From the Inside Out

You’re almost a year old now, and if I was being honest, I would have to admit that spiritually my life has been less than impressive for many months.  As I consider what is going on in my heart, I can’t help but conclude that the Lord is trying to teach me the same key lesson that He has been trying to get into my head for many years.  Since I have been a Christian, I have had a desire to serve the Lord in whatever way He would want.  That desire has led me to where I am today, but somehow I continue to realize that this desire is not enough.  Something is still majorly wrong…

So how do I summarize the problem?  I am the problem.  The things that I am doing for the Lord are fine and good, but He has far greater priorities than having me accomplish lots of external things for Him.  He is very interested in changing the kind of person that I am.  I want to share this with you because I think this is very important for all of God’s people to realize.  We need to understand what God wants to do in our lives or we will have wrong expectations and even fight against Him. 

As you read the Old Testament, you should quickly get the impression that there is something majorly wrong with humanity.  He is hateful, angry, revengeful, jealous, proud, etc., and on top of it all He hates the idea of submitting to the Word of God if it means he can’t pursue his own desires.  When God enters into a relationship with the people of Israel, He gives them His Word so that they can enjoy that relationship and a life of blessing.  The Old Testament is a tragic story that exposes the fact that God’s Law was able to define what the people should do, but it couldn’t overcome the corruption inside them.  The Old Testament ends with the anticipation of a future day when God would provide for this problem and do an internal work that would transform His people into the kind that He desires (Jer. 31:33, etc.). 

The New Testament puts the primary emphasis on the need for this internal transformation in our lives.  This helps us understand what Paul means when he says at one point “as to the righteousness which is in the Law- found blameless” (Phil. 3:6) but at another “but sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind” (Rom. 7:8).  In other words, there was a time when Paul looked at his religious life from a purely external perspective and concluded that he was righteous and blameless, but there was also a time when he realized that the same Law exposed what was truly going on in his heart.  He may have done incredible religious works, but his heart was filled with an unbelievable want for the things that belonged to others.  Regardless of what we are doing on the outside, God is not pleased until there is a transformation of the inside or a change in our character.  This also helps us to understand why Paul says, “without love I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13) and “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).  Notice that these characteristics start on the inside and are lived out in our relationships with others.  Paul recognized the need for his heart to be filled with love for others instead of coveting their possessions.  A true view of what was inside led Paul to conclude that it was time to put the pride aside and conclude that he was a “wretched man” in this “body of death” (Rom. 7:24).

Paul saw the fruit of his humanity in his coveting, but in another place he also includes things like strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, envying, immorality, etc. (Gal. 5:19-21).  Paul’s list could have been much longer.  As I look into my heart, I see frustration, impatience, a critical spirit, a lack of grace, a lack of forgiveness, a lack of care and compassion for others, selfishness, arrogance, fear, insecurity, and many more.  I see instability and inconsistency.  When we are willing to allow the Lord to deal with us at this level, there is no room for boasting about our impressive religious works.  I could be a great pastor, missionary, teacher, humanitarian, etc., but I may still be very far from who God wants me to be.  God is working to transform us from the inside out.  He wants to bring us to a place where all of those external things are filled with the character His Spirit is working in us. 

Our world goes to great lengths to try to remedy the reality of what is inside all of us, but the only hope for true change is found in a relationship with God.  The work of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives are the only means for this real internal change to take place.  Apart from this we can try to think positive, ignore the corruption inside, try to reform our external life, or sometimes people give up and decide to indulge in whatever their disgusting heart desires.  We try to do away with all moral standards so that there is no right or wrong and therefore no way to judge.  As we face the devastating consequences that come from these choices, we should be brought back to humility before God.  There is a God, and there is a standard for what is right and wrong.  He defines this standard, and it applies not only to the outside but also the inside.  We are to be loving, good, and selfless.  These things are not natural to man even though he would like to claim that they are.

