A Father’s Heart to His Daughters.

I thought long and hard about what to write today. I decided to write this post for my two daughters. As my youngest turns 21, my thoughts turn to the past. I was reminiscing about some of the fun times we’ve all had over the years and I also remember many times where we would just talk.  These “Talks” would often just happen and sometimes last for hours.  It wasn’t anything that was planned, they would usually bring up something that they saw or that had happened to them and it would be the start of a great conversation. Often we would talk about what was right and how to move forward.  I was able to instill into them some of the truths that I have come to know.  My girls would laugh because I would be in “teacher” mode and wouldn’t even realize it.

Hands & flowers

As their father, I don’t want to be there for them for the rest of my life, I want to be there for them for the rest of their lives. This isn’t likely to be the way things play out though, so – I wrote this post.

Ladies. As you’ve grown up you’ve had my voice in your ears and sometimes echoing in your head when I wasn’t around, giving you instruction, encouragement & correction. I decided that what I really wanted to write was something that could help you. Something from me that could help you be strong and encourage you. Something that you could go back to from me that would be here beyond me.

I’m not perfect but you already know that. Nonetheless, I have always tried to be the best example I could be. I am relentless in trying to make my words and my actions match. I have always wanted you to see in me, a living example of the things I’ve been teaching you. What I believe, I believe whole heartedly. I am convinced that I have found things in life that are worth passing on to you and I refuse to let you find your own way without telling you what I have already learned. I pray always that you have the ears to hear them and the strength of character to let them work in you too.

I want you to know above all else, how much I love you. I also want you to know that my love for you is unconditional and not based on your performance. Most of your choices are excellent and I can see wisdom working in you. A few of your choices have not always made me proud, but I believe in your right to make them. I have found also that many of the things you have done that I would not have done if it were up to me, ended up being right. It proves once again that I don’t know everything.

I have told you this before and I mean it. When everyone else has left you twisting in the wind, as long as I’m here, I will be the one standing behind you helping you. Together we will dig you out of whatever hole you find yourself in. I am always on your side and I will always help you.

I want you to know that I think you are pretty. You got your looks from your mom (thank the Lord).

I want you to see that your physical beauty is only a small part of who you are. The truth about physical beauty is that it’s fleeting. It doesn’t ultimately matter how many blouses, purses, or shoes you have. Eventually you will be putting them on an old person. Don’t build your identity on your beauty because it WILL change and then where will you be? Proverbs 11:22 says “A ring of gold in the nose of a sow – a fair woman and stubborn of behavior” (YLT). In the BBE (Bible in basic English) translation it reads “Like a ring of gold in the nose of a pig, is a beautiful woman who has no sense”. As you can see, the really important stuff about being attractive doesn’t come from the outside. The true quality of a person comes from the inside. Yes, a gold ring is pretty, just make sure everything behind it is awesome too.  This brings me to the next point.

I want you to understand that you not only can, but need to walk in personal discipline. Truthfully, most people don’t really care how you feel. They care about what you do. It’s your actions in life that will be rewarded and/or punished. Think about it. From your earliest school years all the way up to your job today, reward and punishment are based on your performance. What you do. This is important because you need to understand the power of your will. You can choose to act contrary to how you feel. Remember Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane? He didn’t want to go forward. When He said “Nevertheless, not my will but your will be done”, there were two wills at work there and they were NOT the same. He decided to submit Himself to His Father’s will. By doing that He illustrated for us that our will is FAR stronger than our feelings. We can choose to put on a smile and go forward with our day. We can be pleasant and friendly when inside, we don’t feel like it. We can be helpful and kind when inside, we may want to smack people. We can stand by faith when we feel like falling.  Author and speaker Andy Andrews says it like this “Self discipline is the ability to make yourself do something you don’t necessarily want to do, to get a result you would really like to have.”

Acting appropriately when you don’t want to will open you up to more and better opportunities than will be given to those who are lazy, selfish and have an attitude of entitlement. Keep that in mind because no one who ever accomplished anything significant did it by themselves. You will need the favor, guidance and the help of those who have gone ahead of you.

