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“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32). 

Divorce is a controversy today just as it was in Jesus’ time. The complexity of the subject from a Biblical perspective is such that we will only discuss some key points of Jesus’ teaching about it. Also, it is a highly charged issue within the church and, given pandemic of divorce in our society, has caused immeasurable distress, suffering, and family dysfunction. Being the victim of divorce myself, I’m keenly aware of its painful ramifications both individually and collectively and therefore will be sensitive while remaining within the context that divorce is not, in most cases, God’s plan for marriage. Because this section of the Sermon on the Mount is only part of Christ’s teaching here is a more detailed passage for consideration: 

 “Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”  “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matthew 19:3-9).

Jesus makes it clear that God intends for marriage to last and His words remind us that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). We must recognize that marriage is a divinely created, exclusive covenant relationship between a man and woman that God intends to be for a lifetime (Genesis 2:24). God designed marriage for various important purposes including the visible demonstration of the relationship between Christ and His church. It is sacred before God yet, because of our fallen condition, marriages unfortunately dissolve. The Bible does graciously allow for divorce in extreme circumstances of marital unfaithfulness (primarily adultery and abandonment) but this does not give us license to trivialize this God-ordained institution. Jesus interaction with the Pharisees in Matthew 19 exposes us to the His Kingdom’s stance on marriage and divorce as opposed to what has become commonly accepted by the world and, tragically, sometimes the church.

We see that Jesus primary concern was for the sanctity of the institution of marriage while the Pharisees were more concerned with acceptable justification for divorce. His premise was that God designed that marriages remain intact as opposed to arguing over why they shouldn’t. The Pharisees were looking for rationalized excuses to dispose of their partner while Jesus gives scriptural evidence that marriages should typically be permanent. The Pharisees had twisted God’s word about marriage. They altered God’s allowance of divorce into a command (Matthew 19:7) that could be exercised for any reason. They would even dismiss their wives if they burned a meal, the husband came to consider his wife as unattractive or even became enamored with another woman. Their interpretation completely ignored God’s commands and plans for matrimony. This is why Jesus chastises the Pharisees for their trivialization of marriage. I’m convinced that He would be just as critical of our culture’s attitude toward marriage as disposable for virtually any selfish cause. 

Most importantly, according to Jesus, divorce is fundamentally caused by the hardness of our hearts. The sermon’s theme of heart-righteousness continues. The root causes of selfishness and a lack of willingness to forgive are the primary reasons that so few seek reconciliation but instead choose to rationalize their choice to divorce. In other words, our tendency to easily divorce reveals a deep and sad spiritual issue – we often choose to do what we want as opposed to being submissive to God’s sovereign design. Marriage was designed to be both good and lasting. Kingdom living is about submitting to His ways, serving and following Him. We need to recognize a flippant view of marriage is an indication of our sinfulness and our desperate need of a Savior to redeem us and restore our families. I also pray that we understand that a forgiving and gracious Savior stands ready to forgive us of our marital failures and lead us to repent of any attitudes toward marriage that are not aligned with Jesus’ great respect for this God-ordained and blessed institution.

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5:27-30). 

Continuing to contradict the common religious wisdom of His day Jesus again shows that our righteousness is an issue of the heart – our thoughts and motives – and not just our physical actions. This time the subject is lust. The accepted religious principle was that if you “didn’t do it” it wasn’t sin. But Jesus says that if you think about it you are just as guilty. In other words, Jesus’ view of true morality is not whether you have slept with your neighbor’s husband or wife but do you want to! He reinforces the concept that our righteousness must be deeper than just external obedience and that Kingdom living requires a purity of life that transcends perfunctory duty to rules and regulations. 

As an extension of the previous verses Jesus says that just like we can murder with our words and attitudes we can commit adultery with our thoughts and our minds. He also indicates that our eyes are the windows to lust and therefore adultery (“anyone that looks lustfully”) and this is the premise behind His practical teaching to follow (Matthew 5:29-30). But some would say that we can’t control our eyes and that we have a right to look. But Jesus says that we must control our physical urges and give up fleshly desires to follow Him. And in doing so we must protect ourselves from those temptations that enter our mind through the eyes (such as pornography) and be discerning about what we choose to view and watch . 

