My Blogging Wife

My dear wife, Allie, never ceases to surprise and amaze me. Just this week she created her own blog, entitled, “Uprooted To Paradise“. Her opening posts have been heart-wrenching and inspiring at the same time. I am delighted that Allie has chosen to share her story with the rest of us, as I realize that my version of our transition to Nassau, Bahamas fails to hit all of the notes. Allie’s blog nicely fills the gap with clever analogies, her winsome spirit, and some earnest reflection.

While Allie and I are headed to the same destination, on so many levels, I am reminded that our respective journeys are vastly different. I’m encouraged by what I’ve read in her blog thus far, but more so, I’m encouraged that Allie is trusting in the Lord, and in the wisdom of His providence. The journey is sometimes unnerving, but our destination is sure.

As we wait upon the Lord, we are reminded,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

Turf War

Turf war: a colloquial term for a contention between two or more parties resulting in confrontation. It is a common problem in larger organizations when two divisions fight for access to resources or capital or over control of operations. 

In a turf war against God, I’m going to lose. And yet, I must concede that I sometimes engage God in a battle “over control of operations”—I resist God taking control of certain aspects of my life.

I think many followers of Jesus are tempted to compartmentalize their faith. We think about God’s will when we’re praying, when we’re reading our Bible, and when we’re at church. We struggle, however, to think about God and His priorities when we’re at work, when we’re running errands, and when we’re watching television.

When the apostle Paul writes to the Colossians, he communicates to them in very specific ways how God wants access to every area of our life. Check out Colossians 3:18-4:1 and we see how our relationship with God impacts our marriage, how we parent, and how we get on in the work place.

The text has some cultural clothing on it, and so we have to be careful not to get distracted from Paul’s primary point: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).

By every appearance, following Jesus was never meant to be just a Sunday thing. Following Jesus is for every aspect of our life. This begs the question: Are there areas of your life where you might be consciously, or subconsciously, trying to shut God out?

If the answer is “Yes”, and if you are a follower of Jesus, you need to know that this is a turf war that you’re not going to win. But let’s not think of yielding to Christ as something that is negative. Submitting to Christ is not something we should begrudge or resist. Surrendering every aspect of our life to Christ will ultimately be liberating and, more importantly, it will be supremely honouring to God.

If you are interested in wading through this challenging, but massively practical, text I invite you to have a listen to the message below, “Everything For The Lord” — delivered at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well on February 28, 2010.

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I Am Not Fatherless

OK, before I get too serious, I need to make a plea to those who know me and are reading this: Please don’t tell my mom that a photo of her is on my blog (she hates being photographed).  As I say that I realize she doesn’t have the foggiest idea what a ‘blog’ is anyways. Secondly, please don’t clog up the ‘Comments‘ section with clever remarks about the suit my parents put me in (And, yes, that is a clip on tie).

Today is ‘Father’s Day’ and I have spent the better part of the day being pampered by my lovely wife and adorable daughter. I love being a father.

Father’s Day also prompts me to think about my earthly father, George Stuart MacPhail, who died in the summer of 1984. Some might say that I have been ‘fatherless’ for 25 years now.

In a sense, this is correct. My father, who loved to watch me play baseball and hockey, is gone. My father, who loved to sing in the choir at Drummond Hill Presbyterian Church, is but a memory for those who knew him.

I hugely miss my earthly father. I miss his affirmation. I miss playing ‘catch’ in the yard with him. I miss his advice. I miss the sound of his voice. I wish he was here.

I regret that he never saw me graduate,  and that he never met my wife and daughter.

A couple of years ago I got to preach at Drummond Hill PC—the church of my youth. A few of the people there remembered my dad, and their words, ‘Your dad would be proud’, meant the world to me.

I’m guessing that my response to being without an earthly father has been normal. Those things I lost when my father died, I looked for in other men—in coaches, in teachers, in older colleagues, and once I got married, in my father-in-law. The influence of those men has been a huge encouragement and consolation to me over the years. You could say that they helped to fill the void that was created when my dad died in 1984.

