18 Years to Prep for Battle – Happy B-Day, Zach!

The birthday blog has become tradition here at Tanner Manor, so here is my letter to my son on his 18th Birthday.  A fine, young man he has grown to be, and Relentless in his pursuit of God and life.

Today I met in the woods again with Zach, my Dad, and my friends Ray and Joe.  These important men in my life all had words of encouragement and affirmation for Zach, and when I was done, I presented him with a gift.  I did this two years ago, and it was time to do it again. We need to recognize moments like these in the lives of our children.  Milestones are  important, and they need to hear from their parents just how proud they are of them.   I have been both waiting for and dreading this day since day 1, and it is here.  I know they will always need me, but still…

Zach,

18 years ago today, you entered this world. You were quiet. Too quiet. I immediately thought that the son I had waited for was gone before he had the chance to live. I remember the fear in my heart, what was wrong?  Why is he so quiet?  What’s going on?  Is he ok?  C,mon, son! Fight!

After what seemed to me to be an eternity, you finally began to stir and then you found your lungs.  I was the Dad of a healthy baby boy, and I could not have been happier.  I had a daughter and now a son.  Our family was complete, and it was all smooth sailing from that point on…

Not exactly. It didn’t take much time for me to figure out just how little I knew about being a husband and dad.  I was getting by alright with the occasional bump or hiccup, but there was a lot of stuff that I just didn’t have the answers to, and truth told, I still feel that way sometimes!

Over the years there have been a few things I have done that I know were good moves, and one of the biggest was doing the men’s group and the Authentic Manhood studies.  That study showed me a lot about myself, and the importance of trying to teach those principles to you.  They showed me that there are battles that will take place in life that I would need to fight for you, but also I would need to teach you to fight for yourself.

There have been good and hard times on this journey.  I want you to know that I own the responsibility for the majority of those hard times as I have been growing and changing and making mistakes along the way.  One of the most important things I have wanted you to learn is that we are not perfect, and our decisions have consequences and impact on those around us both for good and for bad.  No man is really an island.

During this journey of your life, I have been trying, along with the help of your Mom, to give you the tools you need to thrive as a man.  Lessons, examples, books, mentors, and stories from my life are just a few of the ways I have done that.  I have always said that the experiences of others are the best teachers because you can learn the lesson without personal pain or loss.  We have shared victory and defeat on that front, but we have continued to learn and grow – me as a Dad and you as a son.

Two years ago we took some time with some friends and had a celebration of you at the age of 16.  Men God has brought into your life shared with you some of their own insights and wisdom as they encouraged you to continue to grow in God and as a man.  It was a good time.

That was when I presented you with your shield carrying the family name on it.  The shield represented the period of life you were entering where there would be attacks that would come to you as Satan desired to tear you down and destroy your reputation.  You would see trials and struggles that would strain relationships, and, unfortunately, see some fall away.  The battles would be real, and you would need to learn to defend not only who you are, but what you believe.

Through the last two years, I have seen you grow in your ability to stand strong in trial.  You have become more resolute in your faith, and you have served as an example to others as well.  I have enjoyed watching you grow and have been very proud of you.  You have been tested, and some of those battles have appropriately hardened you – tempered you for bigger challenges to come.

Now you are 18.  You will be leaving the house this fall for college, and you will be stepping out into the world as a man.  My time for instruction, while not completely finished, is undergoing a change to an advisory role. I will be there when you need me, but the day is coming that I might not be a part of your daily life.  This will be a hard adjustment for me, and in some ways for you, too.

For the last 18 years, it has been my responsibility as your Dad to stand and fight for you, to be the one who stood guard over your heart and to fight anything of this world or any other who would dare come for my son.  As your Dad, that was my job, and as hard as it was sometimes, it has been one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had.

Along with that job has been the charge to teach you the things you need to know about life, how to defend yourself against the attacks Satan will be certain to throw against you, and how to fight for those you care about, as well.  I have done my best to do so, and in spite of my shortcomings and failures along the way, I believe that you have learned much of what you need to know, and I want to commemorate this moment as well.

So, today, I give you this sword as a picture of my belief in you and the man you have become.  It signifies that I believe that you are equipped to do battle against Satan and his influences.  The sword means that you are no longer simply one who defends, but now you are carrying the battle with you as you walk with Christ.

