She’s Married! A Daddy’s Speech

Friday Night at the reception for our daughter’s wedding, I had the opportunity to do something every father should have the privilege of experiencing. I got to stand at the front of a ballroom and tell the story of my child. As I scanned the audience it was like watching the movie of our lives. Every face held a happy memory. When I was done speaking, several folks encouraged me to write down what was just said. So here you go…

Before I start, I just want to say a personal THANK YOU to my sweet wife Staci, who has invested a tremendous amount of time, and energy, and emotion into making this a perfect evening for Brenna and Austin. Nicely done sweetheart!

Riffe Pennington 3Riffe Pennington 4Riffe Pennington 1Riffe Pennington 2

With that, I can now officially say “welcome to the after party!”

I haven’t yet had the privilege of meeting each of you, but those of you who I know and who I have met so far have reconfirmed for me that God has indeed been good to Brenna and Austin. For all of their lives He has surrounded them with family, and friends, and mentors, and teachers who have helped to mold and shape them into the extraordinary couple they are today. Thank you for investing in their lives. And thank you for being here to share this evening with them!

I have something important I want to say about Austin. To get there though, I need to first paint you a picture of Brenna. It will take three quick stories. But before I start, Staci asked me to read this statement.

“The views and opinions expressed in this speech are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the entire wedding party. The author is getting along in years, some events and timelines may have become jumbled. Audience interested in exact historical accuracy should consult with the author’s wife. The author is also the daddy of his baby girl, most memories are colored by an understandable bias.”

Brenna has always been a very obedient and respectful child. She was that child… you know the cabinet in the kitchen with all the pots and pans. We told her “don’t get in that” and she was like “okay…”. We never had to put the child safety locks on anything. She was just that kind of a child.  Brenna preschoolWhen she was little, still preschool age, she started using some phrase that wasn’t very becoming of a young lady. Staci and I were talking recently trying to remember what that phrase was – for the life of us we can’t remember. Whatever it was, we were trying to break her of the habit. So we had told her… “Brenna, the next time you say that, we are going to wash your mouth out with soap.” Sometime after that threat, we were busy getting dinner ready in the kitchen when we heard her use the phrase again. I looked at her and sort of sternly said. “Brenna Anne, what did we tell you about using that phrase”. She immediately ducked her little head and apologized… I was satisfied so we went back to fixing dinner. It wasn’t just a few moments later that I heard her in the hall bathroom gagging. We ran around the corner to find her standing there on her little stool holding a bar of soap and rubbing it on her tongue… I know… worst parent ‘ever’ award right here!

When she was in the later years of elementary school, around that time when boys are miraculously cured of their coodies, we sat Brenna down and sort of laid out some rules for dating. Brenna middle schoolNo boyfriends right now… No holding hands until middle school… No kissing until high school… True to her character, she accepted and respected what we had told her.  You can imagine my surprise on that last day of 8th grade when I learned she had… had her first kiss. I said “Brenna, you know what we talked about. No kissing until high school” to which she answered… with a BIG smile on her face… “Daddy, middle school was over three hours ago, I am in high school!”…   Note to self… must be more specific!

When it came time for her to go to college, we were quite pleased that she chose Texas A&M University.  Brenna collegeAnd not just because it’s the alma mater of her parents. Staci and I have worked with students in our church long enough to know that all too often, when high school kids head off to college, many of them leave their faith at home. Texas A&M is not only a very conservative university, it also has one of the largest on-campus Christian movements in the nation.  So before Brenna left, we told her two things. First, surround yourself with Christian girl friends who will encourage you in your faith and who will keep you accountable in your walk with the Lord.  The ladies in the wedding party standing behind me are who Brenna surrounded herself with. Several of them are from a club she joined called Aggie Sisters for Christ. All of them have encouraged her in her faith and kept her accountable.

Brenna and her inner circle “Girls, thank you for being her inner circle!”…   She had done exactly what we asked her to.

The second thing we said was, “if you decide to date – when you decide to date, look for a guy whose heart is after the Lord, somebody who at least has the potential to someday lead his home spiritually.”

