3 Lessons From A Devoted Dad

If you were to pick a man that would have been desperately devoted to Jesus as his Savior, Cornelius wouldn’t make anyone’s “top 10” list! 

Just take a look at all the strikes against this man. He was a… 

  • Gentile—to Jews, Gentiles were just the fuel to stoke the fires of hell. 
  • resident of the city of Caesarea—since this was the headquarters of the Roman government for Palestine, not many Jews would venture there. 
  • Roman—historians say only 10% of Romans in this era were monotheistic. 
  • centurion—not just any centurion, but an extremely powerful centurion from the Italian Regiment (not just a local mercenary who was in it for the money). And he took his name from Cornelius Sulla, a Roman general known both for his mercy and his ruthlessness.

All of this makes Cornelius a fully self-sufficient and a well-to-do man who was not likely to look for help from God. Nor was he the type of person that a Christian missionary might seek out. 

But clearly, something was missing in Cornelius’ life because he was completely countercultural in his pursuit after God. Not just his pursuit of God, but his quick understanding of exactly who Jesus was. 

Luke the historian describes Cornelius as:

  • devout and God-fearing. The Greek word for devout literally means “a right worshipper.” It’s a word Luke only uses three times in Acts, and two of those times are describing Cornelius. 
  • prayerful. The word Luke uses for him means someone who makes prayer personal and ongoing. 
  • generous. Cornelius took care of people who couldn’t take care of themselves. 

All of this got God’s attention (see Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; Proverbs 19:17), and He sent an angel to direct Cornelius to Peter. 

When Peter came to Cornelius’ house, twice he said “as you know” (vv. 36, 37), showing us that Cornelius was aware that there was not only one true God, but that a relationship with Jesus was the only way to be in right relationship with God. As Peter spoke with Cornelius, his family, his relatives, his close friends, and even his fellow soldiers, the Holy Spirit baptized them just as He had done with the disciples of Jesus on the day of Pentecost. 

So here are 3 vital lessons for all men to learn from the life of Cornelius the centurion—

  1. Your devotion to God is influential. People around you do notice your devoted pursuit of God.
  2. Your openness to all that God has puts your family, friends, and coworkers in a place to receive God’s blessings too.
  3. God’s blessings flowing through you have lasting and far-reaching results. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius may have opened the door for Christian evangelism to Gentiles unlike anything that had happened before.

Dads, be devoted to God. Desire all He has for you, and all He has for those around you. Pursue Him no matter how many “strikes” there may be against you. 

Be sure to check out the other messages in our series We Are: Pentecostal.

Book Reviews From 2017

How Guys Unintentionally Sabotage Their Relationships

There is a relationship killer that seems to be particularly hard for men. It’s hard because men’s brains are designed in a way that sometimes prohibits them from even seeing this issue.

Bill & Pam Farrel wrote a book called Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. The Farrels identify how men tend to compartmentalize their lives. That is, guys can be so absorbed in one “box” in their life that they are completely oblivious to the other boxes. For instance, when a man is at work he seldom thinks about the other areas of his life (his wife, his kids, the bills that need to be paid, what he’s going to have for lunch).

In addition, men’s brains are also designed to stay in those boxes where things can be quickly fixed. A guy likes fixing things, so the boxes where he can do something and see an immediate result is a box he’s going to keep going back to again and again.

Here’s the trouble… Relationships don’t fit in nice, neat boxes. Neither are relationships something that can be “fixed.” And relationships are never, ever fixed or improved quickly.

So if a guy isn’t aware of these things, he can be unintentionally sabotaging the relationships around him.

King David illustrated this in his unintentional lack of involvement in three of his sons’ lives—

  • Amnon pursued an unhealthy relationship with his step-sister. David got mad but never did anything about it (2 Samuel 13:21).
  • Absalom got revenge for what Amnon did and then fled the country. When David finally allowed him to return to Israel, they never met to resolve what went wrong (2 Samuel 14:28).
  • Adonijah wanted to be king after David, but the Bible says, “His father had never interfered with him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’” (1 Kings 1:6).

Dave Wills wrote, “We all tend to craft a self-focused view of the world where we emerge as either a hero or a victim in every scene. We’re never the villains in the story. The truth is, though, that we’ve all been the bad guy more often than we’d like to admit. A life of love requires that we look in the mirror and give an honest and humble self-assessment.”

