Dad. My wonderful Dad.

The last photo of my dad and I together. 1981.

Lessons from my dad (with some input from my sisters, thank you!), in random order:

How to polish my shoes.

How to take calculated risks.

How to provide for your family.

How to work hard.

How to sing with your whole self (especially “How Great Thou Art”).

How to trust others.

How to fix a flat tire.

How to mow the lawn and shovel the snow.

How to be a gentleman.

How to be a Good Samaritan.

How to serve God and honor God.

How to encourage and love your wife.

How to provide for your family.

How to fly a plane.

How to fix just about any broken thing around the house.

How to be a good son-in-law.

How to give good gifts.

How to be a creative problem solver.

How to use my common sense and good judgment.

How to tie a neck tie, a half or full Windsor.

Measure twice, cut once.

How to siphon gasoline out of car and into the lawn mower can (I can still taste the gasoline, yuck).

How to properly tuck in my shirt tail.

How to garden… even gardening and raising vegetables you don’t like yourself.

How compounding interest can add up to big returns.

How to use a slide rule.

How to balance a spoon and fork on the smallest bit of toothpick.

How liquid nitrogen turns a hot dog into glass.

How to put “English” on a pool shot or a ping pong return.

Why playing the lotto is morally wrong.

How to drive. How to drive a stick shift.

How to let the School of Hard Knocks teach me a thing or two.

How to camp. How to build and start a fire.

How to swim.

How to bargain for a car. How to bargain for a casket (now that’s a funny story).

How to give grace. How to laugh. How to love. How to live. How to die.

 

My favorite story about my Dad: He was a Gideon — best known for being one of those folks who place Bibles in hotels.  He was also a private pilot and he would go flying on Saturday mornings.  At his memorial service over 30 years ago, his good friend Lou — also a pilot and a Gideon —  produced a talley sheet from Dad’s pilot log book that included the names of many, many small airports in the midwest.  Lou explained that these were places where he and my Dad had flown to on many a Saturday and placed a Gideon Bible in the pilot’s lounge.  And it was something only he and Lou knew about.  He combined two loves, flying and the Lord, into something that blessed God and many unknown souls.

What lessons did you learn from your dad?

 

(First published on Father’s Day 2012…)

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Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Jacob

A devotional look at eleven Biblical dads and what we can learn from them.

We are all blessed, not so we can hang on to the blessing but, rather, so that we may bless others.

Jacob is the third father of the Patriarchs of the Faith. Remember Rebekah, the wife of Isaac? The Word says that Rebekah had twins as a result of the fervent prayer of her husband. The first born was Esau, but the second, who was born at the same time was Jacob…which means “heel” because he was grabbing on to the heel of his older brother as they were born.

Twice Jacob does what he must in order to gain the edge over his brother. Esau was a wilderness man. He loved hunting and the outdoors. Jacob not so much. But all his growing up years Jacob was jealous of the birthright of his older brother.  Genesis 25 tells the story.  One day Esau came in from the field and saw that Jacob was cooking stew.  The hunter asked for some and Jacob would only give him something to eat if Esau would give Jacob his birthright as a first born.  Esau shrugged off the importance of being the first born, and because he was very hungry, gave away his rights.  Some have suggested that Jacob stole the birthright or tricked him.  That was the first step in getting what he wanted.

Later, with their father old and blind and dying, Jacob tricked his father into giving his blessing, something that was deeply significant in the Ancient Days.  Isaac indeed blessed his sons… but gave the blessing of the first born, to the second born, and the blessing of the second born to the first born. And there was nothing Esau could do about it, because earlier he had given away his birthright for a bowl of soup. And, so there is a parallel in this generation similar to that of the generation of Isaac and his half brother Ishmael.

The blessing Jacob receives:

Now may God give you of the dew of heaven,

And of the fatness of the earth,

And an abundance of grain and new wine; 

May peoples serve you,

And nations bow down to you;

Be master of your brothers,

And may your mother’s sons bow down to you.

Cursed be those who curse you,

And blessed be those who bless you.”

                        Genesis 27:28-29 (NIV)

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Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Isaac

Isaac was almost the Bible’s first human sacrifice. But God honored his father’s faith and all of Israel was spared.

A devotional look at eleven Biblical dads and what we can learn from them.

The next in the line of the three great fathers of the Hebrew faith is Isaac… son of Abraham and Sarah.  Named Isaac, which means “laughter,” because the two were so old when they conceived.

Now the Word says in Genesis 22 that God chose to test Abraham.  God told him to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.  Are you kidding me?  What kind of God would ask a man to do that?  As we learned, Abraham was a trusting man. He believed that God knew what He was doing. And God did…

I’ve often been curious about this story.

They arrived at the place to which God had directed him. Abraham built an altar. He laid out the wood. Then he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood. Abraham reached out and took the knife to kill his son. (Genesis 22:9-10, The Message).

