The older I become the less I dream, or so it seems.Most of my dreams in recent years have come during my waking hours.Anymore, I savor those rare moments when God wakes me up in time to capture one in its entirety.
My favorite dreams are those in which I am cast in a role as though I were a character in a play.Such was the case when I became the headmaster of a school for older children of wealthy citizens in a small community on the edge of a large city.It was during the days of corporal punishment when paddling the offender was not only permitted but often expected.
Most children knew that getting into trouble at school meant Mom or Dad would add to their discipline when they got home.
Three young boys were caught breaking the rules and sent to my assistant for discipline.After hearing their story the punishment was decided….three "pops" each with a wooden paddle, to be carried out by the assistant head master.Parents were asked to be present for the sentencing.This was nothing new for two of the boys, and their parents did not accompany them to school that day.
The third child, age 12, had never been in trouble before so his dad came with him to observe the paddling.Just before the sentence was carried out, the boy asked to talk to me.He stood before me with his father, tears steaming down his face, and said meekly, "I'm not a bad boy."
"Let's go for a walk," I said to him.
"You are not being punished because you are a bad boy, but because your actions were bad.
Long after the pain of this day is forgotten, you will remember two things...your father still loves you, and for every wrong action there is a consequence."
Oh, my Beloved Children of the King!How we would love to wipe away every punishment for the sins of our loved ones.If we could we would take all their pain upon ourselves and shelter them from the stumped toes and scraped knees.Gladly we would exchange places to protect them from all their mistakes, but we cannot!
Therefore, since we are not the answer for their sins, nor the provision for their eternal security, do not let the sun set this day before we tell them about the only One who can offer that kind of love."For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."John 3:16
GospeLines Prayer:Oh, my God, my God… deliver my loved ones from the consequences of their wrong doings!Place their stripes upon my back; allow me to be chastised and beaten in place of them.I would rather stand in their stead to protect them, but if I cannot, then I beseech you to deliver them from the evil one.Though they may suffer for their actions, place a hedge of protection around their souls and give them what they need more than physical safety.Breathe into my loved ones the gift of eternal life with you.Amen and amen.
Raised as an only child, I was really envious of my friends because many of them always had a playmate, or 2 or 3 or more in the form of brothers and/or sisters!Many also had large extended families; something I didn't have either.
Older siblings seemed so cool.They paved the way for us younger kids - with their parents and in the world, as we knew it.I just knew I was missing something!Even when they fought and had big arguments, you had the sense that it was still something special.
Because of those close friendships, I was often included in various family activities.I was one of their children too!And, if I misbehaved, their parents punished me right along with the rest of the brood; I was part of that village.There was a genuine connection that didn't have a thing to do with my bloodline or my last name.
Now that I'm older, I've noticed something different than my expectation.In some instances, things aren't the way they were.An instance of sibling rivalry still rears its ugly head.Being proud and supportive of one another seems practically unheard of.That special bond of love is tenuous.I wonder how things changed.After all, I wanted a brother or sister for as long as I can remember.I wanted a sibling to share my fears and my successes; to pave the way for me, to walk with me; to just be.
As the song says, "Could it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time re-written every line?"
I look at some of those same families from a distance and realize there are no guarantees that things will return to the way they were.Factions form, people split over issues that really aren't important in the grand scheme of things.Maybe I haven't missed much after all…
GospeLines Prayer:Lord, thank You for being my Father.Thank You for that genuine connection that doesn't have a thing to do with my bloodline or my last name because I am Your child.
While we may have wanted things the way they were, help us to grow more in love and service to each other according to Your word...
1 John 4:20-21 (CEV)
20But if we say we love God and don't love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don't love the people we can see? 21The commandment that God has given us is: "Love God and love each other!"
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday: July 25, 2007
"Late to Choir Practice"
How do teenagers do it?As high school student, I was playing football, working a part-time job, involved on the debate team, and still found time to sing in the church choir, which practiced on Wednesday nights after the prayer service. I made it a habit to arrive late, not because it was necessary to do so, but because it wasn't a priority for me.
Bill Hamilton, the Minister of Music, always started rehearsals on time and expected us to be in our places at the beginning, not five or ten minutes late.
After everyone had left one night, Bill approached me to ask the reason for my chronic tardiness.I had no excuse and told him so.Then he said something that has stuck with me all these years."Anything worth doing is worth doing on time."
There were no threats, no intimidation, no anger... just a kind word of wisdom to a young man in his formative years.
I am never late anyplace I go.In fact, I am almost always early to everything, thanks to Bill Hamilton.
You never know when a kind word will be taken to heart by those around you.The wisdom of kindness is heard and remembered more readily than words of harshness.Too often the message is lost in the presentation, not in the importance of the thought expressed.How we address each other is just as important as the content of our conversation, and a word spoken in kindness has more impact than a point driven home with a hammer!
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, give me words which sound like they come from your heart.Never let your message be lost because I have been insensitive in the way I speak to others.Thank you for teaching me to be on time to choir practice."Amen and amen.
My teenage daughter Alyssa is up north with friends this week.We've been separated before; but, this time is different.Maybe it's because she's getting so close to becoming a woman; or, maybe it's because I can see her life starting to move away from her Mom and me as she grows into an adult.But, maybe it's not her age but mine.Maybe the older I get, the more I realize just how much I love her.
Although Alyssa has been on my mind a lot this week, when I awoke this morning she wasn't on my mind.Instead, an old song was running around in my head.I hadn't heard the tune in years; but, I couldn't stop repeating these words…
I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord; No tender voice like Thine can peace afford. I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby; Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee, O I need Thee; O I need Thee every hour; I need you Lord, O bless me now, My Savior, I come to Thee.
~ I Need Thee Every Hour by Annie Hawks (1835-1918) ~
I love my daughter Alyssa - I love all three of my daughters… and my son… and my wife.I don't think I could survive without them.I'm sure you feel the same way about your family.You may even need them to survive this life, but what about the life to come?
As much as we love our families, they can't provide for our salvation.They may love us and pray for us, but only one who can save us for all eternity is Jesus - we need Him!
I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain; Come quickly and abide, or life is vain I need Thee every hour, teach me Thy will; And Thy rich promises in me fulfill
I need Thee every hour, most Holy One; O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son
I need Thee every hour.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Love your neighbor as yourself.There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
Have you ever felt like an outsider trying to fit in?If so, then you will identify with Ruth the Moabitess.She had several strikes against her.In a time when people honored women who had children, she was childless.Women were dependent upon their husbands; she was a widow.Communities were close-knit; she was a foreigner.The story of Ruth is one of an outsider who was brought in, saved from poverty by Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 2-3), and rescued from desperate circumstances to find hope in a hopeless situation.
You may know people who have been shunned because of their race or religion.Perhaps they have been ostracized and ignored.A soft word and a warm smile is more than a random act of kindness; it could be an invitation for someone to find Jesus.
GospeLines Prayer:Father of all nations, when I am tempted to give myself only to those who are just like me, and when I close my eyes to intolerance in the schools and workplace, and when I tend to stereotype foreign-born American citizens, remind me that I was born a Gentile and You were born a Jew.Amen and amen.