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The righteous lead blameless lives, blessed are their children after them. ~ Proverbs 20:7

This seems like a pretty tall order to Christian dads out there. With pressure from work, the desire to be home, and obligations at church, it can be easy to get to the end of the day and feel inadequate, far from blameless. How can we live out this verse and be a blessing to our children?

Love the Lord. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy when He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” When we put God first in our life, all things will flow from that. He has a way of setting our priorities straight.

Love your wife. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” If we truly love our wives this way, our children will see it and emulate it. Our society treats marriage like a disposable commodity. Show your children that you are willing to work to make things right rather than throw them away.

Love your children. Psalm 127:3-4 describes children this way. “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Children are our greatest gift from God, to be treasured and raised to know His love. They know our Heavenly Father’s love through the love they receive from us, their earthly fathers.

Love each other. Jesus assures us that “everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” in John 13:35. It’s not about how much money we give to church or how often we volunteer. It is found in the honest love that we show for one another, when we help each other, and when we comfort one another. The love that Jesus wants us to demonstrate to our children is found when we pray with a friend or have patience with a cranky child.

Be blameless. This was the difficult part of our opening verse. As men, we want to be blameless before our God and our children but are helpless to do so. This is when we teach our children about repentance and forgiveness. When we are willing to admit our mistakes, we show them that we are not a perfect standard for them to hopelessly strive for. They see that we are children of God, just like they are. We are blameless because we are covered with the perfect righteousness of Jesus, and our children will be blessed to learn that they can come to us, or Him, too.

I sometimes find this is easier said than done. Our 7 year-old, Evan, can be quick to point out why it is someone else’s fault or why they made him do it. My first response is frustration and correction. As I grow in fatherhood I have understood the better approach to be one of patience and pointing out some of my own flaws and how I should blame myself for my actions. However, there is great news, Glory be to God! He loves me and forgives me anyway through the salvation of Christ. We have such a forgiving and loving father. We simply must acknowledge our mistakes, not as our duty, but in love to the one who has given us everlasting life.

As a working father, the time spent with the kids is limited which makes this interaction that much more important.

Matthew GosselinMatthew Gosselin is a husband, father of three and a marketing director. He lives in Central Florida and is a member of Real Life Christian Church. 

Two months ago I decided to spend some time researching and understanding why the African American vote goes mostly to the Democratic Party. The re-election of Barack Obama was no exception, some sites citing that 95% of blacks voted for him.  Why does this demographic support the party that began the KKK and deny the Republican party which was founded on the anti-slavery movement? Watch this video (5 min.) to see the Republican and Democrat Timeline.  First, it is important to understands the major problems facing the black community today. These issues cited below are shocking and they need to be addressed by someone no matter which party they support.

BACKGROUND

  • African Americans make up 12.9% of the total U.S. Population (Office of Minority Health)

FAMILY

  • 32.5% of African Americans in the U.S. are married. This is compared to 78% in 1950. (Census data cited in Mandara and Murray (2000)
  • African Americans are aborting more babies that birthing. 1,876 African Abortions every day compared to 589,808 births each year (2010, CDC)
  • Even though African Americans make up 13%of the total population, they have 36% of the abortions in the U.S. (2010 CDC)

WELFARE VS EMPLOYMENT

  • Under Obama’s first 4 years as president, the African American unemployment rate went from 8.1% in 2008 to 14.4% in 2012 (Dept. of Labor)
  • 4.3 million Americans on welfare, 39.8% are African American (Dept. of Labor)
  • 46.6 million Americans on Food Stamps (Dept of Commerce-10/15/2012)
  • 40 states pay welfare recipients more than $8/hour (Dept of Commerce-10/15/2012)
  • Top 10 States with the Highest Hourly Wage for Welfare all voted Obama in 2012. They are: Hawaii ($17.50/hr), Alaska ($15.48/hr), Massachusetts ($14.66/hr), Connecticut ($14.23), Washington D.C. ($13.99), New York ($13.13/hr), New Jersey ($12.55), Rhode Island ($12.55/hr), California ($11.59/hr), Virginia ($11.11) (Dept of Commerce-10/15/2012)

So here is my question. What has the Democratic party done to help this group?

