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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

How much are you worth?

“How much your worth is how much you give, not what you own”.

In an article by Rabbi Socks, the above quote resonated deep within me. Having grown up in a family of eight kids, we grew up with a measure of poverty. My father was the custodian at the county court house, and my mother a maid at a small motel. Together they scraped together enough money each month to keep us fed, clothes on our back, and a roof over our heads.

We were a family of little and we expected little.

As I grew into adulthood, I vowed I would never put my children in the same situation I grew up in and I pressed every button I could to get ahead.

With my success came the natural trappings of nice home, nice cars, all the things that show the world we are a successful family.

By all standards I was a successful, but not affluent provider for my family. My worth increased over the years with higher salaries, more expensive cars, and more expensive homes. Not able to purchase multiple homes I considered my worth to be less than many who lived a more lavish lifestyle than I. My measure of worth was shallow and weak but was shared by most people I worked with and around every day.

What I didn’t know was that this measure of success was not God’s measure. God looks at your heart and what He was seeing in my heart was not the heart of a successful father. What he was seeing was a heart of pride.

So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. (Romans 12:4 The Message)

One day I went to work like any other, by the end of the day, I was going home having been laid off from my job. At 50 years of age, it was a terrifying circumstance. All the pride I had in my success did not help me at that moment. I was devastated and found no hope in the success I previously garnered.

At this time, God began to show me my pride and how it was hindering His ability to help me succeed. The words of Job explain the lesson, I would learn over the next nine months as I struggled to find another source of support for my family.

When things go badly, when affliction and suffering descend, God tells them where they’ve gone wrong, shows them how their pride has caused their trouble. He forces them to heed his warning, tells them they must repent of their bad life. If they obey and serve him, they’ll have a good, long life on easy street. But if they disobey, they’ll be cut down in their prime and never know the first thing about life. (Job 36:5 The Message)

As I look around me today, I see many young men who are moving down the same path I was on. They speak of all God has done for them, but what is obvious in their words is they are really saying “look at all I have accomplished”. The same spirits that lied to me about success, are lying to them today.

Although I try, only a few are willing to listen to my story. The message from our society and it’s measure of success is that this is a man who tried and failed.

God has fully restored me to my former level of success. The difference now, is that I am driven by a totally different measure. I now subscribe to the message hidden in Matthew 6:30: “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (The Message)

Fathers, don’t worry about missing out on anything. If you learn to measure your success according to God’s metrics, you will find all your human concerns will be met and more.

En servicio como Padre

Dave

A Father’s Journey along the Yellow Brick Road

The Wizard of Oz is a story that is common to most people in the United States and in many places around the world.

The story, about a young girl, Dorothy, and her small dog, Toto, who are thrust into a strange world through the fateful encounter with a Kansas tornado.

After arriving in “the Land of Oz”, Dorothy encounters many strange and unusual characters, somImagee good and some evil.

It is a classic tale of good over evil, but woven throughout the story are lessons that should not be ignored by anyone, the least of which by us fathers.

Clearly, the primary embodiment of evil is the “Wicked Witch of the West”. A female characterization of Satan. The Wicked Witch oppresses and controls everyone in this wondrous land through her evil deeds and the help of her minions, the “Flying Monkeys”.

The purpose of this article, though, is not to focus on the wicked witch, but instead to call attention to several characters, Dorothy met in this magical land. The Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Wizard of Oz. These characters are in many ways quite simple, but in this simplicity, represent the failings of many fathers today.

When Dorothy and Toto meet the Scarecrow, they soon find that he, like them, is on his way to see the Wizard of Oz. In his case he is going to request the Wizard give him a brain. He believes he doesn’t have a brainscarecrow because, among other things, he has been told he doesn’t have a brain. After all scarecrows are stuffed with straw, not brains. This belief is further supported by the bad decisions he has made along his journey to find the Wizard.

Like most of us, the Scarecrow has encountered the Wicked Witch and her minions and has been told he could never have a brain. He is unworthy of a brain. Sound familiar?

Later in the story, Dorothy encounters the Tin Man along the yellow brick road. When she and the Scarecrow find him, his joints are rusted and he is paralyzed and unable to help himself. It appears the Wicked Witch’s minions have doused him with water knowing he would rust.

Tin-Man-from-the-wizard-of-Oz tin manHow many times along your journey have you been doused with water. Without someone to “oil your joints”, you are soon paralyzed and of no use to anyone. Without the anointing of this oil, the oil of the Holy Spirit, you would slowly rust away, never having accomplished the purpose for which God created you.

