Fathers as Builders

It is my privilege to honor fathers this week. On Sunday, we will be celebrating Father’s Day.

Fathers are builders.

God, our Heavenly Father, created the heavens and the earth. He is a builder.
Joseph, fulfilling the earthly father role for Jesus, was a carpenter. He was a builder.
A husband is the father of his children. He is a builder.

Fathers are biologically builders of families. They are also builders in additional ways.

Providing a pay check is a vital role for fathers as builders. The majority of fathers head to work most weekdays. They invest their time productively to earn a living. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of fathers have struggled to build financially for their families. For many, working from home has presented new challenges. Some dads have experienced a decrease in dollars. Other fathers have lost their source of income.

However, fathers have not quit building. The “stay at home time” required by the coronavirus created opportunities for fathers to build in other areas.

Some fathers have undertaken home construction projects. Hammers and saws have replaced meetings and appointments.

Fathers have taken time to build stronger family ties. Dads have had the opportunity to interact more frequently with family members. Extra time for meaningful conversations. Time to go for family walks. Board games became popular.  Now interactive outdoor games are prevalent. 

Fathers are building deeper relationships with the Lord. Men become better fathers when their relationship with the Heavenly Father is built on a firm foundation. Jesus describes a faithful father in Luke 6:47-48. Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

With the Lord as the Master Builder, biological fathers will succeed as builders of families and homes. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.Through scripture, dads obtain the blueprints and plans from their Heavenly Father.

God builds men to be fathers of faith – not just fathers of finances. Fathers who have faith firmly built upon a relationship with the Lord are able to provide positive construction and instruction for their families. The role of being a faithful father (a father full of faith) is just as essential as being a financial father for the building of a family.

Jude 20 says, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit.It is interesting that the Greek meaning of “to build” is “to build a home.” Marilyn Hickey says, “One of the ways we allow the Holy Spirit to make a home within us is by praying in the Spirit.” By allowing the Holy Spirit to live in their lives, fathers are able to build better foundations and homes for their families.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a builder as “a person whose job it is to make buildings.” Yes, fathers are builders. However, they build something more valuable than buildings made of lumber and bricks. They are builders who help shape the lives of loves ones. Their time and energy, as well as money, is well invested.

Happy Father’s Day!

Family Fun

During the COVID-19 pandemic and near national shutdown, our daughter’s family has been creative. Many evenings the family has participated in group competitions organized by our grandson. The event has become known as the Corona Quarantine Classic.

One evening, our grandson set up an obstacle course throughout a couple of rooms in the house. Maneuvering through an obstacle course always offers an adventure. However, this one presented a unique challenge. One person had to walk through the maze blindfolded. The other team member had to guide his/her partner through the obstacles by verbal commands.

Allow me to have some fun with the names of our grandchildren as I make a spiritual application to this evening’s activity. The participating grandchildren are Charity, Grace, Faith, Justice and John. I admit that I may be taking a few liberties in what follows.

Teams were set up. While one person traversed the terrain blindfolded, the other team member shouted out commands. The help of a guide was a necessity. No turning to the right or the left until told to do so. It was a little chaotic!

Justice had placed himself at the end of the course. Everyone had to seek Justice.

Grace and Faith were a team. Faith was blindfolded and discovered she could not walk by sight. However, she knew Grace’s help would be sufficient. They made it through the maze’s stumbling blocks when Grace was saved by Faith. Faith was sure of what she hoped for – she hoped to reach Justice unscathed even though she could not see.

Charity was patient and kind (at least most of the time) when she listened to the voice of John. He was able to see, or witness, where she was going. Charity believed what John revealed to her. When Charity removed her blindfold, she could see the light again. She was not too boastful or proud about her accomplishments. Neither was Charity envious of her siblings who had managed their way through the maze.

Even Mom and Dad participated. The kids learned that obeying the directions of their parents was not a bad thing – especially when the kids were blindfolded.

Not only did these teams have to work together giving and following directions, they also were timed. There was a time for everything. The goal was to find out which team could finish the course in the shortest amount of time with the fewest mistakes.

