Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

Advice to Fathers

June 18, 2009

I enjoy seeing young families out doing stuff together.  It brings back fond memories of my own years raising my boys.  My boys are young adults now, which doesn’t mean that I am completely finished as a father, but the job description definitely changes.

For you fathers whose children are still at home, I would like to give a little unsolicited advice.

PLAY

Take the time to play with your children.  Do age appropriate activities.  Have fun.  Do things with them that they enjoy.  Share your own interests with them.  (However, pay attention.  Play time is about them, not about you. )  You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but you do need to spend some time doing fun things with them.

SAY

Take the time to talk with your children about whatever they are willing to talk about.  This is true at all ages, but especially important during the teen years.  During the teen years, your child may be unwilling to talk most of the time.  On those occasions when they want to talk, you had better take the time to listen.  ( Even if it is late at night!) Shut off the TV.  Turn away from the computer.  When a teen wants to talk, it is important to listen.  These talks are not about you giving them a lecture,it is about you being willing to listen to what they have to say.  Then you can have your say.

PRAY

Included in this category are all of the spiritual aspects.  You should pray with your children regularly.  When they are young, you should read them Bible stories.  As they grow older, you should model an appropriate devotional life and encourage them to follow your example of prayer, Bible study, and church attendance.

STAY

Your love for your children should be unconditional.  That means that whatever they do, whatever success they achieve or whatever collosal mistakes they make, they should know that you love them.  You should tell them that regularly, and demonstrate it by your actions.  Be a presence in their lives.

Stay, also applies to your marriage.  Make it work.  Work on making it.  Divorce is devastating on children at any age.  Never give up.  Marriage is supposed to last for a lifetime, but it takes time and effort.  It is worth it. 

This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a list of essentials.  Fathers, your family needs you.  They need you to love them, care for them and be involved with them.  It is not just about providing the material needs.

They need you.

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Religion, Medicine and Children

May 26, 2009

Currently in the news is the case of the Minnesota teenager, Daniel Hauser.  Daniel has Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  He received one treatment of chemotherapy before deciding to try treatment by alternative means, claiming religious belief inspired the change of treatment.  The court has become involved in the case. 

Historically, our country has been divided over how far we are willing to allow religion to dictate treatment of children with curable conditions.  Jehovah Witnesses have often made the news with their refusal of receiving blood transfusions.  Recently, in the courts there have been cases where parents felt that prayer and faith were all that were needed for their children to be healed. 

At the core of this problem is that we are struggling over freedoms, rights and responsibility.  How far do we allow religious freedom to dictate action?  Does a child have a right to the statistically most successful treatment?  Do parents have final responsibility for the welfare of a child, or does the State?   To what extent are we willing to allow religious freedom to dictate the medical treatment of children?  Are we willing to undermine personal freedom, parental authority, and entire religious communities ways of life?  Does society have the right to demand compliance?  These are questions that are not easily answered.  We should think carefully before we take action as the decisions may have far reaching implications.

Goodbye

February 10, 2009

I have not posted anything for this past week because my father passed away early Tuesday morning, February 3rd.  I have been back home in Minnesota with family and have not been on-line at all for almost a week.

It is sad when someone dies, but my father has a pretty good story.  He was eighty-two years old, had been happily married for almost fifty-nine years, had four children, six grandchildren and one great-grandson.  He, and his wife,  had done well in operating a  business together.  They had retired to a log cabin on a quiet lake in the north woods.  He had a good life. 

In the spring of 2008, he was diagnosed with a return of lymphoma.  He had overcome this disease five years earlier, but this time the treatments were not enough.  They tried, and tried again, and tried some more, but his body eventually gave out.  He was able to be home and independent through most of the time.  There was hope for recovery, until a final devastating report with a long list of serious problems.  There was not much time left.  His wife and daughters were able to be with him in his final hours.   Mom and my sisters, sang hymns and read scriptures. It was a sacred time.  At the end, my father’s breathing ceased to be labored and he breathed quietly for the last few minutes.  My sisters and my mother gave him a final kiss goodbye as he passed peacefully from this life.

My father was a good Christian man.  His faith was expressed by his life, and I believe that our goodbye is only temporary.  We will see each other again in eternity.  My last, living, visual memory of my father is him looking me in the eye as he waved goodbye. 

Goodbye dad, until we meet again.

The Day After

January 21, 2009

Well, the party is over.  We have a new president.  Many people are filled with hope and excitement for the future.  Today is President Obama’s first day on the job and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for us.  He ran a good campaign.  He gives great speeches.  We will see if he can truly govern.