As I look into my heart and face the sad reality that I am not as I should be, I am first grateful that there is forgiveness.  God sees all of us as we truly are, and even though He knows how bad things are inside, He still sacrificed Jesus so that we could find forgiveness and grace.  This has to be there for us every step of the way as we are changed.  Every day I must humbly face the truth and rest firmly in this incredible act of love.  Second, I am thankful that God is at work in me.  Paul says that God has begun a good work in all of His people (Phil. 1:6, 2:13).  Notice that the work starts on the inside.  If His good pleasure is to be accomplished through us in this world, He has to start at the heart level.  His Spirit is working to teach us, convict us, and instruct us day by day, and it is our responsibility to respond in humility and confidence in His power as we look to live out what He is doing in our lives. 

Once again, I am writing this to help you recognize what God wants to do in your life.  He may use you to do amazing things, but you should never forget that His desire is to transform you into a person whose character reflects the greatness of who He is.  There is no room for pride in our lives, but only a humble walk with God day after day as He exposes our hearts and seeks to change us from the inside out.  Above all I hope and pray that your life will consistently be filled with the fruit of the Spirit so that when people have been around you they get a glimpse of the greatness of God and Christ.  That is when the greatest things will be accomplished through you. 


A God So Near

Soon after we made it through the hardest months after you were born, a class I was taking gave me an assignment to consider the character of God and write out my thoughts as I responded in praise.  This assignment came with great timing, and I had no idea what I would come to recognize through it.  One morning I was considering the reality of God being “omnipresent,” and I began to see the greatness of this truth in a new way in my life.

To say that God is omnipresent is to say He is everywhere.  This can be discussed on a few levels.  First, all people are God’s creation, and there is not one moment when they are not in His presence (Acts 17:28).  Every moment of life for all humanity is 100% dependent upon God.  We could not exist, live, or breathe without Him sustaining us and holding the universe together.  He upholds every moment, and we couldn’t even move without Him.  All men need to recognize this humbling reality.  This is God’s world, and He cannot be escaped.  Second, close personal fellowship with God’s presence was lost as a result of our rebellion, but God has provided a way that His people can once again enjoy His nearness.  Today, the presence of God dwells among His people through His Spirit (Eph. 2:22), and as a result of the work of Christ we can at every moment boldly draw near to God to find His gracious help (Heb. 4:16).  He is especially near to His people in a way the rest of humanity does not know (Deut. 4:7).  Last, God is working through history to bring His people back into the full enjoyment of His presence once and for all (Rev. 22:3-5).  Eternal life is knowing God in such a close relationship (Jn. 17:3).  Such abundant life is possible now, but it will only be fully enjoyed in the age to come when all things are made new.  Life has always been and ever will be centered on fellowship with the presence of God.

As I considered the fact that God is near to me in such a personal way every moment of every day, I slowed down to consider what this meant for my life and how it related to all we had been through with you.  Here is what I wrote in my response of praise to God that morning:

“I am thankful that you are always here with me.  The idea that you are present with me at all times is overwhelming, but this reminds me that there is no excuse for me not to enjoy my relationship with you throughout the entire day.  You are always there.  Every time I step into the classroom you are there.  Every time I go home for the evening you are there.  Every moment we sat in the hospital with Amelia you were there.  Every moment we celebrate of progress in Amelia’s health you are there.  Every meal we eat you are there.  Every book I read you are there.  Every conversation I have you are there.  Every breath I take you are there.  I don’t live like this is true, but I am so thankful that it is!”

I had to share this with a friend, and as soon as I got to the part about you, tears began to fill my eyes.  The reality of God’s presence being with us through every moment began to sink in, and it was one of the most overwhelming feelings I have had.  The eternal, infinite God was with me.  He was right there every moment.  He never left my side, and He never left yours.  Even when we had to leave you, He was always present and watching over you.  Tears are rolling down my face again as I consider how amazing this is.  He was there in the hardest times, and He was there to rejoice with us in the best of times.  Nothing has changed, and He is right here just as near in this moment.

