Right on Target!

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old they he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 ESV

The old dead elm tree crashed to the ground, right on target, and I shouted, “Praise the Lord!”

The customer, who had been watching us, shouted back, “What do you mean ‘Praise the Lord?’ Didn’t you know where the tree was going to fall?”

“Oh, we did everything to make sure it would fall that way.” I said with a chuckle, “But it sure felt good to see it happen!”

In some ways, raising children is like felling trees. Before we cut a tree, we put a rope in the top to give us the leverage to pull it the right way. To have leverage in our children’s lives we must take advantage of all the ordinary moments to show them, God’s love and what it means to follow the Bible. Now, those moments don’t look very special to us at the time, but one day they will help our kids when they are in danger of falling the wrong way.

Photo by Helena

Secondly, before cutting a tree, we make a pie-shaped directional cut that aims it where we choose. In life, that directional cut is determined by decisions that we make. If we skip church to go to the beach or run up large credit card debts with frivolous spending, we are making a directional cut that, no rope pulling can undo later in life. But if our children see us apologize when we are wrong, help a friend when it really costs us something and forgive people who have hurt us, they learn more about being a Christian than anything they will hear in church.

Last of all, we make a back cut that slices away the wood until the tree begins to fall. This is the scariest part, both with children and trees. That is when we lose control, and change, for better or worse is upon us. That is when our children make adult decisions that will change their lives forever. We have given them God’s guidelines, loved them through the ups and downs of life, but as we cut them loose, we close our eyes and pray urgently! For one terrifying instant, they hang between heaven and earth, and we know that even if we could have done everything right, there are no guarantees. Remember that God did everything perfectly in Eden and His children still went the wrong way. But, oh there is rejoicing in those wonderful moments when open our eyes and see our kids land right on target and then we shout with joy, “Praise the Lord!”

A Father’s Compassion – Guest Post

This week I would like to introduce my friend Pastor Janice Burnett. Janice not only helps with her contributions to our Sunshine Newsletter, but she also is a chaplain and overseer of nursing home outreach in several facilities in western New York. I appreciate that she has graciously given me permission to share this article and photograph as a testimony to her dad and insight into the even more amazing compassion of our heavenly Father.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear
him; for he knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14 NIV

As a young adult, once when I borrowed our family car, I had a minor accident. Don’t ask me what I was thinking when I thought that my dad wouldn’t notice the scrape on the back fender when I came home so I didn’t mention it to him. You’re right – I wasn’t thinking! It wasn’t long before I heard my name being called – but in a very calm fashion. ” What happened, Jan? And were you going to tell me about it?” I honestly don’t remember anything about the rest of the conversation or if the scrape was ever repaired. However, I remember very clearly that I felt terrible about keeping this incident from my father and the very calm and compassionate way he dealt with me about it. King David identified with this when he wrote those words, then he went on to tell us that God’s love for those who fear Him, is so great that He removes all our transgressions far, far away from us. Not only that, but God also remembers how we are made (out of dust, no less) and His righteousness remains as a blessing forever with all the generations who follow His commands. The compassion of my wonderful earthly father is wonderful because it gives me a picture of the tremendously huge compassion of our amazingly wonderful heavenly Father. Now what could be more beautiful than that?

Just Like Dad – Guest Post

Re-introducing Rob Keller: Rob is a friend of mine who is not only the graphic artist behind the layout of our weekly publication Sunshine Newsletter; but he is also a writer of some of the articles. Seeing as Father’s Day is just a bit over a week away, here is one more look at being a dad.

Growing Up to be Just Like Dad by Rob Keller

Every July, my dad would bring our family to his company’s annual picnic. Because it was mostly adults and I was still a kid, I would get bored because there just wasn’t much for me to do. So, to make things interesting, I decided to entertain myself by seeing how many hot dogs, hamburgers, and steak sandwiches I could consume. On our way home, I would announce my stats and wait for the amazement to come rolling in. Aside from being a little queasy, I felt like a true champion. I had won the boy versus food challenge. As I look back at all of those picnics, there was one thing that left a lasting impression on me. All-day long, my father exchanged warm greetings and good-natured banter with a seemingly endless array of coworkers. Clearly, everyone liked my dad, and I was proud of him for that and wanted to grow up to be like him. By example, he taught me how to get along with the people around me and make them my friends.

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 NLT

I thank God for my dad, but maybe you had a distant or even abusive relationship with yours. But no matter what our earthly fathers are like, we all have a Heavenly Father who is perfect. As we spend time with Him in prayer and trust in His word, He begins working in us by His Holy Spirit. As we face complicated circumstances and difficult people in our everyday life, He helps us to grow up to be more like Him. The more time we spend with him, the greater His influence will be in our lives. Jesus’ life showed the world exactly what His Father is like. He said,

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. ” John 14:9 NIV

Even though we aren’t perfect like Jesus, as we follow Him, we can become examples of our Father in Heaven’s character to our children, friends and neighbors. Those things we have learned from God through the years are the best inheritance we can leave behind for our children. Which of God’s attributes do you want them to see?  

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I love you and I love everything about you! Please help me to grow to be more like you. I pray that the people around me would see you in me.