Once again, I want to thank you for your prayers for my dad. He was released from the hospital today (Wednesday, June 29) and is recovering and resting comfortably at home.
The past week has been somewhat stressful for me...but it has also been educational as well. In the past I have told you about my “homiletic habit” (where I observe everyday things and come up with Scriptural applications). Well, that was in full force over the past week to ten days.
One really important lesson concerns taking things for granted. This lesson came to me in a number of ways.
I have always just figured my dad would be there if I needed him. On Tuesday of last week, as I was helping him straighten their garage and he began pointing out to me which box held this important paper and that important paper...it hit me like a ton of bricks: if the surgery did not go as planned, well, reality set in.
Then came the day of the surgery. We had been told it was scheduled for 12:30 PM. We actually arrived at the hospital an hour ahead of when we were told to arrive. Things moved quickly and we were in the pre-op room when the nurse said the surgery was scheduled for noon.
We told her we’d been told 12:30 (not that we were complaining). She looked and, sure enough, one paper said noon and one said 12:30. This was all moot, though, when she came in at 11:55 AM and said 1:30 was the new start time...a little later it was 2:00...then 2:30.
It was just before 3:00 when we were told 4:00, so my mom and I decided to go eat lunch at the snack bar. We had no sooner picked up our food and sat down at the table then the nurse came out and said the doctor was in the room!
Then, after the surgery...let’s just say that there are certain things that we all do that, if one has just had abdominal surgery, they must do in order to start eating again. It’s a simple thing, but it took my dad about five days to start again.
We are so prone to take things for granted. My dad will always be there for me...surgeries will start on time (OK, this one is stretching it a bit)...seemingly “simple” things that we all do without even thinking about them.
But the truth is that none of us is guaranteed that we will be here tomorrow. Just because Jesus hasn’t come back yet, He is coming and it will be when you least expect it...perhaps just as you start to try and relax a bit. And even “simple” things are really very important...so always do your best!
San Antonio—(OK, right now (when I’m writing this) I’m not in San Antonio; but right now (when you are reading this) I am in San Antonio, probably still at North Central Baptist Hospital following my dad’s surgery).
This past Sunday was Father’s Day...a day set aside to honor dear ol’ dad with wonderful gifts that he’ll possibly use/wear once. (I remember a gray and yellow bow tie that we gave my grandfather one Father’s Day. I must have born some responsibility for the choice, because when he passed away, my grandmother made sure that I was given that tie...I don’t know what happened to it!)
As I mentioned, I made a special trip to San Antonio to be with my dad (and mom) during an especially stressful time for him. Why? Because I care for and love him. Because, well, he is my dad!
But, as I think about it, not only was this past Sunday Father’s Day...this coming Sunday is as well. We have set aside each and every Sunday to be a day when we honor our Heavenly Father.
Unlike the gifts we give our earthly father, though, the gifts we give our Heavenly Father are ones that He actually uses...all the time.
I’m not talking about the money we put in the collection plate each Sunday, I’m talking about the gift of ourselves.
In 2 Corinthians 8:5, Paul, in speaking about the generosity of the Macedonian churches says, “...they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.”
When we became a Christian, we presented our self to God as an offering...to be used as He desired.
This means that, really, every day is Father’s Day...every day I must give myself to my Father, for Him to use in whatever way pleases Him.
At some point in the past few weeks I was watching the Copa America Centenario (that’s a pretty significant soccer tournament being hosted by the USA during the month of June) and somebody (I think a former US National Team member), while commenting about some member of some team, in some game in the tournament said something that stuck with me.
The player being commented about had scored an absolutely amazing goal: the pass came in and he headed the ball down and into the goal. Had he headed it any other direction, the goalie would have made an amazing save. But, because he headed it down, it was a goal.
What the color commentator said, in effect, was that you really don’t know what you are thinking...actually you probably are not thinking...instinct just takes over when you’re in that situation.
The play-by-play guy laughed at him for “thinking like a player” in answering the question with “I don’t know.”
But, really, the color commentator was right. As one who has played soccer (not quite at a National Team level) I can assure you that if you have to stop and think about what you’re going to do in a game, by the time you make your decision the opportunity you were thinking about will be gone.
Practice is for thinking. Practice is when you do countless hours of drills and exercises. Practice is where you hone your skills and your body...so that, when you’re in a game, you don’t have to think: it’s all instinct...you just act.
Soccer isn’t the only sport where this is true. Really in all sports you think at practice and you play at the game. But such is not just the case in sports.