Who won? Everyone! There had been some bumps and wrong turns along the way, but everyone reached the destination. Light was shining again and they no longer needed to walk in darkness. As revealed by John, the attributes of Charity, Grace and Faith were needed to achieve the goal of Justice.
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The Hinman’s Corona Quarantine Classic event reveals wisdom for walking through life as well as a message for COVID-19 moments. Listed below are scriptures referenced in the story.

* But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. – John 15:26
* But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. – John 16:13
* Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” – Isaiah 31:10
* Learn to do right; seek justice. – Isaiah 1:17
* For we walk by faith, not by sight. – II Corinthians 5:7
* But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – II Corinthians 12:9
* For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. – Ephesians 2:8
* Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1
* Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. –I Corinthians 13:4
* There came a man who was sent from God. His name was John. He came as a witness to testify about the Light, so that through him everyone might believe. He himself was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. – John 1:6-8
* Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. – Ephesians 6:1
* There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. – Ecclesiastes 3:1
* When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

Miracles We May Be Missing

Miracles? With all the news we hear about the COVID19 pandemic, how can I mention miracles? Because miracles are happening! There are unseen miracles all around us! Pandemic refers to something that is prevalent over a whole country or the world. So, let’s declare a pandemic of miracles!

I want to share three situations in which we can see miracles if we are willing to look for them.

1. As highly contagious as the coronavirus is, it is a miracle there are not more people who have contracted the disease. Statistics change by the second. However there continues to be more births than deaths. Remember, COVID-19 may be contagious but so is hope.

2. It is a miracle how many people have recovered from this deadly disease. Let’s share the positive statistics rather than the negative death toll.

3. As believers, the greatest miracle is eternal life after physical life. John 17:3 says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. I John 5:5&11 declares, “Who then overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. . . Whoever has the Son has life.” Last Sunday, we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. Think about the resurrections being experienced by believers who have died.

Yes, we serve a miracle working God. But, how strong is your faith today? Do not be discouraged if you are asking questions. The Bible is full of stories of individuals who grew in faith through trials. Use this time to allow God to deepen your faith.

In Mark 5:21-43, we have the account of Jairus asking Jesus to heal his daughter. The verse that jumps out at me is verse 36. Don’t be afraid; just believe. God is speaking these words to us today. Hear these words as a challenge – not a command. God knows our human tendency to be afraid. Feel Him tenderly draw you into His arms. Hear Him whisper in your ear that He loves you. He is offering you a solution to your feelings. He is extending you faith to replace your fear.

Are you struggling to believe Him wholeheartedly? Think about the story in Mark 9:14-29. A father and Jesus are talking about faith. Listen to verses 23 and 24. If You can?” echoed Jesus. “All things are possible to him who believes!” Immediately the boy’s father cried out, I do believe; help my unbelief!” Is this where you are today? You believe, but you feel like your faith is being shaken. You want more faith. Sometimes we have to realize what we lack before we can receive more. God will use this time of uncertainly to increase the certainty of our faith.

We are reminded in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.II Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” Both scriptures stress that sight is not a part of faith.

Beth Moore has written, “Attempting to exercise you faith according to what we can see cancels out that very faith. . . . Our faith must rest on God’s identity, not His activity. . . . When you don’t know what God is doing, you can find stability in Who He is.”

Let us strive to fulfill II Corinthians 4:18. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The unseen miracles that are happening around us will only be visible through our spiritual eyes. I remember a chorus we used to sing. “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see You. I want to see You!”

Max Lucado writes, “Feed your faith, not your fears. If you feed your faith, your fears will starve.” Lucado also points out that the critical principle for seeing the unseen is to ignore what people say. Believe what God says. Look for the positive. Don’t just listen to the negative.

Matthew 12:20 tells us, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” If you feel like your faith’s flame is flickering, don’t give in to fear. Remember what took place in Acts 2. The disciples couldn’t figure out what was happening after Jesus left them. Then the Holy Spirit descended upon them like tongues of fire and set their faith ablaze. Jesus promised in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The Holy ‘Spirit is our teacher and helper. God does not expect us to develop a deeper faith on our own. He helps us. II Timothy 1:6 tells us to fan the flame. Allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to fan faith’s flame in you.