Above all, remember that the value of a thing is based on what someone is willing to pay for it. The Bible says in Leviticus 17:11 that the life of the body is in the blood. That means that the very life of God the son, was shed & spent to purchase you. To redeem or “buy you back” to God and out from under the curse that came from man’s first disobedience. This means that you are immeasurably valuable to God. He loves you, wants the best for you, has designed a wonderful path for you and has given you His Spirit to empower you to live it.

I also want you to remember that you stand in His circle.  Circumstance = the circle you stand in.  You have both been made the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  Because of this right standing with God, you are standing in Jesus’ circle.  His circumstance is that of victor!  He’s given His victory to you!

As I write, I realize that I can’t even scratch the surface. There are many paragraphs that I have removed from this post to keep it reasonably sized. There are also some subjects that need their own post. We can’t give them the attention they require in this post.

Often I pray specifically for you two that you will have the wisdom, understanding & patience to walk your walk. I pray this according to Col 1:9-11.

A special Happy Birthday to my baby girl.  21 today!

I love you both with all my heart.

Dad

You might be more connected than you think!

I recently heard a prominent minister tell a story about his daughter. He said that when she was five, she came up to the ministry office and she was running down the hall to see her dad. When someone stopped her and scolded her for running in the executive hallway at the ministry, her response was “Don’t you know who I am?” and then she turned and kept on running down the hall. The point was that when you’re born into the family, you have privilege that others don’t have. He said that even when he didn’t live at home anymore, he would still have the right to go over into his dad’s garage & borrow a tool.  The minister used these illustrations to demonstrate where we stand with God if we have made Jesus our Lord and are God’s children.

I was 10 years old when my parents divorced. I was the oldest boy in my family and with my dad being out of the picture, one of the things that became evident was that I was now responsible for fixing my mom’s exhaust pipe on her car. While my dad was very mechanically inclined, I didn’t have a lot of experience with cars or tools. As a matter of fact, I had very few tools and one of the main tools I had was a fence tool.

A fence tool is a tool that combines pliers, a flat head screw driver, a hammer, a hatchet and a sort of open end wrench. With very few exceptions, this was all I had to work with. I could work virtual wonders with an empty tin can, a couple of wire coat hangers & that fence tool. As you can guess, my solutions were temporary but I gave it my pre-teen best.

Multitool fence tool

Fence Tool

A year or so later, we were at my aunt & uncle’s house for Christmas and my uncle gave me a socket set. He didn’t buy it for me, he actually bought it for his brother but his brother was unable to make. I always wondered why he didn’t just send it to his brother. Anyway, he gave me my first socket set. I don’t know if any of the sockets survived but I do know that I still have the ratchet and I still use it.

A few years later, when I was about 17, another uncle took me out to his garage, he got an old tool box that he wasn’t using and then proceeded to build me a tool collection with all of the tools that he had duplicates of. I walked away that day with a better than average set of tools. I still have and use most of them today.

If I look at my life based on my broken home, or my absentee dad, it doesn’t look like I had anything working for me. For years I used this as my excuse for not getting anywhere in life. After all, I didn’t have access to the garage with the tools, the house, the family or the man. Even if I knew where it was, I was not allowed in. I didn’t have so much that I thought I should have had, and because of that I spent years feeling sorry for myself. I soaked in self pity because I was disadvantaged and didn’t have so many of the opportunities that others had. Poor me.

It took me a long time to realize that God did not leave me without help. Not only did He give me good examples to follow, but He also provided the tools I needed to get by. He put men in my life who had compassion on me and who taught me so many things. Those experiences working on my mom’s exhaust taught me that I could do a lot with a little. They also taught me how to improvise.

I began to understand a very profound truth that changed my life forever. It’s found in Rom 8:31. It says “What, then, can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” When I began to understand this truth, I began to understand that, even though I don’t know anybody, and even though I am not born into money, I am not disadvantaged. God IS for me. He wants the best for me. He’s working behind the scenes all the time to cause all things to work out for my good because I love Him and have submitted to His call and purpose. All I need is faith in God! Faith in God is enough.

