Behind the Window

Buying a new car is one of those things that always evokes mixed emotions is all of us.  There are those of us who get excited and can’t wait to enter into the dance of negotiations and those of us who utterly despise the very thought of walking onto the new car tarmac and dealing with all the gamesmanship of purchasing a car.

I for one find myself somewhere in the middle.  I enjoy the hunt, I enjoy the new car smells, and the discovery of the new inventions released for our “driving pleasure”.

I recently went through this experience when the lease on my wife’s car came to a close and we decided we were no longer going to lease but purchase a brand new Subaru.

We decided to do our due diligence and visit the dealer without the added input of a sales person.  Thus we went to the nearest, and I might add only, Subaru dealership in our town on a Sunday afternoon when they were closed.

This gave us the opportunity to see what inventory they had and to review each new model, at least from the outside, to see if it “tickled our fancy”.

I was doing well with the base offering in each model, but I began to experience something I did not expect when I started to look into the windows of the more appointed vehicles.

I could not read the window sticker through the tinted glass!

This was very frustrating.  I could not tell what was standard equipment and what beyond the basic offering was built into this car.  I couldn’t tell if it had premium sound, or navigation, or even what the price was.

I was going to have to come back when a sales person was available to see what I wanted or needed to see.  I was going to have to take the risk and put some personal interaction into the search.

It seems to me raising children is a lot like buying a car.  When we aren’t willing to take a risk and invest some personal interaction into the process, we are doing little more than looking through that tinted window at the sticker.

We understand our children only from the perspective anyone else in the world might understand them.  All children generally follow the same physical growth patterns and trod the same emotional path to adulthood.  They are precious as babies, cute as toddlers, obnoxious as pre teens, unpredictable as teens, and then they leave home.

Many parents today are satisfied to take this “looking through a glass darkly” approach to parenthood and as a result forfeit much of the influence they are given to the ways of society in general.  They really don’t see the hidden talents their children were knit together with in the womb.

In 1 Corinthians 13:12, commonly referred to as “the love chapter”, the bible states:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. KJV

In the Greek, the word for see is Blepo (Strong 991), to see, discern, of the bodily eye.  the word for darkly is Ainigma (Strong 135), an obscure thing.

Literally to perceive or look closely in an abstract or obscure sense.  As if from a distance.

Then we address face to face:  In the Greek face is Prosopon (Strong 4383) the front (as being towards view), i.e. the countenance, aspect, appearance, surface; by implication, presence. And the word known is Ginosko (Strong 1097), to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel

So by looking through a glass darkly we perceive our children and know them from a distance.

But when we go to the last part of the verse, the word used is Epiginosko (Strong 1921) which is translated: to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly.

Thus in relation to parenting our children we are encouraged to go beyond the tinted glass and interact with our children so as to become thoroughly acquainted with and know them thoroughly.

Ask any parent of a special needs child, myself included, you have to go behind the glass, but when you do, the treasures abound.  Some are found easily, others take work.

Sometimes only thorough the spiritual hand of God is that revelation made possible.

En servicio como Padre

Dave

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Lessons from Cracker Jacks

I was recently contemplating the past, something I find myself doing more and more as I get older, when the thought of something exciting returned from my childhood.

Cracker Jacks!

Yes, we still see Cracker Jacks today on the shelves of our grocery stores.  Now mostly in bags, not boxes.  Shiny mylar bags with high definition pictures of the molasses candy covered popcorn and peanuts contained within.  Even the familiar Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo graces the bag.  Not much has changed from what I remember from my youth.

One thing, however, is missing.  Well, more than one thing, but one thing stands out more than any of the others.  It is called Discovery.

Growing up in a poor family with seven other siblings, it was not a common occurrence when we had the luxury of receiving a box of Cracker Jacks.

As I recall, the boxes Cracker Jacks were packaged in, were particularly difficult to break into.

First there was the outer covering of the box.  It was composed of a very fine layer that was printed with pictures of the familiar candy, the picture of Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo, and the red and white banner clearly displaying the Cracker Jacks logo.

Then there was the box that was composed of thin cardboard infused with some kind of wax substance that was near impenetrable.

But the coups de gras was the blue circle with the words printed in bold white “Surprise Inside”.

We would tear into the box with utter abandon.  Sometimes with the help of a pocket knife or one side of a pair of scissors.