You will now step into the lives of those you see struggling and offer aid to them. You will not just endure, but you will overcome.  You will be a warrior for Christ in all aspects of your life and give Him the glory in the victories that God gives to you.

Stay in the Word.  There is nothing you can do that will give you more than that for the battles you will face.  God’s truth will guide you in the hard choices, and will comfort you in your moments of doubt and pain.  Stay close to God and allow Him to guide you.  He knows your heart and your needs even better than I.

For the last 18 years, you and I have been preparing for this day.  I love you as my son, but also as a man of God, and a warrior for His kingdom  You have made me proud in so many ways, and I know that God is going to continue to do great things with you and through you as you strive to walk with Him.

I’m always here  for you when you need me.  I got your back and am always willing to fight at your side.

I love you, Zach!

– Dad

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My Son – A Graduate. Time Flies…

imageThis past weekend my son received his high school diploma.  13 years of school have come to a close, and we could not be more proud of his efforts.  Over the past 13 years, we have exposed him to three different education models, and he excelled in all of them.  The last two years he has been dual-enrolled in college at Cedarville University via on-line courses, and has done an amazing job there as well.  He will walk on campus as a sophomore this fall.

There are so many events in our lives that we want to remember.  Milestones exist so we can look back and see where we have been and how far we have come, and I have learned that those moments need to be recognized.  We need them as confirmation in our lives that we are moving forward – achieving goals.

I have been blessed to be in a small men’s group where I learned the importance of taking the time to recognize these moments and commemorate them with a tribute.  When we take the time to write something down from our hearts and give it to someone, it creates a lasting impression.  Those encouraging words will endure long past the moment and will be a touchpoint we can go back to when we are feeling the weight of the world.

Sitting on my desk is a framed copy of a letter I received from my mentor for my 40th birthday.  Aside from the words of encouragement I have receive from my Dad, it is probably the most prized collection of words I have received from any man on earth.  It has made an impression on my life because of the relationship that we have.  Men need to hear words like that and be reminded that they are doing good things – the right things.

So, it is with example from Lou that I put together this letter to my son on his graduation day.  I read it to him at the graduation ceremony, and there will be a framed copy of it for him to take to college this fall so he will be able to see that his Dad believes in him, is proud of him, and prays for him.

I hope that reading this will give you an encouragement to recognize those milestones with your family and close friends.  It may seem like it is only a letter as you write it, but I can tell you that when the relationship is there, the impact of a letter like this will last for years.  Take the time to do it.  It’s worth the effort.

Zachary,

I’ve wanted a son as long as I can remember, and I wanted that son to be just like me.  When you came into my life, I thought I was getting that gift, but your Mom and I got more than that.  We received a son that was a unique blend of the two of us.  Your physical and personality traits seem to morph and shift back and forth so often, but there is no doubt that you are ours.

One of the things I have learned as your Dad is that as much as I wanted a son to be like me, I am thankful that you are an individual, and I have been learning, albeit sometimes slower than either of us would like, to appreciate you as that individual.  You often hear that you are “just like your Dad”, but you and I know that there are a number of differences that make you an “individual”.

Your Mom and I are so proud of the young man you have become.  Our goal as parents has been to equip you to take on the trials of adulthood, to stand as a man of God in a world that needs men who know how to stand.  You have had opportunities to learn and grow in your faith, and have had to learn to lean on God during those times, and I am happy to see how you have developed.

You have made us very proud in your dedication to your studies, your love and devotion to your family and friends, and your desire to squeeze the fun out of life.  You are a thinker, a processor and yet still manage to be spontaneous.  A nice blend that has kept us on our toes.

Our dream is that you will be that man mentioned in Micah.  We have seen the beginnings of that man as you seek to do what is right, show God’s mercy and grace to those you relate with, and maintain a humility in your relationship with God.  We pray for those attributes to continue to grow as you enter the college campus this fall and begin the next steps toward what God will have you to do.

We have offered many prayers for you over the years, and today I want to offer this one more written by General Douglas MacArthur.  It is titled “A Father’s Prayer”, and I cannot think of words that would make it any more my prayer for you as your Dad.  Your Mom and I love you very much and will always be here for you when you need us.

