Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Old Men Plant Trees

Pam and I left Oregon to come to Uganda.  Oregon is a known for rain and timber.  The two go together. Those huge trees can't become huge without all that rain.

I have a good friend who owns 28 acres of land in Oregon. Over the past several years he has planted over 3,000 trees.  He won't live long enough to see those trees harvested.  It takes a minimum of 40 years for a seedling to reach a level of maturity. Only then can the owner begin to think about harvesting them.

The man you see kneeling, on your left, is not that man. He is my father.  The young boy you see standing next to him is me. My dad was 25 years old when my mother gave birth to me.  I was the first born son.  I have one older sister and two younger brothers and two younger sisters. Twelve days from today my mother and father will celebrate 70 years of marriage ... ALL of those years to each other!

With my son Dawson
Giving birth to children, having offspring, is a bit like planting trees. None of my grandparents are around to see or hear of what Pam and I are doing in Uganda.  By the grace of God, both my mother, 92 years old, and my father, 91 years old, are both living and in relatively good health.  They read my blogs and receive emails from me on a regular basis.  They pray for Pam and me, along with all of their other children and spouses, their grandchildren and great grandchildren every day!

I was 34 years old when Pam gave birth to our son.  He has two older sisters.  I love them all ... and wish Pam and I had given birth to more. We share 10 grandchildren. And we are expecting another granddaughter next month.

Hi School portrait of my son Dawson
Those close to us know that Pam's primary motivation for committing to a lifelong relationship of oneness with me was because she thought I would be a good father for her children. Time will prove whether she was right.  We won't be around long enough for the proof.  It's kind of like planting trees.  My children will not be the ones to reveal my effectiveness as a father.  It's my grandchildren and their children who will evaluate my effectiveness.

Seeds are sown in one season.  The harvest is reaped in an entirely different season.  Growing trees and making disciples have a lot in common.  One thing that brings sadness to my father is the few grandchildren and great grandchildren he has who have never been "all in" with Jesus Christ. It's the same with me.

Some who observe my life ... the current one that has taken me 10,000 miles around the world from my family ... may be of the opinion that I've deserted my responsibility as a patriarch. They may even accuse me of self-deception in thinking that what I attempt for the glory of God, so far from my family, will end in regret and guilt over my descendants who are not wholeheartedly loving God.  That's an argument that I must avoid due to indifference toward that opinion.  I will leave that argument up to them and God.

Daddy Dawson with firstborn Reagan
Several days ago, my son, Dawson, sent me an email. Those are rare blessings for me, but this one can last me my lifetime. At the end of this post I share some of the contents of that email, not for justification of my choice to follow Jesus to this nation, but to supply an example of the trans-generational nature of discipleship.

Discipleship is not really discipleship unless those being discipled also begin to make disciples.  It's the nature of making genuine followers of Christ.  The nuclear family is the first and primary venue for making disciples.
It is not enough to feed, clothe, and educate our children. We must do all we can to make disciples of them.

Since my biological children are grown and my primary season of planting spiritual seed in them  is over, God has asked me to do the same thing with spiritual sons and daughters in Uganda.  The principles are the same. It is not enough to see them commit their lives to Christ.  My desire is that they become disciple makers.  I am sowing all the seed I can to see if they will be reproductive. I trust the Holy Spirit to rain on the seed and make it grow.

Will I be successful?  Time will tell.  But, I won't be around for the harvest.  I'm just an old man who is planting spiritual seeds in the time I have left on this earth. Okay ... not really old ... but I will turn 67 in just a few weeks and that makes me old enough to be called "old" by the next generations!

You know what excites me?  I see something amazing about the next generation.  Many of them are willing to go ALL IN with Christ.  They are not waiting until they are "old men" to plant seeds for the glory of God and the expression of the Kingdom of God.  I'm proud of my son and daughter in law.  They are moving to another city to plant an expression of the Body of Christ.  Some will think them crazy for the cost that it is to them.  I'm not one of them.  Their harvest will be significant and I'll enjoy watching the harvest from a box seat in Heaven and cheering them on with that great cloud of witnesses!

Dawson with his wife Anna & their disciple Reagan
I miss you, but I'm so glad that you and mom are committed to making disciples in the land to which God has called you. Last night I went to Scott Schindelar's 40th birthday party. There was a time for people to share about Scott's impact on their lives, and people sent in videos. I was moved by Scott's commitment to making disciples, and reminded of the best men I've ever known: my grandfather and my father. I want to be like you and grandpa and when I stand face to face with the Lord, and the great cloud of witnesses, I want there to be a great legacy that I'm a part of and that I've contributed to. I don't want to meet Jesus and have him say "well, you survived and enjoyed yourself."  I want him to be able to honestly say "well done."  I want my life to count in eternity, and I'm glad that I get to see your life counting that way. You matter.
I love you, DJ


  1. What more could there possibly be...

  2. Awesome when your son or daughter says "I'm all in" The cool thing is that we never get to stop believing for it to happen in all our children and they become mighty warriors in the Kingdom of God.

  3. All in ...Matt 22:37

  4. There can be no better compliment for a parent on this earth than a letter from their child saying I'm all in because I see God in you. Well done!

  5. Time has already proved you to be a good father Paul. Not only to your biological children but to many children in the Lord. I can think of just a few...Abdu, Robert, Jimmy, and the list could go on. I am just glad I have been able to be with you and watch your fatherhood in action.

    Love you and Pam...my dear brother and sister.

  6. Looking forward to sharing your fatherhood..Ronnie and I are excited and thankful to God for U. Love U Dad!...Eager to learn a lot from you! Daughter Doris

  7. Dad and mum you are true apostles, parents, man & Woman after Gods own heart, thank you for loving us, one thing we know for sure is that we see our dad & mum everyday, but then there is something greater we see in you every single morning, every second and minute of the day, as you are even sharing to us on the veranda, Its Jesus speaking to our lives through you both. You are a blessing to us, we know we can't put on your armor but God gives us role models to whom we look up to, we want to be like you and more like Jesus too, so we push on with the work God has placed upon your lives, knowing that we are apart of a purpose that is bigger than our ownselves, Thank you for loving Us. WE LOVE YOU. From REBECCA, CHRIS & EZRA


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