Through my father’s eyes

WALK IN STEP WITH CHRIST 

My father made a profound impact on me and my siblings through his example. I remember when he was home, he would sometimes gather us up, grab his walking stick, and take us on a hike up the mountain. He used his walking stick to check out the ground, warning of what was ahead. He led the way, and we followed in his steps. 

I have often reflected on how this is what God does. He walks before us with warnings and encouragement to follow in His steps. Falling into step with the Lord in this way requires feasting on His Word. As Christians, we should be able to look back and see a progression of growth in our daily steps. Walking with Christ in this way will make us fit for the Kingdom, help us reach out to others, and refresh our spirits. The best part is we can take every single step with Him.

In the Gospels, we read how Jesus walked the dusty roads every day. His feet trudged rocky ridges and hillsides laden with lilies. And as He walked, He taught His disciples. He did not give them the big picture at first, but in time it was revealed that each step of Jesus was purpose-filled. Each step was a teaching tool. Each step led them into a deeper understanding of Christ.

God is concerned about the steps we take, and His Word is the instruction manual for how we should walk. While many find it difficult to determine whether a path is right or wrong, the Bible is clear: anything that does not glorify the Father is the wrong path to take. As the author of Hebrews said, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV).

Over the years, I observed my father avoid snares. I learned, by watching his steps, that I can’t do everything. I get invitations all the time to be part of various causes—many that are good but wrong for me because they distract me from what I was called to do. For me, I was called to preach the gospel. These are the steps God has ordained for my life. And the heavenly Father gave me the great gift of an earthly father who exemplified this throughout his lifetime.

My father would be the first to say, “Let God speak to your heart and then be obedient to His call.” Many people, like me, have been inspired to consider God’s call to the ministry because of my father’s steps. Countless numbers are pastors, missionaries, and evangelists because God used my father’s life to challenge them. But Billy Graham preached, “Follow the steps of Christ. Accept the burdens that come, for God will carry them on His shoulders. Accept the blessings that come, and humbly give them back to God.”

We are all called to walk in step with Jesus and in the steps of Jesus—wherever that may lead. We are called to follow His example and model our lives after His ways. And Jesus has promised that if we follow His steps on earth, we will follow His steps in the life to come. 

Respond

What does walking in Jesus’ steps teach you about His love for you and for the world? In what ways has Jesus’ example helped you make right choices in your life? 

What is a path in your life right now that you need to choose whether or not to follow? How will you discern whether this is the correct path to take?

What does it look like in your life to follow Jesus’ steps wherever they lead? How is God calling you to walk in step with Him today?

Trough my father’s eyes

PREACH THE WORD

Today, television, radio, print media, and the Internet are flooded with preachers,  yet there is a great falling away when it comes to preachers proclaiming the Word of God. Reading the Bible should be an everyday occurrence—especially for those called to proclaim the message of the gospel. It is what keeps our faith strong in the Lord. As Paul admonished, we must devote ourselves to the reading of Scripture in order to preach and teach (see 1 Timothy 4:12–14).

I had been given good instruction from childhood on how to preach, and I had received several pointers from many great preachers. Yet I struggled within myself about whether I was called to such a task. Finally, after resolving it in my own mind, I went for a walk one day with a seasoned preacher. “Daddy,” I asked, “what is the most important thing I can learn about preaching?” 

My father stopped, and his eyes peered into mine. Without hesitation, he said, “Son, the best advice I can give you is preach! The only way you can learn to preach is by preaching. Take every opportunity to preach. And be sure to always preach the Word. Make use of this tool of communication by which God speaks to us—namely, the Bible. Read it, study it, memorize it. It will change your entire life. It is not like any other book. It is a living book that works its way into your heart, mind, and soul. Read it—then preach it!” 

The writers of the Bible carefully documented that effective preaching comes through God’s power (see 1 Corinthians 2:4–5). In Acts 13, we read of one of Paul’s great sermons delivered in Antioch. After the reading of the Word of God, Paul rose with the command of the Scriptures and rehearsed how the hand of God had moved in the lives of His people: “Those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent” (verse 26 NKJV). While the Jews rejected Paul’s preaching, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them. 

A preacher may never know the seed that falls on tender hearts ready for the gospel plow—but God knows. And when His Word goes forth, the results belong to Him, not to the preacher. As my father often said, “I have learned that modern man will surrender to the impact of the Word of God. When we preach or teach the Scriptures, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to do His work.” The Word of God must be preached with bold confidence, with unwavering resolve, and in godly love. God is working with us and confirming His Word in us. If the Word of God is not at the center of our work, we can be assured that He is not empowering our activity.

God does not call everyone to a preaching ministry, but He does call His followers to dwell on the things that speak of Him and to tell others what He has done. This can be done only in God’s power as we live for Him so that men and women will see Christ in us.

Respond

What is your personal experience with studying God’s Word? What is involved in speaking God’s Word faithfully to others?

How would you describe the impact that comes from sharing the Word of God with those who are in need? How have you seen the power of God’s message at work?

How has God used your voice to share the gospel of Christ? How can the example of your life also be a sermon to those who are listening?