I am writing this to you because life is not life without knowing the nearness of God.  To know He is near and be His enemy is the most frightening state I could ever imagine being in.  The work of Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to no longer be enemies of God and to now know peace and fellowship with His presence.  There is nothing greater and no treasure could ever come close to comparing.  We can choose to enjoy the nearness of God.  Most of the time when we were at the hospital with you I took God’s presence for granted.  It was only after the fact that I began to realize how comforting it was to know the closeness of God as we go through the difficult and joyous moments of our lives.  There is nothing greater or more important than learning to live in the reality of fellowship with God in every moment of our days.  We are never alone.  He is always near.  I pray that my life would be an example of living in His presence, and I pray that your life would be the story of someone who continually grows to experience this to the fullest and hopes in the day we will be as near to God as we were always meant to be.

Endless Yet Valuable Need

My last letter to you was written 4 months ago.  Why has it taken me so long to write you again?  Because I have been learning the same lesson from being your dad for months now.  In fact, for much of this time I could have simply wrote the exact same letter over and over.  As I sat down to write this, I found some notes I made of my thoughts a month and a half ago.  Let me share some of those thoughts with you:

“For weeks I have wanted to write something brilliant, eloquent, and profound, but the reality is that I haven’t had much to say that would fall under that category.  You are 5 months old now, and so far being your dad has been the hardest thing I have ever done.  Surprised by that?  I am, but I can’t get away from the fact that it is completely true.  I am having a hard time.  It is not because you are a bad baby or even difficult to care for.  I am struggling with myself.  Raising you is a daily reminder of what is in my heart, and what I see has been easy to cover up and ignore until now… I am stressed out, frustrated, angry, full of hate, lacking, irritated, unloving, and yet I feel justified.  Inside I see meanness, selfishness, indifference, coldness, insensitivity, and the list could go on and on.”

Around that same time, I remember seeing a friend who also has a baby around your age.  He asked me how I was doing, and I decided for the first time I would be honest about all this and share with him.  To my surprise he responded, “You too?  I thought it was just me!”  Everything I was sharing rang true in his heart also.  There was something so sickening and repulsive about what was revealed in his heart that he was led to conclude that surely no one else would have those same thoughts and feelings.  It was like we were telling each other’s story. 

I am not sure why I am so quick to run from this reality and be ashamed of it as if no one else has the same problem.  I know that the absolute truth is that everyone actually has the exact same problem.  You are just like me.  We all have the same corruption inside, and we all labor intensely to cover it up.  We all know what it is like to believe that if people really knew what was going on inside us they would run away repulsed.  It is easy for us as weak and fallen humans to “pad” our lives.  By this, I mean we work hard to put ourselves in situations that make us feel good about ourselves.  We try very hard to keep away from those that make us feel uncomfortable.  We try to cover up what we know is true of us- the ugliness that we don’t want others to see.  We read books on how to succeed in life and be happy, yet we are depressed because we have to live with what is in our hearts every day.  We take drugs to numb us to the voice inside, and we meet with worldly counselors who tell us to visualize the good and ignore the bad.  We try almost anything to make us feel ok about ourselves inside.  We know that the truth can never come out.  What would people think if they really knew the thoughts and feelings inside me?  Surely they would be repulsed and disgusted.

I have been reminded over the past few months that honesty before God is life-giving.  What I wrote above may seem depressing, yet for those who are honest with the Lord and put their confidence in Him these things are a path to life.  In my notes from a month and a half ago, there were 4 realities that I found encouragement in:

1)      Real needs bring us down from the clouds of pride.  There will be success in life, but there is no room for pride.  Our world pushes us to have pride in ourselves, but such pride just leads us to live a lie.  In fact, that kind of pride causes us to miss out on real life found in God alone.  A life of humble honesty before Him is where true life is found and enjoyed.

2)      Real needs move us to honesty and humility.  No more excuses.  I can’t hide anymore.  What is real must be dealt with.  I have serious issues.  I am a serious issue.  I am an utterly wretched person.  Anything else would be a lie.  Real solutions come at the cost of a true diagnosis of the problem.  It hurts our pride, but God lifts up the humble and repentant.

3)      Real need forces us to look for real solutions.  What do we do when the cover up fails?  What do we do when our need/weakness is exposed before others?  What do we do when the drugs/medicine don’t fix the real problem?  What do we do when the success can’t overwhelm the need?  What do you do when the positive thinking is exposed as a sham?  Real solutions are found in God’s truth not the lies of this world.