The way to defeat this relationship killer is to become aware of it through humble self-assessment. David learned this truth and shared his prayer with us: “Search me, O God. Show me any areas in my life where I am off-track” (Psalm 139:23-24).

In response to this prayer, the Holy Spirit must have showed David how he had unintentionally starved his relationships with Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah, because he became highly involved in his son Solomon’s life.

So much so that as Solomon talked to his children about how they should live, he also told them where he had learned how to do this—his father taught him (Proverbs 4:1-4).

Guys, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been unintentionally in another box. It doesn’t matter how strained the relationship may have become. If you will humbly ask God to search you, reveal to you where you’ve messed up, and ask Him to help you get better … your relationships WILL begin to improve!

Don’t wait another day to pray that “Search me” prayer!

Josh McDowell On Appreciating Our Kids

“Unconditionally accepting your kids tells them that being matters. Expressing your appreciation to them says that their doing matters too. …

“Unless your kids are absolutely convinced that you accept them for who they are, your praise and appreciation can become manipulative. Appreciation without acceptance may prompt your child to relate to you on a performance basis, thinking, ‘If I do a good job … if I get A’s … if I score a goal … then my dad will love me.’ Living on a performance basis will tend to produce feelings of false guilt in your kids. That’s why you need to be sure your kids first feel accepted then appreciated. …

“Appreciate your child’s efforts more than your child’s accomplishments, and appreciate your kid’s worth as God’s creation even more than your kid’s efforts.” —Josh McDowell, in 10 Commitments For Dads

If you are interested in more quotes from 10 Commitments For Dads, you can click here.

8 Quotes From “10 Commitments For Dads”

Dad, your involvement in the life of your kids and grandkids is vital! Please check out my review of 10 Commitments For Dads and then get a copy for yourself.

“Studies show that even until your child reaches 25 years of age, the greatest influence on his or her behavior will be the loving, close relationship with you, the father.”

“What our kids need to see is that our rules are out of a heart of love and are actually good for them, just as the instructions and commands that come from God. We as dads need to learn how to place God’s truth and family rules squarely within the context of our loving relationships. … The truth is, God designed us to follow the rules because of the relationship. There are do’s and don’ts in life, but they are there to provide for our well-being and protect us from harm. That’s what a person within a loving relationship wants to do—protect those they love and provide for their best.”

“God disciplines us with a purpose—it is to lead us to become more like Him. … When we hold our kids accountable for their benefit, not ours, it too fulfills their sense of purpose and reinforces their sense of responsibility.”

“Tell your kids repeatedly that because God’s nature is holy He will never asked them to do anything that would not be right and good for them. It is out of this pure goodness that He wants to protect them from those things that would harm them and provide for their very best. It is from His holy nature of goodness that He gives unselfishly and makes the security, happiness, and welfare of your kids as important as His own.”

“God has uniquely shaped and molded you and your kids to bring honor to Him. It is only proper and right to love what He has done. Teaching your kids to love what He has uniquely designed isn’t being self-centered. We need to be proud of Him for what He has created and humbly celebrate our uniqueness for His glory, ‘For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him for ever! Amen’ (Romans 11:36).” 

“What our kids hear and see in today’s culture is rarely a representation of healthy love. Selfish, lustful, and even abusive behavior is passed off as a love relationship. That is why, in a real sense, we must redefine to our kids what such a relationship actually is from a biblical perspective.”

“The best sex education is 30 seconds here, one minute there, 10 seconds here, two minutes in 45 seconds there, and so on, starting as young as possible. When something comes up, step in, addressed it, and step back. Don’t make a big deal out of it.” 

“Because true love’s priority is to protect and provide for the one being loved, God’s kind of love will not do things that are harmful to the security, happiness, and welfare of another person.”

I will be sharing more quotes from 10 Commitments soon. You can subscribe to my blog to be notified as soon as they quotes are shared. You can also follow me on Twitter and Tumblr to see the healthy quotes I share every day.

10 Commitments For Dads (book review)

With Father’s Day just around the corner, I’ve got a great book that every Dad needs to check out. Think of this book from Josh McDowell as a Father’s Day gift you will give to yourself and to your family. The book is called 10 Commitments For Dads.

