Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
As we move into July, we continue in our 2017 Bible Reading Plan. You can download your copy here or pick up a printed copy at one of our H.S.B.C. Connect Stations.
Over the course of the past year, Stephanie and I have both lost over 85 pounds It's been an incredible year of discovering more about who we are and experiencing new freedoms that we never thought possible. Of course, people ask lots of questions about it:
How did you do it?
What are you doing?
What are you eating?
What are you not eating?
What exercise regimen are you following?
Getting fit takes good nutrition and a solid exercise regimen. But, perhaps, more importantly, it also takes the right mindset. This has been quite a journey...but like every journey, there was a critical first step - one action that started us down this road.
Our journey all started with a single decision. We got fed up with disease and DECIDED to make a change. It has been said in many ways, Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.
That was true for us. We were both sick and tired of being sick and tired. We battled with a litany of chronic health-related problems: High blood pressure, high blood sugar, sleep apnea, achy joints, easily winded and very low energy. Sometimes you don't even know how far down you've actually allowed yourself to go.
We both came to a place where we said, "ENOUGH"! We knew that our health was jeopardizing our ability to effectively parent, our long-term prospect of being actively involved in the lives of our kids (and hopefully one day grandkids), and would ultimately place an undue burden on others. I also knew that my health was impacting my ministry. I certainly don't want to "over-spiritualize" the problem, but we knew that this was going to require drastic action.
Jesus called for radical action against sin in this way:
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell! Matthew 5:30
So we took those words to heart... Drastic times call for drastic measures. We knew that food had become an idol and that it was becoming a stumbling block for obedience to Christ.
We had tried a myriad of diets and exercise plans only to regain weight and often gain even more than was lost. After a great deal of prayer, we decided that gastric sleeve surgery was the best option for our health. Dr. Donald Balder was our surgeon.
In September, we had the surgery back to back on the same morning. This was one of the greatest decisions we have ever made. It fundamentally changed our relationship with food from a source of entertainment / comfort / pleasure / medicine / stress relief, etc...to food as fuel! We no longer live to eat...but now eat to live.
The Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) is a procedure to remove part of the stomach and join the remaining portions together to make a new banana-sized stomach or "sleeve." With just a small sack (about 1/10th the size of the original stomach), you feel full a lot quicker than before, and you can't eat as much.
It is a tool...and only a tool, certainly not a magic bullet. We have incorporated healthy eating habits, an exercise regimen and a new outlook on health and wellness. The decision to change was key!
There is no secret solution to weight loss and fitness, but there are some non-negotiables:
You MUST take in fewer calories that you expend. (simple math... calories are king)
You MUST focus on quality of calories!
You MUST hydrate your body.
You MUST get adequate rest.
You MUST NOT rely on any one type of food (your body needs protein, carbs, and fats...but the right ones)
You MUST recognize that your happiness can't be derived from food. Find your joy in Christ and enjoy food as a gift from God. Don't rely on food to bring comfort or stress relief...that leads down a dangerous path.
In terms of actual nutrition, here is the basic plan we follow:
Evangelist, Billy Graham once said that ""A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society." Strong words...but truer words may have never been spoken!
The measure of a father's impact in the life of his children and upon society is almost incalculable! Perhaps the fact that God revealed Himself to us as a loving, Heavenly Father should be indication of the intrinsic value of this role!
"The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him." -- Psalm 103:13
On this weekend that we celebrate fatherhood... here is a prayer for dads from Matt Haviland, founder of A Father's Walk:
We come before you today humbled and in awe of Your grace and mercy. Lord, we thank You for the way You have designed what a family is supposed to look like and the specific roles You have ordained to a mother and a father of how to lead their children. Yet Lord, through our sinful ways we have taken what You have made holy and created our own version of today’s families. Because of this, our children are suffering. It is for the fathers, families, and children of our nation that we do pray today.
Lord, we pray specifically for fathers and fatherhood across our land. Your Word clearly instructs fathers to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). God, we thank You for the men who are leading according to Your statutes and the ones that are laying their lives down for Your purposes. We pray that You will continue to use these men to lead their families and other men. We pray You will strengthen the fathers of our nation and that You will continue to empower churches, organizations, and individuals to invest in fathers and fatherhood for the sake of our children.
God, we pray for the single fathers out there; whether they are raising their children alone or even if they are doing the best they can with the time they have. We pray for strength, protection, wisdom, and discernment to help them through whatever trials they may be facing. Thank You Lord for these men and please guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, help meet all of their needs, that they may experience Your peace that surpasses all comprehension.
Jesus, we pray for the dads out there who are being alienated from their children right now. We pray, oh Lord, that You would shield and shelter them from the pain and possibly the anger that may be rising up in them, for You to strike down the barriers that are hindering these dads from seeing their children. God, do not let this destroy them as men, fathers, or in their relationship with You. They need You in a mighty way and we pray You would show Yourself strong on behalf of anyone that is being alienated from their children and that You would reunite these families together.
