Posts Tagged ‘Trust His Heart’

Faith is a learned habit

March 22, 2017
Faith

Faith: We are encouraged to be established and built up in our faith.

Within the past week or two, a number of Quotes of the Day as well as Verses of the Day have focused on faith, including the Quote of the Day for March 22, 2017:

“Faith is a learned habit. Be sure to practice it.”

In reflecting on faith, my mind goes back to a previous entry which included the following comments and poem:

In reading, occasionally one may encounter a double entendre or a figure of speech whereby an expression can have two meanings. Such is the case with “Faith as a Habit,” meaning that a “habit” can be a behavioral pattern that is practiced repeatedly; “habit” can also refer to apparel or clothing that is worn, a garment or costume. As you read and reflect upon the poem and its accompanying scripture, what does “Faith as a Habit” mean and how does apply to you at this time?

Faith as a Habit

And all who have been united with Christ in baptism
And all who have been united with Christ in baptism
have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.

Galatians 3:26

We put on faith as a habit, worn as a garment.
We walk by faith, constantly renewing our mind
With the Word, prospering wherever we are sent.
In serving, we ask to receive–we seek and find
That faithfulness always yields promises fulfilled,
For God is not a man that He should ever lie.
We pray the prayer of faith–with his stripes we are healed,
Being assured that every need God will supply.
Praying in the Spirit or with words we understand,
Crafting prayers to petition or express our praise,
We submit our will and embrace what He has planned,
Mindful of His goodness, as we consider our ways.
We long to listen to hear that we might obey
And trust His heart and act in faith each time we pray.

The opening phrase of the last line of the poem brought to mind a song that has come to mean a great deal, particularly of late, when more than ever we are continuing to learn to “Trust His Heart.” This video provides the lyrics to this most meaningful song:

A time to mourn

December 17, 2016

ecclesiastes-3-4

This past Thursday, December 15, 2016, two dear friends and fellow believers were awakened at 4 a.m. to find their home engulfed in flames. The couple and their beloved dog escaped, but the home, their vehicles, and all of their possessions were totally destroyed.

Most remarkably, last Thursday in an American Literature class I was teaching at Carolina College of Biblical Studies we were discussing the poetry of Anne Bradstreet, devout Puritan poet of 17th Century New England, and we talked extensively about one of her most celebrated works: “Upon the Burning of Our House, July 10, 1666.”

In the reflective narrative poem, Bradstreet escapes from her burning house which is utterly destroyed and prays that God will give her strength to get through the devastating loss. Although she mourns the fact that she will no longer be able enjoy the pleasures that her former dwelling provided, she accepts the loss of her home, recognizing that it belonged to God in the first place. Instead of focusing on earthly possessions which she no longer has, she sets her affection on heavenly matters, recognizing that

Thou hast an house on high erect,
Framed by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished,
Stands permanent though this be fled.

Rather than emphasizing her temporal loss, she chooses to end with the expectation of eternal gain:

The world no longer let me love,
My hope and treasure lies above.

Earlier this month, in a tribute to my father, I discussed the blues as an African American literary/musical form that attempts to vocalize a deep sense of loss. Often the focal point is lost love, but certainly any loss could evoke similar expressions in response. At times the loss is so deeply felt that no words can describe this “grief unspeakable.” Sometimes all one can do is moan in an attempt articulate the depth of sorrow that overwhelms the soul.

Once again we learn the harsh reality that suffering and loss are a part of life; indeed, “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.”  I recall a statement made by some of the elder members of the church where I grew up: “Ain’t no harm to moan . . . sometime.”  This comment became the inspiration for the following poem which also comes to mind at this time:

Ain’t No Harm to Moan . . . Sometime

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Ecclesiastes 3:4

 

Jesus, the Savior said, “Blessed are they that mourn.”

Yes, sir, the Master said, “Blessed are they that mourn.”

Think about that the next time you’re sad and forlorn.

 

Though you may be a witness, proclaiming the gospel news.

Yes, you may be a witness, proclaiming the gospel news.

Yet and still, all God’s children gotta taste the blues.

 

Hard times come–some folk have few, and some have many.

Hard times come–some folk have few, and some have many.

Don’t forget, even Jesus had His Gethsemane.

 

Though dark clouds hang so low you don’t know what to do,

Though dark clouds hang so low you don’t know what to do,

Remember, the sun shines on the other side of “through.”

 

Don’t matter how low you go, how high you climb,

I declare, “Ain’t no harm to moan . . . sometime.”

