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Archive for the ‘Legacy’ Category

 

My son turned nineteen years old today.  Today he is recognized as a full adult by our great state.  I’ve had this date marked for some time as “the milestone” for his launching into adulthood.  Today has been an emotional day for me.  Having children was not something I decided on lightly.  My wife had desired children for years, but I had been most reluctant — because I didn’t know or think I had what it took to be a good father.  It was only after 10 years of marriage and much soul-searching and prayer that I made the very personal and life-changing decision to father children.  I have not been a perfect father — I can think of many occasions for which I wish I could have a “do-over.”  But, in the really important things of life, especially in faith, knowing right and wrong, being a man of integrity, my son is largely where I have prayed and hoped he would be.  And now we have begun the transition of his leaving our nest and setting out on his own.  Bittersweet doesn’t begin to describe what this transition, just now in its early stages, has been like. 

Today, on this milestone day, I drove to his college to spend time with him and have a little private “ceremony” recognizing his transition to manhood.  It was important to me that I do this — and I hope it was meaningful to him.  I presented him with a serious gift in the form of a book regarding what true manhood involves and also a letter in which I wrote from my heart and which I hope will be one he treasures, keeps, and re-reads many times over the course of his life.

To my son on his 19th birthday:

Nineteen years old – the beginning of life as an adult (per the great state in which we live 🙂 ). Where have all the years gone? Why does life have to go by so fast? I wish I could hit rewind and pause buttons and just savor the blessing of you as a child and adolescent.

But as much as I might like that, there is no stopping time. It’s a bittersweet moment because we are saying goodbye to the child we raised and embracing the young adult you have become.

This is how I feel today, buddy. You’re no longer a little boy, no longer an adolescent. You are a grown man who is beginning to make a life of his own. BUT, that doesn’t mean you are simply “on your own.” I (and your mother) deeply want to be in your life and you in ours.  We know we are not in the “parent-child” stage anymore, but we still remain your loving parents – ready to provide advice, support, friendship; we pray for continued involvement in your life – the ability to share in the up’s and down’s it brings.

I’ve often thought of what I would tell you as you launch into manhood. I’ve wanted to give you thoughts that you will hide in your heart and practice in your life. Here they are:

  • Take time for introspection (thinking about who you are and what you want to be in terms of character, integrity, calling). You will find that life sometimes gets more complicated the older you get. Sometimes it’s very easy to figure out, and sometimes it will take you years to find the answer.
  • Dare to dream. Work hard and persistently to make your dreams reality. Don’t get discouraged when you fail – learn from it and move on and keep trying.  Everyone has failures in life as they work to succeed.
  • Be brave.  Don’t be afraid to stand for what is right and for truth (especially among your friends).  Remember Deuteronomy 31:6 & Joshua 1:9.  Be selective in your close friends – you really do take on the characteristics of those you surround yourself with.
  • Keep your family in your life.  We love you and we want to share in your life; remain a part, a supportive part, of your life.
  • Most of all, commit yourself and your ways to the Lord, and you will succeed in life (that desk ornament I gave you years ago and insisted you keep on your desk? I did for a reason – to remind you of this very thing – Proverbs 3:5-6 🙂 ).

I have great confidence in you because you have a good heart, good character and most of all, you have faith in Jesus.  Live that faith!  I say again, LIVE YOUR FAITH.

It’s an exciting time, a time of transition, of looking to and planning for your future. You’re now fully responsible for your decisions and actions. Remember your actions and decisions have consequences (for good or bad; now and in the future).

Establish in your heart and mind that being a man is a purposeful effort which does not come about by simply growing older.  Being a man is more about character, compassion and courage than it is career. A man has character when he is a person of integrity who can be depended on. A man has compassion when he is caring for others by putting their best interests ahead of his own. A man has courage when he does what is right even what it’s difficult. I believe you have come far on this journey to becoming a man. You have learned so much already. Continue faithfully on!