  • Democrats continue to promote easy access to abortion which is wiping the African American population off the map.
  • Democrats continue to push more funding into socialist programs like welfare and food stamps. Yet, without reform these programs are mrore competitive than actually holding a job. It is keeping people in the program and doesn’t reward them for making achievements.
  • 83% of African Americans are Christian (Pew Research, 2007); yet the Democratic Party has problems accepting God into their political platforms. Click here to see the video

I hope that one thing the Republican Party learned in the last election is that they need to do a much better job reaching out to the individual, to show their sincerity and compassion no matter what their race or economic condition is.

With all of the time that the Occupy protesters have spent, well, occupying, I wonder how many have spent the time reading the IRS statistics about tax payers. Most of the protest signs I read tell me that no one cares to look for the truth.  Specifically about these 1% that have so much money that it is just unfair to everyone else.

The IRS numbers above don’t lie.

  • The average ALL taxpayers pay is 12.24%
  • The average the top 1% pays is 23.27%
  • The top 1% pay 38% of all of our taxes
  • The BOTTOM 50% of income earners pay just 2.59% of their income to taxes

Now, with this being said. Yes, there are corrupt awful people in big business positions. On the other side there are are murdering gang member low-lifes with no jobs. In between, and the vast majority of this country, are hard working Americans who understand that working and living in American is a privilege. If we can all start with that understanding we would get a lot further in our discussions. Heck, maybe we could even remind our government that they work for us and that they are overspending and mismanaging our government. That too, wouldn’t be a bad place to begin.

Some of my friends haven’t taken the time to understand what all of this discussion is about concerning our government’s financial picture.  To clear it up, here is what it would mean if you ran your household budget like the government right now.

Your Current Salary: $110,000 a year

Despite making $110,000, you will spend $160,000 this year

Current Household Debt: $700,000 (On Aug. 2, 2011 you will max out your credit card)

Good news! (kind of) The bank just raised your credit card limit to:
$835,000

To correct your budget problem you just agreed you would cut your spending by $500,000 over the next 10 years or by $50,000 each year.

Are you happy with your household budget?

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1Peter 4:10

“Be blessed, be loved, be lifted high.  Be treasured here, be glorified. I owe my life to you my Lord, Here I Am.”~Recording Artists, Watermark “Knees to the Earth”

I’ve listened to this song a thousand times.  Maybe two thousand times but I’ve lost track.  On the way to Baltimore for my new job this song played again over my iPhone.  I love worship music.  I think I always have.  It gives me an opportunity to come before the Lord with praise and reflection.

The first three lines of this chorus do just that, finishing with the acknowledgement “I owe my life to you.”  “It is a very big acknowledgement,” I used to think to myself.  After listening to this song again, I suddenly wondered if my focus had been on the wrong words.  It occurred to me that in this new place in my life, an acknowledgement isn’t enough.  It’s a start but it is not where the story ends.

So you may be asking what this new chapter in my life is titled.  Let it be known that I am 32 years old, I’m starting a new job and refocusing my career.  I am the humble and humbled father of two boys and a beautiful baby girl I have yet to meet outside the walls of her Mommy’s tummy.  I am a thankful husband who is constantly reminded of God’s grace through the actions of my wife.

Therefore, let this chapter in my life be known as “Here I am.”

I am finished with mere acknowledgements with little action.  I’ve been pretty good at that over the past several years.  Instead of acknowledgements it is really time to search out those opportunities to be a true servant for the sake of what Christ has given us; a second chance.  I hope this doesn’t come across as some ‘I am holier than thou’ speech because it is quite the opposite.  I’m well aware of my deficiency in life and my lack of service to other is just the beginning.  My faults run many in number.  In fact, I think that is one of the toughest part about becoming a follower of Christ.  It’s the realization that you have tried so long to do it yourself and your still spinning your wheels, you’re still unhappy, you still can’t make sense of this life. At least that is what it was about for me.