The summer before her Junior year – notice I didn’t say it was ‘after her Sophomore year’ because that had been over for at least three hours… not gonna make that mistake again… — anyway, before her Junior year, she decided to go with our church as a sponsor to children’s camp. Brenna is an elementary education major and I’m thinking… “elementary education major… week at children’s camp… seems like a good match.” When she came home, I asked how her week with the little kids was. She said “Oh daddy, it was great, I found a boyfriend!”…  Now, I did remind her that she was a 20 year old woman and there were laws against her dating grade school kids. To which she said “Daddy, he’s not in grade school, he’s already a teenager!”… I’m thinking “Oh, gooooood…” Now this particular children’s camp is down in the general vicinity of College Station TX where Texas A&M is so I’m hoping maybe this ‘already a teenager’ is ‘already a teenager’ enough to be an underclassman at Texas A&M who just has a summer job at the camp. So, with my fingers crossed, I asked “What school does he go to?”… “The University of Texas!”… (for readers who don’t know, the University of Texas Longhorns are the oldest and deepest rival of the Texas A&M Aggies. Just listen to the Aggie War Hymn)

TAMU vs UTAt that point I can’t contain myself any more. “What the…? I send you to Texas A&M University where there are 50,000 full grown men who are good Aggies and you come home with a teenage longhorn from a children’s camp?!?”  She says “Daddy, you didn’t say anything about how old he had to be or what school he needed to come from…”

“… Daddy… what you said was… find a man after God’s own heart… A man who will lead me… and lead our home… and lead our children in pursuit of the Lord… You know me daddy, I did what you said… His name is Austin Pennington.”

Proverbs 23:24 says “The father of a godly child has cause for joy.”  Amen to that!

“Brian and Jennifer (parents of the groom), thank you for raising your son to be a friend of God! Staci and I… with Austin, our hearts are full!”

“Austin, do you remember what we talked about the night you asked Staci and me for permission to marry Brenna? Well, it’s time dude. About an hour ago, you became the spiritual leader of a brand new household. I want you to choose this day whom you will serve!”

“Brenna, your momma and I pretty much said all the words we know to say to you last night. But if, by some miracle, you missed it, we want you to know that it continues to be the high privilege of our lives to be known as your parents. You have done well baby girl!”

“A man after God’s heart… A woman of grace… Brenna & Austin PenningtonI want you to now go build a home centered on the Lord. Be a beacon to a world that desperately needs to see an example of a lifelong, God honoring marriage.”

With that, I’ll welcome you again and thank you for sharing this evening with Brenna and Austin. Let me pray for us and thank God for all He has done, then we can get on with enjoying the evening!

She’s engaged! A Daddy’s Perspective

He said Will you? She said Yes!! Now they have a hashtag. #PracticallyPennington

Some of you reading this post have already experienced giving away your daughter so you know exactly what I’m feeling right now. Others are parents or parents-to-be of younger children so listen carefully 🙂

Just over 21 years ago this little life was conceived and 9 months later I got to hold her for the first time.  The emotions, thoughts and realizations that rocket through you at that moment are indescribable. For me they were compounded by the fact that I am a natural born strategic planner. I think in terms of the end game. In the rush of those first months of parenthood I was also thinking about the fact that I was now responsible for helping her to become all that God had created her to be – in the woefully short span of the next 20-ish years. Ugh!! Of all the myriads of life lessons she would need, there were two things in particular that I wanted to make certain of.

  1. Those of you who have read my personal thought posts know that I have an unshakable faith in the God of the Bible because of a personal relationship with his Son. If you want to know more about how that works, check out My Story.  As a daddy, the first thing I wanted to make certain of was that I passed down a heritage of faith. There’s a great passage in the Bible that describes how I approached the task. She is today a follower of Christ.She is engaged
  2. The second thing I wanted to make certain of was that her future husband was a man after God’s own heart. I knew that somewhere in the world a little boy was growing up but the problem was I didn’t know his name, so how could I influence what kind of man he would become? Back to the Bible. There’s a great story where Jesus describes a woman who, day after day, badgered a king into finally taking action. The point of the story is that we should pray like that to the King of kings. So, my prayer became… “God, give him godly parents who will help him come to know You. Mold and shape him into a man after Your heart. Give him role models that will teach him how to honor You. Build in him the character and habits he will need to be a life-long, God honoring husband and father… Please God, bring him into her life at just the right time.” For 21 years my wife and I prayed for that little boy over and over and over. Last week when he came and asked permission to marry our daughter, we thanked God for being faithful and answering all those prayers. He is indeed a man after God’s heart.