You will make a difference! You certainly have in my life. You are heaven sent.  I thank and praise God for placing you in my life. I know I’ve not been the perfect parent, but I hope I have been a good one and that you are able to live well in part because I have been (and continue to be) your loving father. I am a better person because you are in my life.  I love you fiercely and as long as I have breath, I am here for you.  If you need to talk, need advice, just give me a call or a text or a visit.

Your loving and proud,

Dad

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Cromartie
Do you know this man?  I was not aware of him until I read an article regarding his passing. I would have liked to have met him and been able to “intern” to watch how he represented and bridged Christ/Christianity to journalists.
 
What exactly did this man do?  Michael Cromartie was his name.  And he was “one of Christianity’s principal ambassadors in Washington, [representing] Jesus with joyful confidence,” according to Michael Wear, a former White House faith adviser under Barack Obama. “I’ve seen the effects of his life and work up close, and both the church and the nation are better off because of him,” said Wear.  “Michael was a friend whose encouragement I did not deserve, and whose insight has shaped my work, my life and my faith.  In the days ahead, we should look to Michael’s example to stoke our imagination for what a faithful public witness can look like in this moment.”

Scripture tells us that “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us.” (2 Cor 5:20). From reading about Mr. Cromartie’s life and work and from the encomium’s from journalists across the political and ideological spectrum, it seems Mr. Cromartie was an excellent ambassador of Christ.  

 
Said one, “Mike was a man of great knowledge who made it accessible to others. He was a man of great faith, who make it real and attractive to others. And he was a man of exceptional decency, who demonstrated how to live with joy and integrity.”
 
If that could be said of me, then I would be much more excited about meeting my Maker because I would be a much better ambassador for Christ.
 
Over the past year as I’ve been on a personal sabbitical, as I’ve prayed, studied Scripture, the lives of those I admire and tried to assess myself against God’s truth, I realize I fall well short of the standard Michael Cromartie set. He ran the race set before him well. What was said of him in terms of how he represented Christ could not be said of me.
 
It is (or should be) every Christian’s goal, upon death and entering the presence of Christ, to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23). I believe Michael Cromartie heard those very words on August 28, 2017.
 
My time of introspection has not been easy, nor always pleasant in facing some unwelcome realities about some aspects of my character, personality and actions. Don’t get me wrong, God has also shown me times and areas where “I’ve gotten it right.” But I also see much to improve on as I make my calling sure (2 Peter 1:10).

What I’m most grateful for is that God is making me aware of the areas where I must grow and improve; that He has not abandoned me, but rather I realize that in His lovingkindness, He has been blessing where I don’t deserve, working in circumstances and decisions to bring me to the point of serious Spirit-led self-assessment from which I fervently hope and believe He will make a new path/work for and in me.  I am amazed at His patience and His continued work in me.  He, I believe, through love and discipline is preparing a way that, in the end, I too can hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant….”  What a marvelous God indeed — the He continues to be mindful of me!

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The Super Bowl is this Sunday, and it will feature the New England Patriots — a franchise that has had an extended run of greatness, unlike any in team sports over the past quarter-century.  The owner of the team is Robert Kraft – who took a losing team and made it a winning one.

“Winning football games has been more important to me than making money. Winning is what turns me on. Money is pretty good, but a shroud has no pockets.” – Robert Kraft
There is great wisdom here. No, not winning football games, but rather, the realization that you can’t take it with you — “a shroud has no pockets.” So, what turns you on?  Is it something that you can’t take with you — or is it something of eternal value.
“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life…” – Jesus

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Asphalt background

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter…..God led the people around by the way of the wilderness….”  Exodus 13:17-18

This Scripture tells us Israel was going from Point A (Egypt) to Point B (the edge of the Red Sea/Sea of Reeds).   Now, we all learned in geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  And, generally, we all like to get where we’re going in the least amount of time/distance as possible.