Lord, we lift up the dads right now that are not stepping up to the plate as fathers, for whatever reason. Once again, we have allowed the evil one to get into our lives and wreak havoc on what You have said is good. We pray for these men to come to their knees and repent, that they would turn from their ways, seek You, and come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Father, we pray for their children and the moms who are parenting alone because of these men’s decisions. We pray You would step in as a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows in these situations, that their story would be another testimony that nothing is too hard for You.
Finally, Father we lift up the men and women that are on the front lines in the battle for fatherhood and the war against fatherlessness. God, You clearly put leaders of all calibers in positions of influence: from the highest ranks to the least of these. However we know that with men these initiatives would fall short, but with You all things are possible. We pray for everything from the right funding for the programs to continue, to godly leadership from beginning to end. We pray for a revival of manhood and for fathers to lead their families by beginning each day on their knees. God Your Word says that You will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers (Malachi 4:6). As our Creator, Savior, and heavenly Father, we believe that this will bear eternal fruit- that generational curses will become generational blessings, restoring our families back to the way that You intended.
We come into agreement as we read and speak this prayer out loud that this is a nation that is desperate not only for our earthly fathers to rise up to the challenge, but more importantly, that they need to follow You, Father, as their ultimate guide and example.
It is in the wonderful, precious, and matchless name of Jesus Christ that we pray, Amen.
Also...Here are a few free devotionals for dads! Your kids will reap the benefits of your investment! Be intentional and make an impact! Happy Father's Day!
The life of faith is likened to a race...and its most closely tied to the imagery of a Greek marathon. In this type of race, the runner's responsibility is not only to cross the finish line, but to do so with the runner's torch still burning brightly.
As Christians, we are called to bear a torch, which is the light of the Gospel, the knowledge of God and His ways, and the Word of God. It is put into our hands and our hearts by the Holy Spirit and the fire is ignited so that we may burn as lights in a sin darkened world.
Each of us are to let our light shine that all men can see Jesus in us and then we are told to run with it and to pass it on to the next generation so that we will not forget God.
As this applies to grandparents... we see that the fourth role of a Godly grandparent is this:
God wants you to be a TORCH BEARER
"Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come." -Psalm 71:18
Be a Torchbearer…
Of the gospel to your grandchildren and your community
make sure your grandchildren hear the truth of the gospel
trust the Holy Spirit to draw them on His time schedule
demonstrate a consistent concern and compassion of unsaved people
Of moral living in an immoral world
take bold yet gracious stands on moral issues
show them how to flourish spiritually in a hostile culture
teach your grandchildren to develop discernment as you help them evaluate their world
What kind of legacy will you leave for your children & grandchildren? Will it be lasting? Will it be imperishable and eternal? Will it be faith or finances? Values or valuables? Will what you leave behind be only tangible items—buildings, money, and/or possessions?
The apostle Paul instructed Timothy to invest his life in faithful men who would be able to pass God's truth on to the next generation. Where does God want you to invest the time you have been given? I want to challenge you to be intentional! The third role of a Godly grandparent is that of a LEGACY MAKER!
God wants you to be a LEGACY MAKER
"The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him." -Prov. 20:7
Be a Legacy Maker by:
Bringing honor to your family reputation through godly living
living a life of integrity both publicly and privately
bringing the best out in those around you
Making decisions based on an eternal perspective
finishing well- always have the end goal in mind
loving people and using things instead of loving things and using people
Leaving ‘good tracks’ for your grandchildren to follow
letting them know why you do what you do
being and example of faithful living
.The generational impact of our lives is not something we often stop and consider...but it should be! Your life, your choices, your actions today can impact (for better or for worse) future generations of your family! Today, we consider another of the four roles of a godly Grandparent. These are adapted from Extreme Grandparenting by Tim & Darcy Kimmel with my additional commentary.
God wants you to be a BLESSING GIVER
"The memory of the righteous will be a blessing…" -Prov. 10:7
Be a Blessing Giver:
One of the most significant ways that you can bless your grandchildren is to Love and serve God. Know him through his Word. Seek his wisdom. Experience his power. Become someone your grandchildren will immediately think of when they think about what it means to know and love the Lord. Let them see you following Christ.
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).
Yesterday, I preached on Godliness and grandparenting. In that message, I outlined four Biblical roles for the grandparent.... These are adapted from Extreme Grandparenting by Tim & Darcy Kimmel. This week, I'll be sharing those four roles with some additional commentary.
From the outset... I suggested that a grandparent’s goal should be to become a spiritual blessing to those who come after them... to leave a harvest of righteousness, peace, holiness, and Christlikeness. Your life now can have great impact on future generations... positively or negatively!
