A Father’s Stories pt. 3 (Preview)

The other day, Kimberly and I were having a family business meeting discussing our family budget.  Looking at the rising cost of most everything, we decided to watch our spending a bit more closely in a few categories.  Through a combination of coupons, sale shopping, and simply cutting back, we thought we could save some money.  In the course of this conversation, Kimberly asked me if I prayed about some of the purchases we were making.  My response was both truthful and telling, “No.”

As a Pastor this is probably not the answer you expected me to give.  As a Christian, this is probably not the answer I should give, but it was truthful.  Many times I run through my day living life and spending money with little regard for how that action fits into God’s desired direction for my life.  Knowing that we all fall short of God’s glorious standards and that Christ’s death offers full payment for my shortcomings and Christ’s life offers me a hope of a better tomorrow, I am not fully discouraged by my ACTION of not prayerfully approaching all areas of my life.  Upon further reflection, though, the REASONS for my action are something that I need to address and reprogram through the renewing of my mind by God’s truth.

To some degree I (probably like many of you) can operate in life in a sacred/secular split.  I turn to God for the spiritual stuff, then turn to myself for everything else.  The reality is, however, that God has much wisdom for all areas of my life . . . including both the spiritual AND the physical.  This conversation with my wife was a great reminder for me to recalibrate my life and trust in our Heavenly Father for all things . . . a point we will see coming clear in the passage we are going to be looking at in this Sunday’s sermon from Luke 5:1-11.

We are in week 3 of our 5 week series entitled “A Father’s Stories,” where we have been looking deeper at some of the Bible stories we tell our children, but have rich meaning for us today as grown-up children of our Heavenly Father.  This week we will be looking at Luke 5:1-11 and Jesus calling of Simon to be His disciple.  Simon learned to trust God with all things, and my hope is that by looking at this passage, we might learn to do the same.  I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday at Wildwood in one of our two identical services at 9:30 or 10:50 AM.  Hope to see you there!

Feel free to post your thoughts, comments, or questions about this series in the comments section of this blog post.

David & Goliath Sermon Audio

The audio mp3 of last Sunday’s sermon on David and Goliath is now available online.  You can download it from the http://www.wildwoodchurch.org website, find it in the iTunes music store, or download and listen to it here on the blog.

To download the file, click here:

David & Goliath message

To listen to streaming audio of the sermon, click here:

David and Goliath (Recap and Response)

Over the past few years, I have run several distance events.  Running a marathon is truly like eating an elephant . . . you cannot do it in one sitting, but you devour it a bite at a time.  What this means is that it takes me a minimum of 5 months of training at least 4 days a week with increasing levels of intensity in order to prepare for the race day.

While I am training, I view my life differently.  No longer is exercising an option.  It is a mandatory part of my week.  If I skip a training run, I am putting my preparation in jeopardy.  You simply can’t catch up in training for a distance event.  Time and consistency are needed to cross the finish line.  Therefore, I run at least 4 days a week while I am in training.

What is interesting, however, is that when the training is over, I tend to slow down my exercise schedule.  By “slow down” I really mean “grind to a halt.”  While I run 4 days a week in training, I might run no days a week in the off season.  (NOTE:  This is not a preferred exercise plan, just the reality of my lazy life.)  Seeing my life as “in training” gives me the focus and goal to do what I need to do.

As I read the biblical account of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17, I noticed that David had been in training for a long time for his encounter with Goliath.  David’s training program, however, was rather unique.  If we were training David for a battle with a giant, we might assume that David needed lots of combat experience in order to succeed.  David, however, had seen zero combat time before his battle with Goliath.  As a matter of fact, he was not even in the army!  He had not even gone to boot camp!  David’s preparation for his battle with Goliath came not from a soldier’s shield but with a shepherd’s staff.  Listen to how David describes his preparation for battle to King Saul in 1 Samuel 17:37, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of Philistine.”  David was saying that his experience tending sheep and protecting his flock from animals had prepared him to take down the giant.

Now, some may want to scoff at David’s “training” plan.  Surely David did not think that animals in the field were the same as trained warriors like Goliath!  If David were submitting his resume to Saul to be hired in the job of “Giant Killer” he would have been rejected because of a lack of relevant experience.  This perspective may make sense to a lot of people, but it is a huge misunderstanding the situation.  David’s experience as a shepherd was ABSOLUTELY RELEVANT for his conflict with Goliath because the same One who won victory against the animals would empower David against the Philistine.  David had learned to trust God in the fields of bleeting sheep, so he was well trained for trusting God on the fields of battling soldiers.

