Wicked: The Justice to Come

If you’re following along at home we’ve been reading one chapter of the Bible each day. So far this year you’ve read 2 John, 2 Peter, 2 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, 3 John, Colossians, Habakkuk, Haggai, Joel, Jonah, Jude, Nahum, Obadiah, Philemon, Philippians, Romans, Ruth, Zephaniah, and today we’ll finish Malachi.

Congratulations! In just a couple of months you have read 19 books of the Bible! You’ve read 9 from the Old Testament and 10 from the New. That’s about a quarter of the Old Testament and a third of the New. What do you know now that you didn’t know before? Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow as you keep going.

We’ll finish Malachi today. Next we begin the books of the Bible that have 5 chapters. Let’s go to 1 Thessalonians. 5 chapters. 5 days. You’ll complete your 20th book of the Bible!

Malachi 4

Malachi 4 is prophetic. It tells two stories. The first is about the end of the world as we know it. The day will come when the wicked receive their just rewards. Right now I have three friends who are learning to live with the wicked choices of people they love. Their choices are ripping their family apart. It hurts to watch them go through the pain. It’s frustrating to see justice delayed. I want God to fix it. I want to see his wrath, judgment and vengeance poured out on the ones causing the problem. As a friend, I’m a step removed from the situation, but I still have a hard time controlling the anger I feel toward those who have caused the problem. I can’t imagine how my friends are working through it.

Because of situations like these I don’t know if the first part of Malachi 4 is reassuring or terrifying. The wicked will be punished. While I’m glad for the justice it doesn’t have to be this way. The wicked could repent. The lost could be found. They could come to their senses. That’s what I hope and pray, but we know how things really work. Some will repent. Some will not. Those who don’t will one day face the justice of Malachi 4. They will eventually be nothing more than dust under the feet of God’s people. Reassuring…and terrifying.

There’s another prophecy here. This prophecy tells how people can avoid the punishment described in the first part of the chapter. It reveals how the wicked can be redeemed. Malachi points to a messenger who will preach repentance. He says, “His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers…” (Malachi 4:6)

Imagine how different our world would be if children were inspired by their fathers. What if fathers could look at their children and honestly say, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”?

I can’t think of anything our world needs more.


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your word and how you use that word to challenge, strengthen and encourage me. Thank you for those who are reading along with me. May you bless them with your favor today. Keep the heart of my children turned toward me. Help me to be a father who inspires his kids. Give me the strength and courage to make choices that would allow me to honestly say to my kids, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Let the heart of my family always be turned toward you, our Heavenly Father.

For my friends who are hurting right now because of the wicked choices of others I pray that you would give them strength and endurance. Stand with them. Remind them of your presence. Work in their favor. Frustrate the plans of the ones making wrong choices and bless the plans of the ones making right choices. Let your justice be satisfied. Grant them the gift of repentance. Give them the capacity for forgiveness. Help them come to their sense. God, fix this.

I love you, in Jesus name –

Messing with Your Kids

I’m a little concerned for my children.

I’m one of those dads who likes to mess with his kids. Honestly, it’s not an uncommon attribute in fathers. It seems we dads are genetically predisposed to wrestle, tickle, tease, poke, prod, pry, shock, scare, and embarrass our children as often as possible. Mother’s may not understand. Children may roll their eyes. But we do this out of a moral imperative. It’s one of the driving principles of Dad-Law. Why do we mess with our  kids?

It builds character.

Let’s face it, parenting is messy. As a kid you thought your parents knew everything. As a teenager you were convinced parents don’t know anything. Now, as a parent yourself, you realize the truth. Most parents are reacting to or rebelling against the parenting style that raised them. Many parents are simply making things up as they go. It’s messy. So we have a choice.

As a Father, I can mess with or mess up my kids.

I used to joke that, as a dad, I want to be responsible for the corruption of my children. That sounds rather unwholesome, but the longer I’m a parent the more I understand the truth behind the statement. At some point my children will face the corruption of this world. They will have a choice to make. Will they will give up or give in to the corruption they experience? Will they stand up, overcome the mess of this world and make a difference in the lives of others? Will they become happy, healthy, holy citizens passionate about serving Jesus and adding value to others? Will this world be better because of them and if so, will they be better because I was their Dad?

Why would I risk letting someone someone else expose my children to the corruption of this world? I’m their Dad. That’s my job.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to teach my sons to cuss like a sailor. I’m not training my daughter how to manipulate her friends. But our family is a safe place to talk about the ugly things of our world. Our relationship can be a practice field for what to do when something scary, mean, ugly or embarrassing happens. All that wrestling, teasing, poking, prodding, and prying Father’s do can be more than just benign interaction. It can be the teachable moment that allows your children the experience they need to successfully face something truly corrupt.

So Dad’s, my encouragement for you today, mess with your kids.

Provide for them a safe place where you can define and defend how your kids interact with the corruption of this world. Do more than make the most of teachable moments. Make the moment yourself. It builds character.

Malachi 4:6, “And God will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers…”

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

I have four kids. Our schedule is, at times, what you might call ‘insane’. I’m sure it’s not much different from yours. Work, church, sports, music, school, birthday parties – none of it’s complicated just extremely full. All in all I believe we manage well. We’ve gotten used to our schedule. We tend to travel in a pack. It’s fun and sometimes a bit noisy or chaotic, but we get to be together and we like that.

This year Londa and I decided we would do something a bit different. We intend to be deliberate about spending unhurried time, just the two of us, with one of our children at at time while the others run amuck with their grandparents or a sitter. So, last night we got together and took Jaiden on a date. We went to dinner and a movie. We saw ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Up’. It’s about a family that loses their father in the Twin Towers on September 11.

I won’t offer up any spoilers. Instead I’ll simply say, you should see this movie. You should see it with your family. I expect it to win an Academy Award, possibly several. As you watch, consider this: right now, in the community where you live, maybe even in your own household, there are people who experience the same kind of desperation, grief and loss portrayed by the family in this film. They may not have been through a dramatic, nation-wide tragedy like 9/11 but they’ve been through something that has reshaped their view of the world and they struggle to make sense of it all. They’re searching for answers, crying out for relief and looking for the key to what will bring hope back into their lives.

I believe part of why God gave us a family is for moments just like these.

Malachi 4:6 says, “And [God] will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers…”

Take a close look at your family today. Ask God to give you uncommon insight into the hearts of your children and your spouse. Ask for the courage and boldness to make the sometimes difficult decisions necessary to reshape your schedule, say the right thing, offer or ask forgiveness, point the way and start an adventure.