By the way, you’re not Jesus.

authoritarian-parents-angry-father-scolding-boyRemember that time when your child (spouse or friend), sinned against you and you went to them with eloquent, pointed, correcting words, and they immediately saw their error, dropped to their knees, and apologized with repentant tears?

Wait!  That’s never happened to you either?  I have to correct my children for the same thing over and over and over.  Why don’t they get what I’m saying?  Maybe I need to say it differently, with more force, with more gentleness, with more scripture, with less scripture.  I just need to figure out the right combination of words, then they’ll get it.  Right?

OK, so, you may want to sit down at this point.  What I’m about to say may be hard to hear: We cannot change people.

One author put it like this: “Somewhere along the way, those of us gifted with words will receive a painful reminder that it is Jesus and not our explanations that can change a heart.  Words aren’t strings.  People aren’t puppets. Eloquent speech isn’t magic.”

Only Jesus can change a person’s heart.  We may have all the appropriate biblical ammunition, carefully crafted arguments, and even have righteousness on our side, but none of these things can change a person.

As a dad I can raise my voice, or slow down my words (as if I’m speaking to a foreigner), but none of these things will change my children.  My words don’t have the power to change their hearts.  Only Jesus can do that.

When tension rises in a relationship, we’re immediately confronted with the fact that we are not Jesus.  We cannot cause people to be convicted of their sins, no matter how eloquently or forcefully we speak.  Only Jesus can convict a person of their sins.  Only Jesus can change a person’s heart.

We need to spend more time asking Him to work.  Yes, I mean praying.  He must change our children.  He must work in our spouse.  He must soften our friend.  Trying to do the work of Jesus in the heart of others is both exhausting and frustrating.  I know, I’ve tried many times and failed every time.  We need to (must) let Jesus do his work in his time.

[See: Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 14:10; 15:5]

Day of Discovery

We have really been looking forward to this day!  After lengthy discussions (more like debates), emotional pleas (that sound like “I really want what I want”), and child-like logic (it has to be this way because I want it to be this way) we arrived at the doctors office for the ultra-sound.  The boys wanted another brother.  Hannah and Lydia wanted a little sister.  Grace wants, well, a baby.  And Caleb just wants his space on mommy’s lap, back.

To be honest the week leading up to our day of discovery was a little nerve racking.  I had to take my sweet wife to the doctor’s office twice for unscheduled visits.  It doesn’t really matter how small the matter, when you’re expecting and things are not right, they are just not right.  Thankfully everything was fine and all is well.

Well, the day arrived.  Drum roll please . . . . . We are having a baby boy!  Well, that’s what the doctor said when he looked at the black-n-white kaleidoscope-looking mini-screen that displays shapes, bones, organs, and gender specific anatomy.

Oh wait, I can see a tiny little face!

2014-08-28 14.52.19Incredible.

The drive home was very interesting.  We talked about how the other children would respond to the news. Joy-unleashed would be a good way to describe the atmosphere. That is, after explaining that there were no winners or losers in the “what do you think the baby is” game.

Somewhere along the road my delight intersected with my reality.  I have another son to love, train, equip, and launch into manhood.  Wow.

Something I read recently came to mind: “The family is supposed to be a training ground in loving authority.  It is a ‘ramping-up’ place that God has given us to learn love, respect, honor, obedience, and trust, in order to prepare us for relating to others and ultimately to God Himself.”

Again, wow.  I love being a dad!  Please Lord, help me to be a good dad.

Happy 21 Years!

photoMarriage is not about feelings (though feelings are a wonderful byproduct).
Marriage is not about “compatibility” (it’s about commitment & covenant).
Marriage is not about sexual intimacy (though marriage is where it is sweet and secure).

Marriage is about delighting in God’s Word.
Marriage is about exalting salvation through Christ alone.
Marriage is about honoring God (who designed the institution & defines the parameters).

Marriage is sacred.

Genesis 2:18, 21-24 “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Matthew 19:6 “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Ephesians 5:31-33 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Hebrews 13:4 “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

HAPPY 21 YEARS to my sweet wife … my delight … my joy … my best friend …

Jenny,
I honor you.
I adore you.
I praise God for you.
I LOVE YOU!

With all my heart,

Clegguart

Children are a heritage from the Lord.

[Not sure why this did not post a couple weeks ago … oh well … here it is!]

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God has greatly blessed us with SEVEN wonderful, interesting, gifted and curious children.  Each one of them is a joy and each one of them is an adventure.