The way she tells it, he got down on one knee and before he could speak she started blurting out this uncontrollable run-on sentence

Her: “What-are-you-doing-Is-this-really-happening-Am-I-getting-engaged-Are-you-asking-me-to-marry-you?”

Him: “Well, I’m trying to, but…”

Her: “Yes!!!!!!!”

Him: “I haven’t asked yet…”

The run-on sentences didn’t stop all night. It makes a daddy happy to see his baby girl overwhelmed like that – and for good cause. Yesterday I had a daughter. Today I have a future son-in-law. The Bible is right when it says “The father of godly children has cause for joy.”

Congratulations baby girl on being #PracticallyPennington!!

Adventures

Just over 20 years ago I received one of the three greatest gifts of my life – the other two being salvation and my sweet wife. For those of you who are fathers, especially fathers of a beautiful little girl, you know the feeling I had back in 1994 when I held my daughter for the first time. Indescribable.  You hold in your hands a life that has been uniquely created   for a specific purpose and it’s your job to help shape her for whatever lies ahead.

One of the character traits I determined I wanted her to have was the confidence to try new things, to explore, to reach, to go on adventures. It’s okay to figure out you don’t like something, but don’t be timid about trying. So, from early in her life I would take her on adventures – encourage her to try.

Climb high!

Climb highExplore a cave!

Explore a caveStand on the edge of the world!

Stand on the edge of the worldFly in a hot air balloon!

Fly in a hot air baloonVenture out into nature!

Venture out into natureLearn to ski!

Learn to skiBecome an expert!!

Ski blackMaster the mountain!!!

Ski double blackBe the gondolier on a Venetian gondola!

Be a gondolierExplore under the sea!

Explore under the seaDance with a dolphin!

Dance with a dolfinWhen she reached college a couple years ago I told her my job was done. She had developed a quiet confidence to explore. From here on out the adventures were up to her. Little did I know that after she had endured a lifetime of me pushing her beyond her comfort zone, she would be looking for a little payback. But that’s exactly what happened.

Last week while on an end-of-summer family vacation, my daughter said to me “hey daddy, look at that sketchy little plane over there… “

Skydive Kauai 1Then she said “Let’s go on an adventure!” The next thing I know I’m standing with her all strapped up to not only get in that crazy plane, but to jump out of it at 10,000 feet. That’s right, the ‘adventure’ she chose was skydiving. Good grief!

Skydive Kauai 2So we get to altitude, the door flings open, and there goes my daughter.

Skydive Kauai 3Now I’m thinking, “I’ve drug her on all kinds of adventures for most of her life, what kind of a dad would I be if I chickened out?” So the next thing you know I’m out the door after her!

GOPR8995The expert folks at Skydive Kauai brought us both down safely. The pictures I saw shortly after returning to earth confirmed that my daughter has indeed developed a genuine passion for reaching, for exploring, for going on adventures. In her face was pure joy!!

Skydive Kauai 5Skydive Kauai 6Skydive Kauai 7Skydive Kauai 9Skydive Kauai 10Skydive Kauai 11Way to go baby girl! Never stop going on adventures!!!

Prophecy Fulfilled

This is a follow-up to the post on My Story. For context, it’s worth a few minutes to read the original post. For those who are interested in more information, I have outlined specific Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment. If after reading it you still want more of the story, pick up a modern translation of the New Testament and read the book of Luke.

The Jewish Bible, what more or less corresponds to what most non-Jews call the Old Testament, was written over a 1500-year period and contains over 300 references to the coming Messiah. The Old Testament was completed nearly 450 years B.C. and was translated into Greek in 250 B.C.

Another two hundred and fifty years later in the person of Jesus Christ, every one of the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah was fulfilled. And these aren’t just things that He could have read and mimicked. Most were beyond the control of a normal man. The New Testament records the fulfillment.

prophecy fulfilledHe was born how and where the Old Testament predicted.

Prophecy:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
Fulfillment:
“…she was found to be with child by to Holy Spirit. And Joseph…kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Matthew 1:18, 24, 25 also Luke 1:26-35

Prophecy
Speaking to Abraham; “And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Genesis 22:18
Fulfillment:
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
Matthew 1.1
“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ’and to seeds’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘and to your seed,’ that is Christ.” Galatians 3:16

Prophecy:
But as for you Bethlehem…From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2
Fulfillment:
“…Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea…” Matthew 2:1 also John 7:42 and Luke 2:4-7

He came because we have a problem.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
In other words, we have all messed up at one point in our lives making us fall short of God’s perfection.

