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I had a dream that I died and went to heaven. I died in a snowstorm preparing a team to climb Everest in Minnesota. My dream transitioned to opening a huge door being welcomed by the Lion of Judah. He began to tell a parable that at the time I didn’t get to hear but I heard spiritually. I later wrote it down. My father figure is God the Father and my inspiration is David Lewis. Here is the parable I got a few days later.

The Parable of the InnKeeper and the Servant The man who owned an Inn had a servant he was a bad servant, he complained and talk about the master behind his back. In the morning he would visit the rooms and figure out which rooms would be up to making a mess and get the other servants to do those rooms, which were easy to spot. He would find the ones who made him money and steal from them and the other servants. It was a place of grace and soon the man became guilty and left.

So it is for those who do not do everything I say they will leave and serve another. You children are my good children you come into my palace and do not want, you do your chores as a child does them. Not needing anything in return but, fear not I will make everything an adventure thus says the Lord of Hosts. O children you are home you have nothing to fear. I will give you everything. Follow me. I go with you and show you your summer homes for the winter. Your that wealthy. I will give you a desert in the hot stormy season when you need it. I will give you autumn in the dead of winter and spring in the dead of summer. And Yes child you died, again, I brought you into a new place. (From The Parable in 5 minutes in heaven) Video Link: www.mikewilkinson.org/2018/03/5-minutes-in-heaven.html

He led us to show us how we related him as the father. From other things I have written the father figure must aim to be a good father like father God. He loves but teaches along the way showing us mercy and grace as our heart become contrite. David Lewis growing up taught me: The heart of the Old Testament shows us that God does not look for sacrifices but a contrite heart. He taught us the heart of grace of the father and showed it in great humility. The grace we share one another will increase from God as we give over our heart to true contrition. His humility poured out passion in others and it’s the foundational to my faith. He also taught me when you reach out for an answer be always willing to learn then compare it to scripture, you will grow greatly with that. If your ready to learn and compare it against scripture he will give you grace to know more. Humility is an honor that is where it begins. Look to the cross, how humble he was, he didn’t focus on himself he focused on saving the crowd. He fulfilled Psalms 22 and brought the thief on the cross to himself. Jews commonly quoted the first line of a passage to recite scripture. He was pointing out fulfillment and the father took his eye off of the Son because held sin in his hand. Christ bore the sin of others and father turned his face as he could not bear to watch. He is a loving father. Christ bore the sin of others. He forgave the men who nailed him to the cross. He finished the father’s work for him on earth. How loving the heavenly father is.

David Lewis served as the national disaster relief for the Church of Christ. His humility builds the kingdom of heaven. He is a great inspiration to me to this day. He retired and moved away, but his humility shakes the earth.

Mike Wilkinson is an online pastor, businessman and writer of 6 books. You can view his content at MikeWilkinson.org.

Sometimes the best father figure is someone that God brings into your life that isn’t related by blood. It might even be the last person that you would think of. When I was in high school, my mother worked several jobs and my father was not available very often. I was left to myself a lot and didn’t always make the best choices. Some of these bad choices landed me in some trouble.

I was in the band for all four years of high school. The band director was a man named Bill Schroder. Mr. Schroder was a little rough around the edges. There were times when he would kick over a trash can or throw his keys because you didn’t get the part in the song right. Yet, there were other times when he would ask how my day was and what was going on in my life and he seemed genuinely interested.

At one point in eleventh grade, I was in so much trouble, there didn’t seem to be a way out. Mr. Schroder sat down and talked with me for a while and gave me some advice that has stuck with me through my adult life. He said, “This will probably be one of those things that keeps you awake at night. You will lie in bed and think about this point and time right now. Learn from it and move on. Otherwise, it will eat you up. Don’t let it.” He also told me that life will be hard, that won’t change. You have to develop a thick skin and be the best person that you can be. Don’t let the hard times change you. When we were in class and it was time to play a certain part of a song, he could tell if the students didn’t practice their part, besides throwing something at us, he would tell us, “You can’t get through life being lazy. You have to work hard.” There also might have been some other colorful words that I left out.