We take great delight in God’s blessings to us – even when His blessings come in the form of a very unexpected surprise …

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them…” Psalm 127:3:5a

“Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.” Psalm 128:3-4

The Blessings Of A Big Family

Blessings-Word-Hanger-DecoA poem by, Jennifer L. Sylvester

“The blessings of a big family
are only seen by a few
A few of the chosen ones
that God has given this blessing too

The blessings are so numerous
it’s hard to even start
to number or to name them but
they all hold a place in the heart

The heart of every person in a
big family is unique
it’s uniqueness makes us special
and should not be critiqued

The memories that are made
are more precious than gold
from babies to weddings
from young and to old

From grandparents to grandchildren
and everyone in between
the many special relationships that are built
and could have never been foreseen

Thank you God
for my big family I will treasure
through the good times and bad
the memories could not be measured

Thank you God
for birthdays, simple get-togethers and even the tears
for I pray that these blessings
last many, many more years

To have a big family
can be a lot of work, not just play
but life is too short
so I THANK GOD FOR MY BIG FAMILY TODAY!”

My Old Bible

old_bible“Though the cover is worn,
And the pages are torn,
And though places bear traces of tears,
Yet more precious than gold
Is this Book worn and old,
That can shatter and scatter my fears.

This old Book is my guide,
’Tis a friend by my side,
It will lighten and brighten my way;
And each promise I find
Soothes and gladdens the mind,
As I read it and heed it each day.

To this Book I will cling,
Of its worth I will sing,
Though great losses and crosses be mine;
For I cannot despair,
Though surrounded by care,
While possessing this blessing Divine.”

~ Don Jennings

IFCA Cultivate 2014

So pleased with Nathan & Jordan’s MTA at last weeks IFCA Cultivate!  Great job guys!

 

My prayer for Ukraine…

A week after 9/11 (2001) a small group of us spent two weeks in Kiev and Odessa Ukraine with Slavic Gospel Association.  It was… incredible.  (Though no-one prepared me for being greeted with “a holy kiss”…over and over and over…everywhere we went.)

The pastors we met were dedicated (and godly) men who love the Word, cherish the Son, exalt the Father and yearn for their friends and neighbors to come to Christ.  Whole communities came out for the 3-4 hour long services that often included 2-4 sermons.  People arrived early, quietly prepared their hearts before the service and tearfully sang with rapturous joy in their hearts.

We also visited orphanages full of children.  I will never forget the little boy Uri who approached me and in broken but clear English said, “My name is U-ri. Vhat is yours?”  I wish someone could have taken a picture of his expression when I said, “Clegguart” (pronounced clay-gert) … I was ready to adopt him on the spot (along with the rest of the children).

I often find myself praying for the pastors we met and the churches in which we ministered.  One in particular stands out in my mind. Outside of Odessa and down rough dirt roads (I’m being generous) and across several fields lay a tiny little village where church was held every week, in a garage.

Packed in like sardines and using a little Casio keyboard for accompaniment, we gathered for worship.  After the service we walked a short distance down the road to a pile of rocks (not finely crafted bricks – random rocks).  The enthusiasm and anticipation was almost unbelievable.  This was to be their new church building.  They were building, stone by stone, piece by piece, mostly with their bare hands, a church.

I don’t know the political ups and downs of the current situation in Ukraine.  I do know that God is still on His throne and the Gospel still saves.

My prayer for Ukraine: May God’s people be faithful, God’s Word be proclaimed, God’s Spirit be unleashed, God’s Son be exalted and God be glorified!

To my pastor friends in Ukraine… Remember: Preach the Word, love the people and trust the Lord!

Image

I counted gains…

love-world-graphic

I counted gains, while God counted losses.

I counted my worth, my things gained in store;

And He sized me up by the scars that I bore.

I counted honors and sought degrees,

He counted the hours I spent on my knees.

I never knew until one day by the grave

How vain are the things that we spend life to save.

Author Unknown

Lord, You are my everything

flat,550x550,075,fLord, You are my Comfort.
When hard times come my way,
Your presence never leaves me.
You are with me all the way.

Lord, You are my Strength.
When I grow weary in this land,
Never will I falter.
I’m upheld by Your right hand.

Lord, You are my Peace.
You are the calmer of my fears.
When worries overwhelm me,
Your love wipes away my tears.

Lord, You’re my Sustainer,
You hold me safely at Your side.
I will make it through the storms,
Because in You I will abide.

Lord, You are my Joy.
Amidst the trials and the pain,
I trust Your sovereign care.
I see the Son between the rain.

Lord, You are my Rock,
My firm foundation, solid ground.
You are mighty and unchanging,
You have no limits and no bounds.

Lord, You are my Everything,
Life with You is complete.
One day You’ll bring me home to You,
And I will worship at Your feet.

~ By Jackie Arnoldi