Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Winning by Losing

Phil Wilson was a man of integrity. He was most of all kind and generous. He was soft-spoken and respectable. In business he was not only visionary, but he worked hard, always multitasked, and he treated his employees with respect and consideration. In fact, he treated them in such a way as to always tip the scales in their favor. If there was ever a need he would go the extra mile. Phil Wilson graduated this past week from this earthly life into eternity. I will always have fond memories of his genuine compassion and sincerity as well as his kindness and friendship and support which he expressed to me directly.

Phil used to say that if he were to ever write a book about his life it would be entitled, “Winning by Losing.” When those close to him were trying to understand why he sacrificed so much and often took losses to bless others, they were prone to wondering why Phil would be willing to go to such lengths. But Phil Wilson had discovered the key to living a life free from guilt and regret. He made sure to not leave any room for doubt concerning his love for the Lord and for people. He was the perfect example of what it meant to be an honorable businessman.

It occurs to me that when our Savior walked the earth he perfected the art of winning by losing. From His humble birth to his persecution and death, and every minute in between, His life was a constant series of losses. His family mocked him and thought he was crazy when he began His ministry. He traveled long dusty roads and depended on others for his sustenance. He said, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58) He chose the prime years of his life to teach 12 men how to win by losing. He was ridiculed, reviled, and rebutted every day. Eventually he was friendless, rejected by His people, and hanging on the cross as the scourge of all humanity.

When others would have taken vengeance, He forgave. When others would have accepted praise, He retreated to seclusion. When others would have used such power to become famous, he said, “Tell no one.” When others would have used such wisdom to promote their greatness, He simply responded with questions to cause people to grow. The little that He had in the physical realm He shared or gave away. He was even willing to remain on the cross when those who were killing Him challenged Him to prove Himself by coming down.

If we are truly disciples of Christ, our lives will be models of how we can win by losing. We will think of the needs of others above our own. We will love people according to their best interest. We will deny ourselves to supply others. We will take pleasure in our losses when it results in somebody else’s gain.

Phil’s son-in-law remarked about this book that never had been put to paper, that had it been written it would have been a best seller. He is probably correct. But in a sense it has been written. It was actually written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But it was not about the life of Phil Wilson. It was about the physical life of the one and only Son of God. Jesus gave it all. All to Him I owe. He won by losing. So will I.

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” ~ Matthew 16:25

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Must Do's for Dads

Happy Father's Day! If you are a father you are blessed. If you have or have had a godly father you are beyond blessed. Unfortunately, many children are growing up today without a positive spiritual influence from their father. Some do not have any kind of relationship with their physical father at all. Still some fathers, though present in their children's lives are too busy spending time in the world to spend time with their families. But I know some GREAT men who deeply love the Lord and who are strong spiritual leaders. These men all have several things in common - things they practice that qualify them as good fathers and teach others what being a man of God is all about.

So here are some "Must Do's" for dads:

1. Be your family's "worship leader." I always think it is interesting anymore to hear about churches hiring and paying "worship leaders." Really? I don't see that anywhere in the New Testament. What is needed is a father in every household who is a worship leader. Job was. Abraham was. Cornelius was. It worked out pretty well for their families spiritually speaking. A father who loves the Lord and the church above all else will likely produce children of the same persuasion.

2. Love the mother of your children. Without a word your wife and the mother of your children should be the same woman. This is God's plan. When we think about our children's future - what are we hoping for? If we are in our right minds we would think about heaven first, and this earthly life second. When we consider their future here, we should be praying that one day they will find a Christian spouse who will love them and be committed to them for life. Real men will express love to their wives in the daily activities that will be witnessed by the whole family. Children will find comfort and rest and joy and love in a home where men love their wives as Christ loved the church. A man who loves his wife will nourish and cherish her. This will equip her with the ability to do the same for the children.

3. Let your favorite hobby be your kids. I have counseled failing marriages for years now. A common problem in these struggles is a man who has checked out on his wife and kids. He always wants to golf, be at the lake, go hunting, or engage in some other "me time." I was entrapped by this once myself - and thankfully, only for a short time. Satan was lying to me. I was miserable. The outings did not provide the happiness and solitude they had promised. A man who wants all of his hobbies to be away from his wife and kids is a selfish individual. The greatest things he has going, and the most important people he will ever influence - live between the corners of his house.

4. Take pride in what you provide. My father taught me that there is no substitute for hard work when it comes to expressing the value of those who have been entrusted to your care. The size of your house, the newness of your car, and the amount of money you have in the bank are not what make you a successful man. But working and sweating and sacrificing for what you have is honorable at all times. When you give your all every day with your wife and children as the objects of your love and sacrifice, you can rest easy on your pillow at night. In time your family will understand what you have done for them. They will love you and respect you - not for the rest of your life - but for the rest of theirs.

If you will be a spiritual leader, love your wife, spend time with your children, and provide for your family, you will fulfill your God-ordained purpose and duty as a father. The satisfaction you will receive from doing these things will far outweigh the sacrifices. You will enjoy deserved rest. You will have peace of mind and peace with God. Your life and your heart and your home will be filled with all the fullness of God.

"The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him." ~ Proverbs 23:24

Monday, June 2, 2014

"Faint Not"

2 Corinthians 4:1 - "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not." 2 Corinthians 4:16 - "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." Ephesians 3:13 -"Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory." The King James version delivers the expression by Paul, "faint not." The term means, "Don't lose heart," "Don't be discouraged," or, "Don't give up."

In 2 Corinthians 4:1, the idea is that we won't give up on our ministry as Christians because we have the tender mercies of God.

In 2 Corinthians 4:16, we are encouraged to not lose heart about our physical ailments and aging because we are growing spiritually and towards the perfection that will have its completion upon our transition from earth to heaven.

In Ephesians 3:13, the apostle Paul tells the church at Ephesus not to be discouraged about his sufferings because they amount to their salvation.

"Faint not" is a wonderful statement that belongs in the life of a Christian. We have eternal goals that will not be realized while we are here. We have good reason to endure whatever trials may befall us because of the things that lie ahead.

We also heed the command to "faint not" because we need to learn patience. Sometimes we give up too quickly. Abraham was impatient with the promise. Paul was impatient with John Mark. Jonah was impatient with God. We put a time frame on results over which we have no control. If we are wise we will simplify our lives into doing God's work and leave the timing and future results up to Him.

I was reminded of this just this past Sunday. A family, who I had originally contacted two years ago, visited our congregation. It didn't happen overnight, but according to the grace of God circumstances worked out for them to be with us. I love these people and I hope they will eventually become a part of our spiritual family. Clarence DeLoach was correct in the Sunday evening prayer when he mentioned it is not our responsibility to produce results, but rather we are here for the sowing.

This is a hard lesson to learn for any Christian who wants to make an impact. We want to see physical results. But how can you see what is really going on in the hearts of people with whom you have real influence? Perhaps the change they are experiencing is too beautiful and transcendent for the human mind to perceive and too glorious for the weakness of man to observe in the flesh. When we use that part of us that is made in the image of God, to touch the part of others that is made in that same image - we find ourselves in heavenly realms much too wonderful for us to know.

So let's do kingdom work until Jesus comes. And whatever the obstacles, difficulties, or discouragements - press on, Christian family. Press on and faint not!

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." ~ Galatians 6:9