“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee—and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge. Lead him I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

Then, I, his father, will dare to whisper, ‘I have not lived in vain.’”

—GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, “A FATHER’S PRAYER”

Be Relentless in your parenting. Build into the hearts of your kids and share with them how you feel about them.  They need it, and coincidentally, so do you!

The Family Name

3258-frontA good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

– Proverbs 22:1

I remember a trip to the hardware store with my Grandpa when I was around 9 years old.  Something had broken at the house that needed an immediate repair, and while he was very good at putting something together out of nothing, this was a fix that actually needed new parts.

When we got to the register, Grandpa asked if the owner was there.  When Gene came out, Grandpa explained that he needed the stuff on the counter, but he didn’t have money to pay for it until his social security check came on Friday.  I remember that Gene didn’t even hesitate when he said, “Milo, if there was one person I would trust around here to come back in to pay a bill, it would be you.”  That really stuck in my head.  My Grandpa was that trusted by a local businessman!

Fast forward about 20 years.  I am living in my Grandpa’s house now, and something breaks.  I too have gotten pretty good at fixing things out of nothing, but this was beyond my abilities.  With about 15 minutes to close, I run into the same hardware store to grab what I needed.  I sat it on the counter and reached for my wallet – I had left it at home.  I needed these parts for us to have water in the house that night.

The owner happened to be standing there at the counter, and I remembered that trip to town with Grandpa when I was a kid.  I never realized how humbling that had been for Grandpa until the moment I had to ask if I could come back tomorrow with the money since I would not be able to go home and get back with my wallet before close.  It was hard!

Gene looked at me and said,”You’re Mike Tanner’s boy, right?”  I told him I was, and he smiled and said, “Not a problem.  Nothing to worry about.  You know, your Grandpa was one of the most honest men I have ever known.”

Wow.  Just plain wow!

This morning I read Genesis 47 and was struck by the verses below:

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”

– Genesis 47:5-6

I got thinking, “What did Pharaoh know about Joseph’s family?  Did he know that the brothers had a plan to leave him for dead?  Did he know that they sold him into slavery?  Did he know they hated his guts when they were younger?  Maybe some of it.  I’m sure the topic had come up at some point when they were talking about how Joseph came to be in Egypt.

What amazes me is that he gives Joseph’s family the finest land and jobs taking care of his livestock.  I know that the Egyptians though tending stock was a horrible job (I have three horses and find that point hard to argue some days), but it was important – especially in a time of drought.  Why would he give them this much honor, responsibility, and favor in providing them such a great place to live?

Joseph’s reputation.

He knew Joseph, and that was all he really needed to know.  Imagine that.  Imagine being given so much just because of who you know.  That is what I received.  I benefited from the reputation that my Grandpa had, and that my Dad maintained.  The family name stood for honesty as far as that man was concerned.

A person living a Relentless Life is not just concerned with their earthly name, but their heavenly reputation as well.  We make mistakes, but we are called to walk worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Worthy of carrying the message of God’s merciful, gracious, unconditional love.  That can seem like a tall order, but we aren’t asked to be perfect.  We are asked to submit to the process.

By the way, the McLean’s Do-It Best Hardware in Kalkaska is alive and well, expanding its offerings to our community, and Gene’s kids are running it with the same values that he had in taking care of the people that walk through their doors every day. They are living out his legacy before his eyes, and it is good to see!

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A Parable…of Sorts

custom-paulownia-casket-fullThere is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand.

– Ecclesiastes 5:13-15

As I read these verses the other night, a story took shape in my mind.  I pictured a man who had determined that he was going to be a good provider for his family.  A man determined to give his children all of the best things in life.  So, the man did the honorable thing – he worked.

I  pictured this man getting up hours before the sun came up in the morning, going to work at a job that asked much of him, and he was willing to give.  He was doing it for his family.  At the end of that work day he went to a second job and worked until late in the evening, coming home to collapse into his bed.  He was tired, but this was for his family.

As time went on, the work week spread over into the weekend.  He missed vacations, birthday parties, and music recitals, but this too was for his family.  The kids were growing, but he had a plan, and even though he hurt so badly every time he saw his family look at him sadly after he told them he could not join them, it was for his family.