4)      Real failure moves us to seek real forgiveness.  Our experience alone tells us that these things should not be.  We know what we are experiencing testifies to our own problem.  We are not what we should be, and we need to recognize that this means we have greatly offended the God who made us to reflect His image.  And yet it is this same holy God who is infinitely compassionate and gracious toward repentant sinners like your dad.  People drown in the misery of their inadequacy and sin, but your dad has learned that there is perfect forgiveness found in the Lord.  Honestly and humility before Him frees us to approach Him and find that forgiveness instead of condemnation. 

In closing I would like to add a fifth,

5)      “Such experiences are the price of a ministry.”  I am so grateful to experience all of this as your dad because it means I am like everyone else.  The Lord desires to use me to serve real people with real problems.  Real life and a close walk with God produces sympathy and understanding of others and their deep need.  Such experience opens the door to real ministry to real people.  Pride separates while humility creates common ground.  A weak man can have weak men as his friends.  Together they can find comfort and strength in a caring and patient God.

I know there is so much more that could be said, but I want to encourage you to always be honest about your need before God.  He knows the truth already, and agreeing with Him is the road to growth and ministry.  I hope you grow up seeing this kind of humility in my life, and I pray that I will respond to your failure with patience and compassion.  If I always point you toward the Lord and His truth, I know you will always find forgiveness, hope, and life. 

Hear My Cry for Help

Amelia, you cry for help all the time!  I didn’t have brothers or sisters so until you came along I was pretty unfamiliar with how needy babies are.  In no way am I surprised, but the everyday reality of having a baby who depends upon you for everything is pretty stressful, exhausting, and overwhelming.  Your mom spends her entire day taking care of you and meeting all your little needs.  When I come home from work, it doesn’t take very long for me to become overwhelmed by it all.  You cry and fuss because you want your pacifier.  You cry and fuss because you have gas.  You cry and fuss because you need your diaper changed.  You cry and fuss because you are tired.  You cry and fuss because you are too hot.  You cry and fuss because you want to be moved.  Sometimes it seems like you cry and fuss just because you feel like crying and fussing.  Often it feels like you cry and fuss all day and night.  The thing that amazes me is that you are an easy baby.  Wow, babies have constant needs!

 As a result of being your dad, I have learned that I have little tolerance or compassion for the needs of others.  I think it is sometimes assumed that just because it is your baby you will naturally be compassionate toward him or her.  I don’t buy that.  Spending your days selflessly meeting the needs of another person is extremely difficult, and honestly it is something that I don’t feel like doing on most days, even the good ones.  In the moment, it is nothing but sacrifice and hard work.  You don’t do anything for me, but I have to do everything for you.  I hesitated to write about this because I was afraid it sounds really bad, but this is exactly what I have been learning for weeks now.  Right now as I type, I know that when I get home my evening will be full of your needs.  There is a part of me that wants to avoid it, but I know I have to make the choice to put myself aside and do what is best for you.

As I reflect on all of this, I realize that I am actually just like you.  I have constant needs, and I cry and fuss way more than you.  People are generally impressed with themselves, but the reality is that we are people of unending need.  Today I need food, shelter, warm clothes, rest, and emotional stability.  I need wisdom to make good choices and recognize what needs to be accomplished.  I need love and acceptance.  I need security and confidence.  I need someone to give me strength to do all the things that are so much bigger than what I can do on my own.  I have to face life every day and all the difficulties that come with that.  I whine and complain.  I hurt and want.  I struggle, and I fail.  I may not be sitting around in a diaper, but I am just as needy as you are. 

From that reality, it is interesting to imagine that I must look a lot like a little child to God.  Every moment of my day is filled with need.  In fact, my need is far greater than I come close to recognizing.  My day is filled with weakness and cries for help.  Not a moment goes by that I don’t need Him.  Not a moment goes by when I am not asking something of Him.  What is true of me is true for the billions of His people around the world.  We are children of God, and we have unending needs.  Can you imagine a day with billions of little babies screaming for your attention and help?  I only have one, and I am way over my limits!  God hears all of us needy people, but how does He respond to it all?  Does He get stressed out like me?  Does He get overwhelmed?  Does He get tired of it?  Does He want to run away and choose Himself over those who need Him so badly?  Does He arrogantly look down His nose at our inadequacies?  The short answer is NO!