Because of COVID19, we may identify with Paul in II Corinthians 1:9. “Indeed we felt we had received the sentence o death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.If this is your feeling, please remember Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” The growth of our faith may be unseen at the present time – just like the unseen miracles around us. However, God is at work. When we are honest with Him about our faith and feelings, He will not desert us. Psalm 145:18 says, The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

Currently, Waymaker is one of my favorite songs. I am reminded of one particular line. “Even when I can’t see it, You’re working!”

Think about Joseph and all he endured because of his brothers. (see Genesis 37) Yet later in life, he said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” I believe the day will come when we can declare this verse relating to the coronavirus. It was meant to harm us, but God will use this difficulty for His glory.

Is your faith growing? Jesus says in Matthew 17:20, If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Even a tiny bit of faith is powerful with God. I recently read online, If a tiny virus can do this much damage, imagine what mustard seed size faith can do.”

Sarah Young writes as the voice of Jesus in Jesus Always for March 26. “Seek to see Me in the midst of your circumstances. Look for signs of My unseen Presence as you walk along the path of Life. Gratefulness opens not only your heart but also your eyes. When you know Me intimately, you can find Me in myriad tiny details as well as in the big picture of your life. Take time to notice all My blessings – small and large – and to thank Me for them. This practice will help you enjoy My many gifts. . . . Also ask Me to train you in trusting Me more consistently. Well-developed trust enables you to go across treacherous terrain without grumbling. The more challenging your journey, the more frequently you need to voice your confidence in Me.”

My Reader, join me in repeating Psalm 34:3-5.Magnify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces shall never be ashamed.Let’s stop giving COVID-19 so much power. Let’s magnify the Lord who has all power and authority! 

Are you ready to embrace the words of Joshua 1:9? “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Yes, God promises to be with us even when we do not understand – even when doubts creep into our thoughts. Remember the instructions we are given in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Yes, we serve a miracle working God! However, I do not want to demean any of you who are currently suffering in any way from this horrible virus. You are in my prayers! Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.You may not see it yet, but God has some unseen miracles for you as well. I do not know the answers to all the physical and spiritual questions being asked. However, I want to believe for more of the miraculous for all of us.

Spiritual Peace in a Physical Storm

Mark 4:35-40 records Jesus calming the sea. With the COVID-19 currently on everyone’s mind, let’s find a lesson in this story.

35When that evening came, He said to His disciples, “Let us cross to the other side.” 36After they had dismissed the crowd, they took Jesus with them, since He was already in the boat. And there were other boats with Him.
37Soon a violent windstorm came up, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was being swamped. 38But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?”
39Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm.
40“Why are you so afraid?” He asked. “Do you still have no faith?”

In verse 36, we discover that Jesus was already in the boat before they left the shore. We can be encouraged knowing that Jesus is in our lives before we encounter any of life’s storms. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He comes into our hearts and lives. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Colossians 1:27 tells us that Christ in us is the hope of glory.

However, having Jesus in our lives does not prevent us from encountering storms and turmoil. In verse 37, a storm buffeted the boat. The wind blew and the waves rocked the boat. The disciples didn’t like it. They became fearful. Do you feel virus waves trying to splash upon you? Are you buffeted by bad news being reported? We may not like what we are experiencing. However, we are told to walk by faith and not by fear. Isaiah 41:10 comforts us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Most of us are familiar with this verse. But, sometimes it is easier to say these words than to walk them out during the storm. The stormy waves can throw us off balance.

In verse 38, we learn that Jesus was sleeping. The disciples didn’t appreciate being rocked in the boat. Jesus let the waves rock Him to sleep. He had peace regarding the storm’s outcome. Is your faith being rocked by wavering waves? Don’t give up. There is more to the story. Verse 38 continues to tell us that the disciples called upon Jesus. They woke Him up. We, too, can call upon the name of Jesus. We can pray. However, we do not need to awaken Him. Psalm 12:4 assures us that God never slumbers or sleeps. We may think Jesus is sleeping. However, He is at work in our present circumstances.