David’s experience is very instructive for us.  It reminds us that God is building into each of us faith today for tomorrow’s “battles.”  This means that our lives are currently “in training.”  Sometimes we think of our current lives as lacking meaning or purpose.  Because of our perception of our current lives, we can fail to live life faithfully today, because we assume it does not matter.  Like me only exercising “in season,” so we sometimes wait to walk with God in only the “exciting seasons” of our lives.  The reality however, is that our lives are always “in season” as God is always training us to trust Him today to prepare us for tomorrow’s trials.

You learn to trust God with your marriage by trusting God as a single person.  You learn to trust God as a parent by trusting Him with your marriage.  You learn to trust Him with your job by trusting Him at home, etc.  All our experience is relevant experience in so far as it teaches us to walk faithfully with our God.  Viewing our lives as “in training” gives us added incentive and focus to walk with God today.

Last Sunday, this point was one of three points of application that we looked at from this familiar Bible story as a part of our “Father’s Stories” series at Wildwood.  The three main ideas from the message were that we needed to:

1.  Listen in life with spiritual ears (1 Samuel 17:22-26)

2.  Learn in life with spiritual experiences (1 Samuel 17:33-37)

3.  Lean in life with spiritual expectations (1 Samuel 17:38-51)

Just a couple of days removed from this message, I am curious:  what other questions or personal applications have you considered in response to this message?  Comment back to this post and let us know!

A Father’s Stories pt. 2 (Preview)

Young Bobby Savoy looked up to the Knights middle-aged right fielder more than any other on the team.  As the bat boy, Bobby had the chance to get to know each of the players, but there was something special about Roy Hobbs and his magical left-handed swing.  Savoy was so taken by Hobbs that young Bobby asked Roy to help him build his very own baseball bat, similar to Hobbs’s own “Wonderboy” bat that he used in everyone of his Major League at bats.  The bat that Roy and Bobby built, Bobby nicknamed the “Savoy Special,” and Bobby left it proudly displayed with the rest of the team’s equipment near the front steps of the dugout.

Finishing the season tied with Pittsburgh for the league title, the New York Knights had to win one playoff game in order to win the pennant.  Hurt and ill, Hobbs decided to play in the playoff game anyway, and with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Roy had a chance to be a hero.  If he were to hit a homerun, the game would be over and the Knights would win the pennant.  Watch the video clip below to see what happened next . . .

On the dugout steps were dozens of bats that had all seen Major League time, but Bobby passed over all of them, instead taking the one bat that Hobbs was also familiar with.  In the end, this bat was used to win a championship.  In the hands of Hobbs, this bat was a winner.

I was thinking about this climactic scene from 1984’s “The Natural” this week as I was reading 1 Samuel 17 — the story of David and Goliath.  In this story David picked a very rudimentary weapon (a slingshot and some river rock) to go fight a giant.  David could have taken any of the King’s weapons that had already seen Major League combat action, but he instead chose the weapon he was most familiar with.  In the end, in the hands of the Lord, this weapon was more than enough to win the fight against the giant Philistine.

The Savoy Special and a slingshot — reminders to all of us that the largest obstacles in our lives do not always come down with the “weapons” everyone else suggests we use.  On Sunday at Wildwood we will be continuing our series on “A Father’s Stories” by looking at 1 Samuel 17 and the story of David and Goliath.  It is my hope that by looking at David’s faith and the Father’s provision, we all might have courage to face the large obstacles God has placed in our paths.  Join us Sunday at either the 9:30 or 10:50 service at Wildwood Community Church.  Feel free to “leave a comment” below expressing questions or thoughts you have about this passage heading into Sunday . . .

He Prepared This Place For Us

Josh and I just a few days after His birth

Four years ago, Kimberly and I got some great news.  We learned that Kimberly was pregnant and that we were soon to be parents!  Upon hearing this exciting development, Kimberly and I sprung into preparation mode:  there were lots of arrangements that would go into welcoming a child into our world.

One set of changes that we got to make with the baby on the way was to prepare our home for the arrival of the infant.  Electrical outlets were covered, safety locks were put on the cabinets, and the baby’s room needed some TLC.  (By TLC, I mean “The Learning Channel” home to such (then) current hits as “Trading Spaces.”)  We would be remodeling Josh’s room before his arrival.  We picked out paint and had friends help us coat the room in yellow and blue.  We hung a wallpaper border on the wall, and covered our newly fabricated crib with matching sheets and bumpers.  All this work was done in order to prepare the “perfect” environment for our son.  We made the decisions with him in mind, and completed the redecoration before he came home from the hospital.