At times in life we experience perplexing situations that defy our efforts to make sense of the circumstances surrounding us, as we endure heartache, suffering, and loss one more time. During such times the Scriptures remind us that God is our Father, a Father who is deeply touched by our grief. He is the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Here is a wonderful reminder of God, our Father’s compassion, as this moving song offered by Babbie Mason encourages us to “Trust His Heart.

In memory of Victoria Lynn Dunn: A life becomes a legacy

December 10, 2015

Victoria DunnRecently on the very heels of a “mountain top time” of celebrating the goodness of God, as my wife and I were ordained to serve in ministry at Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC, we returned home to learn that a beloved sister in Christ, Victoria Lynn Dunn, one whom we closely worked with over the past years, had suddenly passed away.

Though we know the truth that death is a part of our earthly existence, situations such as this remind us of the truth from Ecclesiastes which so clearly states:

3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

Even so, we still have difficulty grasping this stark reality at times like these. The poet says,

The mind made numb with pain can only try
To make sense of the immense ache that stays.
The answer sounds since Adam but still dismays:
It is appointed unto man once to die.

In response, the Psalmist speaks these words: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Each day provides us with countless opportunities to learn and grow in God. At times such as this the lyrics to the song “Lessons to Be Learned” speak to us:

Just like the seasons, there are reasons for the path we take.
There are no mistakes, only lessons to be learned.

And so we ask God, what are you trying to teach us in this situation where a dearly beloved friend and fellow believer has departed from this life. In this particular situation, we learn to trust in “the God of all comfort who comforts us with the comfort wherewith we able to comfort one another.” A passage Thessalonians reminds us that we are comforted by hope of the Return of Jesus Christ. Most amazingly, the Verse of the Day on the day that Victoria departed from this life was one of the metaphors that Jesus used to describe himself in John 11:25:

Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies;

As believers, we rejoice in knowing that just as Jesus died and rose again, so shall those who sleep in Jesus (or those who die in the Lord, be raised from the dead, and those who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Wherefore, the Apostle Paul says, “Comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NLT) provide great comfort and assurance:

13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.
17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.
18 So encourage each other with these words.

In recalling Victoria Lynn Dunn, my mind is flooded with fond memories. I close my eyes and hear an extraordinary singer with a voice echoing the pathos of legendary blues singers, the deep-seated joy of renowned gospel artists with whispers of jazz stylists all blended with a contemporary sound that was distinctively her own. More than just a great singer, she was a gifted psalmist with a prophetic voice to minister to the heart and soul of in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. In addition our beloved sister in Christ was a scholar of African American literature with a passion to teach, to enlighten and inspire, a poet, and most importantly a teacher with a rhema word from the heart of the Father. She shall surely be missed but during such times of loss, we are sustained by golden memories of a wonderful sister in Christ who touched and enriched our lives in so many ways.

In 2007 Victoria wrote a poem for her sister’s 50th birthday. This excerpt from the poem is a fitting tribute to Victoria Lynn Dunn, as we reflect upon her life and the legacy she leaves behind:

The Life That Becomes a Legacy

The life that becomes a legacy
is never merely measured in days
never simply seen through the haze of unmet expectations
and dreams deferred.

The life that becomes a legacy
is never merely one that teaches
but is one that reaches toward the mark
pressing whether or not it makes it—today.

The life that becomes a legacy
keeps kindly in view tomorrow
and mediates its sorrows
with joys unspeakable
and sometimes spoken.

The life that becomes a legacy
becomes that legacy
despite a history of many things
shattered
broken.

But never destroyed
for even broken things and broken wings can fly
Contrary to the black bard Dunbar
for there Is one far greater than he
and HE wrote your story before ever any bird was caged
HE set the stage of the play that would become the great drama of life.

And HE never sees anything too broken not to care
too broken for repair and, in fact, delights in repairing broken things
broken dreams
and making them new.

We close this blog entry by listening to Babbie Mason who sings “Trust His Heart” to remind us that

God is too wise to be mistaken;
God is too good to be unkind,
so when you don’t understand,
when you don’t see His plan;
when you can’t trace His hand,
trust His heart.

Tribute to Minister Ronnie Lee Hill: Master Chef and so Much More

August 19, 2014
Minister Ron Hill and Dr. J in a photo taken in Columbus, OH.

Minister Ron Hill and Dr. J in a photo taken in Columbus, OH.

Without question, there are times when words seem inadequate to express the depths of sorrow and sense of loss that come with the passing of someone who is close to us. Although the passing of our beloved Minister Ronnie Lee Hill deeply saddens us, we are comforted by the Word of God which reveals so clearly the hope of Christ’s return and the reminder that as believers, we should not sorrow as those who have no hope. We also receive strength and encouragement, as we recall special times that we have shared with our beloved brother and friend.