The Bible says that God is no respecter of persons. This means that if He did it for me, He will do it for you. If you turn to Him and allow Him to be big in your life, you will not be disadvantaged either. He will get into your situations and begin working behind the scenes to cause the best possible outcome. Remember, Nothing is impossible with God and all things are possible to them who believe. (Matt 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37 & Mark 9:23)

That fence tool is long gone, but if I had it now, I’d probably display it in a shadow box on my wall to remind me of where I’ve been and to be thankful that I’m not where I used to be. I have to admit though, I would probably take it out from time to time and throw it at a tree. The 12 year old me used to do that too.

Where Have I Been?

 

Here’s One Big Reason Why I’ve Made It This Far.

Joe: “Bill, why did they bury your mother in law so deep? 10 feet is a little much don’t you think?”

Bill: “Well, deep down she’s a pretty good lady”.

A lot of people do not like their mother in law. While searching the Internet for information and statistics about this subject, it became pretty clear that many people struggle with the In-Law relationship. The mother in law has become the brunt of a lot of jokes. By far, the majority of the information indicates that the daughter in law / mother in law relationship is the more contentious relationship in comparison to the son in law / mother in law relationship.

My Mother in Law is Awesome and a Half!

My mother in law’s name is Mary. I just want to say right away that I love Mary very much. She’s awesome and a half!

Mary has been a constant source of support and encouragement for as long as I’ve known her. When you meet her, it becomes evident early on that she puts high value on people and relationships. She has a big heart that’s full of compassion for people in need.

I’ve seen her bring people into her home and make them feel like they were part of the family again and again. She’s quick to invite people to dinner who are new in town and don’t know anyone, inviting some to spend the holidays with our family and even buying them gifts so that they will have something to open when we all open gifts.

Mary has a heart for God. Her heart’s desire is to please Him and be used by Him. She is committed to personal study and prayer. She’s always ready with an encouraging word and publishes her own inspirational blog. I encourage you to check it out. Just click this ridiculously huge blue button.

Huge blue button

https://maryruwe.wordpress.com

 

On more than one occasion Mary has put an arm around me and just said “We’re glad you’re a part of our family”. She has helped me build my faith through some of our long phone conversations, and she’s helped me build my library over the years with many faith building books and tapes. She has also been an enthusiastic supporter as I have stepped out to fulfill my calling.

The book of Ruth in the Old Testament is a small book. It’s only four chapters long and it tells us about a woman named Naomi and her daughter in law Ruth. Naomi’s family moved to the land of Moab for better opportunity. While there the two sons married two Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. As time went by, Naomi’s husband died and then a while later both sons also died. Naomi determined to go back to her home town and told the daughters in law to return to their father’s house because there was no benefit for them to stay. While Orpah was sad, she kissed her mother in law and then returned to her father’s house. Ruth however, would not leave Naomi’s side. Because of that relationship, they both were ultimately blessed and Ruth turned out to be King David’s great grandmother. None of that would have happened without that powerful relationship between Ruth and her mother in law.

This relationship does not have to be a rocky one. It can instead be a relationship that God can use to make a difference in the lives of all it touches.

Mary, you have been a source of strength, support and encouragement to all of us. I am glad to be a part of your family.

Mary celebrated a birthday last week and I intended to publish this post then. Stuff got in the way. Don’t forget to check out Mary’s inspirational blog for yourself.  Just Click Here – https://maryruwe.wordpress.com/

Honoring my Elders in the Faith.

In the same way you younger people must submit yourselves to your elders. And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another; for the scripture says, “God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” 1Pe 5:5 GNB.

Today I just want to take a minute to express how thankful I am to know and to have been able to serve with, and under the direction of Jim & Marian Large.