In the case of the Tin Man, Dorothy and her friends find the oil and assist in getting him free again. The Tin Man explains his desire is to have a heart and he is on his way to see the Wizard in hopes he will give him one. Without a heart, he is just another hunk of metal without any purpose in life. He soon joins them on their journey

The third character, the Cowardly Lion, is encountered as Dorothy and her new friends pass through the forest. The Lion desperately tries to stand his ground but he is totally inept due to his fear of the potential outcome. He is easily overpowered by Dorothy’s small dog Toto.

The Lion breaks down in tears describing his lack of courage and explainslion that it has kept him from being the true king he is supposed to be.

Over the years I have encountered men who have been sub-optimized in their jobs, their marriages, their ministries, and worst of all in their role as a father. Lack of courage is the feet put to the spirit of fear. Fear has been the single greatest reason why the men of this present age have been unable to become the warriors and kings that God created them to be. The world tells them they will fail if they strike out or resist the enemy, so they don’t for fear of failure.

Eventually, the small group arrives at the Emerald City and are ushered into the presence of the Wizard. An impressive character with windows, and spires, smoke and mirrors. The very voice of the Wizard is enough to make the small group shake in their shoes. He tells them he is too busy to answer their requests and tells them to come back another day. As wizard machthe group cowers trying to figure out what to do next, Toto, pulls back a curtain and exposes a man speaking into a microphone and pulling levers and pushing buttons.

I can’t help but think the Wizard represents the modern day church. What most people of this world see is just the outward manifestation of the work of men. It is not the infinitely more powerful God that we worship. The church is busy pulling levers, pushing buttons, and speaking into microphones in an attempt to fashion God into something that can impress the world.

Ultimately, the things that each of these characters seek they already posses. They just needed to accept them and put them to use. It isn’t that easy in the real world, or is it? If we accept Jesus as our personal savior, and submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit, our understanding of all these things will be opened to us and we will finally, like Dorothy and Toto find our way home. If we continue to put our trust in a God fashioned by the works of man, we will be lost in the Land of Oz constantly seeking that which can not help us.

En servicio como padre

Dave

Why am I alive?

Why am I alive?

A question you may have asked yourself many times. It seems each of us must have a purpose to our lives. We are constantly seeking a meaning to our existence.

1336284 kissing cloudI have watched over my lifetime as men and women who, in my eyes, seemed to be making a greater difference in their lives, have met sometimes tragic circumstances and were taken off this earth.

Why were those who are doing so much good taken and I still remain?

The fear of living your whole life and leaving this earth without making a difference to someone, has caused men to explore untamed lands, climb high mountains, seek cures for illnesses, and even enter politics. Men have chased after strange women, done odd things to their bodies, subjected themselves to dangerous situations, and worshiped other gods. All because they needed to find purpose and meaning to their existence.

The search is insatiable especially in these days when the whole world seems to be changing right before our eyes. Countries and their leaders are falling, storms rage from out of nowhere, the earth explodes in the rain of searing hot ash and poisonous gas. Men are faced daily with their mortality and also with their insignificance. At times like these, we seek after something that will say our life matters for something or someone.

Our inner man cries with a loud voice, but no one or nothing seems to hear. Like the tree that falls in the forest, we feel no one even notices. We become more frenzied in our actions. Driving as fast as we can though we don’t know why. We strike out at those whom we love, or who love us, for no apparent reason. We seek to amass great wealth on great quantities of material items, though we admit we don’t need them.

It all just seem so normal. We are convinced by those in IMG 4040our culture that we need to accomplish, or experience things in this way. We tolerate all the discomfort because it’s just supposed to be that way. King David once felt that way, he was overcome with his own weakness and his seeming inability to recognize trouble until it arrived on his doorstep. In Psalm 4:1-2 he says:

1. When I call, give me answers. God, take my side! Once, in a tight place, you gave me room;
Now I’m in trouble again: grace me! hear me!

2. You rabble—how long do I put up with your scorn?
How long will you lust after lies?
How long will you live crazed by illusion? (The Message)

King David was frustrated he let everyone down, especially himself. He had no where to turn, after all, he was the King, where was he to turn but to God? In the end, he realized the value of where he turned. Not to the powers that be in society, but to the God of all creation. In Psalm 4: 3-8 he begins to speak the truth that is already in his heart:

3. Look at this: look
Who got picked by God!
He listens the split second I call to him.

4-5 Complain if you must, but don’t lash out.
Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking.
Build your case before God and wait for his verdict.

