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Literally two weeks before I left for a 24 day ministry trip to Tanzania, my father died suddenly, and totally unexpectedly.  As a boy, my dad was larger than life to me.  No matter how old he was, he never seemed to acknowledge that he was old. (We tried to tell him he was old, but he would just tell us, “You’re only as old as you feel”.) Dad was the salesman’s salesman, a carpenter’s carpenter, and on and on.  To my brother and I, he was the world’s Greatest Father.    

When I was 15 years old, he began to teach me to swing a hammer.  That same year, he and I went on our first mission trip together.  In fact, three years later we returned to the island of Jamaica for a second trip.  My dad had a heart for souls and modeled it for me.  He raised me to love and serve God with my life, and to pass that on to my sons.  He raised me to always keep God first, family second, and job third.  He raised me to do everything I do with all my heart and NEVER QUIT! (Unless you know for certain it’s God saying, “Stop”.) 

Yet with all Dad’s coaching there were times I willingly didn’t live up to the expectations of my father.  In those times I didn’t love my dad any less than I did in the times that I did live up to his expectations.  And, in those times, dad was the last person I wanted to see. That had nothing to do with how Dad viewed or loved me -- only my own guilty conscience.

I remember one time when I was 17, I had borrowed Mom’s car to go to a party.  I wasn’t there very long before some of my friends began drinking.  I hated drinking, I couldn’t stand the taste or the feeling.  Naturally, when one of my friends decided he wanted to get drunk, he called and asked his parents if I could give him a ride home.  Once they said “okay,” my buddy proceeded to get SMASHED! 

On the way home he began to vomit -- no that’s too nice -- he puked his guts out all over the backseat and floorboard of my mom’s car.  In between puking spells he would pass out in his own vomit.  I drove around Nashville for nearly two hours, because I was scared to deliver him to his parents, and I didn’t want to tell my parents about the situation.  Finally, like the prodigal son, I decided that calling my dad was better than the situation I found myself in.  Dad came and met me, then followed me to my buddy’s house and helped me get him in the house.  

I knew that dad was disappointed that I had let myself get into that situation, but the only consequence I was given is that I had to clean out the car. The beautiful thing about Dad is that he always loved me the same -- no matter what happened.  I may have gotten a speech or some form of consequence, but I always knew that Dad loved and forgave me. 

The reason I tell this story is to set you up for what I really want to share. 

On the other side, my Dad was one of my best friends.  I worked with him until I was 22.  He was even the “best man” in my wedding.  Since my Dad passed away, God has blessed me with two or three really precious moments in which He made plain to me the mirror image of Him that my dad was in my life. 

Recently I had a dream. I was in the shower and I was adjusting the water “Hot, cold, hot, cold”, and I was singing “Hot, cold, hot, cold…” Suddenly in one of the “cold cycles” I looked to the shower curtain side of the shower and saw the top half of my Dad’s head.  Startled, I said “Dad, you can’t be here now!”

Afterwards, I prayed, “Father show me what that meant.”  I felt as though He showed me that in the dream, my dad represented “Father God”.  The water represented the water of The Word of God -- and that I have a tendency to be hot or cold.  But He wants me to stay in the hot water and finish getting washed off by the water of The Word.  In fact he wants me/us to dive into the heat with Him – or -- STAY HOT.  I know I am not the only one that has hot and cold cycles in my walk with Christ, I just want to challenge you to “STAY HOT”. 

The danger in the cold cycles is the possibility of getting stuck there.  I once saw a clown skit that portrayed this very well.  The clown was watching his friends as they played in the "bucket of sin."  He knew better than to mess with the bucket of sin, but he decided to dip his toe in the bucket of sin and he enjoyed it.  Then he put half of his foot in there and still, nothing happened.  Finally he put his whole big clown foot into the bucket and got stuck.  

It's easy in our busy world to get caught up in the day to day grind, or what the Bible calls the "Cares of this world" and let yourself slip into a "cold cycle".  Look, everybody misses a day or two of Bible reading and prayer from time to time.  I just want to encourage you not to let yourself slip into a cold cycle.  Simply stated: Stay Hot!




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