Jim Large

Jim Large

 

In April of 2006, we came to Oklahoma for a Bible school “Get Acquainted” weekend. During that time we had a chance to take a bus tour around Tulsa and Jim was our bus driver. I remember him because his tour was filled with lots of interesting information about where the names Oklahoma, Tulsa & Broken Arrow came from. When it was time to take everyone back to their hotel, we were the last ones left on the bus so Jim parked the bus at the ministry and drove us back to our hotel in his own personal vehicle. Later, my family and I moved to Oklahoma so I could attend Bible school. During my first week of my first year, I filled out a volunteer application for several areas of service at church. The first area of ministry to call me back was the Altar Care ministry and the team I was assigned to was led by Jim & his lovely wife Marian. I served under their oversight for the next few years.

In the fall of 2009 they asked me to help them as their assistant, to assist them when they served, but also to cover for them when they were away. I served in that capacity until February 1st of this year. Last week they also stepped down from serving in Altar Care. Jim has served faithfully for the last 29 years and Marian for the last 24. I wanted to take this occasion to thank them for their faithful service. I also want to just express how much I love them both and have appreciated their love, faith, honor and example over the last several years. The things that I have learned from them are so very precious to me and I take nothing for granted.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
― William Arthur Ward

From their example I have learned how to affectively minister to those who are seeking God, and those who desire a closer relationship with Him. I’ve learned how to keep moving forward in the face of health challenges. They have demonstrated to us all how to stand in the face of adversity, even when it comes from unexpected places, and how to walk in forgiveness. Above all, they have been excellent examples of how to walk by faith. They are some of the most stable people I know. I have always seen them do the right thing even when it seemed like their faithfulness and commitment were not appreciated.

Jim & Marian Large cropped

Jim & Marian

It has been my honor to have served with them and I look forward to our continued friendship.

People who are as faithful as they are can only expect increase and blessing in the future. I am confident that God has great things in store for them.

God arranges divine connections to help us to grow and learn what He needs us to know in order to fulfill our calling and destiny. I have no doubt that my friendship with Jim and Marian was a divine arrangement. I am a product of their faithfulness and I am forever thankful.

“Remember that mentor leadership is all about serving. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).”
― Tony Dungy, The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently

God bless you both as you take the next step in His plan for you.

Need to Make a Change? Start with Your Thoughts!

Most of us have things about us that we would like to change.  Most of us don’t give much thought to how.  Change happens when we change the way we think.  In this weeks video post I’ll talk about the need for change and also practical ways from the Bible to start change for the better in your own life.

video image

I would love to hear what you think.  Share your story.  How have you been able to make positive change in your own life?  Please join the conversation by clicking here.

Parenting Guidelines that Made the Difference for Me.

Father Kissing NewbornI have always tried to tow the line when it came to my kids.  If my kids were not allowed somewhere, I didn’t go either.  It was always important to me to not be false or hypocritical to them.  I wasn’t perfect at this but I really tried.  My thinking was that if they couldn’t do it, then I couldn’t either.  As it turned out, this was much easier for me than it was for them.  In a recent conversation that I had with my daughters, they confessed that in school, they often felt like the “weirdoes” because they were not allowed to do and see what many of their friends were allowed to do and see.  While some may see me as too strict, I see me as a parent.  When my children were born, I made a commitment in my heart to be the best dad that I could be.  I decided that it was one of my primary purposes to get them to self sufficient adulthood in the best shape that I could.  For me that meant that I needed to be present in their lives.  I needed to know what they were facing and struggling with.  I needed to hear what they were hearing and see what they were seeing and help them get perspective.

 

Some parents may argue that I should have let them find their own way and let them decipher the world for themselves.  For a parent to just allow their child to “find their own way” indicates that the parent hasn’t found any truth for themselves that they thought was worthy to be passed on or to be taught to their children.  I have found profound truth in my own life and journey that has made me a new man and shaped my life for the best.  I think that is very worthy to pass on to my children.  I’m not interested in leaving them twisting in the wind, grasping for direction with out my help or guidance.

