On December 31, 2010, our first child Marcus Daniel was born. We expect the baby to come in the middle of or late January. But God’s timing is different. And for that my wife and I are truly grateful. While many people are celebrating the New Year with thunderous fireworks, we were inside the hospital whispering our thanksgiving to God for a New Year we can’t forget.
I’m writing this now beside our soundly sleeping baby. My wife often asked me, “How do you feel now?” “I don’t know,” was my usual reply. I really don’t know what I feel. Seeing our first baby belongs to a different category of emotions, something I have never felt before.
Now that I am a brand new father, I believe (and many agree) that taking a one-month leave (whole of January) from pastoral ministry is wise. On my next post, I will explain in detail the reasons why I am taking this leave and how God wants me, my family, and my church to benefit from it.
For a start, I want to look back on the seven resolutions I made during my sermon for Fathers’ Day last year. I know that Daniel is a great blessing from the Lord. I also know that with this great gift comes great responsibility. So please pray for me as I venture into my new role as “full-time” father to Daniel.
My sermon last Sunday (The Path of True Happiness) was my last before this leave. I need to address the church that time. It is too late to look for someone to replace me in preaching since we rushed my wife to the hospital on a Friday. I already studied the sermon passage before that day, but I still need to polish my sermon outline and work on my sermon manuscript. So I finished it late Saturday night inside the hospital after all our visitors left. Then on Sunday morning I went straight from the hospital to our church to preach.
In that sermon, I challenged our church that true happiness can only come when we live according to the Word of God. As a father, I want my child to be happy, truly happy. So I will give him not this world’s standard of happiness, not our society’s way of attaining happiness; I will teach him – by words and by example – how to live according to the ways of God.
That won’t happen if I myself am not saturated with the Word of God. So I make it a discipline to read at least once through the Bible every year. Last year, I used Discipleship Journal’s Bible Reading Plan. For this year, I am using a chronological plan. (I am now reading Job after Genesis 11 because scholars believed that that book was set during the time of the patriarchs. Using this pattern, prophetic books will be read in their historical context in 1-2 Kings, for example). If you are unfamiliar with how the story of the Bible goes from beginning to end, this is a good way to orient yourself. There are ten other plans for reading in the ESV website. Choose what suits you. There are times that while reading, I am also listening to Max McLean’s reading of the ESV text. You can listen to it online in the ESV website.
So whether you are a 29-year old or 79-year old father, or a mother, or a teenager, I challenge you to discipline yourself in reading your Bible and applying it to your life. If you want to be truly happy, there is no other way. Like what the familiar hymn says:
Trust and obey There is no other way To be happy in Jesus But to trust and obey
How can you trust God if you don’t know him? How will you know him if you are not reading his Word? How can you obey God’s commands if you don’t know what his commands are? How can you be “happy in Jesus” if you are not reading your Bible regularly?