We would explore for a weakness in the defenses created by that packaging.  Once discovered, we would tear open the top of the box, careful not to spill any of the precious candy, probing for the small envelope that contained that toy treasure.

What would it be?  A decoder ring, by which we might intercept a secret message from a Russian spy and save the whole of the United States, if not the world, from certain destruction.  Would it be a whistle that would mysteriously disappear at night after a day of chasing my sisters around the house blowing it in their ears.  Maybe, a plastic figure of a soldier or a baseball player, which we would imagine was in honor of our prowess on the field of battle or the ball field.

Each box was seemingly different and always new, to us.

The discovery of a prize inside was just the beginning.  It continued as our minds were opened to the myriad of possibilities contained in our imaginations.

Today the “Surprise Inside” has been replaced with paper prizes displaying riddles and jokes.  Many times pointing the finder to a web page or iPhone app where creativity is kept tightly wrapped in a box with impenetrable wax like coating.

Fathers, we need to become a modern day Sailor Jack with his dog Bingo for our children.  Not by sitting down our six year old with an iPad, but by interacting with them in play aimed at opening that box and the door to discovery.

Where is that “Surprise Inside”?

 

En Servicio Como Padre

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Chasing Jesus

I am proud to present to you a guest blogger. Richard Gill. Yes Richard is related to me. He is my youngest brother in whom I am very well pleased. Not to take away from his bio, below, but his story is one that is quite a journey. A true chief of sinners to righteous servant story. A man after God’s own heart!

Biography:

Richard Gill lives with his wife and family on a small ranch in Oroville, CA. He enjoys riding his Harley, spending time with family and tinkering with the endless building projects that are required around the ranch and at his work as a contractor.

His heart’s desire is to help other men like himself to recognize and then answer the warrior call of our one true King…Jesus Christ.   http://ransomedhope.blogspot.com

Chasing Jesus

Life is so hard at times that I wonder if I will ever make it through to the 555352 squinting eyeend. God says in his word that he is here for us, but at times it seems like he is nowhere to be found. Those same men that promised me in the past that they would be there for me have all instead chosen to judge me. Every step I take seems to end with more questions than answers.

If God does care as he says then why have I ended up here?

In life it is not easy to pursue Jesus. To be passionate about Jesus we have to give up everything of who we are, and deep down inside, most of us don’t want to do that. But God will accept nothing less than our complete surrender to his Son.

Jesus requires us to be who we have been created to be. He doesn’t promise us it will be easy, only that “there” is where we will find true joy. Notice that he doesn’t use the word comfort.

The first thing that happens in our pursuit to find Jesus is he will bring up the sin in our lives so that we can repent and let go of the past. Then he places a new hope and promise before us and expects us to step up and do what we have been created to do. With Jesus there can be no half way, he always expects us to be the “us” that God created us to be. Just as with his disciples he will accept nothing less, he expects our best not our worst.

To chase Jesus is the easy choice, to find him is much harder. The more we pursue Jesus the more we see our inadequacies. Sadly, for many these inadequacies are too hard to face, so many will choose to leave that area untouched inside of them, so they can pursue a more normal relationship with God.

The problem here is this new relationship is not with God at all, it is with an idol they have placed the name of God upon, called religion.

To chase or pursue Jesus requires everything from us. With Jesus there is 1313655 roman helmetno “other way” to go; only his way matters. This is why so many fall away, they see his way as to hard.

What does the word warrior bring up in your mind when I say it? For most of us I think it is a picture of a strong man with big biceps, wearing armor, and either swinging a sword or shooting a gun. This same man has to continually be able to be placed in the most dangerous places and situations, usually around those that want nothing less than to kill or torture him.

Sadly to say many choose the easy road before they have ever been in even one battle.

God is calling out his warriors, not those that have chosen the easy road. Jesus is training an army for war and, make no mistake, you will either learn to fight or you will be left for dead. To use our armor as his chosen warriors we need to know what weapons have been given to us to use.

How do you think that we find this out?

Jesus walked this earth, Gods very Son, to show us the way. All through the New Testament his words are recorded so we can know him better. So all we have to do is read about him, listen, and meditate on his words. Then we can model ourselves after what he said we should be.

To know Jesus is to know the father, to know the father is to know our true selves.

So now we have no excuse, no easy way out, no man made kingdoms to hide in. Jesus died and requires all of this from us and much more, because he knows anything less will lead to our destruction.