Over the years, the money he earned grew, and it grew significantly.  His plan was beginning to come together.  He could see the end of the journey had had begun all those years ago.  He was almost there.  Then it happened… The big opportunity arrived.

A friend came to him with an investment opportunity that was guaranteed to double his money, and that was a significant amount.  If this went as planned, he could actually quit working and spend the rest of his life just living off interest and leaving a very comfortable life for his kids when he finally passed away as an old man.  He went all in.

Things looked good for awhile, the business was slow to start, but there was still hope.  Then he started feeling ill.  A trip to the doctor revealed the worst news, and he was given two months.

Deciding he would spend his remaining time giving his family their every desire, he went to cash out on his investment. Tragically, he found out that there was nothing left.  His partner had taken his money and invested in in several other businesses, and it was gone.  He was left with nothing, and eight weeks later, he was gone.

At the funeral, his 16 year old son stood up to speak of his father.  He approached to platform, and stopped to look at his father lying there in the casket.  After a few moments, he stepped to the podium and began to speak.

“I wish I could tell you that I know the man lying here today.  I wish I could tell you of all the fun times we had.  I wish I could tell you about vacations, camping trips, birthday parties, and tickle fights on the living room rug.  I wish I could tell you about his favorite song, his favorite food, or about his favorite book, movie, or his first car.”

“I wish I could tell you all of those things and more.  I wish I could tell you how much he loved us.  Tell you about the hugs, the laughter, the smiles, and the warmth of a life with him.  There are so many things I wish I could tell you about this man, but there is a problem.  I don’t know him well enough to tell you these things.”

“As I grew up, Mom always told us how much he loved us.  She knew his plan to make enough to retire before I graduated high school so he could do all sorts of stuff with me and the rest of my family.  She told me all about the money he was saving so I would have a good start.  She told me how it was his way of showing me he loved me.”

“So, now I stand here beside the casket of a man I barely knew.  Friends and family have helped us put this funeral together because we didn’t have enough money to do it on our own.  My college dreams are starting to fade away as I look at my younger siblings that are going to need me to step up and help support them.  The plan he had for me is gone.”

“So, what do I have to say today?  Why did I get up here?  Was it to make you all feel sorry for me? No.  I wanted to point out a tragedy that took place in the life of my father.  Here was a man with the noblest of intentions.  He wanted to give us so much, but in the end, he left this world unable to do that.  He had two dreams.  He wanted to spend time with us and give us an inheritance.”

“I wish I could feel anger about this, but in the end, I feel pity.  He came into this world with nothing, he worked to build wealth at the cost of knowing those he loved, and he left this world with nothing.  All I can say that he really left me is a desire to do things better.”

Maybe these verses mean something a little different.  Maybe I am off my rocker and had a sandwich that was just a little too spicy that day.  I’m not sure what put that little story in my head, but I wanted to share it.

I’m glad that I had a Dad that was there for me.  He worked long days, shift work, and sometimes weekends to make the money that was needed to keep us going, but he was there for us too.  He showed me the value of being there for your kids, and I hope I am doing a good job being there for my kids too.

There have been opportunities for me to take jobs that might have been great financial decisions, but I have always had this thought in my head that the money only does so much for you if you can’t be with the ones that you love.

God speaks so much about money in His Word, and I’m pretty sure it is because He knew we would have such a problem with it. Part of Relentless Growth is looking at the wisdom of the Bible as it speaks to our financial picture, our family responsibilities, and the fact that the money belongs to God anyway.  We are just stewards.

So, at the end of the day, all you dads out there, keep working.  Your children need to see your drive and your determination to provide for the family.  It is a character trait they will thank you for, but be there for them too.  They need both.  It is sad when they don’t have one or the other, but it is grievous when they get neither.

Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong

Can I Quote You On That?

quotationMarksEvery Monday in our weekly Department Head meeting, we have an ice breaker question.  They have ranged from the unimaginative, “What are you doing this weekend?” to more thought provoking questions that will make you think, “What is the favorite gift you ever received from your grandparent.”  It is always interesting to see exactly what someone might come up with.