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”  ― W.E.B. Du Bois

When God chose Abraham, He (God) said “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him” Gen 18:19 (KJV).  God chose Abraham specifically because of this.  He knew Abraham would pass it on.  God is looking for parents to pass on the truths that they know to their children. God loves your kids as much as He loves you.  He doesn’t want them hurt & struggling either.  You are in their life to instruct, correct, guide and help them.  Don’t be slack about it.  They need you.

“One of the most important things we adults can do for young children is to model the kind of person we would like them to be.”  – Carol B. Hillman

Deuteronomy 6:6 & 7 (BBE) “Keep these words, which I say to you this day, deep in your hearts; Teach them to your children with all care, talking of them when you are at rest in your house or walking by the way, when you go to sleep and when you get up”.
It’s interesting to me that the Hebrew word for Teach used here means to sharpen, or to whet.  That implies repetitiveness.  When you sharpen a blade, you grind it against a whet stone over and over until you get the keenest edge possible on your blade.  When you’re teaching your children, it involves correction and instruction, over and over, hearing and hearing. This is how confidence comes (see Rom 10:17).

What is the promise for children who hear and follow the Godly instruction of their parents?  Ephesians 6:1-3 tells us. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.  Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with you , and that you may life long on the earth”.
Who doesn’t want that for their children?

What’s the take-away here?  Parents, don’t be afraid to be parents.  Take time to pray for your kids and/or grandkids. Ask God to give you the wisdom and influence to have the maximum impact on their lives for good.  He loves them and has put you in their lives to help them.  That is His will.  He loves you too and He wants to help you be all you can be to your children.

Bill Cosby QuoteI also can’t overstate the importance of being led by the Lord when it comes to being a good parent.  There have been times where I wanted to be corrective to my daughters but sensed a little “check” down in my heart that now was not the time to be corrective.  There have been times when I sensed that I needed to be tougher then I would normally be.  The Lord knows the situation and will steer us.  Dads in particular run the risk of being too heavy handed and can leave their children feeling like they can’t do anything right.  The Lord will help you to know what to do and how to read your situation.

I am not your friend. I am your parent.  I will stalk you, flip out on you. Lecture, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare and hunt you down when needed. Because I Love You. – Seen on a wall hanging.

What has helped you to be a better parent?  What tips can you share that would help other readers in our community?  Please leave your comments and advice.  If this has helped you and you think it can help others, please help spread the word about artmills.org and also share this post.  Thank you all.  I appreciate you!

Want to Reach Your Full Potential? This is a Must.

A few years back, I saw a made for television movie about settlers moving west. I don’t remember what it was called but I remember one scene in particular when a family came to the Mississippi river. It was during winter and the river was frozen over. They were going to have to cross the river in their wagon. Though the river was frozen over, there was always the possibility that the wagon would break through the ice . They needed to make sure they were as light as possible. As they stopped on the bank of the river, all along the bank were fine pieces of furniture, cabinetry and even an organ. Treasures left behind by travelers who had passed before. Family heirlooms that were so precious that they couldn’t be left behind and it no doubt broke the hearts of the people who had to just leave them there sitting in the open air on the bank of the river. Why were they there? Because they suddenly became a direct threat to the success of the journey. Hanging on to them would have meant possibly breaking through the ice, losing the wagon, the rest of the belongings and maybe even the lives of the family. These things that were once considered so valuable were now considered heavy weight and were hindering the progress. Keeping these things would have caused the travelers to fall short of the goal. They would not have made it if they didn’t dump the unnecessary weight. 

IMAG0435I remember a time several years ago when I had an experience that I will never forget. It was early one morning and I was right at that point where my eyes were not open yet but I was sort of awake. You know, that point where you are sort of teetering on the edge of sleep, when all of the sudden this thought floated up into my mind like a voice from the inside of me. ”The time is coming when this will no longer be tolerated”. First, I knew immediately what it was pertaining to, and second, I was instantly fully awake. So many times this is how God leads his people. Not by an audible voice but by a “knowing” or a conviction.

I understood what it was about. There were some things in my life that the Lord had been dealing with me about and I was over-riding my conscience about them. I was ignoring His correction. He was warning me that if I wanted to reach my full potential, I was going to have to lay them down and not pick them up again.