I’m tired of pretending I can do a better job than God can.  I have been over it for a long time now.  There are plenty of people who don’t get the whole Jesus message and I get that.  I really do.  I may not agree but I get it.  For now, that is okay with me because I know that relationships don’t happen overnight, they’re not forced and they are by choice.  In the meantime, I pray that my friends and my family find the clarity and peace that God has laid out for them.  This, they are not able to create themselves, although like me, they will continue to try as I have tried so many times.  That’s a conversation for a different day.

For now, I’m ready.  Here I am.


Here is a recap of our last 10 years (actually 12) and some exciting news for 2011.  Have a happy and blessed New Year everyone.

 

Just a short two weeks ago, I found out that due to restructuring at my company, my position was being terminated.  Unfortunately, loss of a job is such a common story these days.  So, I won’t focus on my job loss.  Instead I am focusing on my response and my reaction. For the past year I have been learning and acting on strategic direction, the act of weighing all options before proceeding.  In the case of my job loss it would be all to easy to reflect on why this change was unfair, how I think there is more to the story then what I am being told, why I think this is poor planning and shows a lack of character.  I could focus on those things specifically and there may even be some actions as part of those thoughts.

Instead, I have decided to use this time as a moment in life of spiritual reflection and guidance.  It has allowed me to stop for a moment and figure out answers to questions like, What direction am I headed?

Growing up, I was a competitive swimmer.  In a 25 yard pool, I could have told you how many strokes it would take me to reach the other side of the pool.  I had the timing down.  I’ll never forget the first time I swam my first race in a lake.  The lake had no walls, only buoys to mark our way.  Every two minutes of swimming I would have to lift my head and many times to my amazement I would find myself sharply veering off course.

This visual illustrates almost exactly how I feel about the past five years.  I have only been focused on the direction within the confined walls of my company.  I don’t believed I veered off course but the truth is, I haven’t bothered to lift my head to find out if I am moving in the right direction outside of those walls.

Some of my peace has been coming through our home church of Real Life.  Recently, I went to a concert at the church to see Jason Gray,  a top 10 Christian singer with a great testimony.  Something he said there was absolutely profound and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.  Here is the ‘Cliff Notes’ version.

There was only one person that we know of who had the audacity to ask God what his name was and that person was Moses. God gave us his name which we know as Yahweh or Jehovah or I am Who I Am, depending on the translation you read (Exodus 4:14).  When the old testament was written, what it really read was (again, translated) YHWH.  Our best guess is that it was to mean ‘Yahweh’ which means breath of life or breath.  This definition is not only poetic, it’s perfect.  If God’s name means breath of life or breath, can you fathom the implications? For instance:

The Tetragrammaton in Paleo-Hebrew (10th century BC to 135 AD), old Aramaic (10th century BC to 4th century AD) and square Hebrew (3rd century BC to present) scripts.

  • When a baby is born, its very first action is speaking the name of God.
  • When someone is about to pass on, their last breath is used to call on God.
  • Without God (breath) there is no life
  • When you are having a conversation with a friend who is an Atheist and he looks at you and says “There is no God,” The only thing you can hear is Yahweh, Yahweh.  Breathe in, Breathe out. Breathe in, Breathe out.