This week, one of our newer managers was given the task of the icebreaker.  You could feel the tension coming off of her as she explained that she had thought a long time about it and had thought about doing an activity, but was not able to get all of the props together.  She said after a lot of deliberation and asking some of the people in her department what they thought, she settled on this:

“If you had to have your life summed up in a quote, what would you want it to be?”

Wow.  My mind was blown as I sat there and thought about the weight of that question.  Sum up my life in a quote.  All of my desires, dreams, and accomplishments in a sentence that would depict my life.  Something memorable, imaginative, and potentially inspirational in the life of someone who heard it.

The answers began as we went around the room.  It was my turn to impart my words of legacy that I would want people to remember me by. Here we go:

“Sarcasm. just one of the many services I offer.”

Way to go, Tom. Home run… Doofus…

As the day wore on I went back to what I had said and thought about it some more – a lot more!  Obviously that quote is a part of who I am (no remarks from the peanut gallery), but it is not a total representation of me, nor is it what I want to be remembered by.

There are things in my life that I value more now than I used to.  The importance of my family and friends has grown in magnitude to a level I didn’t think possible before.  I mean, I always loved my family, but I am loving them differently now.  It is stronger, healthier, and with more purpose.  Friendships were something that always came and went with me, and I didn’t lose a whole lot of sleep either way, but now, I have some real friendships that I see as mutually beneficial. And I love doing life with these people.

Another thing that has changed is that I am now able to interact with people at a deeper level.  Over the last couple of years I have learned to ask better questions, to listen to understand, and to enter into another person’s emotional state.  It is something I never wanted to do before.  Let’s face it.  We are all people, and we all have emotions.  Emotions are just plain messy!  I avoid messy, but lately, I like that kind of mess!

What happened?  How has this change taken place? (And how will he bring it back around to talking about a quote?)

I believe with all my heart that it has hinged on one thing.  It has been something that I have done off and on for about 30 years, but only in the last two have I become more consistent about it:

READING MY BIBLE

I’ve been to classes, I have taken training courses. I have read books about how to have these changes take place in my life, and up until recently, I have seen no appreciable change in the area of friendship and genuinely caring about people.  The only real change has been my time in God’s Word.  So, what am I supposed to think happened?

Logically, I have to stick with what makes sense.  The time spent in God’s Word is doing it.  It is the only variable that has changed, and the only real change about doing it is that it has become consistent.  Spending time reading my Bible has opened my eyes to what He is doing in my life.  It has given me more of a desire to pray for direction, understanding, wisdom, and for the well-being of others.

I guess when it is all said and done, if I was going to want a quote to define my life, I would want it to be something that reflected the changes that have taken place lately.  I have never felt the closeness of God in my life that I do now.  I have never had the peace in my heart that I have now.  I have bad days, but they are not as often, and not as bad.

So, when I take all of that and put it together, I guess (and now we’re back to the part about the quote) I would like the quote that defines my life to be something along this line:

“Healthy relationships with family and friends are the natural fruit of a life devoted to relentless growth in Christ, and there is no better way to grow deep in Christ than to dig deep in His Word.”

It might never end up on a coffee cup or a T-shirt, but I’d be pretty pleased if that was the legacy I left behind. You can quote me on that!

Relentless Growth. Grow deep. Grow strong.

In HIS Grip,

Tom

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How Do I Grow?

LATREELet your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for what you have been taught.

 – Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

Around 2 years ago I was given the chance to do the first two books of the Navigator’s 2:7 study.  I had done other studies in the past, but this one did something for me that no other study ever had.  It taught me how to get into the Word of God, study it, and apply it in my life.  I’ve been taught how to do that over and over as I have grown up in church, but never in this way.  If you have a chance to take this study at some point in your life I highly recommend it.

The last three or four years of my life have seen some big changes in how I look at reading God’s Word, and I would like to say that I am giving it the time that it deserves every day, but that would be a lie.  At least I can now say that I want to read it every day, and the days that I do not get a chance, I feel it. Not in a good way, but I feel it.  I’m sure I am not the only one to ever feel this way.

I have been moving slowly through the book of Colossians lately, and I am doing it this time in the New Living Translation Bible.  I am finding that it is helping me see things that I have seen before with a slightly different angle.  I have been able to read verses that I know and have memorized, but with a different wording I think about them differently.  It draws my eye and then it draws my heart.  I really believe God is using this, and I just want to share it.

