“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Ps 127:3)

Take a young man and young woman deeply in love, and embarking on the journey of marriage, add 25+ years of commitment and learning, three pregnancies, three labor and deliveries, countless meals, lessons, play times, work times, conflict management, times of worship, bedtime stories and prayer, thousands of other things and an overwhelming dose of the grace of God and what do you get – three terrific children.

I have arrived at the time when my (former) little ones are now in young adulthood. Maybe this makes me a little reflective and sentimental but I know as only the three in the picture above that I have not been a perfect father. If I knew then what I know now, I would do countless things differently, but who Jessica, Brandon and Brian have become brings so much joy and (sanctified) pride to my heart. They each are unique, which in itself is a miracle, to see how the same pool of genes can produce such different and special people. They each have been blessed with great gifts and talents. They are of all things in my life, along with their mother, the most precious gifts of God that walk this earth. Thanks guys for being my kids. Thank you Lord for your blessing in this man’s life.

“As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: (Psalm 127:4-5)

“He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.” (Proverbs 10:5)

Just outside the conference room at Bible Center Church is beautiful oak tree on a grassy knoll. I have a strategy to help me through the frequent and long meetings that I am part of in that room. I usually try to sit in a location where I can see out the floor to ceiling windows that look out beneath the canopy of the Oak Tree. When the conversation gets tedious or — dare I say it …boring – I can find some relief in the acrobatic entertainment that is just beyond the glass. Often in fall the tree is alive with several squirrels. The picture above is of one of this gang. They chase each other through the branches, sometimes they stretch out and snooze on a limb. They at times will groom their furry coats but the main object of their attention is the acorn harvest that the tree produces. One day they are making repeated quick trips to the ground to grab a fallen nut and then make a quick ascent to a safe spot and devour the delicacy. When they are quite full of acorns they invest their energies in burying all the acorns that can. I can only guess how many acorns lay under the surface of the particular slice of real-estate. I also wonder how many of these will ever be dug up for a winter snack. One thing that is sure these little guys make the most of the opportunities to prepare for the future.

The verse above proves that this is a wise approach to life for those who are more earth-bound. First, industriousness is a virtue. It is a wise, practical, profitable, honorable, and smart thing to do. Hard and persistent work is highly commended and highly recommended. This is an important reminder when the norm of our culture is to work at play and to play at work. The second lesson from this verse is that one should take advantage of opportunities. Just as a harvest only comes once a year and only lasts for a brief period. We must ever be on the alert to take advantage of the sometimes fleeting opportunities in life. The opportunity for parental influence is shockingly short. The chance to bear a witness to a co-work is short-lived. The chance to choose to do right only occurs once per situation.

I want to gather in summer and don’t want to be asleep during the harvest.

And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them.” (Luke 22:2-4)

“The Da Vinci Code” – The Kennedy assassination – UFOs — It seems as if there is a conspiracy theory for every major event, or non-event in history. Such theories are espoused, promoted and debated. In the passage above we have a glimpse of a true conspiracy on three levels. On a personal level, Judas had been a follower of Jesus for several years but behind the scenes he was motivated by personal greed. There are many aspects of his life and heart that defy easy analysis. But this is knowable, he thought he was doing something for himself but he really became entangled in plot of cosmic proportions. The second level of this conspiracy plays out as Judas became part of the scheme of ruling elite who desired to kill Jesus, but even more damning, he also unwittingly become part Satan’s plan to thwart the ministry of Jesus.

This is a good time to remember that one’s personal disobedience can have wider consequences than we intend. An impulsive act can damage relationships. A careless word can smite a heart. A proud look can crush a spirit. We must ever be on guard concerning our private motivation. I doubt that Judas ever intended the results that followed his picking up the money-bag containing 30 coins, but sin has a way of flowing into the wider steam of damage that has flowed through our race since the garden of Eden.

For Today: Ask God to help you take a good look at what motivates you in life.

Who am I that you are mindful of me

That you hear me when I call
Is it true that you are thinking of me
How you love me
It’s amazing

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
he calls me friend

Phillips, Craig and Dean recorded this song on their 2004 CD entitled “Let the Worshippers Arise” and has become a favorite of mine. (If you want to see them sing this song, go here –Friend of God Video) Perhaps because as the song says – it is amazing that the God of the universe would call me friend or perhaps because it is so personal, so first person, that I am gripped every time I hear it. The song is based on John 15:15 but I have been led to it again from another passage. I have spent the last couple of weeks preparing a message for this Sunday morning at Bible Center from Luke 22. As Christ prepared for the Passover that would become the Last supper, He makes this statement in Luke 22:15, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Passover was a sacred time a time to be together with family or those closest to you. In this case Jesus desired to be with His followers. In the culminating hour of His earthly journey He wanted a time of close and personal fellowship with His followers. Flash forward 1973 years and Jesus still desires close and personal fellowship with His followers. My message Sunday will emphasize that the Lord wants not just our time, our attention or even our loyalty. All of these can be just window dressing on stale routine or empty ritual. What He really wants is our heart. It is His desire. That my motivation, my goals, and ambitions and all that I am or claim to be to be unalterably cemented to Him. He wants it real not rehearsed. He wants to be the epicenter of my life not just the epidermis. He wants my heart. He wants your heart. I want to give Him mine, do you want to give Him yours?