Of course, an angel stops him and God provides a ram, stuck in the thicket, for the sacrifice.  Abraham trusted. God delivered. Blow the shofar! This story is where the ram’s horn originates and I’m guessing Isaac might have given it a blast or two with a huge smile on his face since his life was spared.  And in his place, a sacrifice. A ram. A lamb? Jesus again? Yes, another example of our Messiah in the Old Testament!

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Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Abraham

A devotional look at eleven Biblical dads and what we can learn from them.

Abraham was called “Friend of God.” You too are God’s friend!

The story of Abraham begins at the end of Genesis 11.  He was the son of Terah, who Scripture tells us was at a minimum an idol worshipper, possibly a man who made his living as an idol maker. He lived in Ur, a thriving metropolis, a place full of the excitement of a city.  And it is on this stage where we hear God’s call.

Genesis 12:1-3 (The Message):

God told Abram: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you.

 I’ll make you a great nation 

      and bless you. 

   I’ll make you famous; 

      you’ll be a blessing. 

   I’ll bless those who bless you; 

      those who curse you I’ll curse. 

   All the families of the Earth 

      will be blessed through you.”

 And then, verse 4: “So Abram went.”

Just like that.  He left the only city he ever knew.  He took his things and his wife and left.  And he journeyed through the wildernesses of the land of Canaan.

And next, verse 7:

God appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your children.” Abram built an altar at the place God had appeared to him.

First, have you noticed that Abram, and a lot of the people of the Old Testament, built altars to God… to worship Him… to acknowledge that God moved supernaturally in their life at a certain point? I believe it is important to remember to do that regularly. If we do nothing else when we go to a church building on Sunday morning, my prayer is that the time spent there is a time of remembering and thanksgiving — worship!

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Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Caleb

A devotional look at eleven Biblical dads and what we can learn from them.

Setting the table for your children’s success will certainly mean lending a helping hand.

The next father I want us to look at is Caleb.  You may recall it was Joshua, Caleb and ten others who Moses sent to spy out the Promised Land.  Ten reported that the Promised Land was a land full of giants and that the Hebrews could never conquer the land.  Caleb believed God’s word and told Moses, “yes, the land is full of giants, but our God is bigger and we can defeat them.”  (Numbers 13:30 paraphrase.)

So, Caleb and Joshua were the only two to be given God’s blessing to cross the Jordan River and enter the Land of their Inheritance.

Fast forward now some years and look in the book of Judges, Chapter 1.  Caleb has seen the giants in Caanan up close.  They are “Nephilim” — half breeds — children of fallen angels and women.  They are giants. And the land that Joshua gave Caleb had four known Nephilim cities. Caleb and Joshua had fought hard and long and defeated three of the four, but in his old age he needed help to defeat the last of these villages, Kiriath Sepher.

So, Caleb offered a challenge:  To the man who would defeat this enemy village, he would give his daughter in marriage.  You might think that offering his daughter’s hand would be something of a prize or property. However, Caleb was smart.  You see, he was killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.  He would rid the region of the cities of giants, and gain a God-fearing warrior husband for his daughter at the same time.  He loved his daughter and only wanted a good husband for her.

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Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Joshua

A devotional look at eleven Biblical dads and what we can learn from them.

JOSHUA

He is the great warrior.  A protégé of Moses.  He was one of the 12 spies that Moses sent out to scout out the Promised Land.  He and Caleb were the only two who told the truth about the giants.  Only he and Caleb believed that God was bigger than the giants and would indeed give them the Land.  And so, Joshua and Caleb were the only two, of all the Hebrew people who left Egypt at the Exodus, they were the only two who were permitted to enter the Promised Land.  All the other men and women and children who left Egypt with Moses died in the wilderness.

And Joshua is appointed by Moses to lead the people into the Land for he was a capable military commander. He also became a strong spiritual leader.

Joshua’s story is told throughout the 24 chapters of the Old Testament book that bears his name.  There are numerous stories of his faithful belief in God.

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Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Noah

If there was a bumper sticker on the Noah’s ark it would have said “I Love My Family”

A devotional look at eleven Biblical dads and what we can learn from them.

NOAH

The next Old Testament dad we’re going to look at is Noah.  Everybody knows his story.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.  This is the account of Noah and his family.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. (Genesis6:5-9)

Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.  He was righteous, blameless and he walked faithfully with God.  He was all these things when the rest of the world was not.  It would have been easy to join with the rest of the worldly crowd, but he loved God… and God rewarded him for his faithfulness.  God chose to pluck Noah out of a crowd of “all evil all the time” and God started over with one who was without fault.

And Noah was patient.  A detail oriented man who followed instructions well.  Do you remember how long it took him to build the ark?  100 years.  And why did he do it?  Yes, he wanted to save his life.  Yes, he wanted to obey God.

Noah was a family man… a good dad.

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