This is not a declaration against the natural process of attraction between men and women nor passion between those in committed relationships – these both are God’s gift to us and a part of the beautiful way that He has wired us. Nor is it a prohibition against being attractive or appreciating beauty but a statement against misdirected desires and intentional seduction (both men and women know when someone is trying to be sexually alluring) outside the confines of a covenant relationship. Again, this speaks to purity of the heart and our hidden motives and desires. It is a warning to protect our purity by guarding our hearts – “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23) – and the hearts of those we are in relationship with. So we must constantly check ourselves against God’s Word and the conviction and guidance His Spirit in order to control this part of our human nature. 

Jesus gives a startling solution to the problem of unbridled lust – the apparent suggestion of self-injury. So what does this radical saying mean? Clearly this is exaggerated speech or hyperbole. Jesus is not calling for us to maim ourselves given that He is talking about the heart more than the physical. This is not about physical mutilation but spiritual mortification. This concept is found in numerous New Testament writings (see Romans 8:13 and Colossians 3:5) and was a favorite subject of the Puritans. The doctrine of the mortification of sin has to do with the intentional practice of systematically not doing those things that displease God or put us in jeopardy of being impure. It amplifies on Jesus’ teaching, “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34) and promotes a lifestyle of purposeful self-denial. Paul, in Galatians 5:24, puts it this way, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”. 

With all of this in mind, simply stated, what Jesus is saying is if we know of things we view -“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” – will tempt us then don’t look! Or if doing something – “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” – puts you at risk of a spiritual fall then don’t do it! Later in this same gospel Jesus extends the analogy to the foot (Matthew 18:8-9) so we can add if going somewhere might lead you into sin then don’t go! All of this may sound rather rudimentary but how often do we hear teaching today that promotes this type of Godly discipline? Deeper still, how comfortable are we in both hearing and practicing these principles? And before we think that lust has only to do with sexual immorality the Apostle John suggests that lust can include any worldly craving or desire that is not God- honoring (1 John 2:16).

So we see that Kingdom living requires us to look beyond the external and focus on the attitudes of our heart and mind. It also calls us to be diligent in practically distancing ourselves from those things that would dishonor our King! Denying our fleshly urges is the calling of those who desire to live under the dominion and Lordship of Jesus. As Oswald Chambers said, “The only right Christians have is the right to give up our rights”!


“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:21-26). 

Now Jesus begins a pattern of contradicting known wisdom. He uses the preface, “you have heard it said but…” to introduce the principles of His new Kingdom. His first subject is that of anger – a much too common problem in our world and even among professing believers. 

Jesus has already blessed those who promote peace (Matthew 5:9) while allowing for the eventuality of conflict and persecution for those that follow Him (Matthew 5:10-12). This paradox is a reality due to the fact we live in a fallen world while pursuing righteousness. Our world is filled with anger and even murder (murder is the correct translation as the Bible does not prohibit killing of every kind. Examples of allowable killing would be capital punishment, war, and self-defense). Here Jesus equates anger without cause (the phrase “without cause” is found in some manuscripts but omitted in most modern translations) to murder. In other words, only true righteous indignation has its place but it is so rare that the subject is not at issue here. 

Jesus specifically mentions casting doubt on someone’s value (the word “Raca” often meant “empty” and suggests the idea that someone is worthless even to the point of wishing they would “go to hell”). It also suggests that we wish the individual to be moved from our way or an “I wish they were dead” kind of mentality. Jesus says such an attitude actually puts us in danger of the very thing we think they are worthy of – judgment. In other words, these types of hateful thoughts, attitudes, and insults towards another puts us in grave danger. And it’s not just saying such things but just thinking them that puts us is jeopardy. Just as serious is the thought that God sees the attitude of anger as tantamount to murder! 

Furthermore, we see anger for what it really is – a spiritual issue and a matter of the heart. Jesus goes on to give two examples of anger avoidance. He says that if we have issues with a brother than settle it before we worship (the offering of a gift to God) and before there are consequences of our anger (imprisoned until our debt is paid). In other words, proactively remove the attitude of anger from ourselves and do so with haste (“settle matters quickly”). So we see Jesus indicates that anger creates a barrier between us and God as well as us and our fellow man. These barriers have severe consequences and therefore must be dealt with. So we must go and reconcile relationships that have been damaged or dominated by anger. 

Yet how often do we allow our anger towards others to fester much to the demise of our spiritual vitality? How often do we not heed Jesus cry for immediate action in order to restore relationships and put us in a better standing before God and man? Pride is our great enemy here. Kingdom living, however, demonstrates character traits diametrically opposed to pride. The model is one of humility that compels us to deal with our anger and resolve lingering conflicts knowing that we serve a righteous judge. The real issue is not who is right or wrong in the matter but doing the right thing before Him. 