What I am impressed with, is that this country has had eight years of political turmoil.  There has been negative press ever since the Supreme Court finalized the election eight years ago.  The bitterness and anger has rumbled throughout our country with ever increasing clamor.

However, it did not turn to bloodshed.  There was no violent uprising.  There were no shots fired in our land for political reasons.  No one was arrested for expressing their views on the government.  The turmoil was expressed in print and voice.  Our country has survived a rocky transition of political power.  The Democrats are now in charge. 

I encourage all Americans of faith to pray for America, to pray for our leadership, and to seek to work together for the greater good.

The party is over.  The work begins.

Religious Diversity

January 13, 2009

I read in the paper this morning that New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson will participate in the the inauguration by saying a prayer at the Lincoln Memorial. 

The reason that this is noteworthy is that Robinson is an openly gay minister.

A few weeks ago the gay community was outraged that Rick Warren had been asked to participate in the inauguration festivities.  Warren is an evangelical who classifies homosexual activity as a sin.

President elect Obama is making good on his promise to be inclusive in his administration.  He wants to allow representation from all America during his term, from start to finish.  That is a good thing.

I suppose it would even be appropriate to have a Muslim say a prayer.  We have many American citizens who are Muslim.

We are supposed to be a country of religious freedom for all.

Aren’t we?

Find A Better Way

December 29, 2008

I am saddened to hear about the recent rocket attacks and reprisal bombings taking place  between Israel, and Hamas.  There are people suffering and dying who only want to live in peace and security, with a measure of freedom.   I would encourage leaders everywhere to find peaceful, nonviolent means of resolving disputes.

I recognize the right of self defense, that if someone is attempting to harm you that you may defend yourself, but too many innocent people are suffering.  Who is shooting first?  Who are you aiming at in retaliation?

If no one shot first, there would be no retaliation.

Find a non violent way to invoke change. 

Please.

(Throwing a shoe actually worked pretty well.  The message was sent, and no one was killed.)

For people of faith I would encourage you to pray that God will grant our leaders wisdom to find a better way.

Traveling Mercies

December 15, 2008

At our church we often pray for people who are traveling, that God will grant them “travelling mercies”.   I was reminded again yesterday, just how important, such seemingly simple prayers can be in our lives.

Our son Andrew had the opportunity this past weekend to visit some friends at a college a couple of hours drive away.  Before he left we checked the weather reports; good on Friday and Saturday, warm and raining on Sunday, with a cold front moving in Sunday night.  Since he was planning on leaving Sunday in the early afternoon it seemed pretty good.  He drove his Mustang, which is not very good on snow or ice.

Along with our other prayer requests,  we prayed for him on Sunday morning at the church for traveling mercies. 

The cold front came in earlier than expected.  As he was driving down the wet highways, the temperature rapidly dropped from the forties, to the thirties, to the twenties, to the teens.  Of course, riding in a heated car it is hard to know that the change is happening so quickly.  Andrew’s first clue that there was a problem was when his car started doing doughnuts down the highway at 65mph. 

God was watching out for him.  He didn’t hit anything, and no one else hit him.  He stopped spinning, still on the highway, and so drove off again, at a much slower rate of speed. 

Later, even though driving slowly, his light car spun out again.  Once again, he did not hit anything, but he did end up in the ditch.  Thank God, again he didn’t hit anything and there was no damage to his vehicle.  Almost immediately, a truck stopped to help.  The man had a towing  strap that he hooked up easily and pulled Andrew’s Mustang back onto the road without much trouble or delay. 

Andrew proceeded to continue down the road, even slower.  He did eventually make it safely home, just a few hours later than anticipated.  He had no further mishaps.

Prayer for traveling mercies may seem routine, but I will never think of it as unimportant.  We are thankful that God watched over Andrew on his way home.

Today, the roads were still somewhat icy. He took our car to school.  The one with front wheel drive:)

I still said a prayer for traveling mercies.

Cultivating an Awareness of God

June 3, 2008

In the presence of the Lord there is fullness of Joy… (Ps 16:11). 

God is omnipresent.  I remember this word from my days in confirmation at St. Mark’s Lutheran church.  It means that God is everywhere.  Since God is everywhere it means that He is always with us.  When we are “seeking”  God, it is not because God is lost, or is hiding from us.  Rather, it means that we are wanting to have a closer encounter with His Holy Spirit.  We want to experience His presence, not simply have an intellectual knowledge of a curious fact.  I believe that we can cultivate an awareness of God in our life.  I believe that whatever we are doing, we can sense the presence of God.  This takes practice, but I believe that it is part of what Paul means when he encourages us to “walk in the Spirit” ( Gal 5:16, 25)  I believe that it is an essential part of having a life that is filled with the joy of the Lord.