Whether you are a soon-to-be-Dad, a rookie Dad, a veteran Dad, or a Granddad, there is always more to learn and more to do for our kids. Since God has placed His precious children under our care, it’s wise to seek practical, biblically-sound counsel to help us do the best we can. Right at the outset of this book Josh lists seven objectives Dads need to strive for before our kids leave home:

  1. Form a right relationship with God
  2. Develop healthy relationships with others
  3. Have a healthy self-image
  4. Resist sexual pressure
  5. Be a person of integrity
  6. Develop deep and convictions
  7. Know how to handle success and cope with failure

This requires some diligence on a part, beginning with listening to the wise advice Josh shares in this book.

A commitment is not a guarantee, but it is rooted in a strong passion to do the very best that we can do. As Josh leads us through these 10 commitments, you will learn from some of Josh’s successes and missteps, you will learn what the Bible has to say, and you will learn the “whys” behind the “how-to’s” of fatherhood.

10 Commitments offers no quick-fixes for fatherhood, but it does offer hope for those Dads and Granddads who are willing to let God help them do their very best. I would encourage you to also use this book as a discussion starter. You will need the help of your wife, a friend, or a pastor to be at your very best, and the concepts presented in this book are great starting points for evaluations and conversations with your helpers.

Go get this book for yourself, Dad, and then enjoy many, many happy Father’s Days!

I am a Harvest House book reviewer.

The Key Decision For Influential Men

Influence like JesusNo matter how you look at it, being a Dad is hard work! Men have this constant balancing act between being tough and being tender. Guys have to have their game face on at work, and their family face on at home. They’ve got to work hard knocking down work competitors, and then work just as hard building up their family members.

But there is one key decision that will determine how successful a man will be at work, at home, in his social circles, and even in his relationship with God. 

In Acts 10 we meet a centurion named Cornelius. Centurions were professional military officers in charge of a centuria (usually 100 soldiers). Centurions were always “on the clock,” never letting down their guard nor their professionalism.

All of the centurions mentioned in the New Testament have noble characteristics associated with them. Whereas someone might be uncertain how a typical Roman soldier would behave, people felt more assured when the centurion was on the scene. Even Roman governors like Pilate, and Jewish kings like Herod, all seemed to fully trust the judgement, honesty, and resourcefulness of centurions.

Centurions worked hard to get where they were, and had some well-earned perks:

  • Good pay (one built a temple, Luke 7:1-5).
  • “Men of authority” with soldiers and servants reporting to them (Matthew 8:8-9).
  • Opportunity for advancement (Rome was the dominate world force).
  • A certain degree of autonomy (they had their own residences (Matthew 8; Acts 10).

In order to keep this position, they would have to buy into kurios Caesar (Caesar is lord). To do otherwise was to put their position and future advancement at risk.

Yet Cornelius was different. 

He was a trusted centurion, but something unusual stood out about his life. Luke the historian describes him as devout and God-fearing, mentioning his pious activities of prayer and giving to the poor. Cornelius’ own soldiers referred to him as righteous and respected by notable people in the community.

But probably most telling of all: God noticed how committed Cornelius was (see Acts 10:3-4)!

Cornelius had a lot to lose by rejecting kurios Caesar for, as the Christians said, kurios Iesous (Jesus is Lord). Yet after carefully weighing his options, he saw that trusting God was the best thing he could do for his family. His view of the eternal outweighed anything that he could gain in the temporal.

This one decision changed everything! 

Because Cornelius trusted God, look at the expansiveness of his influence, not only at home, but at work, and among his friends and extended family, and throughout his community:

  • His family—ALL his family were devout and God-fearing (v. 2)
  • His employees—a devout soldier (v. 7)
  • His community—respected by ALL the Jewish people (v. 22)
  • His relatives and friends—his relatives and close friends (v. 24)
  • In fact everyone around him—we are ALL here in the presence of God (v. 33)
  • And most importantly, with God—your prayers and gifts have come up as a memorial offering before God (v. 4)

Fellas, you can have this same level of influence if you, too, will decide to live karios Iesous: Jesus is Lord. If you will do that, you can have said about your life what was said about Cornelius and Jesus: “God anointed ___________ with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him!” (see Acts 10:38).

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