6-7 Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say.
“More, more.”
I have God’s more-than-enough,
More joy in one ordinary day

7-8 Than they get in all their shopping sprees.
At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,
For you, God, have put my life back together.
(The Message)

Why am I alive? The answer to that question can be complex or it can be very simple, it depends on what you have chosen to do with your life. As a father, you are called to be an example to your children and a head to your household. As a husband you are to be what Adam failed to be, the voice of reason and right actions. In the end it is all wrapped up in the few lines from Isaiah below:

1299964 sunsetGod’s Message, the God who created the cosmos, stretched out the skies, laid out the earth and all that grows from it, Who breathes life into earth’s people, makes them alive with his own life: “I am God. I have called you to live right and well. I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe. I have set you among my people to bind them to me, and provided you as a lighthouse to the nations, To make a start at bringing people into the open, into light: opening blind eyes, releasing prisoners from dungeons, emptying the dark prisons. I am God. That’s my name. I don’t franchise my glory, don’t endorse the no-god idols. Take note: The earlier predictions of judgment have been fulfilled. I’m announcing the new salvation work. Before it bursts on the scene, I’m telling you all about it.” Isaiah 42:5 (The Message)

You are alive to make a difference in someone’s life.

En servicio como Padre

Dave

Is Dad a brand name?

We are only a couple of weeks away from, what has become a great winter tradition in the United States, the viewing of the annual Superbowl commercials.

In this tradition, companies spend ridiculous amounts of money to buy a minute of television air time, and to produce the most creative superbowl commercialadvertisements and thus get their brand name in front of people around the world.

Names like Nike, Pedigree, Fed-EX, and Capitol One are likely to be seen.

The purpose of these advertisements is to instill a connection in the minds of people so when they have a need they will remember the brand name.

It’s sort of like selling your name in search of future rewards.

For the past several decades brand names have become increasingly more important in society world wide. In watching coverage of some of the recent disasters; Katrina, Ike, The Asian Tsunami, and most recently the Haiti earthquake, you will see the impact of brand name appeal.

As people are rescued. in these disasters, be it from rooftops, floating debris, or dug from beneath tons of rubble from a collapsed building, they Major Earthquake Devastates 3a33often are wearing a Nike shirt, a Los Angeles Dodgers hat, or some other brand name which has become a symbol of success or affluence. Even in the scenes from the poorest of nations, Haiti, Sudan, Afghanistan for example, people manage to grab hold of a brand.

In the United States, young men and women have lost their lives over a pair of shoes or a shirt bearing a particular brand name. People have had their fingers cut off and hands otherwise mangled, to get a ring or watch of a particular brand. People have been shot or stabbed, even had their children drug alongside a speeding SUV because the vehicle was a favorite carjacking brand.

The people of the world have become so fasinated with brand namesNike Launches Liberty 548d they will spend huge sums, often sums they don’t have, to acquire merchandise of a particular brand.

As I look around the internet it is becoming increasingly apparent that fatherhood is becoming a subject of interest. Much like wedding sites, fatherhood sites are springing up everywhere. Some are becoming so popular they are attracting sponsors and are becoming sites that dispense merchandise as well as advise.

This in and of itself is not a problem. There is no reason anyone should be condemned for using their own creativity and experience to make a living. The problem comes when the line between fatherhood and brand identification become blurred.

Fatherhood is not a brand name!

Fatherhood is the relationship between a father and his child. It is a sacred and ordained relationship that is natural to the human experience. It is spiritual as well as physical in nature and, when done in excellence, mirrors the relationship between God and man.

Psalms 16:4-5 talks about our relationship with God in these terms;

“4) Don’t just go shopping for a god. Gods are not for sale. I swear, I’ll never treat god names like brand names. 5) My choice is you, God, first and only. And now I find I’m your choice.” (The Message)

If God is our example of the perfect father then, likewise, we should never treat fatherhood like a brand name. Fatherhood in not for sale. Like our relationship with our Father God, we should strive to keep fatherhood an intimate and personal relationship.

En servicio como Padre

Dave

40 Short years

Today is Sunday January 3, 2010, the day Marsha and I celebrate 40 years of marriage.

As I think about the past 40 years, it seems like such a short time.  We began this journey in a small Methodist Chapel in Colorado City Texas.  It was during the Vietnam war and I was in the Air Force.  We, like many other young people then, wanted to get married in case things went badly in the war.  We knew Vietnam would impact our lives in one way or another.

Over the years we have lived in states like, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas, Nebraska, and Georgia.  We have met wonderful people in each of these states and many are good friends to this day.  We were even called by an old boss, and friend, yesterday whom I worked with in Nebraska. 