In reflecting upon the life of Minister Ron Hill, my mind is flooded with warm memories of a passionate minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, devoted husband, loving father, Master Chef, and so much more. Three special encounters with Ron stand out, however, for me.

My friendship with Ron and his wife Renee goes back to the 1ate 1970s when we first met. I had the privilege of performing the marriage ceremony for Ron and Renee in Bloomington, IN, Renee’s hometown and the place where I was enrolled in graduate school at Indiana University.

Our paths diverged and for a number of years we lost contact, but my wife Brenda was led to contact Renee when we were living in Columbus, OH. The Hills came to visit and eventually moved to the Columbus area where we both served in ministry at Equip U Ministries. During this time when I was serving as Professor of English at Otterbein University, I participated in a summer program for local high school students, and I invited Ron to be a guest speaker. He talked with the students about his career as a chef, demonstrating his culinary skills by preparing Caesar salad for the group and explaining the origin of the celebrated salad.

At that time he also talked about the various kinds of chefs, ranging from short order cooks to Executive Chefs. He went on to explain that a Master Chef was not only certified but also qualified to teach culinary arts. I later commented that Ron, indeed, was a Master Chef with a passion to teach not only culinary skills and practices, but he loved to teach the Word of God, as a faithful minister whose life had impacted countless believers across the nation.

One of my most vivid recollections of an encounter with Ron Hill occurred in 1980 when he was coordinator of Food Services at Camp Gunnison, Biblical research training facility outside Denver, CO. I was serving as an adjunct instructor, assisting with a Hebrew class. While there, Ron described a breathtakingly beautiful experience, as he observed the sunrise while sitting on top of a water tower on the grounds of the facility. He invited me to join him the next day, as we climbed the water tower in the early morning darkness and waited. The first rays of the new day illuminated the landscape of the Rocky Mountain in the foreground. The sun rose behind us with its golden rays flooding the snow-covered mountains with a deep purple hue that lightened with the rising sun. As I looked upon this indescribably beautiful sunrise, I understood more clearly the lyrics from “America, the Beautiful,” with its reference to “. . . purple mountain majesty.”  That unforgettable experience was one of those “golden moments” that took my breath away, becoming the inspiration for this poem which has become even more meaningful in light of Ron’s passing:

purple-mountain-majestySunrise

The sun also arises, and the sun goes down,

and hastens to the place where it arose.

Ecclesiastes 1:5

Today I beheld the beauty

of the dawning of the day,

the purple mountain majesty

crowned with mounds of sifted snow

displayed against the molten sky.

I saw no veil, no morning mist.

The sun’s purest rays revealed

mountains of uncut amethyst,

ignited in dawn’s afterglow,

lingering as a fading flame.

Fleeting embers are man’s reward,

tokens of passing pleasures till

we all are gathered with our Lord,

to see Him face to face and know

the sun shall rise to set no more.

We are strengthened and encouraged by the life of that Minster Ron Hill lived and the legacy that he leaves behind.

Many times during painful and perplexing experiences, I think of the lyrics to a song by Babbie Mason, and they express my sentiments during those difficult times. May all those who have experienced the loss of a friend or family member, such as Minister Hill, be fortified and comforted by the words of “Trust His Heart,” a song popularized by Babbie Mason, a contemporary Christian artist:

Father’s Day Tribute 2014

June 15, 2014

Prov. 23,24-25

Today, June 15, 2014, is Father’s Day, and the Verse of the Day from Proverbs 23:24 is apropos of this occasion:

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.

Another verse from the Old Testament related to fathers also comes to mind at this time. In the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament, in Malachi 4:5-6 we find another reference to fathers and their children. This passage provided an introduction to a Father’s Day Tribute last year, and I am re-posting that entry on Father’s Day, 2014:

In the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament, the Scriptures make this declaration:

This passage from Malachi comes to mind as we approach Father's Day 2013

This passage from Malachi 4:5-6 in the New King James Version comes to mind on Father’s Day 2014.

The third Sunday in June is Father’s Day, a day of commemoration and celebration to honor fathers–whether as Stepfathers, Uncles, Grandfathers, or “Big Brothers” or adult male family friends—we recognize all men who have acted as father figures in our lives.

The actual celebration of Father’s Day in the United States goes back to the early part of the 20th Century, when Sonora Smart Dodd, Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington State, first proposed the idea of a “father’s day” in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, who was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. After Mrs. Dodd became an adult, she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

The first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across America other people were beginning to celebrate a “father’s day.” In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day, which is also recognized in a number of countries around the world and celebrated at various times throughout the year. Roses are the Father’s Day flowers: red to be worn for a living father and white if the father has died.

