Dear Dad, Happy Father’s Day!

An Open Letter of Understanding

dear DadReading Time: 3 minutes

Dear Dad,

Two years into this fatherhood thing, and I have it all figured out. Not exactly.

In reality, I’m in more over my head today than I was on February 22, 2014 – when I became a dad myself.  Life is crazy.  Life is fast.  And life doesn’t seem to stop, to let me think and get it right the first time.  Instead, life seems to be series of mistakes that I somehow learn from.  But I’m writing all this to you and you’re nodding your head, because you’ve already been there – with me.

I just finished sharing a Father’s Day sermon that I titled: “Going the Distance.”  Jesus said that the narrow path is difficult to find and hard to pursue, but that journey leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). I’ll be honest, it wasn’t difficult to think of ways you’ve gone the distance as a dad.  Here are some of things I’ve learned from your influence in my life:

  1. Being happy and content is a choice worth making.

I’m going to be honest – it sometimes makes me sick how happy you are. Life isn’t always perfect, but with God, we can be perfectly content. #LessonsFromDad Click To TweetThere were times (ie. during your knee replacement) that I just wanted to tell you, “You can be upset if you want to be…you’re allowed…you don’t have to smile if you knee is every shade of blue, red and purple.”  But with every simile and decision to see the positive, I slowly learned (and probably still learning) that being happy and content is a choice not a reaction. Life isn’t always perfect, but with God, we can be perfectly content.

  1. Parenthood is really servanthood.

I’m humbly living this one every day.  I look back at my childhood and I can’t remember lacking anything, and yet you went back to school later in life and money was clearly tight.  I’m learning that parenting is really about serving. #LessonsFromDad Click To TweetI remember being frustrated with so many little things, and yet you provided in ways that made my life easier and your life a little harder.  Everything from turning down career advancements to helping pay for my education.  Time and time again, you thought of me before yourself – it’s a godly principle of selflessness. I’m now a dad to a little girl, who I love dearly, and I’m learning that parenting is really about serving.  Your godly example is what I have to follow.

  1. Respect is difficult to teach, but vital in life.

I know you probably said, “Listen to your mother” more than you wanted, but I learned the importance of respecting those around me – especially women.  I learned the importance of respecting those around me – especially women. #LessonsFromDad Click To TweetTruth be told, I probably never quite understood that until I had a daughter.  Mom was outnumbered, three to one growing up, so family dynamics were slightly different.  I’m already outnumbered, so you can tell mom the tide has turned!  All joking aside, you’re desire to teach respect has instilled much value in me to be an example for my daughter as she learns what to expect from the future men in her life.

I could list more, but this summarizes you well.  Thanks for “going the distance,” and finding and choosing the narrow path. I’m proud to call you dad and I’m even prouder to know your influence on me will impact how I parent my daughter and future children.

Thanks dad! Happy Father’s Day!

Your turn…

What have you learned from your dad?  …if you can, give him a call.

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

The Golden Rule

Christian Love Is Seen In Action

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“The Golden Rule” (also known as respect) has shown its face in so many ways.  Confucius is known to have said, “Do not to others what you would not wish done to your-self.” Rabbi Hillel is attributed with saying, “What is hateful to you, do not do to anyone else.”  And of course, we’ve all heard our mothers say, “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.”

the Golden Rule - love in action http://andrewholm.com/the-golden-rule-love-in-action/

In Matthew 7:12 we find Jesus’ version of the rule.  While the meaning might be similar, the voicing and resulting implications are completely different.  This is what Jesus said:

“So in everything, DO to others, what you would have them DO to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, ESV).

The previous versions are all voiced in the negative. We’re told what we should avoid doing, so it’s not done to us.  Jesus, on the other hand, voiced the rule in the positive.  Jesus told us to do what we would wish others to do – that is, act in love. Jesus told us to do what we would wish others to do – that is, act in #love. #GoldenRule #Matthew7 Click To Tweet

What we’ve made it…

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God Gives Us Everything

Being Amazed by God's Goodness

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Prayer is mentioned a couple of times in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  But in the final segments of the sermon, Jesus mentioned prayer in a slightly different way.  He talked about our connection with the Father.  Yes, Matthew 7:7-11 is about asking God what we need. But more importantly, the text is about is about realizing God gives us good, and not harmful things.  Here’s the text:

Gods Goodness

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11, ESV)

If we are continually amazed by God’s goodness, we’ll quickly see that God gives us everything.

“I’m still blown away by God’s presence,” I tweeted not too long ago.  It’s not that I’m surprised by how amazing God is, or that I’m shocked that His presence can be overwhelming.  I’m simply blown away by how God’s goodness amazes me more today than yesterday and how I’ll say that again tomorrow.

With so many issues and problems in our lives, we often miss our opportunity to simply commune with God.  Isn’t that what God is inviting us to do?  Prayer is not a formula for God to obey us; rather, an invitation for us to obey God.  And it’s in that obedience that we realize God gives us every good thing.

Lyle Dorsett described A.W. Tozer’s prayer life in this way:

“[Tozer] learned much about his Lord and his God in…prayer…with his Bible and hymnals as his only companions…on this ancient office couch…would drift into another realm… In time, he would abandon the couch, get on his knees, and eventually lie face down on the floor, singing praises to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”1

So in this world of chaos, we need to do one simple thing every single day: focus on God’s goodness.  I offer three ways we can do this:

1.     Focus on Our Relationship with God.

When Jesus said, “Ask…seek…knock,” he wasn’t describing a formula for a “guaranteed answered prayer.” Prayer isn’t a persistence to receive, but a persistence to submit.  We have to remember the first beatitude: “blessed are those who are poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3).  Having a complete dependence on God forces us to focus on His goodness.