Why, though, do I contest the notion that I am fatherless? Am I deluding myself? I don’t think so.

On this ‘Father’s Day’ there is a passage in the Bible that surpasses the rest for me. The apostle Paul, writing to followers of Jesus, gives this massive encouragement:

“…those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God……you received a Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:14-16, emphasis mine).

 A cynic might suggest that the reason a became a follower of Jesus was to help me cope with my earthly loss. I concede that the timing of my becoming a Christian could give that impression (I confessed Jesus as my Lord in the summer of 1985 at Muskoka Woods). Twenty-five years later, however, my faith in God means more to me than it ever has. And, while I miss my earthly father immensely, I don’t feel fatherless.

The apostle Paul affirms my perception. According to the Scriptures, I am not fatherless. I have a Father in Heaven who loves me beyond measure. This makes me grateful, not just today, but every day.

Lessons From My Anniversary

Celebrating an anniversary will often cause us to reflect deeply. Allie and I have just returned from a vacation, which we had planned as a celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary (an early celebration—our actual anniversary is May 7). To some, fifteen years might not seem very long. A few years back, I attended the 65th wedding anniversary of a couple within our congregation. A few couples at St. Giles Kingsway have celebrated 60 years of marriage, and a few more have celebrated 50 years of marriage. I marvel at those numbers, recognizing the mutual investment that is required to keep a marriage strong. 

After 15 years of marriage, I hardly consider myself an expert—particularly since I am the type of person who learns things the hard way. Most everything I do know about what makes for a good marriage I’ve learned from my missteps and my mistakes. One of the things I have noticed, interestingly, is that many of the ingredients required to keep a marriage strong are needed to keep our relationship with God strong. Below are a few things I noted from this past week away, and the corresponding principles which will help our relationship with our spouse and with our Lord:

Event: A friend upgrades our travel accommodation.

Corresponding principle: Our relationship with our spouse, and our Lord, may be deeply personal but it is nonetheless important to welcome the help of friends to support these relationships (see Prov. 27:17).

 

Event: We participate in the safety drill on Celebrity Century.

Corresponding principle: Don’t pretend as if bad things can’t happen. Have a game-plan to keep the relationship strong when challenges come (see James 4:7,8).

 

Event: We visit the Key Lime pie factory in Key West first thing in the morning and eat a slice of pie.

Corresponding Principle: Routine is good, but don’t be afraid to step outside of the box. Don’t place unnecessary limits on the relationship (see Eph. 3:20).

 

Event: Allie wants to walk a great distance (in scorching heat) to Hemingway’s house. This holds zero interest for me. We still go.

Corresponding principle: It’s not always about what I want. Relationships thrive when I don’t insist on my way (see Rom. 12:10).

 

Event: Allie and I attend a comedy show.

Corresponding principle: Laughing together is healthy and helpful for relationships.

 

Event: Allie and I spend virtually every moment of 7 days together (this NEVER happens).

Corresponding principle: Quality time together is essential for a relationship to thrive (see John 15:4, 5).  

This past week has not only refreshed my marriage relationship, but it has reminded me of the priority of my relationship with Jesus. I don’t want to ever take my relationship with Him for granted. More than anything else on this earth, I want THAT relationship to thrive. And I pray that each of you reading this will experience the blessing that comes from abiding closely to Jesus.

Needed: A Partnership With Parents

I’m just back from a week of holidays and a two-week hiatus from blogging (please forgive me). Let me ease back into the latter by encouraging you to view the video below, produced by a church I hugely respect: Connexus. The video is based on ‘Orange’ principles and, if you want to know more about what that means you will want to read a blog post from one of the all-stars at The WellDiana Loach (who is currently on her way to the Orange Conference in Atlanta, GA). And thanks to Cliff Cline (all-star musician at The Well) for directing me to this online promo.