This passage also speaks to the consequences of unresolved animosity with others. Jesus indicates that you could be “handed over to the judge” and “be thrown into prison and not let out”. What are the consequences of unresolved anger? They are many and dangerous but I also see anger itself is one of its greatest punishments. The angry heart suffers more than the object if it’s anger. Living with this kind of attitude is its own judgment and prison. I have never met a person who is angry that I would consider being “blessed” or content. We do not experience the fullness of God’s Kingdom in us or live out the pure and profound principles of His Kingdom with a heart filled with animosity. If this is our plight let us deal with it quickly and completely through humility, repentance, and forgiveness. Thus we will be restored to a greater sense of favor with both our fellow man and our King.


“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). 

I met Vlada on an airplane. He was reading “The Purpose Driven Life” so I asked him if he found the book helpful.  “It’s my second reading”, he stated in clear English but a definite accent. Later we enjoyed food and fellowship at the airport as we endured a long layover – he was heading to Switzerland, his homeland, and I was off to London and Paris for a vacation. He is a resident of the world and I’m a resident of Nashville, Tennessee. He spoke 5 or 6 different languages (“depending on how you count them”, he stated) and I barely speak one (unless you count Southern as a language). Our backgrounds could not have been more disparate yet we shared the strongest of common bonds – Jesus. 

Vlada was born in Serbia, raised in Switzerland and lived now in various locations –all over Europe, England, New York, City, Los Angeles and Nashville. I had rarely left the boundaries of the contiguous 48 states of America. Yet we both were, in reality, citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). His speech gave that fact away. He spoke of Jesus continuously (please note that I didn’t say “God”) and did so with great passion and a sense of intimacy. That was a language that I was familiar with no matter the differences in our backgrounds. His primary medium for proclaiming Jesus was music (another subject that I have little knowledge of despite living in Music City, USA) but his speech made me exited to collect the gracious offer of one of his CDs (check out vladamusic.com). One of his musical goals was to reintroduce Jesus to his native country. 

Switzerland needs a missionary like Vlada. Yes, the same Switzerland that produced the influential church reformer Ulrich Zwingli. Now it is almost devoid of the gospel. Vlada warned me about the dearth of evangelicalism in the places that I would visit – Reformation hotbeds such as England and France. I listened but found it so difficult to believe that the seeds of the Protestant Reformation that had been planted in these lands were now virtually extinct. But his words were true – I searched, with very little success, to find an evangelical bookstore among the masses of cathedrals, shops, and cafes. I don’t know if George Barna’s surveys would agree but Vlada claimed that in both England and France no more than 4% of the population was actively evangelical. Other European countries have even less Christian influence. And yet, amazingly, the myriad of protestant churches we see in America were birthed from this now very dark continent.

The concierges at both hotels I slept in knew every tourist landmark and restaurant but, in London, were stumped when I asked the location of The Metropolitan Tabernacle (Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s church) and were completely ignorant of Spurgeon himself. I dared not ask about reformers John Wycliffe and John Calvin. In London, after nearly 50 miles of walking the streets, I finally encountered one reformed protestant bookstore. The owner admitted that they got very little traffic and survived off of the purchases of small evangelical house churches and Bible study groups. Her description of the English culture was an emphatic, “Godless”. The only Christian oriented bookstore I found in Paris was a commercial hodge-podge of popular American and French writers that primarily represented the most shallow and charismatic versions of evangelical ideology. 

In other words, in the 2 countries that I visited the influence of the church and the proclamation of the true gospel were essentially non-existent. Such a tragic scenario compelled Vlada to take his talent for music and make it a missionary endeavor back to the societies he was raised in. He wanted so desperately to reach these areas that had grown so cold to the things of God. Even more chilling was his refection that, “What you are about to see in Europe is what you will see in America in 50 years”. What motivated him is something that we often forget:  “[Jesus] told them, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Luke 10:2). Yes, the fields are ripe to harvest. May we devote ourselves to praying for and supporting those like Vlada and be open to God’s calling for us to go with him. And that means that we, too, must have a passion for the gospel in our native land.


“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20).                                  

The unvarnished truth is that I am not righteous. No one is. There is nothing in us, on our own, that is righteous (Romans 3: 10-11). Our outward, ritualistic, and ceremonial obedience certainly can’t compare to that of the Pharisees, the most religious people of that day (Matthew 5:20). Yet, Jesus has already spoken twice in this great sermon of the necessity of righteousness (Matthew 5: 6, 10) as foundational in participating in His Kingdom and honoring His Kingship. So, in order to have the righteousness that is required of a holy God we must understand the concept of our righteousness in Christ and embrace it as our only hope. Hence, this piece of the Sermon on the Mount is absolutely critical for all that follow Him. 