By the way it will be hard for us to pursue Jesus, but it will also bring us more joy, happiness, and peace then we have ever had in our lives. To accomplish this will take everything that you have inside. It will require you to give up friendships at times, to give up money, to give up fame, to give up yourselves.

In days of old, even in recent times, to be called a warrior meant that you have been judged as worthy to hold such a title. It meant that you have on your body and mind the scars from training that made you who you are today. It meant that you would be trusted with protecting the kingdom. In many civilizations there was no greater honor then being 1057875 chatrapati shivaji maharajchosen to be a warrior. In fact many kings were actually proven warriors seasoned in battle.

The battle being lost meant more than just defeat, it meant that your family and friends would be placed in bondage for years or even their lifetime under the enemy’s control.

This is why it is so hard, you will have to fight…

You will have to forget about the past, so you can see the future that God has for you.

One thing is different though, with Jesus we have been given something that other warriors didn’t have, a King that will fight for us, when the battle is at its fiercest.

So today my hope for you is that you will fight with everything inside of you, to be the warrior that Jesus has called you to be. The warrior that God himself created you to be, even before you were born.

Today raise up the battle standard with the name of Jesus upon it, this is why we are here, for this is why we were created, and for this is why we will fight.

The Name of Jesus…..

Philippians 3:13 (nas)
Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Just Another Magician

Just before the turn of the 19th century into the 20th century, there was a young man by the name of Erik Weiss. Erik was born in Hungary the son of a Rabbi, and immigrated to the United States, with his family, one of 7 siblings. The family settled in the state of Wisconsin, and later moved to Harlem, New York.

At the age of 9, Erik took a job as a trapeze artist and called himself “Erik, the Prince of the Air”.

As a young teen Erik became interested in the art of magic. He started out with simple card tricks and soon found himself performing in dimeking spades museums and sideshows. To earn a little extra cash, he often doubled as “The Wild Man” at the circus.

Erik’s proficiency in magic increased and his tricks became more and more complicated.

At the age of 25, young Erik met a man who would change his life forever. This man was a talent manager who was impressed by a trick in which Erik would escape from a set of handcuffs. This talent manager advised Erik to concentrate his efforts on escape acts and booked him on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit.

After many years of exceptional stage success, Erik Weiss died on October 31, 1926, from a ruptured appendix. Thus ending the life and career of “The Great Houdini”.

Contrary to the belief of many, Houdini spent most of his life debunking the claims of magicians who claimed their powers were supernatural in nature.

houdinichains4sm smallIn the end, the memory of The Great Houdini became synonymous with the very thing he fought against. An annual séance in conducted, to this day, on October 31, Halloween, in an attempt to raise the spirit of Houdini.

Houdini’s vocation is representative of a long line of magicians, sorcerers, and witches that can be traced back to the Chaldeans of ancient Babylon and ancient Egypt before that.

In ancient Babylon a young Jewish boy given the Babylonian name of Belteshazzar was counted among the magicians, sorcerers, and Chaldeans serving King Nebuchadnezzar.

In this story, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled him deeply. He called his most trusted magicians to him and demanded they not only interpret the dream, but that they also tell him what the dream was in the first place.

When the magicians could not do it, the King was angered and ordered all the magicians killed. Young Belteshazzar was counted as just another magician and thus included in the order to be killed.

But Belteshazzar was not just another magician. Belteshazzar was known, in Hebrew, by the name Daniel, and was gifted by God with the ability to interpret dreams.

We all know how it ends, Daniel goes before the King, accurately and in much detail describes the dream, gives the interpretation to the dream.
Daniel and his three friends are placed in positions of high leadership to rule over much of the kingdom. They are spared the death ordered for the magicians.

In our society today, we are all asked to be magicians of one sort or another.

At work we are all being asked to perform magic and do more work as those around us are downsized due to declining business. And in cases where the business is growing, we are asked to do more as the business can’t yet afford to hire more help.

In our private lives, we are asked to do magic with our shrinking paycheck. The price of groceries, gas, clothing, and other life essentials continue to soar and our paychecks don’t.

Today we can choose one of two routes. We can be like the magicians called before King Nebuchadnezzar and cry out that there is no hope. It is an impossible task and no one is able to succeed under those demands. Or we can be like Daniel.

We can refuse to be counted as just another magician and take those things to God in prayer.

