Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Tribute To My Father

“I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.” 1 John 2:13

I know that I have never really been able to express the respect and love that I feel for my earthly father.  Since I have become a little older, I have been able to comprehend in just a small measure some of the sacrificial love that he had for me, as well as see a few of the tough decisions that he made for me.  As I was reflecting over who my dad was at one time: a successful, influential, senior engineer at Boeing, I wondered where I would be at this point if he had stayed there.  He made some incredibly hard decisions to leave his job in faith, to sell our custom-built home, and to forsake all that he knew and loved to follow His master; Christ.  None of those things were easy in and of themselves, yet many times we compounded his pain by not being willing to follow him in the path that he knew God was calling him on.  As I reflect on my childhood, one of the biggest things that stands out to me was how much time Dad spent with me.  After quitting his job and moving to Wisconsin, he stayed at home, sacrificing not only monetary compensation, but also had to deal with the identity crisis of not having a 'position' in the world.  He took that all in stride, lovingly raising us to the best of his abilities.  When peer-pressure started affecting us negatively in our hearts as youth, he was willing to stand up for what he believed, in the face of cruel criticism from not only the church, but from within our family, leading us on to where God was asking him.  That path was a lonely one, yet he remained faithful to God, asking, seeking, knocking...  After four years of silence, he finally felt God leading him to bring us to another church.  He had been fearfully condemned for his choices, and yet stood firm.
    What am I digging at?  I don't know how to express it, but this is just a small way that I can try to rise up and honor my father while we are both still on this earth.  Neither of us are promised life tomorrow, and I hate leaving thanks and praise for a person as nothing but a flowery posthumous tribute.  In the following paragraphs, I will try to put into words some of the things that stand out to me about my Dad's life as being exemplary.
    Dad was very consistent.  As a child, I never appreciated the fact that nothing *ever* got by him, but as I have grown up, I see such a great lack of consistency in other people's children.  They hear their parents say one thing and do another.  Dad never let us get away with that.  There are countless times in life that I look back and see the foundation that was laid because of that consistency, and I can only say a small "thank you" in return...  Oh, if only more fathers would be willing to stand up against their children and be 'hated' in the short term; your children WILL rise up and call you blessed later on.  Giving in to your child's requests is not only injurious to your relationship in the future, but will mar your child's character for ever.   If you talk to older children who have left home early, inconsistency is almost always at the top of their list of reasons why they left.  Inconsistency is more than simply never changing, it is about honoring your word, and living exactly what you say that you believe.  Trust me, children can smell inconsistency farther off than a dog can smell a rabbit.
    What Dad lacked in sensitivity, he had in love.  I always knew that my Dad loved me.  He not only showed me that he loved me, but he told me verbally.  Regularly.  Actions AND words.  Do your son a favor.  Make sure he KNOWS that you love him on a daily basis.  No, dad was not one that I could run to and just bare my heart to, but he always wanted to be there if I needed him.  He was willing to see and admit his lack in that area, and worked with mom to make sure that we as children could confide in her and through her, he was still deeply involved in our personal lives.
    Dad loves my Mom.  No, they have not had the smoothest of all marriages, nor have they ever pretended that it was so.  But one thing is paramount in their relationship.  They love each other, and that makes all the difference in the world to a kid.  Kids have an uncanny and inherent ability to see through falsity, and call parents on it.  Most parents foolishly think that their children are not perceptive enough to pick up on a covertly strained relationship.  Are they ever wrong.  I know it was hard for them to be open with us children about their struggles, but it was needful, and we appreciated that transparency greatly in the long run.
    Dad and Mom prayed for us children.  I knew that from little on up.  They prayed for our future spouses, they prayed for our protection spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Besides the fact that God's power was behind those prayers, just the knowledge alone of them holding me up daily to the throne of grace was enough to keep me away from some things.
    Dad chose his 'battles,' or confrontations with me carefully.  Instead of just blithely bludgeoning me over the head with his standards, he would carefully and prayerfully ask God which things he needed to address in my life, and which things he needed to let go of and allow God to work out in me.  In this way, he built trust by not overwhelming me with a list of the top 100 things that I have to change in my life in order to meet his standard.  He picked things that he knew would be immediately injurious and derogatory to my Christian walk.  The smaller things he allowed me to "burn myself" so to speak, and learn the hard way.  It built trust in my relationship with him, because I knew that even though he wanted the absolute best for me, he realized there were things that I would have to learn myself to be satisfied in my own mind.
    Dad held a high standard.  Were we ever able to reach that standard?  No.  But it was something that he gave for us to shoot at.  God does the same.  Can we ever attain perfection?   No, but we are called to press toward that mark with everything that is within us.  In the same way, Dad never wanted us to be content with the status quo.  He wanted us to always strive to be more like Jesus.
    Dad helped us attain our goals.  He was very supportive of our aspirations, as long as they were in line with what he felt God's will for us was at the time.  He always taught us to look to Christ for wisdom, and not to rely on men who were only out to tickle our ears.  He taught us to look for counsel that wasn't neccessarily what we wanted to hear, but that we knew was truth.  As in the case of Ahab's 400 prophets in 2 Chronicles 18, where Micaiah stood up against the 400 and spoke the truth at the expense of his freedom and probably his life, Dad always taught us to stand up against opposition when we knew that God had asked us to.  Whether for spiritual or earthly attainment, you must stand against the masses to attain a higher level.

The time would fail me to tell of all the literal years that he poured into me teaching me helpful things about everything from microelectronics, to tearing apart auto A/C compressors, explaining how the rotary compressor works at different RPMs, all the way to chemical reactions...  He has a wonderful knack for just explaining how stuff works, and was always willing to share his knowledge with me for my benefit.
    If God sees fit to bless me with a wife and children in the future, I pray that I can be an example to them in the same way that my dad has been to me.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Candid Thoughts on North Korea...

    Sometimes I wonder...  What must God think of me as I sit here in my comfortable home, in front of an expensive computer, looking out over a land that is, even in a time of economic depression, richer than most other countries combined.  I have a home, a car, food, clothing, yet my lifestyle proves that I lust greedily after more and more...The American Dream®.
    Recently, the currency in North Korea was devalued, as the leaders thought the free-marketers (more like black-marketers) were becoming too wealthy.  So he cut the value of the Won to about 2% of it's original worth.  You have $1500 saved?   Awesome.  Welcome to the new Won, where $1500 = $30.  So you were starving before, now what are you doing?  Then your government decides to torpedo South Korea's warship, cutting off $333 million in aid from the south.  Talk about having a reason to disrespect your government...  I think we would be wise to keep our heated opinions about our government to ourselves, if we care about the scriptures relating to honoring those who are in authority over us.  You think you have cause to complain, just think about having Kim Jong-il as your president.
  We feast at the Lord's table in a land where Bibles are more plenteous than food is in NK, and yet there is a famine of the truth of the Word of God.  We hear more preaching on the "good things" that God has in store for us, while millions of God's children suffer horrific abuse at the hands of governments, activist groups, and terrorists.  Are we really part of the same family of God?  Do we really care?  What are we doing in response to that?  "Well, there's nothing I can do," you might say.  Have we even tried?  There is a 16 year-old girl that is out right now attempting to do a solo circumnavigation of the globe by herself.  If that's not dedication and nerve, I am not sure what is, and yet we say that we are not equipped to do the work of the Lord.  Have we not "the cattle on 1000 hills" at our disposal?  And yet, sometimes God desires us to wait....And sometimes that waiting can be the hardest thing of all.

While I'm Waiting  ~  John Waller
I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Takeing every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord