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From Jim’s Heart—A Dad’s Look of Love

What does an overflowing love look like in real life? From the first moment you know a baby is on the way, all your thoughts, dreams, prayers, and goals should be focused toward that little one. You should be completely consumed with understanding what it means to be a dad, and specifically, a dad after God’s own heart.

Your love for that anticipated child should start with helping your wife begin to prepare physically for the baby’s arrival by making sure she takes care of her health. A healthy mom is more likely to have a healthy baby. It also means helping your wife set up a nursery area—especially those things that require Dad’s “special touch” like painting, remodeling a room, and assembling a crib, chest of drawers, and a changing table.

Then, as dad and leader of your growing family, your love looks to the financial needs of those in your home. This is a good time to sit down with your wife and discuss the future. If she’s working, does she want or need to continue working? Do you need to get a second job? Take on additional shifts? Work some overtime? In relation to your wife’s job, what arrangements need to be made for her departure or leave of absence?

God’s first assignment to every dad is to love Him supremely. When you do, you will be much further down the road to being the kind of dad who, by God’s grace, will seek to raise children after God’s own heart. When all of you—your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength—is centered on God, your love will overflow to your family, and your heart’s desire will be to teach your children to love and follow Him too.

A Special Time

Why not plan a special night for your family? If you’re not married, get friends together. Give everyone plenty of notice, especially if teens are involved. When the time comes around, prepare a festive meal, go out to dinner, or order pizza!

Later, gather around and have everyone share what they’ve done in the past three months that was fun and meaningful. Encourage each person to share a goal or dream…and be supportive. Dreams aren’t always based on current reality. Talk about the childhood antics of the kids, how you and your husband grew up, met, and married, what your parents did, where your grandparents lived. Share your faith experiences…and let others share theirs. End your time together by drawing each other’s names out of a hat and committing to doing two nice things for that person during the week.

Lord, You’ve given me a wonderful family and awesome friends. I delight in being with these people You’ve given me to cherish…and I especially delight in You. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—How Much Do You Value Your Bible?

I’m sure you have heard of rare comic books being sold at auctions for incredibly high prices. But are they truly worth that much? Does a fiction or fantasy tale really have the kind of value that is found in the Bible? Tragically, many Christians don’t value the Bible as they should.

How about you? Do your interests lean more toward entertainment and comic books? Or is your appreciation for the Bible like that of a man in one of Jesus’ parables? This man found a hidden treasure in a field and sold all that he had to buy and claim this one treasure (Matthew 13:44). What was the “hidden treasure”? According to the parable, it was the kingdom of heaven. He believed the things of God are worth far more than the things of this world.

God is not asking you to sell everything or even anything. He is only asking you to give Him your life and spend time getting to know Him and His plan for your life—by reading and studying His Word.

Jim Elliot, a missionary who was martyred while only in his late twenties, said it well:

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain what he cannot lose.

The Bible contains the words of life. Open it to find out what they are!

Getting into God’s Word

Can you grasp why making the choice to spend time with God in His Word is so important? Getting into the Bible and having a quiet time alone with God causes you to grow-to grow in the knowledge of Him, which then helps you grow in making better choices and becoming more like Jesus. How does this happen? It’s an inside job! The Bible actually changes your heart.

So what can you do to make sure you don’t miss out on the miracle of a spiritual makeover every single day? Here are a few steps you can take to help you keep growing in your love for God’s Word and your understanding of the Bible. Every time you take these steps, you are making the choice to make time with God a priority—your Number One priority!

Read it. I could add, just read it. Start anywhere. The only wrong way to read the Bible is not to read it.

Study it. This is yet another way to dig deeper into your Bible.

Desire it. You already know from daily first-hand experience the importance of physical food. Well, you need to view the spiritual food of the Bible as having that same importance…only greater! As Job declared, “I have treasured the words of His mouth [God’s teaching] more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12).

From Jim’s Heart—Giving an Answer for Your Hope

“But what about the heathen in Africa?” This is the age-old question people often ask when they first hear the gospel message which points to Jesus Christ. This question also brings up one of the most common fears people have about witnessing. They worry, “What if an unbeliever asks a theological question I can’t answer?” Are you one of these people?

Well, cheer up—that’s a good thing. Hopefully, there will be questions! Evangelism is listening to other people; understanding their objections, fears, and questions; and then doing your best to give solid biblical answers.

Do you know the questions unbelievers are asking? To help you prepare, I’m sharing a list of the seven basic questions unbelievers most often ask and giving you the basic Scriptures that will help you with the answers. My prayer is that you will develop friendships with others that cause them to feel comfortable asking you any of these questions.