God has given you a unique opportunity to fulfill four distinct roles. Role number one:
God wants you to be a STANDARD SETTER
"‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree…They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.'" -Psalm 92:12,14-15
Be a Standard Setter…
By modeling, teaching and encouraging:
Let them hear stories of your faith journey. Tell them your story of coming to faith. Share with them times that God was faithful and you trusted Him through difficulty!
Let them see you modeling integrity through and through... Be the same person at work, at play, at church, at home! Be a man or woman of integrity! They'll notice, for sure!
Let them sense your self-control. Help them understand the fruit of the Spirit by responding with calculated poise and control! How do you respond in traffic? In stressful invironments...under pressure? Confident assurance in God's sovereign control over situations helps to instill faith in your kids and grandkids!
Personal / spiritual discipline
Let them "catch you" involved in those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ! Prayer, Bible Study, memorizing Scripture, etc... Live a life of personal spiritual disciplines, for that is one of the best ways to transfer them as a value! Spiritual discipline is usually caught, not taught!
Let them experience God's grace through the trials of your life! Let them in on your suffering, fear, pain...but keep them pointed toward God's consistent and faithful love and grace toward us. Endure hardship with faith... Teach them that life is not fair, but God is still good!
Let them grow in courage because you help them to know what courage actually is! Courage may seem daring, bold or even reckless... But courage isn’t about something magical that happens inside us to make us ‘not scared’. It’s about something powerful that happens inside us to make us push through fear, self-doubt, anxiety, and do the things that feel hard or risky or frightening. Sometimes, courage only has to happen for seconds at a time – just long enough to be brave enough. Courage isn't the absence of fear...it's the presence of faith in the midst of our fears.
This weekend at Hardy Street Baptist Church, we will continue in a sermon series called, "Faith Begins At Home". I am excited to focus on grandparenting as we consider the generational impact believers can have (both positively and negatively) on future generations. The Bible is filled with grandparents in action and Scripture has much to say about the roles of grandparents! Hope you'll join us! Again, I'll offer my "disclaimer"... There's a message for everyone this weekend! I realize you might say, I'm not a grandparent (or even a parent...or even married for that matter) and this sermon is not for me. That couldn't be further from the truth! The principles we'll consider from God's Word hold application for all of us!
Also, I've spent a great deal of time thinking about God's design for the family and have run across some great resources in my study. Below is an article by Pastor Steve Stroope about the role of grandfathers. Hope you enjoy.
Pastoral insights from Steve Stroope, LakePointe Church, Rockwall, TX
Grandfathers hold a unique and exalted position when it comes to the process of spiritual formation in the next generation. Other than mom and dad no one else carries the stature or inherent authority in the lives of children. In fact, not even mom or dad can fill the role we fill. That’s why I find it troubling that so many modern grandfathers squander their opportunity thinking “I’ve finished the parenting task.”
We are not called “grandparents” because we’ve been retired from the parenting process. We are called “grand” because we’ve been promoted! That means your task is to do everything possible to help your family achieve success in their most important assignment. Regardless of what business you may be in, your “family business” includes a clear purpose. Specifically, those blessed with the gift of grandchildren are called to inspire and nurture the faith of the next generation as life’s greatest privilege and priority.
The scriptures command moms, dads and grandparents to give the next generation a framework for living rooted in the knowledge of and relationship with God. It is our job to support and reinforce the
role of parents as they fulfill the command of Deuteronomy 6...
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up… (vs. 6-8)
It seems that this generation of grandfathers mentally check-out or skim past this vital passage of scripture because they assume it only applies to mom and dad. When did that change?
Prior generations of grandparents understood this mandate to target them as the patriarchs of faith in their extended families. We need to recapture that understanding today if we are going to fulfill
our God-ordained role in the faith formation process. How do you start? Put in place regular scheduled times when you get to invest in your grandchildren such as:
• Put a weekly “touching base” call or text message reminder on your planner to prompt “spontaneous” encouragement or conversation.
• Plan once-a-month, twice-a-month, or once-a-week sleepovers .
• Host a once-a-year entire week or more with grandchildren .
• Create Grandfather/Grandson, Grandmother/Granddaughter events or dates .
• Establish birthday traditions (like breakfasts with them)
• Help grandchildren pick out and purchase Christmas gifts for their parents.
• Create a Fall Festival celebration each year .
• Observe annual celebration of their salvation.
• Establish Easter traditions.
The key is creating recurring meaningful experiences that, once they have been instituted, take place fairly automatically. Leverage the tools and resources we’ve suggested to make influencing the
faith of the next generation easy.
Extreme Grandparenting (by Tim Kimmel and Darcy Kimmel). Are you ready to take grandparenting to the next level? This book offers timeless and tested principles for grandparenting in the twenty-first century.
It Starts At Home (by Kurt Bruner and Steve Stroope) gives grandparents practical suggestions for influencing the faith of their grandchildren.
Christ-follower, husband, dad, friend & the Senior Pastor of Hardy Street Baptist Church.