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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

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

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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