2.     Focus on God’s Promise to Believers.

It may seem discouraging at times, but good things happen to bad people.  In fact, you don’t even have to pray to experience “blessings.”  Eternal grace and supernatural peace, however, are only extended to those who look to God for help (Romans 10:13; Philippians 4:7).  Don’t focus on the blessings of others, focus on the goodness of God’s eternal promise.

3.     Focus on God’s Promise to Help Us.

Sometimes we may be guilty of thinking if God says, “no,” there must be something even better, around the corner.  This really isn’t the promise.  In fact, the promise is even greater.  God doesn’t promise so much a better gift; rather, a perfect gift and not a harmful one.  The more we focus on how good God is, the more his responses make sense.

God doesn’t answer all our prayers the way we thought He would.  I don’t have an answer for that, and I’m not even sure there’s a good one known to man.2  As Alec Motyer pointed out:

“If…whatever we ask, God was pledged to give, then I for one would never pray again, because I would not have sufficient confidence in my own wisdom to ask God for anything…how could we bear the burden?”3

Our prayers can’t be answered by our wisdom, but by God’s alone.  We won’t fully understand, either, until we see Him face to face.

The only thing I know for sure is that God is good, and He gives us everything we need.

Your turn…

Question: Are you amazed enough by God’s goodness to commune with him? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]

Healthy Judging?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s been said to me, and I’ve said it to others: “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.”  It would appear that judging is not a good idea.  While I would generally agree, we may be ignoring some of the most humbling words of Jesus.  If judging is never appropriate, how do we distinguish between right and wrong?  Within a biblical world view, healthy judging is not only an option, but a requirement for Christian maturity.

Our biggest hurdle is probably the verb “to judge.”  Our culture has defined the term negatively, by where no good can come out of such an activity…unless, by good, you mean watching someone “get what they deserve.”  In any case, the definition isn’t exactly a Christian one.

Jesus simply said: “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).  The Greek word for judge (krino) implies “to pass harsh judgement.”1 John Stott used the word “censoriousness” and defined it this way:

“The censorious critic is a fault-finder who is negative and destructive towards other people and enjoys actively seeking out their failings. He puts the worst possible construction on their motives, pours cold water on their schemes and is ungenerous towards their mistakes.”2

The word “judge” doesn’t refer to our critical thinking, but to our harsh and destructive words and actions towards others.  Our critical thinking helps us, and others, mature in the faith.

Why harsh judgement is a problem

Our harsh judgement is really a form of self-medication to our faults – we can feel better about ourselves, if we tear someone else down with us.  Jesus made the repercussions very clear:

“…with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”3

Others will judge us in the same way we judge them, and God will judge us by the way we judge others.

Understanding our brokenness is the key.  If we stop to realize that we are all broken and in need of God, our judgment of others will naturally become more gracious.

If we realize we are all broken, our judgment of others will naturally become more gracious. Click To Tweet

What Jesus noticed about judging

Jesus used a very visual analogy:

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?”4

We’re clearly broken and have issues in our lives that should keep us humble.  Unfortunately, however, we tend to do three things:

  1. We often ignore our own brokenness (the log).

Just because we’re saved by grace, doesn’t mean we’re perfect.  If anything, we have simply come to the realization of how imperfect we actually are.

  1. We willingly see, even the smallest, issue in others (the speck).

We tend to quickly notice the imperfections of others.  In fact, sometimes we actually look for issues and can’t wait to find something.

  1. We are often taking notice of our own brokenness in those around us.

Subconsciously we may notice our brokenness in others so that we feel better about ourselves.  We might even use that information to improve our spiritual appearance and degrade the appearance of others.

Being saved by grace means we have come to the realization of how imperfect we actually are. Click To Tweet

Becoming a Mature Brother/Sister…

Jesus continued:

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”5

To avoid hypocrisy and become a mature brother/sister to those around us, we have to deal with the brokenness in our own lives first.  After we realize God’s grace and resulting humility, we are able to help others with their brokenness.

With that said, the goal is never to become a “humble corrector in the Lord.” On the contrary, the process of dealing with the brokenness in our own lives will naturally lend itself to the journey of discipleship and Christian maturity.  And then, in humility, “iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

Dealing with the brokenness in our own lives will naturally lend itself to the journey of discipleship. Click To Tweet

But sometimes people aren’t ready…

Let’s face it, not everyone is ready to let receive words of love and mature discipleship.  In this context, we read verse 6 as a warning to believers:

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”6

Dogs and pigs were known to be unclean.  This is not to say that we avoid bringing the truth of the Gospel to those who need to hear it.  It’s simply a warning not to present the truth, especially in terms of correction (as seen in verse 5), to those who are not ready for it.  They could respond with rage like pigs would respond after being tricked into thinking the pearls were food.7  So we must use discernment.

I wish I could say I’ve done this well, but it’s been a growing experience on many levels.  But isn’t that part of our journey towards Christian maturity?

Your turn…

In great humility, we have to ask ourselves: what is in my eye?

If we ask that question honestly, it will remind ourselves of our brokenness, God’s grace and how much grace and love we have to use when we help those who are also broken.

References   [ + ]