First, we must understand that Jesus is the complete fulfillment of the perfect law of God that we are incapable of keeping. Although it might have been easier, humanly speaking, for God to just do away with His righteous demands (the keeping of His law and covenant), He chose not to abolish them.  Instead He had Jesus fulfill the holy dictates and purposes of God (both the Law and the Messianic prophecies). He was the one who accomplished the obedience necessary to satisfy the demands and plans of God. So, in the person, teaching, and finished work of Christ we see the completion of all of the Old Testament’s revealed teaching, ethical precepts, and predictive prophecy. And when it comes to our righteousness this is the “Good News”. The unchanging law of God has been fulfilled in Him thus allowing those who believe and receive Him by faith to be declared righteous. This is our salvation! The writer of Hebrews sums this up by proclaiming, 

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:1-3). 

Also we see in Matthew 5:17-20 a connection between the enduring nature of the law and the Kingdom of God. The law has not been abolished in the covenant of grace, which serves as the foundation for the Kingdom, but has been made richer and deeper – taking on a new and enhanced meaning. Jesus says that our greatness in the Kingdom will be measured by our obedience and it must be superior to the piety of the Pharisees. But how can this be? 

First, as already stated, our righteousness is found in Christ. But, secondly, and beyond that, the living out of the Kingdom’s principles projects a different kind of personal obedience. It is no longer the outward and shallow form of righteousness found in ritualistic religion but an inwardly motivated righteousness of mind and motive compelled by a transformed heart. This kind of obedience surpasses the religion of the Pharisees and typifies those in His Kingdom. As astonishing as this would be to the hearers of this sermon, the Old Testament prophets had already predicted this new type of obedience, “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33). And Ezekiel told them how this would happen, “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:27). 

This is why Jesus calls us not to obedience in only an external sense but a deeper heart-righteousness that has external manifestations. This is only possible through the work of regeneration – “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3) and the indwelling power that comes through the Holy Spirit. So, Kingdom living necessitates a radical righteousness that is not of the flesh but of the Spirit – “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:5-6). So we must look to Jesus and rely on His Holy Sprit in order that the righteous demands of His Kingdom are fulfilled in us. Is this our testimony? As followers of King Jesus, it needs to be.


“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

Now we see Jesus moving from the character of Kingdom-livers to our influence. On the heels of explaining the persecution His followers can expect from a world that finds our pursuit of righteousness engenders their hatred toward us, Jesus says that we must positively influence the very culture that despises us. In other words, we are to respond with “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). To many Christians it seems ridiculous, given our current environment, to think we can positively affect our world. After all, the Beatitudes project a rather docile caricature of His followers (poor in spirit, meek, peacemakers, etc.) Yet, Jesus’ words here presume that the power of His Kingdom within us creates, and even demands, this opportunity and obligation to influence our world for His glory. Let’s look at the two metaphors He uses to describe our influence.

Salt is a preservative and was used extensively in that day for that purpose. It hinders foods from their natural decay. It also gives a distinctive flavor or enhances the flavor of what is eaten. Salt’s domestic uses, however, point to a vital spiritual truth. Our immoral, decadent, condemned, and lost culture is in the process of rapid decay. Although we often hear of mankind’s “evolution” what we really see is a society that has the same moral and ethical challenges that it always has. A case could be made that, in a spiritual sense, mankind is de-evolving or spiraling downward. One example is that with the exponential growth of technology and information we have done little to resolve the deepest issues of humanity – contentment, poverty, hunger, etc. So, with all of our so-called sophistication, people still rage against one another and physical and spiritual starvation is epidemic.

Standing in the face of a world spinning out of control and toward total annihilation are those true servants of Christ. Their moral fiber and stand for the truth of the Kingdom serve as a restraint against absolute chaos and anarchy. In that sense the gospel message, when lived out boldly in the midst of this flood of evil that characterizes our day, serves to offset this tide of deterioration that is so eternally devastating. Standing in opposition to this rebelliousness towards God and demonstrating a life of Christ’s truth we preserve and flavor our culture with a dash of hope. But this only happens when we are truly and radically different than the culture we are intended to influence.

