There I stand with my beautiful wife, Nancy. What a blessing she is to me.
The Lord has been so good to me. I can't thank Him enough for all that He has done for me. "O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever." He has answered so many prayers and guided me with His Word down paths that have proven to be His providential protection. As I look back on my salvation, I clearly see now that His hand was guiding me through my life, even though I didn't even realize it. When I was 17, I joined a Youth Group and became a member of a Baptist church. God was drawing me to Himself, however, I didn't trust Jesus at that time. It was 11 years later when I surrendered my will and put my faith and trust in Jesus. I put my faith in what Jesus did for me when He died on Calvary's cross. God saved me on a Thursday night in July, 1981, at a Youth Camp in Alabama. It was a very humbling experience, for I was serving as the Youth and Music Director at a Baptist church. My salvation was His work, not mine. He chose me before the foundations of this world to be His, then brought me to a point in my life when I realized that Jesus was my only hope. I became a new creature. Old things passed away. God was gracious and very patient with me as I began to walk with the Lord and learn how to trust Him and live for Him. The battle began then and continues even to this day. It is a real conflict between the flesh and the Spirit. They war against each other continually if I fail to "put on the whole armor of God." I have learned that I cannot "stand against the wiles of the Devil." I am no match for him. I've lost every fight I've ever had with him. But I have a Savior who lives in me and He has never lost a battle with the Devil. "He is head over all principalities and powers." "Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world." I've learned that I can trust Jesus, my Savior, to fight for me by using His powerful Word. "It is sharper than any two-edged sword." Satan's desire is to shipwreck my life and the lives of each of my family. It is imperative that I fight this fight.
I then made an amazing discovery about God's Word. Through the Institute in Basic Life Principles, I learned that the Bible actually applied to my life. I learned that it was God's road map for life, His handbook for life, and even His service manual when things weren't working right in my life. It was a wonderful day for me and Nancy, my wife for 4 years at that time, when God demonstrated His marvelous grace and revealed to me that His Word was relevant to every situation and circumstance I faced.
The Word of God is seed and when it is sown it bears fruit. The first application of this truth in my life came when I was challenged by Mr. Bill Gothard, at a Minister's Seminar, to memorize Romans 6 and engraft it into my soul. He shared that sowing the seed of Romans 6 into your soul would yield the fruit of being able to overcome sinful habits. As a new Christian, I had plenty of sinful habits I needed to overcome. I began memorizing Romans 6; "What shall we say then, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound, God forbid. . ." I began to quote this Scripture when tempted to yield to the flesh. God flooded me with His grace to stand against the temptations. I began memorizing more and more of God's Word. I wanted to love God's Word and desired to know and understand it. I knew this would be the most valuable asset I could ever own.
My desire to know God's Word was strangled by the flesh as I struggled to understand it and apply it to my life. I found myself arguing with God's Word when I didn't agree with it. I often found myself going in a different direction than where it clearly was leading me. I cried out to God, "Lord, why don't I desire to love and obey your Word?" Slowly, God began to reveal to me in His Word what my problem was. Romans 12:2 states, "And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." My mind was being transformed and the transformation was occurring because of my salvation and the power of the Word of God.
No wonder I didn't love God's Word or understand it. My mind was so full of all the garbage of humanism, pornography, pride and self-centered achievement that I couldn't see through all the filth. It was as if God was revealing to me that my mind was like a bucket full of muddy water. God's Word is pure and clear. I wondered how long it would take me to clear up the muddy mess in my mind by putting in a teaspoonful of the pure, clear water of the Word occasionally. My heavenly Father challenged me to start dumping in bucketfuls of the Word. I began dumping bucketfuls of Psalm 119 into my soul, memorizing 8 verses a day, sometimes more. I discovered that the fruit of sowing Psalm 119 into my soul was developing a genuine love for the Word of God. I began to see more clearly the truths of God's Word and I found myself agreeing with all the things with which I once argued. God was transforming me by renewing my mind.
I began to take seriously my responsibility as a husband. Nancy and I began to pray and read God's Word together. God began to build into me a purpose for being here and a vision for what He was going to do with me and my family. We began to plan and prepare for the family we had faith to believe God would give us. God led us to Mid-America Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee where He continued to prepare us for His perfect will for our lives. We still had no children and we had been married for 6 years. At the Institute in Basic Life Principles Minister's Seminars in 1982 and 1983 I asked Mr. Gothard what my wife and I needed to be doing to prepare to be a part of the Home Education Curriculum the Institute was preparing. He asked me, "How many children do you have?" I said, "None." He then told me to study through the Character Sketches (Books published by IBLP) and have wisdom search in the Bible with my wife. Nancy and I committed ourselves to preparing ourselves by following Mr. Gothard's advice.
On January 8, 1983, God gave me a rhema from His Word in Psalm 128. I had read these verses many times before, but this particular morning, I remember how it seemed they leaped from the page of my Bible and God burned them into my heart. "Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about they table." Praise the Lord! A promise from God's Word for me. Then God told me to keep reading. "Behold, That thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord." A new challenge came from my deeper understanding of His Word. I needed to learn what the fear of the Lord is.
God was preparing me to be a father. Knowing the fear of the Lord and having a fear of the Lord is essential to being a father. One year later, January 1984, Nancy conceived and we were expecting our first "little olive plant." As soon as we found out, Nancy and I praised the Lord and gave this little one, whom we would later know as Rebekah, to the Lord. God had taken me one more step in preparing me for my life's purpose. My purpose is two-fold: to be the best husband I can be and the best father I can be. The Scriptural basis for my purpose is found in Ephesians 5, verse 25, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" and Ephesians 6, verse 4, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
The Lord has taught me so much through the births of each of our children. I wish I had time to tell you about each of them. Nancy has had 10 pregnancies and delivered 8 babies. Number 4, Daniel, was a precious stillborn. We have had 2 miscarriages. God has richly blessed us with all of these children. Our two oldest, Rebekah and David, are serving the Lord on the mission field. The five that are presently at home with us, Leah, Jonathan, Joseph, Benjamin and Joshua sing together and play their violins as we minister as a family.
Please take time to read about each of the children on their individual pages and check out the older one's web sites.
I hope you will check back later and read my articles posted on A Father's Vision. These articles will deal with practical ways to be the best husband and father you can be. There will be Bible study and a challenge to apply the principles of God's Word to your life. May the Lord bless you as you rear a Godly generation of children.
To God be the glory!
Visit Rick's Website by clicking on this link. www.xanga.com/ricardothedad