Monday, October 12, 2009

A Saint Goes Home

Tracy Klicka details the last hours of Chris' life on this earth with a moving testimony on CaringBridge. Chris was one of the heroes of the homeschooling movement, working tirelessly to gain and keep this freedom for us.

Please pray for the Klicka family as they both grieve and rejoice for their husband and father.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Childlike Joy...

As I was out walking our puppy and enjoying the beautiful end-of-summer weather, I noticed how he took note of everything from the stray leaf to the (to my eyes) unseen insect. There was an excitement and a joy to all he saw. He would pounce on a leaf and then chase it if he missed. It caused me to ruminate upon a time when our children were very small, especially our first-borne.

I recall sitting with her out in the back yard of our home and noting how much joy she found in the smallest of things, from a dandelion flower to a leaf to a bug. It struck me at the time how, in her eyes, it was all new and exciting, whereas to me as an adult it had become routine and mundane. That thought was renewed as I watched our puppy play.

It made me also think of how Jesus asks us to come to him "as little children." Often we interpret that to mean "childlike faith" or "faith that doesn't think too much!" Instead, maybe we should think about the joy that a new Christian (babe in Christ) has as he sees for the first time the beauty of his Savior, as he reads the marvelous words of Scripture with new eyes, as he rejoices in the smallest moves of his God. Do we as "mature" Christians still do that? Or has it become routine and mundane? Has our worship become fitful and routine? Has our Scripture reading become blase? Have we lost the wonder that the Creator of the universe condescended to become a helpless baby in a manger? Has the thought of God Himself dying a torturous death on a Roman cross become just another "given"?

Sadly, I know from experience that the answer to those questions is at some point in a believer's life, "yes."

Do you remember the wonder and joy you had as a new believer? Do you desire to regain that?

Jesus desires that for you. Remember His admonishment of the church in Ephesus, that they had abandoned their first love. He wants your a first love! So give it to Him.

Read His Word with anticipation of the Holy Spirit illuminating it in your heart. Pray (and listen) with the knowledge that the Father hears you. Watch for the little things each day that point to a God Who cares for the smallest details of your life, even when it doesn't look like things are going the way you would have planned. He numbers the hairs on your head! Consider where you came from and that you have a Savior who made it possible for you who were an enemy of God to become an adopted child of the King! Take time for Him in meditation on His Word and in prayer, not as an evangelical "quiet time" duty, but rather as an intentional desire to draw closer to Him in all aspects of your life. When the King commands something for you, His adopted child, in the Scripture...then DO it! Do it both because He is King and because He is your loving Father, Who wants the best for you. And in doing His commands not out of a desire to gain favor, but out of a desire to please your Father, you show you LOVE Him.

And that childlike joy and excitement will once again be yours.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Come to Christ!

In all we do as humans, as husbands, as fathers...nothing is as important as knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This wonderful short video put together by the folks at featuring a portion of a sermon by Paul Washer does a powerful job of making the call to "Come to Christ!"

Friday, May 01, 2009

I Killed My Dog...

A bit over a week ago, our precious companion of over a decade died, leaving behind a family with hearts broken from the excruciating pain of loss. (I posted a tribute to him HERE.)

It's one thing to talk of death and dying, and quite another thing to see it up close, to see breath and life (even life that is in the midst of uncontrollable seizures) one moment and then to see stillness and death the next. Death is ugly. Death is hideous. Death is sinister. There are no redeeming qualities in death. Yet, death is a fact of life, the ultimate end of all living things.

Why? Why did my furry friend have to die? He never commited a single sin; there was nothing in him that warranted the sentence of death. At least with humans, we know they themselves sinned, and thus brought upon themselves the penalty of death. Not so with animals!

The answer is both simple and frightening: He died because I sin.

It is my sin, and the sin of all humans that causes the entire world to be under the curse of death, groaning for the day of redemption (Romans 8). In effect, I killed that beautiful creature because I sin. He didn't deserve death, yet death sought him out because of me.

What does that mean? It means I must quit shrugging off my sin as something minor. It's not minor. Every sinful action, inaction, or thought is an affront to a holy God and results in death. Sin is NOT minor; it is like death: ugly, hideous, and sinister. My outlook to my sin needs to change such that I see it for the horridly awful thing it is. Some of the saints of the past (Owen, I think) referred to the need to "mortify" your sin. In other words, as Christians, we are to see the sin for the ugly thing it is and kill it!

How does one do that? First and foremost is to be in the Word, for without that, you don't even know what your sin is! The Word will slice and dice your heart to the point of showing every little speck of ugliness. Take each speck and kill it with prayer, repentance, and the help of the Holy Spirit. In repentance, don't walk, but run, to the foot of the Cross where you can find forgiveness. With that forgiveness comes new life as we become more and more like Jesus, our Savior, Redeemer, and Friend. With that new life comes the hope of heaven where we know the ugliness of sin and death is defeated and banished for all of eternity. No more will we hurt from the pain of loss. No more will we fall into sin and ugliness. No more will we fail our Father. No more will any of our beloved die. And no more will we be separated from the glory and joy that is our God in Jesus Christ!

Maranatha! Come soon, Lord!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Tribute to My Faithful, Furry Friend

Nikolai 7/13/89-4/24/09

Those who have never experienced the devoted love of a wonderful dog have missed out on one of God's greatest gifts. We speak so often of unconditional love, but God has given us a real-life example of it in the love a dog has for his "pack."

Nikolai was such an example. For ten and a half years, he has been by our family's side, through ups and downs, through moves, through daily life. He never once complained if we forgot about him, yet he always rejoiced when we included him. Walks were something to be celebrated, even when they might have been a bit long in warm weather for a heavily-coated dog. Rides in the car were always anticipated...even when they ended up at the vet! It really didn't matter, as long as he was with one of us.

He loved homeschooling! Why? Because it means we are home! He spent many a happy hour curled up on the coach with mom and daughter as they worked through assignments.

He was a "rock star!" Wherever we went, Nikolai was the center of attention with people of all ages stopping to admire and pet him. He gave love to all he encountered in life.

When he was younger, he loved playing "soccer" with a basketball. When there was just a bit of snow on the ground, he would chase the red dot from a laser pointer around the entire yard. He was fabulously beautiful to watch when he ran...long, loping strides with that beautiful tail unfurled behind him.

And that smile. He smiled a lot, even when he hurt from his infirmities, because he was happy to be at home with us.

Then he got sick, and we got to give some of that love back by nursing him back from near death to a healthy weight. And throughout it all, he never quit smiling. His gentle nature allowed him to put up with innumerable shots, needle-pricks by inexperienced, but loving hands, and pill after pill after pill.

And then, without warning, it all ended.

If the depth of the pain and the number of tears shed are any indication of the love we had for him, then he was the most loved puppy in the world.

Yet in the midst of this deep, deep grief, we praise God for the gift he gave us in Nikolai. The joy we have received from him over the years more than makes up for the seemingly insurmountable pain we are experiencing right now. God is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), and that is our family.

Please Lord, draw near....