In the end, God is the Creator of all things. He is capable of stretching our paychecks and He is able to turn our stressed work situations into blessings beyond our wildest imaginations.

Of which will you choose to be counted? As just another magician, or, to be a definer of dreams and a ruler of nations?

The choice is yours.

En servicio como Padre

Dave

MEDIOCRITY

Mediocrity is something I have struggled with most of my life. It is something that has created many missed opportunities and immeasurable heart ache for me and my family.

Recently, a good friend approached me and asked if I would accept a guest on this blog. This is something I would not do lightly. But Colonel Paul Longgrear, US Army retired, is a man who shares my heart for the fathers of this age.

Paul is a true American hero and I recently had the honor of attending his induction into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame. His story is an extraordinary one and one Google search will show you why I enthusiastically said yes to Colonel Paul’s inquiry.

Please read his words and insights closely. He is a man I have personally learned a great deal from.

En servicio como Padre

Dave

MEDIOCRITY – Paul Longgrear

Years ago our family lived in a county with two school systems. The two high schools were only four or five hundred yards apart and from the start were arch rivals even though one was only nine years old.

The older school dominated the younger school all nine times they played in football. The old school played for the state championship three times and won one of them. At one point they racked up a 29-1 record and won seven region titles. They excelled at football and the newer school was only mediocre.

In spiritual parlance we might consider the word coined by Jesus, “lukewarm”. If one is not going to do his best at something, he might want to not attempt it in the first place. Does this mean mediocrity is bad? Is striving for excellence always good?

If one has to revert to the flesh to achieve excellence; excellence would probably be bad.

Is it better to be a sluggard or turn to sin to win?

Behavioral performance can be based on genetic influence or it can be learned through environment. If a man is born into a family of over achievers, he will be influenced just by being a member of that family. On the other hand if that same person is born into a family of under motivated members he again will be influenced by that environment. He may flow with the character of the family or he may defy the norm and be just the opposite in either case he is influenced by that environment.

Whatever the influence or cause, excellence is refusing to settle for less that one’s best. Mediocrity, on the other hand, is settling for the minimum that will suffice. “If the deadline is 3:00 P.M. why get it completed earlier”, the sluggard might ask.

When I decided to leave my home state of Arkansas to seek my fortune, I followed Horace Greely’s advice and went west to California. Within a matter of days I had a job at a large Los Angeles area lumber yard. Because I had a couple of years of college, the boss put me in charge of the stall that contained small lumber and ply wood.

He assured me it was a mess and challenged me to try and get it straightened out within a couple of weeks, if possible. I had two summers of experience in the lumber yard business and within three days had everything in order. Why did I do that? My mother raised me to work hard and she was the hardest working person I knew. Hard work was not an option in our family, it was the expected.

My wife and I raised three children who were all very good workers and have done very well for themselves. I was always a poor performing student because I was academically lazy. As a result, I was determined my children wouldn’t be.

Our oldest child was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, the second child never had to crack a book in school and the third labored to meet his, self-imposed, classroom goals. I am honored to say that all three are college graduates and one has a doctorate in education. The one with the learning disability was assured that she was as smart as her brothers and the same results would be expected of her.

Which of them do you think has the doctor’s degree? The laborer, he refused to be mediocre.

We had the same standards for each of them; do your best! I learned as a child that too much pressure to perform could cause a student to cheat. Life taught me, excellence can never be achieved by lowering moral standards.

There are no shortcuts to excellence. Diligence and determination mixed with perseverance are the ingredients necessary to fulfill what God has placed in all of us. It should also be noted that talent will not assure excellence. If very talented people accept less than their best for themselves, they are mediocre.

Remember the schools we mentioned at first. The difference was attitude. When the two schools walked on the football field it was obvious which team thought they would win and which team only hoped they would win. The coaches convinced the first team they were going to win every game because they were prepared to win through work and preparation. During the week they practiced smart, hard and long.

Leadership is the key to creating an environment of excellence and overcoming mediocrity. Whether one is a manager, a coach, the parents of children, or commander of a military unit, leadership is the key.

Leadership is nothing more than motivating someone to do what they are supposed to do. How well they do it is determined by how motivated they are.

There are only two ways to motivate; inspiration or intimidation. Think about by which of these ways you are motivated. Now think about how you motivate those around you.

We will discuss this in the near future.

A Cat Named Pinky

In our relationship with God, we must realize there is a difference between the spiritual world and our physical world.