Our five children were born in New Mexico and Texas and have been the greatest blessing of all for these past 40 years. Followed closely by the 32 foster children who God gave us the opportunity to take care of over a 26 year period.

Over all, we thank God for his constant presence and oversight.  He has been with us when we were wondering where the next meal would come from, through the birth and or adoption of our children, and has celebrated the many victories we have experienced over these many years.  He has taught us to be better parents, friends, colleagues, and lovers.

I look forward to what the next 40 years will bring for us.  In everything, we know our children, grand-children, friends, and especially God will be along for the ride.

Thank you to each of my readers who have taken the time to listen to what God has put on my heart over the past few years.  You have become a part of my extended family.

On a personal note, I want to thank Marsha for being the partner God destined her to be.  She has put up with my weakness and has made me much stronger.  She has been my eyes when I could not see clearly.  She has tolerated my misunderstanding of what spiritual headship meant in our early years, and has helped me refine what it is today.  She has gotten more lovely over the years and I am proud she chose to join me on this journey 40 years ago.

God bless you all.

En servicio como Padre

Dave

Father of the Decade

As I began to consider this concept, I thought it would be fairly easy. After all, how many fathers are there in the world? There must be many that stand out. How much news has been reported in the last ten years? There must be great fathers among the reports.

Soon after beginning my research, I realized this was going to be a difficult, if not impossible, task.

There are fathers in the news alright.

Recently there was Dr. Umaru Abdulmutallab, the father of Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, otherwise known as the “underpants bomber”, or the “undergarments bomber”, or something like that. He is charged with attempting to blow up a Northwest flight headed for Detroit on Christmas day. Dr. Abdulmutallab showed his concern for his son and all mankind, when he sought out the United States embassy in Nigeria to report his son turned to extreme Islamic jihadism and might be a threat to the David Goldmans Son 9d74United States. Certainly an act of love.

Then there was Mr. David Goldman, who finally won custody of his nine year old son after a five year international battle in a Brazilian court. He was hailed a hero as television cameras captured him shielding his son while whisking him into a waiting car, the beginning of a long journey back to the United States and readjustment with a father he has barely known.

How about Tiger Woods? A man with a beautiful family, a wife and two loving children. After a late night car accident in his own front yard, Tiger Woods announces df0dsomehow involving a golf club and a broken car window, his life unraveled squarely in the public eye. Mistress after mistress came forward with stories of infidelity and deception. I can only imagine the impact on his children and his wife.

Perhaps the story of Michael Lohan. The estranged father of celebrity Lindsay Lohan, arrested for violating an order of protection that was requested by his ex-wife.

Most fathers don’t get in the news for being great fathers. On the positive, take the example of the following individuals:

Billy Graham Crusade e850Billy Graham, one of the most recognized names in the world. He is known for his ministry that is credited with immeasurable numbers of people who have come to a relationship with Jesus Christ. He has been the “pastor of presidents”, the author of books, and the voice to the nations. All that being said, his role as a father doesn’t come to mind when his name is uttered in most circles.

Oral Roberts, recently passed and has been recognized as the one who brought Christ to the television. His efforts a televangelism changed the role of the evangelist forever. Many people were healed under the hand of this gentle servant. He was a father and husband, who loved and was loved, but he is not known for his greatness as a father.

Finally, I mention Derek Loux. A musician and spiritual leader who is known for being a champion of adoption. He recently passed, after a tragic automobile accident, leaving behind a wife and ten children. Of his children there were two biological daughters, five daughters adopted from the Marshall Islands, and three sons, adopted from the Ukraine. A man who made fatherhood a priority in his life and ministry.

In my research for the “Father of the Decade”, I found that fathers who take their role to heart; recognize their role as prophet, priest, and king. They emulate the life and example of Jesus Christ and because of that; they are recognized for other accomplishments in their lives.

Fathers are heralded in the eyes and hearts of their wives and children.

When they accept their charge as a father, they make a difference that lasts for generations, but is seldom recognized by the news writers of this world.

Several of the men I mentioned are truly great fathers and the greatest legacy they will leave is their role as a father.

Now as I come to the end of my search. I recognize that the “Father of the Decade” isn’t one father but the generation of men who over the past ten years have realized their call as a father. They have recognized it and placed it in their heart. They have not always been perfect, but they have committed themselves to be the best they could be. They have pledged not to make the mistakes of others and to ask forgiveness when they did. They have sought help and mentors along the way and made their steps straight.

In the end I realize the “Father of the Decade” is you!

En servicio como Padre
Dave


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