Mr. Schroder also took it upon himself to keep an eye on me. He would call my mom when he saw me hanging out with other students that I seemed to get in the most trouble with. At that time in my life, I didn’t appreciate his effort. It wasn’t until several years later when I was talking with my husband about it, that I realized how much I appreciated all he did for me. I actually called the high school and thanked him. I’m not sure if he remembered who I was, but he replied back to me, “That’s what I’m here for my dear.”

Thank you to all the “father figures” that take a moment to invest their time and energy to helping others. Sometimes it can be as easy as a kind smile, or asking someone how their day is going, or the harder decision of a phone call to mom. Whether they appreciate it at the time or not, it will not go unnoticed.

A.K. Finch is a blogger, writer, and poet. She has had several of her poems published in the Ravens Perch and Haiku Hub. She lives in Southern California with her husband and daughter.

If I haven’t been to the gym in a long time, I dread going back. I know that every part of my body will hurt after that first day. I’m supremely uncomfortable, and nothing within me wants to return to the gym because I know it’ll hurt even more. After the first, second, third, and fourth days, my muscles scream at me to stop. But, if I stay the course and get comfortable with being uncomfortable, my muscles eventually stop hurting and grow stronger. They’ll start to operate the way they were designed to operate. In time, I’ll even become energized by my workouts to the point that, if I miss a workout, I’ll feel lousy. The habit becomes such an integral part of my life that I can’t do without it. The process literally begins to produce life-altering energy that transforms my daily existence. As in our physical lives, so too in our spiritual lives. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable With the men I counsel, I always tell them, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable. When you truly decide to die so that your family will live, God will take you seriously. Consequently, you’ll begin to see just how selfish you really are! Every time you turn around, you’ll bump into yourself. Your selfishness will shine bright. And your sacrifice will be uncomfortable. It might even hurt.” These men—all tough guys familiar with the pain of a good workout—get frustrated by this and start complaining: “Is this what life is really all about? Is this going to be my life: being miserable forever and never really living?” Willfully choosing to lay down your preferences, your ego, and your stature—especially if you’ve always been a me-first tough guy—will make you very uncomfortable. But choosing to die to self is the most transforming tradeoff you can ever make. However, it’s a decision you have to make on a daily basis—just like going to the gym. The Tough Guy Has to Die When I chose to start dying to myself and putting my family first, it was extremely uncomfortable. I didn’t want to keep going. It was killing me on the inside. Would I receive anything from my sacrifices, or was I going to be miserable for the rest of my life? My thoughts sounded just like the men I counseled. Then, words God had spoken to me many years before finally made sense to me. On a regular afternoon drive home from the office, I heard God speak these words in my spirit: “The more you die, the more your family lives.” My response was less awestruck and more, well, confused. “Uh, what’s that, God? I have to die so my family lives? What’s the precedent for that? Are you sure that’s you talking, God?” I knew it was him, but I chose doubt because I didn’t want to have to act upon what he’d just revealed to me. I also knew he wasn’t talking about physical death, but rather putting to death my insecurity, my selfishness, and my control. And I knew I was supposed to love my wife and children like Jesus loved the church: sacrificially (Ephesians 5:25). But I was afraid to die to self because I knew it would be uncomfortable. It might even hurt. It would require more of me than I wanted to give. Maybe even all of me. Then something strange happened. As I practiced dying to self, I began to look forward to serving my wife and my children. Suddenly, I was operating on a totally different level. I began to receive energy and life from putting them first. I realized: This is soul-level exercise. I need this because God made me like this. This is how I shed the tough-guy image and truly become a strong man of God. That’s when I started living as the man God had always intended me to be. Of course, I still fail. Of course, I can still be selfish. But then God—or missing a workout—reminds me: “The more you die, the more your family lives.” Men, put your tough-guy act to rest. Become a strong man in Christ. You’ll need all the strength he can give you to endure the pain of sacrifice—but the cost is worth the price. Look at your family and tell me differently.

David Vestal (www.davidvestal.org) is the author of the forthcoming book Tough Guys vs. Strong Men. He is also president and CEO of Next Level Solutions, specializing in executive, marriage, and family coaching. David and his wife, Dana, have three grown children and a chocolate lab named Maverick.