What is true in travel, is true in life.  We make our plans and we think we know the best way to achieve them – the “straight line” to getting there.  But sometimes, God gives us a detour.  A life detour is an unexpected event that changes your life’s course.

The election of 2016 represents a detour for many in the country today.  For some, it is a devastating detour; for others, a detour pointing to promise and validation.  For most of us, regardless of who we voted for, the 2016 election is a detour we will be coming to terms with, and impacted by, for some time to come.

But God may be using this detour for good to get us to the right destination.  I suspect God could be at work bringing better unity to the church in this detour.  Better unity by using this detour to cause us to see differing, valid perspectives; to be transformed individually and as a whole as a result in order to bring about positive impact for eternity.  For our Point B is not “to make America great again,”  but to “seek and save the lost”.

Can we make a difference?  Does your life matter?  Absolutely.  If we are willing to take the way of Romans 12:2 and take Philippians 2:1-8 to heart, we will leave a lasting legacy and impact.

 

 

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Psalm 116:9 – “I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”  (NASB)
Psalm 111:10 – “The good life begins in the [reverence] of God…” (The Message)
Psalm 90:12 – “Teach us to number our days…teach us to live wisely and well” (NASB and The Message)
How a man walks in life (how he lives) reveals his heart, his passion, his love.  Some live only in regards to the judgments and opinions of other people.  Others are concerned with living in light of the fact that abundant life, meaningful life, a life that leaves a lasting legacy for others is found in walking with God and in light of Him as our Creator.
An article I read a few years ago highlights this well.  From Dr. Jim Denison (with some slight editing):
A Tale of Two Armstrongs
Lance Armstrong is one of the most remarkable people of our generation.  Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25 and given only a 40% chance of survival, he went on to win 7 Tour de France cycling titles.  But with them came accusations of cheating through doping (taking performance enhancing substances).  Recently, after years of fighting these accusations and proclaiming his innocence, he decided to stop fighting the allegations; in response, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency banned Armstrong from professional cycling for life and recommended ALL his Tour de France victories be vacated.
In spite of the many things he has done, and is doing, to raise money for cancer research, it’s hard not to be shocked at the way his amazing cycling career has ended.

Another Armstrong made the weekend news as well: Neil Armstrong died Aug 25 at the age of 82.  When he set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, he made the statement heard around the world: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  The Apollo 11 moon mission was his last space flight.  He left NASA a year later to become a professor of engineering at the University of Cincinnati.
Armstrong refused all offers to use his fame for personal advancement.  Life magazine described his legacy well: he “was one of those rare, genuine heroes whose legend grew larger with passing years not because he nurtured the myths that attached to him as the first human to walk on the moon, but because he quietly, resolutely refused to play the role of the publicly lauded Great American.”  His humility was both genuine and remarkable.
One Armstrong finished well; the other may yet forge a great legacy but today lives in the shadow of scandal.  Their stories prove the truth of the old adage: it’s not where you begin the race that matters, but where you end.  The same is true for us.  Jacob stole his brother’s birthright; Moses killed a man and fled as a felon; David was a murdering adulterer; Peter three times denied knowing his Lord; Paul persecuted Christians to the death.  But try writing the story of human history and redemption without them.
Their common secret: they learned to define success by faithfulness.  Our culture defines it by fame and fortune, popularity and possessions, but God knows better.  If we live in light of the truth of God, confident of His calling on and purpose for us, abiding in Him and our identity in His Son … when our days are done we will say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).  Whose race are you running today?

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958038-whitney-houstonMany know of Whitney Houston — a marvelous singer who came of age in my college and early work years.  She had it all: beauty, a fantastic voice, a winning personality, and seemingly a good head on her shoulders.  She had a string of #1 hits, did movies with Kevin Costner and Denzel Washington, sang the National Anthem as the 1991 war with Iraq (Desert Storm) began which actually went #1 I believe.