See God is not like your dad.  First, He has no needs.  He is eternal and has always been fully sufficient in Himself (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 40:28).  When we cry to God, we call on one who isn’t weak like ourselves, and He never tires.  Second, He is always there and always aware.  When we cry to God, we call on the One who never leaves us (John 4:24; Psalm 139:7-12; Rom. 8:32-39).  No matter where we go or how alone we feel, He is always there.  He is spirit and not limited to these bodies as we are.  Third, He is infinitely compassionate and loving (1 John 4:8,16; John 3:16; Eph. 2:4; James 5:11).  This blows my mind!  To say that God is compassionate is to say that He is fully aware of our needs and is actually moved to meet them.  Yes, that is the opposite of your dad.  God is actually compelled to meet our needs because that is just who He is.  To say that God is loving is to say that He is always committed to what is best for us.  There is no limit here.  God’s love is infinite.  He will always want to do what is best for you.  Our needs are opportunities for Him to provide and express His care for us.  He thrives in those opportunities.  Fourth, God is selfless.  This isn’t something that people talk much about, but it is very clear that God by nature sacrifices Himself for us, those who haven’t done anything for Him.  In fact, Jesus was the ultimate servant, and He fully represented God in His person.  The sacrifice of Christ is the ultimate example of the fact that God is the ultimate selfless servant.  He selflessly gives of Himself every moment of everyday to take care of us.  He actually delights in all of this.  I find service a burden, but He never does.  It is who He is by nature.  Last, He is perfectly wise and has the power to accomplish His will (Rom. 16:27; Psalm 147:5; Jer. 32:17).  When we call upon God, we need to recognize that the needs we present Him, although huge in our minds, are not a problem for Him (Eph. 3:20-21).  He always knows exactly what should be done, and He always has the power to accomplish His will.  We can remain confident of these facts, even when it seems He is just letting us lay there in our crib screaming.  He knows how to take care of us, and His will is always perfect.  He will always fully give of Himself to lovingly cradle us and do what is best for us. 

In the Bible, people are constantly crying to God for help (ex. Psalm 18:6, 28:2, 30:2, 31:22, 88:13, 119:147).  Nothing has changed about people.  As you grow up, your needs will change, but you will always be a person who is completely in need of God.  In fact, if we don’t see those needs and allow them to drive us toward the One who can provide for us, we are blind to reality.  Every one of us is much like what I see in you ever day.  I am so thankful that God never gets stressed out by us.  He never gets tired of us, and He is always able to do what is best for us.  In fact, He always has a perfect understanding of what our needs actually are.  He never runs away, and He is actually compelled to care for us.  It is just who He is.  Night and day our needs rise before Him, and He is never overwhelmed.  There is no limit to His love and compassion toward us.  Wow, people have constant needs!

Maybe you will see God in me in some faint and imperfect way, but in the end I hope that you realize that only He welcomes every cry for help.  He is everything I should be.  He is everything you will ever need.  I pray that as you grow up I will constantly point you toward Him.

Life-Giving Wisdom

The first month of your life was incredibly humbling.  There were more helpless moments for me during that time than I think in the rest of my life combined so far.  During the first two weeks, you weren’t eating enough, you were choking on your food, and there were several times when you would stop breathing.   To make things worse, you started to get this thick, stringy mucous in the back of your throat that you would choke on and stop breathing while you slept.  Your mom and I would do everything we could to get you to breathe again, and we worked hard to help you with the mucous.  There were many nights when we didn’t feel like we could sleep just in case you stopped breathing.  Your mom would lie next to you all night watching and listening to make sure you were ok.  On top of all this, we shared these things with your doctor, and she said this was all normal.  Seriously?  Normal?  This was not normal.