Seven Basic Objections to the Gospel *

  1. What about the heathen who have never heard the gospel? (Answer: Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:18-20)
  2. Is Christ the only way to God?  (Answer: John 14:6)
  3. Why do the innocent suffer? (Answer: Romans 5:12)
  4. How can miracles be possible? (Answer: John 1:1, 14; John 3:2)
  5. Isn’t the Bible full of errors? (Answer: 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
  6. Isn’t the Christian experience psychological? (Answer: Acts 9—the conversion of Paul; Romans 5:8-10)
  7. Won’t a good moral life get me to heaven? (Answer: Galatians 2:16; Titus 3:5; James 2:10)

*Adapted from Paul Little, How to Give Away Your Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), pp. 67-80.

A Heart for Hospitality

“Hey, I’m the kind of gal who has a refrigerator filled with bottled water, a few pieces of fruit, and a Diet Pepsi. Entertain? I don’t think so!”

Are you like my friend? I’m hoping you’ll reconsider! There are so many people around you who need love, friendship, support, and a relaxing time. Begin nurturing relationships by cultivating the art of hospitality (Romans 12:13). Then open your heart and home to others. And don’t worry if your home isn’t perfect. As long as it’s tidy, you’re good to go! Pick a time, invite guests, plan a meal or tasty snacks. Involve your family and prepare in advance to lessen stress. Pray about your gathering and then follow through. And most of all, be flexible and have fun! Your guests will be blessed and so will you.

Jesus, I’m excited about this idea! Guide me in the next week or two as I think about who to invite, when to have someone over, and what I need to do to prepare. Help me stay focused on the people I want to know better and not get overwhelmed. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart – Restoring Hope

When worry strikes, if we’re not careful we can often get discouraged or even depressed. We can respond to life negatively, and take our eyes off God and His promises to take care of us. The next time worry strikes, here’s how you can restore your hope:

Pray-“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Trust-“Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5). Refuse to worry about circumstances beyond your control. Remember, God is always in control.

Give thanks-“In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When you thank God even for the hard things in life, you are saying, “Lord, I am confident You will use this for my good.”

Lord, it’s so easy for me to focus on the negatives. Help me redeem my worried thoughts by using them as reminders to pray, to express my trust in You, and to give thanks. Amen.

Managing Life’s Pressures

In Him we have redemption through His blood,
the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

Ephesians 1:7

Perhaps because our family lived in Southern California for 30-plus years, I dearly love the ocean. Surprisingly, every time I read God’s Word, I think of the Pacific Ocean. I recall the many times I reveled in the sights and sounds of its surf, with the incessant splashing, crashing, sloshing-on-the-shore waves following one after another and another and another and another.

Reading Ephesians 1:7 is like that repeating and splashing ocean. This verse is powerful, thrilling, and breathtaking – so spectacular it’s hard to imagine another verse as exhilarating. And yet God delights in continuing to bestow His grace and His favor on us through His Son. The blessings just keep rolling in!

Another gift rolls in when we read verses 9 and 10. It’s the fact of God’s will and management of our lives. You’ve probably experienced managing a household, making a master plan, and creating a time line for achieving or finishing a project. Well, my friend, God is the Master Manager, and He is organizing everything according to His timing, culminating in the ultimate blessing when everything in heaven and on earth is united in Christ.

Aren’t you thankful for God’s blessings, for His hand on your life? Your life is not hapless and purposeless. God has a plan for every step of your way. And He offers you truth and a solution for everything life throws at you, beginning with today’s challenges.

Lord, as I look into Your Word, I want to thank You for Your concern and care for the details of my life. Today has its difficulties and stress. May I be faithful to trust in Your perfect and personal management of the world around me and of me! Amen.

From Jim’s Heart – The Power of Obedience

When you consider the extraordinary ways God worked through men such as Moses and Paul, you may think, I can’t measure up to people like them. I don’t have what they had.

But you must realize that these “heroes” of the faith were just common, ordinary people. It was their obedience — their complete yieldedness to God — that gave them uncommon strength and faith. They submitted their lives to God, and God worked through them.

I don’t know about you, but the “heroes” in the Bible inspire me to re-evaluate my own obedience to God. Am I reluctant to listen to God because I think He is asking the impossible? Am I failing to make myself available to Him because I’m doubtful or afraid? Our part is to simply obey, and God will do His part.

God, I see now that You can do anything through me if I will simply yield myself to You. Help me to make myself more available to you today. Amen.

Under the Surface

Alaskan fishermen will tell you that only one-seventh of an iceberg is visible above the surface. Remember the Titanic? It crashed into an iceberg because the majority of it was hidden underneath. An iceberg is an awesome force in nature and should be held in great respect. And in a way, that’s exactly what you and I should want for our lives. The public part of our lives should stir up awe and wonder. And our strength should be explained by what goes on in private between us and God.

I don’t know about you, but I want people to marvel at what they do see of me. I want them to witness qualities and strength in me that can only be explained by what God accomplishes in me when I spend time alone with Him out of sight, beneath the surface, and away from people.

Lord, help me draw closer to You every day. I want to be a living testimony of Your grace and transforming power. I want Your light to shine so brightly that people will be drawn to Your love. Amen.