In our Christian life, we have practice times (or training times). When we come together to sing, study, pray, etc. this is our time to think and prepare ourselves for action.
When we walk out of the doors, though, it is “game on!” Satan is going to hit us with everything in his arsenal. If we have to spend time thinking about how to resist his temptation...suddenly we’ve lost the battle and we don’t know what or how it happened.
When we are out in the world, our instinct needs to take over when we face temptations. And that instinct needs to be to get as far away from it as possible, and to do so as quickly as possible.
That kind of instinct only comes from assembling every time you have opportunity with your fellow competitors to train and to “practice.”
I saw the following story somewhere on the Internet at some point in the past couple of weeks and wanted to share it with you...
A young man went to seek an important position at a large printing company. He passed the initial interview and went to meet the director for the final interview.
The director looked at his resumé, and asked, “Have you ever received a scholarship for school?”
“No,” the man replied.
“It was your father who paid for your studies?”
“Where does your father work?”
“My father is a blacksmith.”
Then, the director asked the young man to show him his hands. They were soft and perfect.
“Have you ever helped your parents at their job?” the director continued.
“Never. My parents always wanted me to study and read more books. Besides, he can do the job better than I can.”
“I have a request for you,” said the director. “When you go home today, go and wash the hands of your father, and then come see me tomorrow morning.”
The young man left feeling good about the interview.
That night, when he returned home, he asked his father if he would allow him to wash his hands.
His father felt rather strange about the request, but agreed.
The young man washed his father’s hands, little by little. It was the first time that he noticed all the wrinkles and scars on his father’s hands.
Some bruises on his hands were so painful that his skin shuddered upon being touched.
It was the first time that the young man recognized what it meant for this pair of hands to have worked every day to be able to pay for his studies.
The bruises on his father’s hands were the price that he paid for his child’s education and future.
After cleaning his father’s hands, the young man stood in silence, then began to tidy up his father’s workshop. That night, the father and son talked for a long time.
The next morning, the young man returned to the director’s office. The director noticed the tears in his eyes.
“Can you tell me what you did, and what you learned yesterday?” he asked the young man.
“I washed my father’s hands. When I finished, I stayed and cleaned his workshop.” He continued, “Now I know what it is to appreciate and recognize that, without my parents, I would not be who I am today. By helping my father, I now realize how difficult it is to do something on my own. I have come to appreciate the importance and the value in helping the family.”
The director looked at him with an earnest expression .
“This is what I look for in my people. I want to hire someone who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the hardship of others. You are hired.”
A child who has been coddled constantly usually develops a self-righteous mentality, and will always put himself first, ignoring the efforts of his parents.
You can give your child a big house, good food, computer classes, and a flat-screen TV. But when you’re washing the floor or re-painting a wall, please let him experience that, too.
The most important thing is that your children learn to appreciate the lives you have given them, and to experience the difficulties of life, to have the ability to work with others to get things done.
As most of you are aware, we have been advertising the web site http://www.12questionsnwa.org for a while now. Although all of the sessions in the annual Northwest Arkansas churches of Christ Lectureship (October 16-19, 2016) will be taking place in Springdale (except, of course, the Wednesday night preacher exchange), each of the other three sessions (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday) will be streamed live on the website.
We still have some of the business card advertisements that you can take to pass out at your place of business or to your friends, or even to strangers on the street.
So go online and ask your question. Ask your friends to go online and ask their question...even if it is the same question. Hard questions are welcome.
Another upcoming event is, as of today (Wednesday, June 1, 2016), only 47 days away is our Vacation Bible School. This year our theme is “Overcoming Obstacles to be Victorious” and will use the Olympics as a “backdrop.”
Our stories are Joshua and Jericho, Sampson, the paralyzed man brought to Jesus, and Saul (Paul).
The dates are July 18-22. The ages of children are from 2 years old through 6th grade. Each evening will begin with a meal at 5:30 PM, followed by VBS from 6:00-8:00.
Just like last year, we have purchased yard signs to help advertise our VBS. Thus far, six of the yard signs have been “spoken for”...19 more still need a home for the next 47-52 days. Just ask me and I can hook you up with one.
Something new this year that we need your help with is that we also have some business card size advertisements. These look just like the yard signs (and the big banners we will soon put in front of the building) but you can actually give these to those you invite.
We have plenty of these cards, so please, lets make sure we use them all to bring God the glory!!