February 25 – He Sees and Knows

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I can be guilty of having temper tantrums from time to time. And although I am not proud of it, they tend to encroach upon me just about the time things are going pretty good. Sometimes, all Hades breaks loose and I find myself questioning God as to “why,” but not so much anymore. I’ve lived long enough to know it’s usually darkest before the dawn and if you just hold on awhile, things will get brighter.

What tends to trigger the oversized baby in me is a sense of not being understood by those closest to me. Here’s an example: I have a certain way I fold my t-shirts. Not a big deal, normally, but definitely a preference.

On most occasions I am just grateful when Jen or one of the children goes the extra mile and does mine. But there are those rare moments when that little voice says, “If they really cared about you, they would know how you like your shirts folded.” If I don’t nip it in the bud, that kind of thinking will hit me in the backside before I know it, leaving a whole lot of precious people feeling unappreciated. I know, you can’t relate…

The fact of the matter is every human being can and will feel that no one truly understands them at times. And guess what? They are right! We are so unique and our ways are very individual. God made us that way on purpose. One, a puzzle won’t come together if all the pieces are just alike. And two, if we had someone on planet earth that knew us “picture-perfectly,” we would never need to seek the face of our Creator. He alone knows and sees who we are and where we are headed. All others are His instruments to help get us there.

I love how Nathanael said to Jesus, “How do You know me?” Jesus wasted no time on frivolous introductions, He spoke in a way the man would know He knew him; but how? And here’s the nugget I encourage you to ponder with me and my family today: Jesus stares into Nathanael’s eyes and He says, “I see you! And I know you better than anyone, including yourself. Don’t worry; what I see in you doesn’t change what I think about you. So, if you feel the need to have a pity party, no problem; fits don’t faze Me. I’ll still be around when the smoke clears. Then, I will remind you that in Me alone lies perfection, not people.” He sees!

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. John 1:47-48 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Psalms 139:1-4 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. (Check out all of Psalm 139!)

 

February 23 – Found to Follow

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One of the toughest things in the entire world is to get boys to follow. That’s the truth, even if I am a boy. Many of my lumps and bumps came from not following whoever was in charge of leading me at the time.

Very rarely was it because I was being willfully defiant or stubborn. On the contrary, most of the time, it was a matter of memory; I’d forget the instructions about as fast as they were given. At that point, I would follow the first fun-loving notion that popped into my head. Now I’m a dad raising my own crop of boys and nothing’s changed!

I’ll never forget the time my Caleb almost spent the night at the zoo. He was about four at the time and all he had to do was stick with his big brother. That’s it. But between big brother’s own set of distractions and Caleb’s desire to go another direction, when it came time to board and depart, little Caleb was nowhere to be found.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Just about the time Caleb realized he was lost, the park security guard and his big brother came to the rescue. Now, if you were a bit panicked reading this, imagine being the parents hearing about it after the fact! Like I said, getting boys to follow is no easy thing, but very necessary.

In the case of Jesus and Philip, I see Jesus, like a big brother, looking purposefully for Philip. Now, the Bible doesn’t elaborate a whole lot about Philip’s particulars, but it is clear that Jesus sought him and instructed him to follow. The amazing part of the story is Philip’s response. With no questions, no qualifications, and no qualms, he obeyed. God knows, I want to be like that!

The truth is all of us have been sought after by the Lord. And like a big brother, He is telling us “Come, this way.” May we recognize His demands as divine direction. The Father has sent Him to help us get to the right destination without too many “bought lessons.” Today, I make a fresh commitment to pay attention and follow His lead, no qualms. Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you!

 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. John 1:43-44 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

February 18 – Classy Conversations

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Just because something may be true doesn’t mean you go around blabbing it. And sometimes things appear one way when truly they are not that way at all. Those are the moments when you might be glad you don’t open your big mouth.

As a kid, I had a hard time knowing when to be quiet. Back then I was smaller than everybody else so I tried to make up for it with my mouth. One day I let my mouth get me into a good-size mess with some ornery older boys and they decided to teach me a lesson. Several of the neighborhood kids and I were all hanging out at the playground at the end of the block.

All of a sudden, I found myself peddling my “banana seat” bicycle toward my house as fast as I could go. The boys I had smarted off to were about 14 or so and I was only 11. All I could think about was beating them to my front door and diving in before they got a hold of my neck. But as I bolted into my driveway, my dad pulled in.

He surveyed the situation and gave those bullies a few stout words about picking on me. Boy, don’t you know my chest was sticking way out. I thought to myself, “Yeah, you’re not so tough now!” After daddy finished chastising the boys and they rode off, he quickly turned around and got right in the middle of me.

In no uncertain terms, he gave me the “how come” about my mouth. “Son, you better learn when to keep your mouth shut or one of these days somebody might help you shut it!”

I didn’t know it then, but having “class” about when to speak and when to listen is a Biblical principle. I often counsel friends and family members to take their matters to God in prayer first and ask Him for wisdom before they start sharing their ideas with others.

The primary reason I’ve made this a permanent practice in my life is because I’ve come to realize the hard way that words are like toothpaste; once they’re out of the tube, there’s no getting them back inside! So today I invite you to join me in allowing God to further develop discretion in our discussions. And maybe, that way, nobody else will have a chance to!