I recalled the lyrics to one of the hymns sung so many times as child and as an adult, which seems most appropriate for this occasion, “Faith of Our Fathers”:

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

The accompanying video provides a rendering of the hymn in celebration of the Fourth of July.

As believers we have a remarkable inheritance of faith, the Faith of our Fathers, that has been passed down to us from countless generations, going back to Abraham, the father of faith, passed on to the mighty men of faith of the Old Testament all the way through to Jesus Christ, for we have received the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Moreover we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in the New Testament and giants of faith who have lived beyond the first Century, as we are still inspired by the lives of great men of faith today. Men of faith inspire faith in others, as this original Father’s Day poem speaks of that priceless inheritance passed on:

Legacies

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain
And generate legacies we pass on
To each generation, father to son,
Heart to heart. The light of life left behind
Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,
Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

II

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all
Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.
Our lives of service are legacies we pass on
To the next generation, from father to son.
With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

We rally to support a brother should he fall.
Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:
A covenant of blood ever seals our union.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.
They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,
Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.
On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall
To view the future where greater victories are won.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

This particular Father’s Day may be a very difficult time for many families who have lost a father, as result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and conflicts elsewhere in the world where many of those who serve in the military have offered that last full measure of devotion and sacrificed their lives. Others may have suffered the loss of their fathers in other ways that are no less painful. A fitting way to close is with this reminder that God is our Father, a Father who is deeply touched by our grief. He is the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Here is a wonderful reminder of God our Father’s compassion, as the song written by Eddie Carswell and Babbie Mason in the video below encourages us to “Trust His Heart.”

Father’s Day Reflections–2014

June 14, 2013

Prov. 23,24-25

Today, June 15, 2014, is Father’s Day, and the Verse of the Day from Proverbs 23:24 is apropos of this occasion:

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.

Another verse from the Old Testament related to fathers also comes to mind at this time. In the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament, in Malachi 4:5-6 we find another reference to fathers and their children. This passage provided an introduction to a Father’s Day Tribute last year, and I am re-posting that entry on Father’s Day, 2014:

In the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament, the Scriptures make this declaration:

This passage from Malachi comes to mind as we approach Father's Day 2013

This passage from Malachi 4:5-6 in the New King James Version comes to mind on Father’s Day 2014.

The third Sunday in June is Father’s Day, a day of commemoration and celebration to honor fathers–whether as Stepfathers, Uncles, Grandfathers, or “Big Brothers” or adult male family friends—we recognize all men who have acted as father figures in our lives.

The actual celebration of Father’s Day in the United States goes back to the early part of the 20th Century, when Sonora Smart Dodd, Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington State, first proposed the idea of a “father’s day” in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, who was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. After Mrs. Dodd became an adult, she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

The first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across America other people were beginning to celebrate a “father’s day.” In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day, which is also recognized in a number of countries around the world and celebrated at various times throughout the year. Roses are the Father’s Day flowers: red to be worn for a living father and white if the father has died.

I recalled the lyrics to one of the hymns sung so many times as child and as an adult, which seems most appropriate for this occasion, “Faith of Our Fathers”:

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

The accompanying video provides a rendering of the hymn in celebration of the Fourth of July.

As believers we have a remarkable inheritance of faith, the Faith of our Fathers, that has been passed down to us from countless generations, going back to Abraham, the father of faith, passed on to the mighty men of faith of the Old Testament all the way through to Jesus Christ, for we have received the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Moreover we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in the New Testament and giants of faith who have lived beyond the first Century, as we are still inspired by the lives of great men of faith today. Men of faith inspire faith in others, as this original Father’s Day poem speaks of that priceless inheritance passed on:

Legacies

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain
And generate legacies we pass on
To each generation, father to son,
Heart to heart. The light of life left behind
Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,
Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

II

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all
Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.
Our lives of service are legacies we pass on
To the next generation, from father to son.
With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

We rally to support a brother should he fall.
Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:
A covenant of blood ever seals our union.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.
They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,
Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.
On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall
To view the future where greater victories are won.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

This particular Father’s Day may be a very difficult time for many families who have lost a father, as result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and conflicts elsewhere in the world where many of those who serve in the military have offered that last full measure of devotion and sacrificed their lives. Others may have suffered the loss of their fathers in other ways that are no less painful. A fitting way to close is with this reminder that God is our Father, a Father who is deeply touched by our grief. He is the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Here is a wonderful reminder of God our Father’s compassion, as the song written by Eddie Carswell and Babbie Mason in the video below encourages us to “Trust His Heart.”

