Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Because He First Loved Me

I was sitting on the porch one cool morning, drinking coffee and reading my Bible, when my wife came to the door holding Lydia. Lydia saw me and smiled. When I went over to grab her and get a hug, I realized she wanted to go for a ride in her car. After mom put on some warm clothes, she and i set out. She loves her little car. It is a Step 2 car with a long handle that I push. This particular car once belonged to Colby. As I pushed her around I reminisced of times pushing Colby around. We use to bring that same car to church and push him around in the hallways, as he liked it better than a stroller.
As I took Lydia on her stroll this morning, I looked down at her. It was pretty funny. She thinks she is in total control. To her, she is making the car move along. She has no idea that at that moment, her daddy is in complete control. Her hands are on a small steering wheel, but her daddy is directing every move of the car. She is also oblivious to potential dangers that are all around, but her daddy is watching over her and protecting her.
At that moment, I thought about how I want what is good for her. I want her to love the Lord with all her heart. I want her to learn the lessons she needs to learn for her good, even though some of those lessons are going to be painful. I want her to know that I will always be there when she stumbles and falls. I want her to be assured of my love for her, though I know at times of discipline she will question that love. I want her to know that my love for her will be expressed in thousands and thousands of yeses. It will also be expressed in a whole bunch of noes. In fact, there will be many times when the decisions I make, for her good, will make absolutely no sense to her. But reality is, my love for her will not be in question.
I want her to love me. But, I want her to love me as her daddy, not as the giver of stuff. When I come home from trips, I want her to care more about me than what I may potentially bring to her as an expression of my love. I want her to love me because, well, I first loved her...and I love her with all that is within me.
As I turned the car around to head back to our house, she looked up at me and smiled. I said, "Let's go home baby girl!" And as I escorted her home, my hand guiding her path, I saw that our Father had just given me a glimpse of His love for us. It seems that I too am in my own little car or sorts, and He is guiding my path, all the way home.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Yep, He is Good!

I was sitting in my living room watching LSU play Kent State when I heard my wife yell, “You have got to come see this!” I went in and there was my baby girl taking her first steps. We were all excited. I sat down on the floor and she walked back and forth from me to my wife. Each time, we celebrated. She loved the attention and wanted to keep on going. This event is played out over and over again in homes all over the world. In fact, we sat in the same positions and did the same celebrations when our other three children began to walk. What made this so special is that she is not suppose to be walking, at least not according to the medical experts.

Our daughter had a difficult birth. During the process she was without oxygen for an unspecified amount of time and had to be fully resuscitated. She was immediately transferred to a children’s hospital and tests showed some damage to her brain. In addition, she was fragile due to some prenatal neglect and abuse. She would spend the first two months of her life in the NICU. Her first Christmas was not spent with her mommy, it was spent with hospital staff.

When we were called to adopt our little girl, we were given the whole medical report and outlook. As my wife sat and listened to two doctors, on a conference call, tell us of her condition, we were both saddened and frightened. Just the other day, I listened again to the recording of the conversation and am still shaken to the core when I think of all she went through. We were told that she may be delayed or have trouble with motor skills. We were told that she may never function “normally.” We were told that she may have cerebral palsy. We were told she may never walk.

In spite of all that we were told, God chose to do otherwise. According to His great mercy and grace, He chose to work in a different way than the medical professionals had predicted. So that, there we were sitting on the floor while our 9 month old (7 ½ months adjusted) took her first steps. That’s just one example of many of the things she is doing. Her pediatrician cannot explain it. Her neurologist cannot explain it. The folks from Babies Can’t Wait can’t believe it. Virtually everything that we were told about her has proven to not be the case.

It is here that I am tempted to go into praise as to the goodness of God. That is certainly appropriate. He is absolutely good. But, He would still be good if the doctors had been right. He would still be good through cerebral palsy. He would still be good if she had never taken a step. He would still be good if she were to never dance (she does). He would still be good if she never functioned “normally.” He is always good. He is always good because He is always God.

One of my favorite songs is titled, “As Long As You Are Glorified.” In the song, the writer expresses the nature of God’s goodness with these words:
                                 Are You good only when I prosper
                                 And true only when I’m filled
                                 Are You King only when I’m carefree
                                 And God only when I’m well
                                 You are good when I’m poor and needy
                                 You are true when I’m parched and dry
                                 You still reign in the deepest valley
                                 You’re still God in the darkest night

                                 Oh let Your will be done in me
                                  In Your love I will abide
                                 Oh I long for nothing else as long
                                 As You are glorified

Monday, August 26, 2013

Praying and Pleading For The Unborn

It was an unusually cool August afternoon here in GA. I was standing on a Lawrenceville sidewalk waiting for the next car to arrive, holding a large sign that showed a beautiful baby inside his mother’s womb. When the next car pulled into the lot, I watched to see where the young lady, and the man who accompanied her, would park. The parking lot is for a small strip mall. Would the couple park to go into Sears, Five Guys Burgers, the hair salon, or the abortion clinic? Even as I write this, I am still stunned by the casual nature of this tragedy. Only in America can one purchase a lawn mower, a burger, a hair cut, and kill a baby all on one small strip mall. The couple parked in front of the abortion clinic. I knew that the moment the lady stepped out of the car that I had about 30 seconds to say something, in an attempt to persuade her away from the murder that awaited on the other side of those doors. At that moment my job could be likened to trying to stop a run-away train. As she exited her car, I grabbed a microphone which was attached to a speaker. The microphone was so that we could be heard from the required distance we had to stand away from the premises. I called out to the woman, pleading with her to not go into the building. I told her that if she was there for an abortion that we had help available for her. I told her that she did not have to kill the baby. Then, as she was reaching for the door, I cried out, “Please, I beg you, let me adopt your baby! My wife and I will adopt your baby!” Tragically, she continued on into the clinic. I turned my attention to the young man and I pleaded with him. I told him that if the girl was there for an abortion we had help available for her, for them. I told him that we would adopt the baby and I begged him to go get her out of the clinic. He turned up the radio in his car in an attempt to drown out my voice. What followed, as you can imagine, was yet another life lost to the horror that is America’s holocaust. I wish I could say that this was an unusual encounter. But, we saw several ladies continue on into the clinic. Hopefully, some were impacted by our pleas. We will continue to go on Tuesdays, to pray and to plead, because life is too important to not. I cannot stop women from walking through those doors. But, by God’s grace, I can make sure they only do so while hearing a pleading voice, offering them help and begging them away from the clinic. My passion for the cause of the unborn is birthed out of my love for Jesus Christ and His love for all of us. Jesus loves and cares for the unborn and for the mothers who walk through the doors of those clinics. This is why I go and invite you to join me. It is why I encourage our church to support the Walton County Right to Life and the Pregnancy Resource Center of Walton. We stand together with these two great organizations for the cause of the unborn. I am thankful for our brother, Terry Queen, and his passion for this great cause. In light of that, I want to encourage you to attend, with me, the semi-annual meeting of the Walton County Right to Life on Thursday, September 19 at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at The Praise Center on Hwy 78 West. We will enjoy a time of worship together, hear a wonderful testimony, and a great message from Dr. Jody Hice. When the history of these days is recorded and the question has been asked about how the Church responded to the tragedy of the American holocaust, may it be said about us that we stood together, praying and pleading, for the end of this national tragedy that has claimed the lives of over 53 million babies.