The Character First I WILL’s for Discretion:

I WILL choose my words carefully

I WILL practice good manners

I WILL listen to criticism

I WILL not make fun of others

I WILL turn down any invitation to do wrong

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6 New International Version

 Biblical Meditation: James 1:19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…

 

                                                                                February 15 – Time Keeps On Ticking                             

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Each day I live I am so reminded of the preciousness of time. My kids are working on scrapbooks, and on a regular basis they show me pictures of days gone by when they were younger. Wow, I think to myself. Where did the time go? In my mind those days aren’t so far removed, but the photos tell a different story.

Whether I like it or not, time keeps on “ticking” and if I don’t manage my share of it, I’ll be the one taking the “licking.” I can’t count the times a wise soul over 70 has confessed to not making the most of every moment when they had the time and were physically able. What’s interesting is meeting older folks who began to view time as a “score card” early on in their life. They are as active now as they were 40 years ago. Why? How? I think they built a habit of time-management so they wouldn’t burn out.

Procrastination comes naturally for most of us. Many times early on in my life I would finish a project at the last minute and not think twice about it. But an intense desire to fulfill my God-given purpose has caused me to get His perspective on how to maximize each moment. And over the years I have found that this can only be accomplished when a person has an intense desire to get the most out of every minute.

Otherwise, human nature kicks in and we waste time and settle for mediocrity. Make no mistake about it, treating time as a resource and managing it takes effort just like anything else. But it is a commodity that grows in value year after year.

There is hardly anything that compares to being able to look back over a year and see that you were able to capture precious moments with your kids, go on dates with your spouse, consistently spend face-time with God, and give the ol’ body a daily workout. I am convinced, we all want to be resourceful, but life has a way of getting in the way…if we let it. Stop letting life steal your moments. It’s time to make your time your own!

Jenny 🙂

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Ephesians 5:16 New Living Translation

 Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

 

 

February 8 – Order in the House!

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Many times as a parent I come across areas that need attention in my own life. This has proven true so many times that I’ve come to believe this is the primary reason for God giving us children. My parents refer to this as “paying for your raising!” Orderliness is one of these areas for me.

Recently, I walked through my boys’ room, and to my surprise (HA), the place had exploded once again. Automatically, I started to let them have it. “How many times do I have to get on to you boys about this room? This place looks like a tornado hit it! Now get it back together!” And I meant every word of it.

Then, as God would have it, I immediately walked back into my OWN room, only to find my closet strangely resembling my boys’ room. OUCH. How did this happen? I know full well how necessary order is in our life, and yet I found myself once again “behind on the basics.” Maybe you can relate.

And if so, there is great news. God never reveals what He, with your help, can’t heal. This is true with any issue we face. So I didn’t take much time whining over my shortcomings. I simply admitted them to myself, AND my boys. I had dropped the ball. And from there, I didn’t spend another moment beating myself up, NOR did I let myself off the hook by making an excuse.

 I believe as long as we are on this planet, we will all have adjustments to make. So, if you are human, there is a possibility you have some unorganized areas to fix. Order is the key component to anything God has set before you.

But don’t panic. If anyone understands our challenges, He does. And He’s already made provision for our lack of vision. So before we can say “help,” wisdom and comfort will come running to meet us.

Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40 NKJV

Biblical Meditation: Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.

 

January 29 – He’s Just My Dad

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When I was a kid, there was a popular 7-UP commercial featuring the welterweight boxing champ of the day, Sugar Ray Leonard. The soft drink company capitalized on the father-son relationship between Ray and Ray, Jr., his son.

The climax came when a group of young boys came through the boxing gym, spotting Sugar Ray in the ring. After recognizing him, they shouted, “It’s the champ!” And Little Ray came back with a simple, “Naaah, it’s just my dad.” What an impression that made on my ten year-old mind.

At the heart of every person is a child longing to know their daddy better than anyone else does. And that little person also wants to be the one who says to the whole world, “Hey, if you want to meet my pops, you’ll want to follow me, because he’s my dad.”

This, in a nutshell, is the beauty of Christ. Through Him, we can waltz right in and take a seat in the lap of the Creator of the Universe. To the world and all that’s in it, God is often known as the Invisible, All Powerful One. But to Christ, He is Abba (another way to say Daddy!).

For all who have discovered the marvelous Christ-connection to God, He is your Papa too. And that places you in a privileged position; you are “Junior” to the world. Now, while the masses seek a glance of the One True God, you can help them out. Yes, He is God, and yes, He is awesome. But to you, He’s Dad!

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. John 1:18

Biblical Meditation: Romans 8:15-17 Message This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

 

 

January 15 – Please Ask First

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Has there ever been a time when something bad happened because you were doing something you didn’t ask for permission to do? Well, that has happened to us many times! One particular incident stands out in our minds.

On a Saturday morning Nathaniel woke me up to suggest that we try to make some oatmeal for breakfast. (And of course we didn’t ask.) So, I got up and we quietly went to the kitchen so we wouldn’t wake up anyone (especially Micah, because she was still working on having an inside voice).

But what can we say, she was only 2! Anyway, we poured a whole box of oats in a pot of water and turned on all the burners. Now just think, a 5 & 3 year-old messing with a stove? Not good!

So then we decided to go tell mom about this idea when all of a sudden she runs in saying “something smells like smoke!’’ Well, our basket near the stove caught on fire!

Thankfully, dad hadn’t left yet and he carried us all to the garage and put the fire out with mom’s water bottle.

So the moral of that story is always, no matter what, you must always ASK FIRST.

For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened. Luke 11:10J

A Dunford Family Classic written by Hannah at the age of 14.