Verses 39-40 gives us Jesus’ response. The first thing He did was calm the storm. Next, He questioned the disciples about their faith. Jesus wanted to help these men overcome fear and learn to walk by faith. Hebrews 11:1 NASV defines faith saying, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Jesus used this storm as a teaching moment for His disciples. He wants us to learn from our stormy time as well. According to Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Jesus wants us to remember His words of John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

In verse 39, Jesus used the words “silence” and be still.” In other words, He was speaking peace. I usually think of Jesus commanding the storm to cease. I also think Jesus was speaking peace to the disciples. Where are you currently experiencing the most storms? Are your storms coming from the situation around you or the turmoil within you? The Lord says in Psalm 46:10, ““Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Presently, we are not guaranteed outer peace. However, we are assured of inner peace through Jesus. He said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

At this moment, we do not know the medical solution that will calm the COVID-19 storm. It appears almost impossible to contain. Nevertheless, Jesus declares in Mark 10:27. “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. God specializes in the impossible! Jesus is also speaking John 16:33. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Isaiah 9:6 is a prophecy of Jesus’ birth. One of the names given to the child to be born is Prince is Peace. In the New Testament, Ephesians 2:14 says that Jesus Himself is our peace.

The medical forecast for today may appear quite stormy. However, the spiritual forecast says it is to be a Son day. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Numbers 6:24-26, declares,The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.

I close extending the message of II Thessalonians 3:16 to you. Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

Ishmaels or Isaacs

Ishmael and Isaac were sons of Abraham. Ishmael’s mother was Hagar. Isaac’s mother was Sarah. Ishmael was approximately 13 years older than Isaac. He was a son conceived when matters were taken into human hands. Isaac was a son promised by God.

It all started when God spoke to Abram in Genesis 12:1-2. “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.

Abram and Sarai were obedient. They left. But, it looked like God was not doing His part. There were no heirs for this great nation.

For the next 10 years, they waited for a son to be born. Finally Sarai had an idea. She suggested that Abram take her maidservant Hagar to conceive a son. (see Genesis 16:1-4) Abram followed Sarai’s advice. The result was the birth of Ishmael.

Abram had a son, but everything was not right.

This plan had not worked. Now what?

About a dozen years after Ishmael was born, God and Abram had another conversation.

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s to Sarah.

In Genesis 17:6, the Lord assures Abraham, “I will make you exceedingly fruitful.

Although Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 90 or a little older, they finally had the son God had promised so many years ago. Abraham named him Isaac. (see Genesis 21:1-3)

Ishmael was born when Abram and Sarai took matters into their own hands. Isaac was born when Abraham and Sarah left things in God’s hands.

Did God move as quickly as Abraham and Sarah expected? No, but God had a time set in history for when He would fulfill His promise. II Peter 3:9 says,The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.” (There was a lesson for them to learn – and we, too, need to learn it.)

Did everything go the way Abraham and Sarah expected? No, but God had thought through His plan. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (They needed to know this – and we do too.)

Was God’s timing the same as Abraham and Sarah’s? No, but God had His own timetable. II Peter 3:8 reminds us, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.(They had another lesson to learn – and we, too, should learn it.)

Over the 25 years of waiting, Abraham and Sarah gained many insights. However, I believe the most important thing Abraham and Sarah discovered was the faithfulness of God.

Hebrews 11:11-12 states,By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

Deuteronomy 7:9 declares, God is faithful to fulfill His promises. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.

This, too, is for us. We have the potential to create either an Ishmael or an Isaac. Do we only have confidence in ourselves or do we have faith in God?

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us,Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Abraham and Sarah lived life and learned lessons. Ishmael and Isaac were conceived. The lives of these men were influenced by Abraham and Sarah’s choices and actions,

Genesis 25:12-18 tells of Ishmael’s 12 sons.

However, it is through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that the 12 tribes of Israel emerge. This is the heritage of the great nation promised by God. (see Genesis 35:23-28)

The descendants of Ishmael and Isaac have historically been enemies. The animosity remains to this day.

This will also be true of the Ishmaels and Isaacs we create. Our Ishmaels originate from our fleshly desires. Our Isaacs are born through the help of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-17 says, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another.

Let us create Isaacs rather than Ishmaels!