Father’s Day and My Birthday: A Doubly Lovely Day

June 16, 2012

On occasion the third Sunday in June, Father’s Day, coincides with my birthday, June 17, making it a “doubly lovely day.”

As Christian Spirituality Examiner for Columbus, Ohio, I recently posted an article regarding the history of Father’s Day and a listing of local places to celebrate this popular holiday, occurring the third Sunday in June. Click here to read that article. On certain occasions the third Sunday falls on June 17, which providentially is my birthday. This Sunday turns out to be a “doubly lovely day” for me.

Not too long ago I was thinking about Father’s Day and the challenge of coming up with a special gift year after year. As I thought about past years, I recalled something my father, who passed away in 1996, said to me one time when I ran out of ideas and asked if there were anything in particular that he wanted. His reply inspired this poem written on Father’s Day of 2003:

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

There was a time when I would stretch my mind,

Make a list and try to think of the perfect gift,

As we approached Father’s Day, the third Sunday in June.

Now let me see what will it be?

I know . . . a portable radio. . .

What about a shirt—extra large—to fit?

Pajamas, house shoes, another Dopp kit?

Each year I would really try, as I resolved:

No more cologne—not another tie!

One year I ran out of ideas, and so I asked,

“Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?”

He thought awhile and in his own quiet way,

He smiled and had this to say:

“Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Son, just keep me proud of you.”

Now when my daughters ask,

What can they get me for Father’s Day?

I fondly remember, and I smile and say,

“The words of your Grandpa are still true.

As he said to me, so I say to you:

‘Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Girls, just keep me proud of you.”

I also recalled the lyrics to one of the hymns sung so many times as child and as an adult, which seems most appropriate for this occasion, “Faith of Our Fathers.” The accompanying video offers a stirring rendition of  a medley of “Faith of Our Fathers,” “I Know Whom I Have Believed,” and “God of Our Fathers”: three familiar hymns apropos of Father’s Day.

 As believers we have a remarkable inheritance of faith, the “Faith of Our Fathers,” that has been passed down to us from countless generations, going back to Abraham, the father of faith, passed on to the mighty men of faith of the Old Testament, all the way through to Jesus Christ, for we have received the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Moreover, we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in the New Testament and giants of faith who have lived beyond the First Century, as we are still inspired by the lives of great men of faith today. Men of faith inspire faith in others, as this original Father’s Day poem speaks of that priceless inheritance passed on:

Legacies

       I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain

And generate legacies we pass on

To each generation, father to son,

Heart to heart. The light of life left behind

Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,

Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

       II

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all

Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.

Our lives of service are legacies we pass on

To the next generation, from father to son.

With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

We rally to support a brother should he fall.

Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:

A covenant of blood ever seals our union.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.

They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,            

Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.

On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall

To view the future where greater victories are won.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

This particular Father’s Day may be a very difficult time for many families who have lost a father, as result of the War in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world where many of those who serve in the military have offered that last full measure of devotion and sacrificed their lives. Others may have suffered the loss of their fathers in other ways that are no less painful. I would like to close this entry with this reminder that God is our Father, a Father who is deeply touched by our grief. He is the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation,that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Here is a wonderful reminder of God, our Father’s compassion, as in the accompanying video encourages us to “Trust His Heart.”                 

Faith as a Habit

September 14, 2011
Faith: We are encouraged to be established and built up in our faith.

This morning as I was praying and meditating, as a new day began to unfold, I thought of a poem that I had recently revised dealing with faith. As I located the poem in my files, I “happened to see” another poem on the same topic and came back to read it later. That particular poem ministered to me, as I was strengthened and encouraged in my faith. The original inspiration for the poem was a teaching on prayer by Pastor Michael Bivens of Equip U Ministries.

Faith as a Habit

 I put on faith as a habit, worn as a garment.

I walk by faith, constantly renewing my mind

With the Word, prospering wherever I am sent.

In serving I ask to receive–I seek and find

That faithfulness always yields promises fulfilled,

For God is not a man that He should ever lie.

I pray the prayer of faith–with his stripes I am healed,

Being assured that every need God will supply.

Praying in the Spirit or with words I understand,

Crafting prayers to petition or express my praise,

I submit my will and embrace what He has planned,

Mindful of His goodness, as I consider my ways.

I long to listen to hear that I might obey

And trust His heart and act in faith each time I pray. 

The opening phrase of the last line brought to mind a song that has come to mean a great deal to me, particularly of late, when more than ever I am continuing to learn to “Trust His Heart.” This video by Cynthia Clawson also provides the lyrics to this most meaningful song: