Archive for December, 2008

Silent Night

Silent Night, what a wonderful piece of music.  It’s a melody that, for most of us, call to mind a flood of memories tied up in many a past Christmas.  The words of this song though somewhat simple are spiritually deep and reflective.


During this holiday season, all of my children, save one, have been home, with their families to visit.  These visits were way too short and to some extent harried.  We tried to cover as much ground as possible and visit sites around our Georgia home we have never seen before.  We packed so much into the day we didn’t even realize night crept up on us.


After a day of running, we would crash into bed and start all over again the next day.


Now that they have finished their visits with us, planning to spend Christmas Eve and day with the family of their spouse, I am taken to thinking about the things we missed once again.  The things I wanted to say, the questions I wanted to ask, the fatherly things I wanted to relate to my sons who are now heads of their own households.  The protective advise I wanted to give my daughter.


My mind drifts back to the simpler times of our lives.  The days when these adults were but small children.  I remember the times when they slept peacefully on their beds surrounded by all manner of space vehicles, stuffed animals, or dolls.  The times they fell fast asleep on the chair next to me, after an afternoon of active play.  Still other times when they were sick and needed someone to lay beside them to help them feel secure knowing there was no monster under the bed.


I remember those “Silent Nights”.  The nights I prayed over them as they slept.  Wondering what the future would bring for them, but praying earnestly, that whatever it was, it would make them happy. 


Those nights I prayed God would forgive me for the mistakes I made with them.  The times I disciplined them out of anger, the words I said that were not supportive or uplifting.  The shame I felt when I realized they loved me in spite of my shortcomings.  Oh how I wanted to take some of those words and actions back.  Yet, they were gone out of me, establishing a place in them that would be hidden in their subconscious because it was not given out of love.


Those “Silent Nights”, were times of deep inner study.  What must I do differently?  What could I do right?  I knew what my dad had done and said to me, but here I was using the very same words in the same manner.  Why did I not learn?  How can I be a better father?


On this “Silent Night”, as I reflect on those of the past, God gently reminds me of the words of this great song:


Silent Night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright

Round yon virgin mother and child! Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.


Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight,

Glory streams from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing alleluia;

Christ the Savior is born! Christ the Savior is born!


Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light;

Radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth. Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.


Silent night, holy night, Wondrous star, lend thy light;

With the angels let us sing “Alleluia to our King;

Christ the Savior is born! Christ the Savior is born!”

Fr. Joseph Mohr, Franz Xaver Gruber 1818


It is love that prompted God to send His only Son to be born on the “Silent Night” spoken of in this song.  Even though God knew the future this small child would face, he did not withhold his love from him or from us.  Quite the contrary, he spoke of His love for this child with “radiant beams” from His holy face.


This “Silent Night” made it possible for me to ask and receive forgiveness, both from my children and from my God.  It is this “Silent Night” that heals the wounded heart of a child now an adult.


Fathers, our times here on this earth are short.  Our times with our children are even shorter.  Do not waste them.  At any time, our children could be taken from us.  At any time we could be taken from our families.  The light that is our life is barely visible without the great love brought to this world by the birth of Jesus on this “Silent Night”. 


Put your trust in Him, seek him, and you will find great joy and no regrets as you face those “Silent Nights” which are your future.


Be blessed in this holy season of Christmas.  I am saying a special prayer for all of you as I sit through this “Silent Night” and watch for the radiant beams of God’s holy face showing his love once again to this lowly world.


En servicio como padre



How Plumb is your house?

A few days ago I was contacted by my brother, Gary, and informed of some very sad news.  The day after Thanksgiving, our sister Joyce had passed away earlier that morning.  How could she be dead? She is younger than me.  I just read an email from her a few days ago.  He must be mistaken….but he wasn’t.


My sister Joyce was my playmate during our childhood years.  She was only a year and a half younger than I and we always seemed to have some reason to play together.  Even as adults, our emails to one another seemed to have a playful air about them.  In one of her last emails she told me “You’re dad all over again.  I’m gonna keep saying that until you acknowledge it”.  I never did, but that statement made me feel good because I knew how much she loved our dad.


As I think about my sister, and have prayed about her life, and over her family, I keep getting the image of a “plumb-bob”.


Once again I go to our friends at Wikipedia;


A plumb-bob or a plummet is a weight with a pointed tip on the bottom that is suspended from a string and used as a vertical reference line.

This instrument has been used since the time of the ancient Egyptians by bricklayers, masons, and carpenters to ensure that their constructions are “plumb”, or perfectly upright. It may also be used in surveying to sight a point on the ground that is not readily visible. Small plumb bobs are included in the kits of various instruments such as levels and theodolites. They are used to set the instrument exactly over a fixed datum marker, prior to taking fresh readings.


My father was a carpenter by trade, I remember as a child he often used a plumb-bob and a level to assure what he was building was square with the world, in other words, perfectly horizontal and vertical.  If it were not, the building would not be as strong as it should and it would not last as long as it should. Gravity itself would eventually pull down the structure.  Further, it would not fair well with the storms that would beat against it in the years that lay ahead.


Amos 7:7,8

The Lord was standing by a vertical wall, with a plumb line in His hand. And the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Amos?”…Then the Lord said, “Behold I am about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel.”


In the passage above, God is using a plumb line against a wall he knew to be plumb (straight).   He is establishing a standard by which nations and people of nations are measured.  Included in those nations is the family unit.  God is measuring our family relationships by the same plumb line He is measuring our nation by.


In the marriage of Joyce and her husband Donnie, that line was no problem.  Donnie is a model husband and father to this day.  He was with Joyce when she passed and was with their children as they mourned for their mother.  His love for Joyce and his children shows in everything he does.


Likewise, Joyce’s relationship with her Father God was “perfectly upright” or plumb.  It is this knowledge that makes the loss of my sister easier to deal with.  She is plumb with God, what more can anyone ask.


Fathers, I ask you to examine your relationship with your family.  Can it stand the test of God’s plumb-bob?  If not, it is time to make some changes.  As in most cases, it usually doesn’t take a major reconstruction to bring a wall into plumb; it usually takes a little nudge or adjustment here or there.  You would be surprised about how little you need to do to change the whole tenor of your marriage.


As fathers we are required to hold the same standard God holds for nations.  We are to be upright in our thought, actions, and in our worship.  Our interactions with those inside our family and outside must not deviate from that line God has laid down.


If we start to examine ourselves now, we will find the changes we make in our lives have impact that will go on from this generation to the next.  God’s plumb line becomes a legacy that affects the family and ultimately the nation.


En servicio como padre


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