Light, with all of its practical uses, symbolizes that which is right and good as compared to the Bible’s description of the lost as “being in darkness” (Luke 12:46). In this passage we see that our light is our good works that are intended to point people to a Holy God and praise Him. This term light, I believe, is a reference to our stand for God’s truth and our propagation of it in opposition to the darkness found in the falsehood of the world’s philosophies and spiritual ignorance. We do this by courageously proclaiming His word and demonstrating its transforming power in our daily lives as we labor in the trenches of our dark and lost society.

The metaphor of light reflects that we proclaim and live His truth in a way that is not isolated or insulated from the culture that God desires to see and know this light  – which is Jesus, the true light of the world (John 8:12). This is why our light is to be “put on a stand” so that it can be visible and guide the greatest number of people to Jesus and be like a lighted “city on a hill”. Jesus uses the analogy of light for John the Baptist’s prophetic ministry – one who took the light of the truth to a people in darkness and pointed to the greater and divine light of Jesus, His testimony, and His God-ordained work (John 5:35-36). There has never been anything, I believe, more critical than for the servants of our King to share the light of Jesus through lives that are diametrically opposed to the darkened condition of our culture.

So, Christ-followers stand for the Truth (John 14:6) and live lives worthy of our calling (see Ephesians 4:1). This is being salt and light. But this is not always easy. Salt can be an irritant and light exposes. This causes our confused world to be uncomfortable with both of these ministries. But, with a courage bestowed by the Holy Spirit and the supernatural leadership of our King, we can stand for His Kingdom in a world that desperately needs to see the Savior. We can and we must. Why? So that they may “praise [our] Father in Heaven”. And we do this by letting the contrarian character traits of the Beatitudes shine in and through us.


*This post is in memory of my father. He entered into eternal worship and rest with his Savior on September 4, 2006 (appropriately on Labor Day). This is an excerpt from “Captivated by Christ: Focusing on Him” which was published in 2008.

Nearly a year and a half after my father’s death, my mother sent me his one volume Bible commentary. Thankfully, she left it as he did: she didn’t even remove the papers he had slid between the binder and the text. It was The Liberty Commentary, a book published by the school from which I received my Master’s degree. The book’s significance, however, was neither in that fact nor in the helpful Bible background information it contained. The most impressive thing about the commentary was my father’s hand-written notes that adorned nearly all of the book’s two-thousand seven hundred pages. The book had well served Dad, a faithful Sunday School teacher, for many years. 

Next to my own Bible and the picture of my son at 15 minutes old, I consider Dad’s commentary my greatest earthly possession. My father left within it musings, highlights, underscores, outlines, and his own personal comments. The book is heavy with the authentic faith of a man who did life the right way: by the Bible he so honored with his study. To Dad, Scripture’s precepts were principles to apply to every aspect of life. 

Dad’s commentary is a tangible reminder of God’s grace in my life. I’ve often said that I thank God for giving me the Christian family that I myself would not have had the sense to choose. In our culture it’s quite popular to make our parents scapegoats for all of our issues and bad behavior, but I claim the opposite in my situation. My folks are one of God’s greatest gifts to me. 

Because my dad loved me so much―as evidenced by his life of sacrifices for all his children—I’m sure there are a few tear stains on the pages of his book. As he sought refuge in God’s words of hope and comfort, I’m sure he cried for rebellious me on more than one occasion. (In retrospect, I hope that he knew my rebellion was never a reflection on his parenting.) Dad parented as one should: God’s commands were at the center of all he did. I, however, was trying to escape a loving heavenly Father’s care. Thankfully both my heavenly Father and my earthly one continued to love me and give me support in spite of myself. Gloriously, they both saw me come home. 

I’m so thankful Dad modeled Christ in his spoken words and written ones, but the testimony he lived out daily proved even more significant in winning me to the Lord. You see, Dad’s most insightful and valuable commentary was written outside the bound pages I can hold in my hands. As much as his writings mean to me, the reality of his life leaves the greatest impact on my heart. Dad’s example spoke volumes. To me he was a real hero, one who applied the admonition of Second Timothy 2:15: “Present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  I’ve decided that it was the reality of Dad’s life that most molded me. His commentary serves as a sweet reminder of why I so frequently thank God for him and Mother. 

One of the last things I heard Dad say followed my mother’s adoring words to him, “You are an angel!” He responded immediately: “Yes, I just haven’t gotten my wings yet.” Though Scripture is clear humans don’t transform into angels when they pass (see 1 Corinthians 15:35-50), it does support the sentiment Dad was trying to convey. Those who give their lives to Christ can live as blessings to all they know. Only in heaven, however, do they find glorious and eternal reward for their service to the Master. 

I love you, Dad. See you soon!

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