Although the bible clearly states, in Matthew 16:19, “Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”. There is a difference in how we see ourselves on earth and how God sees us in the spirit.

grey cat 1When I was a very small child my oldest sister Fern, as I recall, brought home a cat. This cat was a grey brindle with four white feet and a very pink nose. Based on what she saw, my sister named this cute little kitten Pinky.

It was fully her intention for this little kitten to be her playmate. He was to cuddle with her, play dress up, help her make mud pies, have dinner engagements, all the things little girls do.

Unfortunately, deep in the DNA of little Pinky lay and 18 pound, six toed behemoth that had an uncontrollable urge to roam and dominate.
He undoubtedly had a very nasty disposition when it came to other cats,six toes dogs, coyotes, snakes, and just about every other animal the Arizona desert presented him.

I remember well into my teens, Pinky would saunter off into the desert often for months at a time. He would return, sometimes six to eight months later wearing the scars and licking the wounds of his most recent campaign.

The name my sister gave this cat was Pinky, but God knew this cat as something altogether different.

As fathers, it is extremely important we know what is in our DNA. We must know of what we are made. We must define our life in such a way as to live and worship in alignment with how God made us.

cat clawPinky’s life was in conflict with how my sister envisioned he would be. He was wild at heart, but somehow my sister came to accept that. She accepted him when he returned, nursed his wounds, cuddled with him, loved him, wept and prayed for him when he walked back off into his world.

One such day, Pinky, sauntered off into the Arizona desert and never returned. He was found not far from our home and was buried with great respect in our back yard pet cemetery.

If we expect to be the best father we can be, we can’t be like Pinky and wander off into a secret world away from our family and loved ones, but we must examine the callings we have in our spirit and ask God to help us use them for his Kingdom and to help us be a better father and husband.

We must earnestly seek God, that He might reveal to us the make up of our spiritual DNA and thus our true nature. I ask you to seek God to find out………. by what name does God know you?

En servicio como Padre
Dave

Monotony breeds familiarity

A few days ago, my wife and I were talking about some of the people we have met. You know who they are, the people who have lived their whole life in the same area. They have never traveled outside their state, many not outside the county, and a few not outside the city they live in.

In the course of our discussion, my wife expressed something that pricked me deep in my soul. She said “monotony breeds familiarity.”

As I pondered this thought, the picture of these people came to mind. rocking chair They seem to have a very limited view of the world, in many cases they have a negative view of people outside their general area, especially those from outside their geographical region.

The monotony of seeing everything the same way day in and day out has created a familiarity with the things around them that breeds distrust, even anger, with that which is different.

I am reminded of Saul in the book of I Samuel. In this story, Saul comes to a woman who has a familiar spirit in an attempt to get in touch with the prophet Samuel who died earlier.

Saul sunk deeper into disobedience with this action and it cost his life and that of his sons.

When confronted by Samuel with the question; “why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul’s response was interesting. “I am in great distress” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets of by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.” (I Samuel 28:15)

Saul was acting the same way and making the same choices for so long king spadesthat he no longer was aware of how he was conducting his business. His life entered into a form of monotony. He came to the point that he could not make a decision for himself. When his prophets no longer could advise him and Samuel was dead, he turned to a familiar spirit to come up with answers.

Websters defines monotony as 1: tedious sameness 2: sameness of tone or sound. (m-w.com)

When we become so accustomed to the same things, actions, places, words, etc, life becomes tedious. If we don’t take reasonable action to change monotony, we become indifferent to the things around us. As a result of this indifference, we let our guard down and our enemies take advantage of us.

We don’t see it or hear it because of monotony. By the time it becomes apparent to us, we have no idea where to turn. This is where familiarity becomes our enemy.

We choose the comfort of familiarity and reject a new or different way of approaching our issues.

God created man in His image. (Gen 1:27) As such, He endowed us with all of His attributes, including the ability to create. Satan, on the other hand, was not created in the image of God. He doesn’t have the ability to create and must use what already exists, that which he is familiar with.

If the enemy can keep us tied up in familiarity, he can keep us from realizing the victorious life that God has created us to live.

Monotony breeds familiarity, and familiarity coaxes us into a life of inactivity and, ultimately, a sub-optimization of what God has created us to be.

Wake up! Break out of monotony before it is too late.

En servicio como padre
Dave



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