So what?
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
That means eternal separation from God – Hell.

But…
“The Lord is not slow about His promise…but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9

What promise?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17
“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;” Romans 10:9

The perfect sacrifice, Jesus died in your place.

Jesus was killed by means of Roman crucifixion, a method of execution that did not come into practice in the Jewish system for hundreds of years after the prophecies were written. Crucifixion involved hanging a person on a cross by hammering blunt spikes through the victims’ hands and feet. The legs were often broken to make it impossible for the victim to rise up and take a breath.

Prophecy:
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by his scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Fulfillment:
“Then he released Barabbas for them; but Jesus he scourged and delivered over to be crucified.” Matthew 27:26

Prophecy:
“…they pierced my hands and my feet.” Psalm 22:16 also Zechariah 12:10
Fulfillment:
“And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him…” Luke 23:33

Prophecy:
“…Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors,…” Isaiah 53:12
Fulfillment:
“At that time, two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.” Matthew 27:38 also Mark 15:27, 28

Prophecy:
“He keeps all his bones; Not one of them is broken” Psalm 34:20
Fulfillment:
“…but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.” John 19:33

And darkness fell over the land.

Prophecy:
“And it will come about in that day, declares the Lord God, that I shall make the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight.” Amos 8:9
Fulfillment:
“Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.” Matthew 27:45
Note: because the Jews reckoned twelve hours from sunrise to sunset, it would make the sixth hour near noon and the ninth hour about three o’clock.

And He was buried.

Prophecy:
“His grave was assigned to be with wicked men, yet with a rich man in His death.” Isaiah 53:9
Fulfillment:
“…there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph,…and asked for the body of Jesus…And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb…” Matthew 27:57-60

But what good is a dead Savior?

Jesus knew why He had come to the earth. He knew that He was going to have to die in order to become the perfect sacrifice. He also knew what was going to happen next. And so that there would be no mistake, He told those around Him ahead of time. He told them that He was going to die and that three days later He would rise again. See:

Matthew 12:38-40, 16:21, 17:9, 17:22-23, 20:18-19, 26:32, 27:63
Mark 8:31-9:1, 9:10, 9:31, 14:28 and 58, 10:32
Luke 9:22-27
John 2:19-22, 12:34

And He did!

Fulfillment:
“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightening, and his garment as white a snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen just as He said. Come see the place where He was lying.” Matthew 28:1-6 also Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-9, John 20:1-7

And just to leave no doubt, Jesus then met face to face with over 500 people.
To Mary Magdalene, John 20:14, Mark 16:9
To women returning from the tomb, Matthew 28:9-10
To Peter, later in the day, Luke 24:34, I Corinthians 15:5
To the Emmaus disciples, Luke 24:13-33
To the apostles, Thomas absent, Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-24
To the apostles, Thomas present, John 20:26-29
To the seven by the Lake of Tiberius, John 21:1-23
To a multitude of 500 plus believers on a Galilean mountain, I Corinthians 15:6
To James, I Corinthians 15:7
To the eleven, Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:14-20, Luke 24:33-52, Acts 1:3-12
At the ascension, Acts 1:3-12

My Story

I’ve been blogging for a while and from time to time I hear from folks who want to know more about my background. So, for those who are drawn to the personal side of blogging, here’s my story. If you’ll give me a few minutes, I expect you’ll find it worth your time.

popup1I grew up in a typical American family – mom, dad, brother, sister and a dog. I even had some fish for a while. My family was close. My brother and I shared a bedroom and would routinely laugh with each other into the night, at least until we heard our dad say something like, “Boys, don’t make me come up there.” We had a pop-up camper trailer and every summer we would go on long family trips. I guess that was one of the things that made us so close because when you cram a family of 5 into a small trailer, you tend to get to know each other better. My dad was fortunate enough to have a good job that allowed my mom to stay at home and, well, be a mom. She had a college degree in home economics and was doing what she had always intended to do.