And yet, at 48 years of age, Whitney Houston died after having spiraled down for years in drug and alcohol abuse.  Her funeral was today.  Remembering the Whitney Houston as she was coming into her own and the Whitney Houston she became is very sad — and it reminds me of the poem, “The Dash” a portion of which is below:
I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said that what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For the dash represents all the time that she spend alive on earth
And now only those who loved her know what the little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash
What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
So when your eulogy is being read with your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?
I’ve been working my way through the Bible this year in concert with our church (goal is for congregation to read through in a year, but real goal is to learn to abide in Christ as a habit).
The reading today (Deuteronomy 7 – Deuteronomy 10) is all about how we spend our “dash” well.  Below is my journal resulting from this reading:
What if they said this about you at your funeral:
“She did not trust God or obey Him.  In spite of His delivering her from bondage and saving her, she grumbled and was ungrateful.  In fact, she was rebellious against the Lord for as long as I knew her.”
How grievous and heartbreaking that would be!  To be loved by God, shown grace and mercy beyond belief, led and blessed throughout, but to have shown no faithfulness in return.
And yet this is Moses description of the Israelites in the reading today (see especially Deuteronomy 9:7b and 9:23-24).
How terrible!  And terrifying – because I see so much of me in the Israelites.  “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love….”
How to avoid such an obituary?  The answer to that question is also in today’s reading.
1) Make no compromise with the world.  In today’s “religious conversations,” we often hear we are to “be in the world, but not of it.”  And that is true.  But often, I wonder if we twist that a bit to justify practicing some of the same behaviors of the world in the name of “being missional.”  After all, Jesus hung out with sinners, didn’t He?  Yes, but He didn’t sin.  In fact, He called them on their sin, challenging them to repent, turn, and come to Him  — and to “go, and sin no more.”  (NOTE: He did this in love and not in an “us against them” mentality we sometimes see in Christianity today).
When we compromise with the world, the world often turns us away from following God completely.  Oh, we will follow to some degree (that’s what makes this subtle sometimes), but we also take the parts of the world we like and can rationalize.  God says, “Make no treaty with them … for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods….”  (Deut 7:2b and 4a).

2) Remember the Lord.  Several times in chapter 8, Moses urges the Israelites to “Remember how the Lord God …” (8:2); to “be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God” (8:11); “Remember the Lord your God” (8:18).
We become especially vulnerable to forgetting God when we experience success and “satisfaction.”  We start to “believe our own press” and fail to continue to abide in Him (unfortunately, our natural tendency is to place self on the throne – “what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do” – Romans 7:15).

God warned about this: “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14)

3) Accept and learn from the Lord’s discipline.  In chapter 8 we learn much about why God did what He did with Israel in the wilderness wanderings.  “…to humble you and test you in order to know what was in your heart” (8:2); “to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you.” (8:16b).
As a loving father disciplines his son in order that the boy might grow into a responsible man of character, so God disciplines us for the same reason – that we might learn there is more to life than material possessions and pleasure – that we are made for relationship with and calling from God.
Deuteronomy 8:5, 3b, 16b – Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you…..to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes form the mouth of the Lord [and] so that in the end it might go well with you.
4) Revere and love the Lord.  In doing this, we lead our heart in the right direction with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit and His word.  We begin to treasure God as our inheritance, become more like Christ, and can carry out the good works He prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Deuteronomy 10:12 – And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…

Devotional/Application

It is so easy to compromise with the world – or in trying to be holy (set apart for God and His calling) that I become “holier than thou” or insulate myself completely.
It’s only by abiding in Him, by learning to love Him, by learning He is my true inheritance can I hope to have a legacy in which people recognize and come to know God and that it would be said of me that I acted justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

Prayer Response

Father,
I stand in awe of You and everything You’ve done for me
You speak Your words into my life and where You are is where I wanna be
 
I stand before You, Lord, humbled by the love You give away
A widow’s mite, my will and pride is all I have to offer anyway
Help me hold onto You and Your love God.  Help me let go of myself and become more like Jesus, moving ever closer to Your heart.
In Jesus name,  Amen.

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