Finally, we took you into the hospital, and we discovered that you were more premature than originally thought.  They told us your doctor should have sent you to the hospital a long time ago and that we had been keeping you alive the whole time.  I will never forget how surprised the nurses were that you were even alive.  They told us that if we hadn’t been doing all that we did for you, you probably wouldn’t have made it.  That was the beginning of 3 very long weeks with you in the NICU.  Toward the end of that time, I can remember your mom saying, “I believe that the Lord gave us the wisdom we needed to keep our baby alive.”  I think she was right!

If there is anything true of people, it is abundantly clear that we are arrogant.  In other words, we have a very exaggerated opinion of ourselves.  By exaggerated, I mean our opinions of ourselves and our thinking are actually way higher than they should be.  We see ourselves as being so wise and smart, but this is simply not true.  Our arrogance causes us to live in a false reality that willfully stays blind to the obvious.  In our arrogance we are in fact ignorant. The world is filled with people living destructive lives, yet in the midst of it all they are convinced they have everything figured out.  The last thing you want to do is question their choices and try to correct them.  It is no surprise that God warned the wise that in return for trying to correct a fool they would get abuse and hurt (Prov. 1:7, 9:7).

The true source of wisdom is God (Prov. 1:7, 2:2-7, 9:10, etc.).  He by definition is infinitely wise; therefore, those who lack wisdom should look to His perfect advice and instruction.  Wisdom is knowing what needs to be done and how to do it in the best possible way.  God’s infinite knowledge allows Him to instruct us and teach us about what is best not simply because He said so but because He knows and desires what is best for us.  By rejecting His Word, we are actually bringing harm to ourselves (Prov. 1:31-32, 2:31-32,4:19).  To remain in our arrogance and ignorance is incredibly sadistic.  If fact, it usually takes a large degree of misery in a person’s life before they are willing to look for better answers.  If we find those answers in God’s Word, it will always direct us in the way that will be most beneficial and enjoyable (Prov. 2:7-11, 3:5-8).  God’s Word is intended to correct us and teach us how to live and enjoy life (Prov. 3:11-12).  It is very common for people to believe that God’s Word has nothing to do with everyday life.  They see it as an old book that doesn’t have anything to say about the basic choices we have to make moment by moment.  On the contrary, God’s Word gives us the wisdom we need for all life.  There is no area of life that its truth doesn’t impact.  It is tempting to hear this and even say it is correct, but do we actually believe it?  If we truly believed God was smarter than us, we would be a people who never cease to study and delight in His Word.  Regardless of what everyone else thinks, we would live our lives by His book confidently knowing that in the end it will always be best.  God loves to give His people wisdom for life.  All we need to do is search for it in Him (Prov. 3:5-8, James 1:5).

Your mom and I believe this.  We believe it was His instruction that gave us the wisdom to make the best choices for you.  In the end, we can give Him the credit for protecting you and caring for you.  It is our goal to raise you in the wisdom of the Lord.  I know I will fail many times, but we will always do our best to point you toward the wisdom of God that will correct you and set you on the right path.  Don’t trust those around you who want to give you worldly advice.  It might sound wise to them, but in the end it will always fail you.  The people around you do not know what is best, but God always does.  I pray that we will raise you to be wise in this life and to do everything you can to run from the foolishness that will ultimately bring hurt and pain.

He Loves You More

The day you were born I had a song stuck in my head.  For days, all I could do was sing the chorus of this song over and over.  Every time I looked at you tears would fill my eyes, and the words of this song played over and over in my head.  Every morning I woke up to the same words.  In fact, I remember one day specifically when I went to get lunch for your mom and myself.  As I drove with the windows down, I sang this song over and over.  The words to the chorus go like this- “I love you more than the sun and the stars that I taught how to shine. You are mine, and you shine for me too.  I love you yesterday and today and tomorrow.  I’ll say it again and again.  I love you more.”  I tend to be pretty reserved, but this song seemed to really capture what I was feeling.  I was honestly shocked by the overwhelming emotion of love that I had for you.  All I knew was that I loved you so much yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  A simple song seemed to express what I was feeling toward you better than anything else.