One fall, though, our world changed. My mom went to the hospital with abdominal pain. The doctors thought it was appendicitis. However, when they went in to take out her appendix, instead of a bad appendix, they found inoperable liver cancer. They closed her up and told my dad that she had six months to live.

NJHSI only remember bits and pieces from those six months. My mom missed me being inducted into the National Junior Honor Society, but I went to the hospital to show her the new suit I had gotten for the occasion. When she came home from the hospital, her friends from a supper club that my parents had been a part of for years threw her a party. Her back would hurt so bad that she would sleep curled up in front of a small space heater in her bathroom. One night, we were all sitting together in our den watching TV. My mom wanted to watch some TVshow – I don’t even remember what it was – but I didn’t want to see it. So I pitched a fit and went up to my room to do something else. That memory haunts me to this day because my mom fell into a coma the next week. What wouldn’t I give to have another opportunity to watch that no-name show? The doctors had given her six months. They were right. She was 38 years old.

Those events have colored a lot of the things I now think and do. When I got married, I realized that I had transitioned to being more than just a loved sibling and child; I was now someone that my wife was depending on being there for her. I became keenly aware of my health. In my early 30’s, when most of my peers still viewed themselves as young and invincible, I started going to an internal medicine doctor for routine checkups – EKG’s, chest X-ray’s, blood work, etc. – so that I would have a good baseline for any future health problems. I exercise regularly – mostly running and cycling. I don’t smoke, drink alcohol, eat lots of fatty foods or red meat, or take in much caffeine. I do drink lots of water, take vitamins and eat a good deal of poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables.

Then I became a father. Again, colored by the loss of my mom, I did something a little out of the ordinary. You see, when my mom died, I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate all Video letters smallthe things that must have been going through her mind. Now that I am older and more mature, I have often wondered what she thought of me as I was growing up. What made her proud? What were her happiest moments? Why did she cry? What did she hope for me? What did she wish she could have told me during her last six months? When I found out that I was going to be a dad, I started a video letter to my child – telling her all of my joys and fears, my dreams, the things that make me proud, the things that I hope for her, and most of all, that I love her.  She’s in college at Texas A&M University now, but I still continue that letter every time I get a chance. (update: My daughter is now happily married and a new parent herself. I had the privilege of digitizing that video letter and delivering it to her during her pregnancy. Four and a half hours sharing the inner thoughts of her daddy from before her birth, to giving her away at her wedding, to watching her become a new mother. To say it was a special moment would be quite an understatement.)

Another thing I did was to prioritize my life. You see, I have found that with the demands of work, I have a real tendency to get sucked in to the urgent and lose focus of the important. To help me guard against that big sucking sound, I wrote the following on a small slip of paper many years ago and hung it in my office.

In my life, my priorities are

  1. my God
  2. my family
  3. my health
  4. my job

The first three I can’t replace and I can’t live without.
Conflicts will be resolved in priority order.

Those words have caused me to miss job opportunities and even to resign what many would consider the perfect job. But the priorities have stayed intact.

I hold my wife’s hand every time we pray together – and we do that every day. I have sung to my daughter almost every night that we have been in the same place since she was born, even now when she’s home from college. I tell them both that I love them – routinely.

Cath labThen, on December 21, 2001, my world changed again. I woke up that Friday morning to chest pains. I was having a heart attack.  For the next several hours, doctors and nurses aggressively tried to determine the cause but were not successful. As they rolled me up the hall to the Cardiac Cath Lab, all kinds of thoughts were flying through my head. What were the last words I said to my wife? Did I tell her I love her? Does she know it? Will my daughter be okay growing up without her daddy? Please let her find those video letters. Does my wife know where to find information on our insurance and investments? Will she be okay? God take care of them. Oh God, please let me come back down this hall!

I was blessed. I did come back down that hall. What they found was that all the preparation and attention I had paid to my health had paid off. My blood chemistry was perfect and my arteries were clean as a whistle. Some may say that this just goes to prove that it really doesn’t matter what you do. The view of those I have talked to, though, is that the preparation and attention may well have allowed me to survive and also to emerge with so little lasting damage. Interesting side note – like my mother, I was 38 years old.

The doctors still don’t know what caused me to have a heart attack. Cardiac enzyme tests showed definitively that I had a heart attack. Speculation is that I had a transient blood clot or a coronary arterial spasm. But I have been left with one inescapable reminder of two realities in life.