I began to see that many of the ministers that I have heard of that have fallen, failed and brought reproach against themselves and the ministry were in this same situation but would not listen. They would not receive correction and wound up ship wrecked with damaged credibility and diminishing influence. In some cased dying sooner than they should have. Some fell over money. Some over sexual immorality. Some over mishandling the ministry that the Lord put them over and in each case they would not judge themselves, they would not submit to correction. In some cases we have record of other ministers going to them and warning them but they would not listen. I realized that if I continued to resist instruction and over-ride correction, I was very likely to stall. 

I began to understand the importance of correction. First we need to understand that God loves us, and who He loves He corrects. Heb 12:5 (God’s Word Translation) says “You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children: “My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don’t give up when he corrects you. 6 The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.” 7 Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. 8 If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family.” 

How should we think about correction? Correction is not a bad thing. God corrects us because he loves us. Realize that when He begins to convict your heart about anything at all, it’s the creator of the Universe taking a specific interest in your life and giving you instruction to help you grow up to a greater level of maturity. Correction from God should not to be feared or despised. The tiny details of your life matter to Him.

  1. We should pay attention to it. The King James says it this way “Despise not the chastening of the Lord”. We find in the Bible that to despise means to value lightly, to lightly esteem (1 Sam 2:30). When we are corrected, we need to value it & take it seriously. This is honor. The reason we are warned to pay attention is because the temptation will arise to ignore it.
  2. Don’t give up. The whole purpose for the correction is to help you move forward. Consider what would have happened to the settlers moving west if they had gotten all the way to the Mississippi and then just refused to part with the heavy stuff. Imagine thirty years later, there they are, stuck. The dream of a new life in the west fading into distant memory. In some cases, not accomplishing the life that they were born to live, all because they wouldn’t let go of the things that were weighing them down and holding them back.
  3. Understand why you’re getting it. You’re getting it because God really does love you. He wants the best for you and wants you to stay on track and stay out of the ditch.
  4. Understand how God thinks of you. If you’ve received Jesus as your Lord, He thinks of you as His child. As His child, He has the right as your father to instruct, guide and correct you. There’s no one wiser that He is. When you look to His word and it hits you right where you live, don’t ignore it. It really is for your good.
  5. Correction may come to you through an elder. You must have the humility to receive it. They may not say it in soft tones but if you’re going to grow, you can’t let hurt feelings keep you from seeing the truth of it. When you can receive it and use it and not let your feelings or pride get in the way, that shows real maturity.

God is faithful. I trust Him to help me. I’ve prayed and asked the Lord to show me where I’m being held back. I want to know. I don’t want to be deceived into thinking I’m okay in an area where I’m not. I know that in my own past I have been entirely too light on myself when it comes to what I allow. The truth is, corrections are always necessary in order to get where you want to go. Life will try to blow you off course all the time. The only way to reach any goal is to correct. If you don’t correct, you will end up somewhere but it will not be anywhere you want to be.

You be faithful too. I remember a long time ago when I quit smoking. I blew it after several days of success and I was so disappointed in myself. I remember praying and saying “Lord, I’m sorry. I don’t want to do this anymore.” Just like the morning I woke up to that thought, He caused me to realize this “The quicker you become faithful, the quicker the fruit of faithfulness will show up in your life”. The faster you respond and the more serious you take the instruction, the faster the results show up.

Correction usually means course change and that sometimes involves repentance. Hebrews 12:1 says “Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up.”

fist-1What should we do? I’ve decided to get “Bare Knuckles” with myself concerning these things. I want to get brutally honest with myself. I don’t want anything to hold me back from hitting the mark and reaching my full potential. So here’s my challenge to you. Will you go with me? Will you take the Bare Knuckles challenge? Let’s take this walk of faith together.

What steps can you and I take this week? Let’s mix it up! I want to hear from you. Maybe we can give a few minutes each evening to reflect on the day and where we may have missed it, then make a plan for the next day so that we don’t.  Please leave your comments below and that way we can help each other.