I hit Colossians 2:7 the other day, and as I read it I was struck by how familiar the verse sounded to me, and the truth that was in it was so good!  When I looked at the reference it clicked, but I was seeing it all over again for the first time.  This verse that describes so well the transforming work of the Word of God in a believer’s life resonates even more now than it did before.  Not because I have arrived, but because after a couple of years, I can see growth!  Not a mighty Redwood, but at least there is more than a twig sticking up!  So, here are some of the things I have pulled from God’s word over the last couple of days:

It is work, but it is a natural work – if I let it happen.

Verse 7 in the NLT starts with the word “Let”.  When I read the first word I just stopped because I was hit with the power that word contains in my life.  If I am to let something happen, that means I have a degree of control in whether it happens or not.  I have that in my Christian walk.  I decide if I am going to take the time to read God’s Word today.  I decide if I am going to let what I read into my heart and become part of how I act.

“Let” also eludes that if I were to remove myself as an obstacle, then something would happen.  I think this goes back to the fact that God created us for relationship with Him.  We were designed for a relationship with Him where He would grow us through that relationship. He would supply our needs, give us protection, security, and nourishment.  That is that God-shaped hole in all of us that is not satisfied by anything else – especially for the believer.

It is work, but not a work without reward.

As a kid I remember being given a lot of memory verses with references that had a letter at the end – usually an “a” or a “b”.  The letter would determine if we were quoting the first or the second part of the verse (sometimes we even had a “c”).  I asked why the verses had letters and I got answers that ranged from “I don’t know”, (at least it was honest) to “This is the importnat part of the verse” (which usually translated to  this being something we had to do to make God happy).  We would get the directive, but never the objective.  We were simply not told that God tells us the “Why” of what he asks us to do!

Now I am careful to look at the whole picture.  God tells us that He wants to bless us.  It is what He does!  Look around at the things you have, the people you know – you are blessed!  Knowing that God wants to bless, I need to look at His commands not as a punishment or a chore, but as an opportunity to be blessed by God.  He is promising a result for putting down roots into Christ and drawing Him into my life.  He is promising a stronger faith, a vibrant life, a vigorous, excited spirit!  How awesome is that!  I get all of that for getting myself out of the way and allowing God to be at work in my life!

When the work is done, I can be thankful for it

Thankfulness is a progression.  It starts with an awareness that something has been done.  Something done for me that I either could not do or did not have to do.  Then it must be understood that there was a cost to someone to do that thing.  These are pretty logical thought processes, and while we don’t think about them, anyone can do them just by opening your eyes. You probably did not build your own car, but when you are faced with one that is broken down, you are abruptly brought face to face with the fact that someone once made it run, and you hope you can find another who can!

The next step in thankfulness is the hard part for some.  We need to accept what was done for us and appreciate it as the gift it was intended to be.  That requires a humility that we don’t always want to think about.  Admitting that it was needed, I could not do it myself, but someone was willing to do it for me.  This is where that overflowing of thankfulness gets rolling!  Real world example is the help that my friend Ray has been to me with my vehicles.  Things I could not do for myself, he has done for me and with me, teaching me as we go and growing a stronger realtionship along the way!

Ultimately what could I possibly have more reason to be thankful for than what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do in my life!  It cost my Savior His life, and it was given to me so I could experience His love and have a relationship with His Father. Not just so I could have it, but so I could tell others about it as well!  There should be a thankfulness readily apparent in my life for everything He has done.

The beauty of this verse is that it shows a natural flow of growth in Christ:

  • Grow Deep
  • Grow Strong
  • Bear Fruit

As I struggle to live a life of purpose  I want this to be something that I never forget.  There needs to be a desire to continually repeat this process.  As God grows me and takes me to places where my faith will struggle I will need to dig deeper into Him. As I weather it and see the lessons He was teaching me I will be thankful for all that He did and then I should start the cycle over again.  I need Him more because I know Him more!  That was why we were made.  Our purpose is to bring God glory and He gets that every time we come face to face with our need for and obedience to Him.

So, since I know this is the key to living a life of purpose and with purpose, then it is time to take the time to do it on purpose!  How about you?

Thanks for reading!

In HIS Grip,

Tom