of crisis we can be strengthened through the example of the other faithful around us.  This comes through encouraging words but often it comes more readily in the powerful presence that has brought some of these spiritual brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers through those difficult times.

A spiritual heritage cannot be witnessed if there is no life of Christ within us.  We cannot share or give testimony to that which we do not know.  Then we need to help others to come to faith and then to mature in faith.  The ideal circumstance for this growth is not the church although it can flourish in the church, but it is in the home.   It has been said that the mother is the emotional thermostat of a home.  People have said things like if mama isn’t happy, no one is happy.  Happy wife equals happy life, and so on.  The father may be referred to as the spiritual head of the home, but I would like to argue that the mother is the heart.  It is often times the selfless actions of a mother that are witnessed time and again in the home that help each of us to experience some of the greatest gifts of God.  For many of our it was our mothers that showed us unconditional love, extended us grace and mercy, encouraged us through some of our most difficult days, and would speak the difficult truths in love to us always to bring about reconciliation in their homes.

The Apostle Paul speaks of the spiritual heritage of his forefathers that he witnessed and now in that same tradition he is pouring his life into people like young Timothy.  Paul mentions a much deeper and personal heritage that he witnesses at work in Timothy and that is of his grandmother and mother, Lois and Eunice.  It was these godly women who helped to raise and shape the spiritual identity of Timothy.  Paul knows Lois and Eunice and recognizes their lives in the life of Timothy.  He is the young man they have helped him to grow in faith to be.  Prayer is part of it but is much more what our spiritual and/or biological children see us living out of our faith.

Parents if we want our children to grow to be more Christ-like then we must seek to be more Christ-like.  We cannot and should not leave anything to chance our children’s spiritual development is not the work of someone else it is first and primarily our responsibility.  These two women were mentioned by Paul because he could easily see their faith in their grandson and son, Timothy.  If our children are a reflection of what they see that what is that reflection?  Discipleship, in the most traditional sense and is true in raising children or grandchildren begins with instruction, is modeled through example, and encouraged through imitation.  Please don’t stop with instruction alone, but model a life of faith worthy of imitation and encourage them to imitate Christ as you, yourself are seeking to do.

Paul says to Timothy to fan the flames of his faith and his calling.  Challenging him not to run away during difficult times but to run to Jesus and trust Him completely.  It is in having a spiritual heritage through a spiritual father like Paul and a spiritual heritage passed down from his mother and grandmother that Timothy has been given many great blessings for his faithful journey that lies ahead.  This journey of faith may be difficult at times but as Paul reminds Timothy we are not giving a spirit of fear or timidity but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Many parents and grandparents today want the best for their children and grandchildren.  They will prepare them by sending them to school, teaching them to play a sport, helping them to learn manners, helping them to get a good job, and become self-sufficient.  We prepare for their futures by putting money away, buying life insurance policies and things of this nature.  There is no “real” insurance for their lives or ours except trusting in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Too often we have taught our children to be self-sufficient rather than God dependent, and they have learned this very well.

What do our children see when the look at our lives of faith?  It is most likely that example that they will learn to follow, give, serve, love, share, and find hope for their faith in difficult times.  We are passing on a heritage to our children not just in what they hear us say but how we live.  Is the heritage that they are witnessing a heritage of faith?