First, we must take care of today because tomorrow is not guaranteed.
The questions that flew through my mind as I went “up the hall” told me that, even with a life experience that has caused me to pay special attention to the little things, I had left things undone. I sing to my daughter every night – true. But at the time I had started cutting her short so I could get back to something else – a computer game or a movie on TV. Each night when I go to bed I kiss my wife but I had been just grabbing her hand and kissing it instead of taking the time to hold her in my arms and do it right. Just two examples, but you get the picture.

Nike-Just-Do-it-Logo-Wallpaper-WideIf you are reading this and you have things that need to be taken care of, take the advice of Nike – “Just do it!” If you need to ask someone for forgiveness, do it. If you need to forgive someone, do it. If you need to tell someone that you love him or her, do it. Been a long time since you spoke to a parent, told a child how wonderful they are, told your spouse you adore her, do it – intentionally – routinely. Been spending too much time at work, go home. Don’t wait until you go “up the hall” to take care of today.

Second, we must take care of eternity because we may be entering it at any time.
One thing that I am certain of is eternity – what happens to me when I die. Let me tell you why.

Light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnelThroughout history, there have been a great number of gifted teachers and religious leaders. Moses, Paul, Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius, etc. Only one of the recognized religious leaders ever claimed to be God. His name is Jesus. The fact that Jesus claimed to be one with God leaves Him in a position with no middle ground. If He is not God, then one of two things are true. Either He was an outright liar or He was a nut case. Either way, He certainly is not to be trusted, much less worshiped. If, on the other hand, His claims are true, then you are left with a decision. Will you accept Him or reject Him?

C.S. Lewis, who was a professor at Cambridge University and once was an agnostic, wrote: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and poached_eggsaid the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”

AD-BCI suppose that some people view Jesus as a mythical character in some religious book. But that’s not it at all. Have you ever stopped to think what B.C. stands for? The world records its time based on one constant. Things that happened before Christ (B.C.) and things that happened after Him (A.D.; anno Domini, Medieval Latin for “in the year of the Lord”). Jesus Christ did live on this earth. He is the “Christ” in B.C. and the “Lord” in anno Domini. The question is, “Who was He?”

The Bible is broken up into two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament was completed nearly 450 years B.C. and was translated into Greek in 250 B.C. It contains over 300 references to the coming Messiah. The New Testament was not begun until after Jesus. It tells the most important story in history.

He was born how and where the Old Testament predicted.
“…she was found to be with child by to Holy Spirit. And Joseph…kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Matthew 1:18, 24, 25 also Luke 1:26-35

He came because we have a problem.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
In other words, we have all messed up at one point in our lives making us fall short of God’s perfection.

So what?
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
That means eternal separation from God – Hell.

But…
“The Lord is not slow about His promise…but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9

What promise?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17
“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;” Romans 10:9

The perfect sacrifice, Jesus died in your place.
“And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him…” Luke 23:33

And darkness fell over the land.
“Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.” Matthew 27:45

And He was buried.
But what good is a dead Savior?

Jesus knew why He had come to the earth. He knew that He was going to have to die in order to become the perfect sacrifice. He also knew what was going to happen next. And so that there would be no mistake, He told those around Him ahead of time. He told them that He was going to die and that three days later He would rise again.

And He did!
“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightening, and his garment as white a snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen just as He said. Come see the place where He was lying.” Matthew 28:1-6 also Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-9, John 20:1-7

And just to leave no doubt, Jesus then met face to face with over 500 people.

That’s the story. The Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, were written with a primary purpose in mind.
“But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God”; and more important, “that believing you might have life in His name” John 20:31

Jesus crossroadJesus Christ did live on this earth. That question still remains though, “Who was He?” Either His claims were false making Him an outright liar or a nut case. Or, His claims are true, and you are left with a decision. Will you accept Him or reject Him? As one who has recently experienced an inescapable reminder that physical life is fragile, I would ask you not to go another day without answering that question.

MyStoryI told you earlier that one thing that I am certain of is eternity – what happens to me when I die. You see, through faith, I have met Jesus Christ. My personal experience is that He is alive and that His forgiveness is real. Because of Him, my eternity is secure. And it has nothing at all to do with how bad I was or how good I have been. It has everything to do with the grace God showed when He sent His Son to die on a cross as the perfect sacrifice and the simple faith I have in His resurrection.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

If you are interested in more information, I have outlined specific Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment in a follow-on post on Prophecy Fulfilled. If after reading it you still want more of the story, pick up a modern translation of the New Testament and read the book of Luke.