This past Sunday at Wildwood, we began a five part series entitled, “A Father’s Stories” where we are looking more in depth at some of the famous Bible stories we tell our children that reveal truth to us (as adults and children) about our heavenly Father.  Last week we began by looking at the creation story from Genesis 1.  As we looked at that story, we saw how God created the earth in a “good” way so that human life could be sustained on this planet.  The climactic moment of creation was when humans were created and “brought home” to the perfect environment for them on the earth.  God had prepared this earth for us like a parent prepares the nursery for their newborn child.  He designed it with us in mind and “decorated” it before Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden.

Knowing this is a powerful truth for all of us to remember.  God loves us and created all of this world FOR US, so that we might live here in relationship with Him.  Since the earth is God’s nursery, and we are His children, we are reminded that God cares more about us than about any of the other stuff on the earth.  Like a parent who would rescue their child from a burning room without bothering to save the “stuff” that was decorated on the nursery wall, so God sent His Son Jesus Christ to rescue us from the fires of our sin.  Our Eternal Father prepared this place for us.

Each Tuesday, this month, following my Sunday messages, I will be writing a brief recap of the main points from the previous week’s message.  By placing this here, it is my hope that people would be encouraged to continue to ponder the greatness of God’s Word during the week.  I would also like to encourage all of us to ask questions we still have, or to share with others how the message impacted us, or how we are going to apply its truth in our own lives.  In the “leave a comment” section below this post, please feel free to leave your questions, impressions, or applications from this past week’s message.  I will check back throughout the week and we can continue a “conversation” this way.  Thanks!

A Father’s Story pt. 1 (Sermon Audio)

Hey everyone,

Attached here is the sermon audio from yesterday’s message, “A Father’s Story pt. 1 – Creation.”  We are having some problems with our podcast right now, but the sermon is available here.  Thanks!  You can listen online through the player below, or you can download the message via the link below.

To download the message, click here:  Father’s Story pt 1 – creation

A Father’s Stories (Part 1 Preview)

Each night at the Robinson household holds a special ritual.  At a designated time my wife and I begin the launch sequence to put our son to bed.  Simultaneous to our plans, Josh launches a counterattack.  He makes it his mission to do whatever it takes to stay awake.  His strategy is simple, start doing as many things as possible to keep from going to bed.  He is quite predictable.  First he will cry and say he is not tired (as he yawns and rubs his eyes.)  Then he will suddenly become extremely thirsty (asking for water with the fervency of a nomad at an oasis).  Then he will want to play for just five more minutes (a unit of time that is equal to an eternity in his mind).  Then he will want to watch “just a little bit of TV.”

Having become wise to his ways, Kimberly and I are prepared with a counterattack of our own.  “Let’s read a story.”  This gets him every time.  The stack of books beside his bed is filled with Berenstein Bear books, Dr. Seuss, and Disney, but the book he is stuck on right now is the “Read Aloud Bible Stories” book series by Ella Lindvall.  Each night Kimberly and/or I sit in his room and read to him these amazing Bible stories.  Right now some of his favorites are Creation, David and Goliath, Jesus calling Simon, Zaccheus, and Bartimaeus.  As we have read him these stories over and over again, I have been blessed by the great truth that underlies these stories.  While these are stories that I (as a Father) read to my son, I am coming to see that these are really stories about our Heavenly Father, and how He cares for us.

Over the next five weeks at Wildwood, we will be walking through a 5 week series looking more in depth at these “Father’s Stories” to see their implication for our lives.  We hope you can join us in one of our two worship services at either 9:30 or 10:50 AM.

This Sunday, we will be looking at the creation account of Genesis 1.  This is a very important passage of Scripture for us to understand as Christians.  We could probably spend several weeks in this chapter alone, however, we are going to attempt to cover it in one week.  As such, we will be simply flying over this passage at “10,000 feet” to see the big truths that I believe God wants us to see.  We will not be looking intensely at the duration or scope of each day of creation.  Instead we will be focusing on the macro-level truths of the creation story and what it means for us as human beings living in relationship with our Creator God.  Hope you can join us this Sunday!

Feel free to post any comments or thoughts you have heading into this Sunday’s message in the comments section for this blog post.