As I have been able to soak this all in I keep thinking about the timing of this message in my own life.  Within 24 hours after finding out about my job, I had applied to 3o jobs and 48 hours later I had doubled it.  I wasn’t sleeping and even managed to lose about 10 pounds (which was really needed anyway).  As proactive as this all was, I had already forgotten that this was my moment to sit and listen to God’s plans for me.  It’s time for me to pray for clarity for His plans for me and not just another job.  After all, who am I to pray for just another job when He may have bigger plans for me?  At times this situation has been a struggle and disconcerting but I need to realign myself to focus on something else.  Instead of my own thoughts I want to hear what He wants for me next.  I want to listen and hear:

Yahweh   (breath in)

Yahweh   (breath out)

because it is God that sustains us and comforts us.  It is through His son Jesus that he receives us with open arms.

Glory be to God.  God is good, all of the time.

I’ve always loved history.  I’ve always loved American History.  In fact, loaded up in my television queue of recorded shows is a new series on the History channel called America: The Story of Us.  Great series.  As much as I love history I always come to the realization that I know so little.  One of the more recent learnings in my life was at Memorial Day service that we took the kids to here in Florida.  I really wanted to use it as a teaching moment for Evan even though he is only 3.  I wanted him to know that the American flag stands for something even though he may not understand what quite yet.

At the beginning of the ceremony the master of ceremonies sang the national anthem.  When I thought he was done, he kept going.  He sang another verse! I was thinking “what is this? Is this some sort of Florida tradition?” Since we have only been here for 11 months I assumed that maybe it was a local thing.

I came back home and it still bothered me. The sounds at the event wasn’t great so I couldn’t hear all of the words.  I first looked up Francis Scott Key, the writer of our national anthem and learned that he didn’t write just one verse.  Sadly, I have never learned this or if I did learn it years ago, clearly I had forgotten it.  The fourth verse of this amazing and historic poem was what the master of ceremonies had sung.  The whole poem reads:

O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Original Manuscript of Francis Scott Key

For the people who believe that we are a Godless nation or that today’s radical Christians are trying to interject their faiths into the foundations of our country I have this to say.  We as Christians don’t want the truth of our history taken away.  The truth is that we were founded as a Christian country.  The last verse of this poem is just one more piece of that puzzle.  Unfortunately we have become less and less of a Christian nation as many unbelievers of Christianity are part of this country. However, you can’t take away what is already done.  You can’t take away the foundations of our country.  Let’s not be confused.  Our founding fathers weren’t promoting a religion or else they would have never allowed for freedom of religion in our constitution.  They understood that we all have a choice and they gave us the freedom to make that choice.  They also understood the importance of telling people what guides and anchors their decisions.  In their case, and I pray this for so many more Americans, God guided their decisions in building America.


This photo of our 3 year old, Evan, was taken about a week ago.  It is one of many photos that displays on the rotating wallpaper on my computer.  Every time this photo comes up, I stop to look at it.

My sister Michelle was in town visiting and she wanted to go to a restaurant in Celebration, Florida.  So my wife and I happily brought our two boys and my sister to the Columbia Restaurant.  We enjoyed a brilliant Cuban-styled lunch and then decided to take a walk around the area.  We stopped at a grassy area where there were rocking chairs and Evan did what most boys his age do best.  He ran from one end to the other for no reason.  He was laughing hysterically as he was running.  We chased him for a while but even when we stopped chasing him he was still running around, laughing out loud and to put it plainly he didn’t have a care in the world.  He wasn’t worried about who might look at him.  He wasn’t concerned with what time it was, what we were doing next or even that it was a bath night (which he sometimes dreads).

As an individual I am amazed.  I look at this photo in wonder.  I am sure that when I was young I had moments like this but that was a long, long time ago.  If you are like me you know what I am talking about.  I am always thinking about something.  I’m thinking about what I need to do next, who I need to call, I’m planning. I’m thinking about the five things I just did.  I’m worrying about this and I’m worrying about that. I hate worrying, yet, I still do it.

I know that I am an adult and certainly need to be grounded in my responsibilities.  However, I also know that I must find that place where Evan was when I took this photo.  I need to laugh out loud, stare at the sky and run as fast as I can.  Life is way too good to worry.

Yet another lesson learned from a 3 year old.

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25

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