The song is called “More” by Matthew West, and it is actually a song about God’s love.  Obviously, your dad didn’t teach the sun and the stars how to shine.  Even so, when you were born was one of the only times in my life when I felt like I could really connect with the way God loves us.  His love is His passionate commitment to our good.  You need to understand that there is no limit to God’s love.  He is infinitely set on caring for us and doing what is best for us.  He created us for good and to experience His love.  There has never been a day when He didn’t have the same desire for us.  I have believed this for a long time.  I do believe it, but when you were born I felt it.  I tend to minimize emotions in life, but now I believe that God’s love is not just a commitment to what is best for us.  God’s love is also emotional.  God feels love toward us.  It is not some cold commitment He is obligated to.  His commitment and emotion go hand in hand perfectly.  He loves you with a love that is so much bigger than anything I am capable of ever expressing to you.  His love is the ultimate love.  His love will never fail you, and His love will always be there to hold you.  He truly loves you and all people more than anything else in the universe He created.  It is not just a fact, but it is who He is.  He feels that love toward you that I felt but multiplied by infinity.  He feels it every day, and there is nothing that can stop it or lessen it.  It is always there.  It will never leave you even in times when you doubt it or question it.  You will never reach its limit!

I am going to be honest with you.  My love is really limited.  Maybe in some small and inadequate way it reflects God’s love, but it is a pretty pathetic reflection.  After bringing you home, it didn’t take too many middle of the night interruptions of my sleep to show that I am often far more concerned about myself than you.  I have no doubt that my love will fail you many times as you grow up.  In fact, I know it already has many times.  No wonder they make everyone watch videos on shaken baby syndrome in the hospital!  Ok, that is kind of a joke but seriously.  There will be plenty of moments when I will choose myself over you.  My love will fail you, and it is important for you to know that this is true of all people.  Don’t look to other people to meet the need in your life to know unfailing and unconditional love.  The love we experience together and in relationships with other people is amazing, but it never fully satisfies and is always limited.  You will always find what you are looking for in the eternal and infinite God.  He loves you more than the sun and the stars that He taught how to shine.  You are His, and you shine for Him too.  He loves you yesterday and today and tomorrow.  I’ll say it again and again.  He loves you more!

He loves you so much that He had His Son die for you.  Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.”  1 John 3:16 says, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us…”  He completely gave of Himself so that you could have the best.  You will never know a sacrifice of love so great.  He loves you more than you can imagine.  More than you can fathom.  It is not just lip service.  He acted on it.  Run to Him.  You will always find what you are looking for…a love without end.

The Beginning: Why Blog?

My wife and I recently adopted a beautiful little girl, who we named Amelia Rose.  Watching her every move radiates the glory of God.  Every day gushes forth a powerful declaration of His handiwork and wisdom.  God has once again manifested His abounding grace in our lives through the gift of this precious little girl.  Through it all He has reminded me that He is not only a God who is far but also near.  He knows our heart, our every thought, and He cares…What an overwhelming thought!  He cares even about the things that we think are far too small and insignificant for such an infinite being.  He cares for me, and He cares dearly for my little girl, Amelia Rose.

I am starting this blog for the simple purpose of collecting thoughts about the lessons God teaches me through being her father and the things I hope fill her life someday.  I am reminded that every day is truly a gift and shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Not that I will be able to write every day, but not a moment goes by that isn’t filled with God’s good intention.  He is using this beautiful baby to mold me and shape me into the person He wants me to be.  He is using her to deepen my understanding of who He is and the relationship I have with Him daily.  Maybe someday when Amelia can read this she will see the words I write as a powerful testimony to the reality of God and the fact that He is involved in the lives of His people.  I want her to know that she is loved, and that no one loves her more than the eternal God. 

I have often imagined being a dad who works hard to shape and mold his child, but it seems that it will be this child that God will use to shape and mold me.  This blog is a reminder to me that I don’t want to take these days for granted.  I don’t want to “get through” parenting an infant, toddler, etc.  I don’t want to miss out on how God is relating with me through it all, and I don’t want Amelia Rose to miss out on it either.  Maybe the work of God in my life will teach her more than my fatherly instruction ever will…