Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A man richly blessed


That would be me, the man richly blessed.

Why is that? Because God saw fit to bring to me as my bride the woman with whom I have walked the last twenty-six-plus years of my life.

Really?? you query. There are some 3.5 billion women on the planet. What makes yours special?

Thank you for asking.

** There is no other like her. She is a one of a kind handcrafted by the Sovereign of the universe. Hike the mountains of Tibet, and you'll not find her duplicate. Dive the Marianas Trench with John Cameron, and she won't be there either.

** She is my wife. For those who know me even a little bit, you understand what an extraordinary person that must be. More on that in a bit.

** She is the mother of six children (now eight) and grandmother of one. Yes, there are other mothers, but none are her. None have invested into our children as she has. None has loved them the way she has. None has invested in them as she has. Some would say she hasn't worked a day in her life. Her sons would scoff such idiocy. They are who they are because she is who she is.

** She is the daughter of the King. Truly, it is a sight to behold to watch the King conform one of his children to his image. Breathtaking really. She looks more and more like him every day and it blesses me more and more that he has given her to me to be my bride.

** She is my very best friend. I would rather spend time with her than any other person on this planet. Sorry. None other lavishes me with grace. None other holds me in my tears. None other stands toe-to-toe to confront. In love. None other on this earth cares about me as she.

** She is my love. Yeah...

And I'm just getting started.
** She cuts my hair.
** She cooks. Oh, my, does she cook! If you have been blessed to sit at our table, you know what she can do in a kitchen.
** She is an artisan. She brings beauty to whatever she touches.
** She is a friend to others. A mentor. A confidant. A minister (please, don't take that out of context).
** She's a hoot!
** She kills me at Scrabble, Settlers, Euchre. BUT NOT CRIBBAGE!
** She loves a love story but will still go with me to movies where things explode and superheroes wear goofy uniforms.
** She has come to love baseball because she loves me.
** Football. Same deal.
** She outshoots me on the pistol range--every time.
** She carries. Oh, I love this woman.
** She does my taxes and balances my books.
** She reads to me when we travel
** She laughs at my jokes.
Why this elegy? It's her birthday. Consider it a documented praise to God for this woman, a remembrance for the 29+ years that he has put her on this planet, a thanksgiving by me for the opportunity to know this woman. I hope you will get the opportunity to know her, too. There is none like her!

Happy birthday, Tracy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Train yourself!

Today could not be a prettier day here in north Texas. The storms of yesterday have given way to a radiant blue sky with a dusting of high cirrus providing the canopy for a green seldom seen in these parts. Everything that has ever dreamt of flowering has ruptured into bloom. Really, a glorious spring that God has provided these parts.

That has nothing to do with my pending musing.  Just thought I'd share.

Some of you are gym rats. You hunger for the weights like Lady Gaga hungers for the paparazzi. Some of you obsess more than that. Some just like to tone. Some like to run. Others opt for the remote and a box of Twinkies. Regardless of your current calisthenic fanaticism, I suspect you can look at a time in your life where you have rigorously trained for something.

Some of you fly jets. Others practice law (love that phrase, like practicing medicine. Will they ever let you do more than practice?). Some shoot scratch golf. One friend was a Navy SEAL (I haven't yet seen him balance a ball on his nose). Regardless of what drove you to that goal, you understand the requirements for discipline, focus, intention, effort, and pain to attain the things of value. In the middle of Paul's first letter to his dear friend, Timothy, a man he considered so dear he referred to him as his "child in the faith," Paul exhorted him with,
"...train yourself for godliness." (1 Timothy 4:7b)
Paul knows men. He speaks about how men are wont to focus on fitness (v. 8), and he notes that while there is benefit to physical training, training ourselves in things spiritual has far greater benefit. Might I suggest an implication here? Then why don't we do it?

This wasn't a suggestion Tim was receiving from his mentor; it was a command.

So, husband, train yourself for godliness. Do. It.

Where do I start? I know how that feels. If you haven't been to a fitness center, that place that used to be called a gym, you might feel like you just walked into NASA or a farm supply warehouse depending on the facility you've chosen. "Where to begin?" you wonder. Paul does not leave his friend in the fog.
"Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity...devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching." (1 Timothy 4:12-13)
It took you two seconds to read that sentence. Consider this one:
"Knock out three sets on bench, squats, curls, military press, with a weight that will max you out at ten reps on the first set, then increase the weight and decrease the reps with each subsequent set."
It took you maybe three seconds. Do you feel the burn from reading it? Are you stronger after reading it? Need a rub down, now? Of course not. Reading is not doing. It would take you time in the gym (not reading this drivel) to accomplish what was demanded.

As Paul encouraged the young pastor to "set the believers an example," so too must you, husband, set an example in your home, before your wife and before your children. This is not a hypocritical "do as I say and not as I do" but rather a biblical "follow me as I follow Christ." To be able to proclaim that, you must, of course, first be following Christ.

So in this spiritual gym, what's on the workout plan?
  1. Your speech
  2. Your conduct
  3. Your love toward God and others
  4. Your faith and trust in God
  5. Your purity
  6. Your exposing your family to the word
  7. Your ability to exhort, motivate and encourage them
  8. Your teaching them
Notice that with one through five, you can work on these without a spotter. You, the word, and the Holy Spirit, as you focus on the Master, your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, can knock these out in the solitude of your soul. The results will be manifest before others. In six through eight you become the mentor and coach as you plow into your family.

Now consider the scope of training that each bullet requires! What must happen for you to be an example in your speech? How many verses in Scripture focus on the tongue, its misuse and abuse, and how it should be used for God's glory and for the building up of his creatures? What is entailed in your training toward becoming a man of purity? Paul just told you to run a spiritual marathon. Not suggested, mind you, he demanded it. How you going to train? What's your plan?

If you are a man of God, a follower of God, a son of God, a disciple and lover of our Lord Jesus Christ, then these things must matter to you. I'll not sit here and explain what you must do with each bullet; I'd be writing until June. This is for you, brother. God commands you to train toward godliness. You're Sylverster Stallone. He's Burgess Meredith. You gonna listen to Mick? Submit yourself to his plan.
"Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Timothy 4:15-16)
So let us not be cut in physique alone. Do not be a master of Call of Duty III and a casualty in your spiritual duty. Grab your Bible, submit your heart to God, and get to work. 
  • Practice
  • Devote
  • Keep watch
  • Persist 
You can and must do no less.