Happy Anniversary!

It was a Friday night like most others. I was a student at Texas A&M University and my brain was ready for a little weekend rest. I was meeting some friends for a pizza…and there she was. I know that to say it was love at first sight sounds a little cliché, but I have not had a single date with anyone else since that night. That was almost 32 years ago.

happy anniversaryThis week, my beautiful wife and I will celebrate our 28th anniversary. I’m happy to admit that I’m still very much in love – no doubt about it. With the moral climate what it is in the world today, some would say that by making it this far, we’ve beaten the odds. That may be true, but I’m convinced that there are a few beliefs and habits we have that have contributed to the strength of our relationship.

  • The foundation of our relationship and marriage is a shared trust in the Savior and a belief that we are fused together. We don’t exist as an individuals any more.
  • Watch a TV show or movie, scan the news, or just look at the magazine covers in the grocery store checkout line and you’ll know that marriage relationships are under attack. Having your eyes open to the fact that you are under attack is a great first defensive move.
  • Nobody leaves the house in the morning before we pray together.
  • Arguments get resolved before going to bed. I’ll admit this habit can lead to some late nights. But the upside is that no disagreement or hurt is ever given a chance to take root and grow into something too large to deal with.
  • Nobody goes to bed at night before we pray together.
  • If we are within arm’s length of each other when we pray, we are holding hands. It’s purely symbolic of the fact that we are united, fused. And I’ll tell you, it’s REALLY hard to hold someone’s hand and bow your head to talk to your Creator if there is anything broken between you. This habit has caused me to pause and say I’m sorry a number of times.

So there you have it. Nothing magical. Just a set of habits that have stayed consistent for 28 years.

To my sweet wife, I’ve kinda gotten in the habit of loving you. I’m looking forward to continuing that habit for the rest of my life. Happy anniversary my love!

When does a house become a home?

Last weekend I did something I haven’t done in 20 years — I changed my address.  Earlier this week as my wife and I were closing the sale of our old residence, I commented about the odd feeling I had as I was leaving our completely empty home for the last time. The notary from the title company paused and reminded me that it wasn’t my home, it was just a house. What a thought provoking statement – I had to pause and ask myself, “when does a house become a home?

Twenty years ago, it was just my wife and I. We moved to that house to start and raise a IMG_0233[1]family. Most of our significant memories and all of our daughter’s memories are wrapped up in that house. First steps, birthday parties, sleep overs, swimming in the back yard, grandparents on Christmas morning, trusting the Savior, boyfriends visiting, backing the car out of the driveway for the first time, leaving for college, and many other memories in between. For most of those years I worked from an office in that house and had the privilege of taking conference calls both with my little girl curled up in my lap, and with my grown girl reminding me that the work day was over and it was now her time. The memories in that house are wonderful, joyful, intense, timeless…all swirling together.

In stark contrast, the process of selling that house and subsequently buying a new house is completely impersonal. I guess I am glad that new processes and safeguards have been put in place to prevent another mortgage crisis, but I have to admit that the financial scrutiny buyers go through is similar to what I imagine a top secret security clearance would require. If you have earned it, bought it, sold it, transferred it, or filed it; if you’ve worked there, banked there, invested there, done business there, or inherited there; if you have a passport, drivers license, birth certificate, green card or some other form of papers; they want copies and will do a forensic audit to make sure everything lines up.  I learned things about my finances that I had forgotten.  Every person in the process was friendly, but the nature of what they do is impersonal. So when the notary made the comment about my home, it caught me off guard. But I’m glad she did.

You see, I’m big on marking important events in life. One of the things I have done since before our daughter was born is record a video letter to her sharing my thoughts, hopes, dreams, and of course that I love her without condition. As we prepared to leave that house, I walked room to room with my video camera replaying in my minds eye the memories we had built as a family in each of those rooms. For me, that’s the answer to the question. My home here on earth isn’t at an address, it’s in the memories of the past and the anticipation of the future I will share with those I love wherever we happen to be living at the time.  Here’s to making our new house into a home!

What makes a house become a home for you? Leave a comment.