From the Pencil of Babes…

My daughter (in kindergarten) wrote this note the other day.

Translation:
My favorite book is the Bible because my dad teaches people and I like to see him teach other people.

I am just going to leave this right here. No over-analyzing allowed 🙂

…and she sucked my thumb

One of the things I enjoy about the congregations I serve are the children.  On the Sundays when there are a number of kids in worship it can become quite a zoo, but I don’t mind.  One particular 3 year old likes to explore the sanctuary…during worship.  His mom usually has a horrified look on her face when she chases him down; thinking I am going to get mad, but I never do.  One little girl used to stand on the pew during the offering; holding a dollar bill and yell “Eric…I got your money!”  One Sunday, when I was preaching from the floor with a music stand, the little boy that likes to explore the sanctuary decided he wanted a better view.  He came down the center aisle and stood right in front of me; looking and listening (Try to stay focused during a sermon with that).

But this past Sunday a very cute moment took place for me.  We were down stairs enjoying another magnificent Salem Lutheran Church potluck.  I was sitting at a table with a friend of ours (a member at Salem) who has a six month old little girl.  She was born about 5 weeks early and I can remember being very nervous holding her after she was born.  She was so tiny.  But now Chloe is getting bigger.  Anyway…this past Sunday Chloe was in a very good mood; smiling at everyone (I hope she stays that cute).  After I finished eating I got my opportunity to hold Chloe.  In the process of holding her apparently my thumb got a little too close to her mouth.  Just then she grabbed my thumb with her two tiny hands…and she sucked my thumb.  Actually she was gumming it.  I thought that was the cutest thing ever.  I would pull my thumb away and she would grab it again and suck on it.  Everyone around laughed.  Maybe I had some left over hot dish on my thumb…I don’t know, but it was a moment I will cherish.  If I am here long enough to have Chloe in Release Time or Confirmation I look forward to embarrassing her with that story.

I know some people are annoyed when children “disrupt” worship but if there are no “disruptions” in worship then there is no children.  If there are no children…well…you do the math.  I cherish “disruptions” and thumb sucking moments with children.  It reminds me that we are to have the faith of children; freely expressing oneself without worrying about what people are thinking about you.

What if WE actually lived our faith like children…free and without worry?  Hmmm…

-edh-

Sonshine

I am super excited about getting out of here today and heading up to the Sonshine Christian Music Festival in Willmar, MN.  Five stages, hundreds of artists, thousands of people praising God, three days and two night of camping and of course the 15 middle and high school students we are taking.  It should be a fun (and interesting) weekend.  I just hope I can get up for worship on Sunday morning.  So all of this means that I will not be able to check my blog until Sunday at the very earliest.  But I will be back to give you a full report of the weekend’s festivities.

In the mean time I would like to leave you with a couple more quotes from the book Dangerous Wonder that I read this week.  I am still thinking and praying about what I read and these two quotes are currently running around in my heart:

"The greatest enemy of Christianity may be people who say they believe in Jesus but who are no longer astonished and amazed." (pg. 24)
I have encountered way too many people who take God for granted and therefore are no longer amazed.  How about you…what is your experience?  And what can we do about this?

"Shouldn’t Christians be known by the fire in their souls, the wide-eyed gratitude in their faces, the twinkle in their eyes, and the holy mischief in their demeanors?  Shouldn’t Christianity be considered dangerous?" (pg. 31)
I like that phrase "holy mischief".  What does that phrase mean for you?  How can we embody that phrase and help others to do the same?

I hope you all have a great weekend.  Pray for me and my group as we travel and praise God through great music.  And remember to be "mischievous" all for the glory of God. Amen.

-edh-

Dangerous Wonder

I just finished the book I spoke about in my last post, Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith.  This is about the 6th time I have read this book and each time I highlight something new and make new notes in the margins.  If you want a book that’s not about theology but rather about living this is your book.  It is about breaking the rules and living by the spirit of the law rather than by the letter of the law.  It is about being "reckless" in your faith – reckless in such a way that your faith shines through in helping and serving people rather than through dogma and rules.  It is about being amazed and blown away by the love and grace of God.  Dangerous Wonder shatters the myth that you MUST "color inside the lines" and shows how God encourages and welcomes "outside-the-lines coloring".  This book slapped me in the face with the reality that following Jesus is fun, wild and dangerous; and the only way to grasp that reality is by re-claiming our "childlike faith". 

"Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." (Mark 10:15)

As I was reading I jotted down some quotes, from the book, that really struck me and I would like to share a couple of them with you.  I am curious how they strike you:

"Predictability and faith cannot coexist…take surprise out of faith and all that is left is dry and dead religion.  Take away mystery from the Gospel and all that is left is frozen and petrified dogma.  Lose your awe of God and you are left with an impotent deity." (pg.28)

"Could it be that one of the significant problems in the church is noise?  Modern faith might be undermined more by activity and noise than by immorality and lack of commitment.  Maybe we have become so active and noisy that we have drowned out the thin silence of God." (pg.81)

Right now I am thinking I need to be a little more "childlike" in my faith.  I need to slow down and focus on listening to the still, small voice of God (the thin silence)…

-edh-

Reprise: Childlike wonder

Childlike wonder was a post I wrote on June 27, 2006.  June 27 was the day after my first round of golf for that year.  Being a person who loves to golf, that is a very late start date for me, but this year was even later.  This past weekend was my first weekend out and let me tell you, I felt like a little kid golfing with my dad for the first time in a couple years (I didn’t golf with my dad last year).  It was a moment of "childlike wonder" that I haven’t felt for awhile and it is something I don’t want to wait another year to experience.

My dad taught me the game of golf and I have many, many fond memories of my dad and I golfing on various golf courses.  I still remember the lessons he taught me about golf (and life for that matter).  And my dad still knows how to get into my head.  He tried doing that on the ninth hole (of my first round of the year), but this time I was ready.  He said, "You know, you and I are tied".  This use to get to me.  I would dwell on the fact that I have a chance to beat my dad and would usually end up messing a shot or two up and therefore lose to my dad.  On Friday my dad’s ploy did not work.  I cracked off a good drive; stuck my next shot just short of the green; my chip shot stopped just short of the hole and I tapped in for a par — my dad and I tied (we each shot a 44).  You can about imagine the "childlike wonder" I experienced at that moment.

[Side note:  The next day I shot a 43 but my dad shot a 41.  No mind games there, I just fell a little short, but the "childlike wonder" was still there.]

Imagine if we could always have this "childlike wonder" in our faith as well…

The late Michael Yaconelli (founder and former president of Youth Specialties) wrote a book called Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith.  It is a book I have read many times and a book I will be reading again.  Childlike faith is something that too many people grow out of but Mike would argue that childlike faith is something we need to reclaim.  So I commend this book to your reading.  It is short book of 145 pages — a fun and quick read.  But by the way of a short synopsis:  Childlike wonder is like the wonder and fascination of a two year old experiencing a soft and fluffy snow for their very first time.  The experience is so awe inspiring that their senses cannot take everything in fast enough and therefore nearly "short circuits" their brain from information overload.  How much more AWESOME is God. 

The danger for the church is the loss of this "childlike wonder" of God.

Now…imagine how fast and big the church would grow if more people had a "childlike faith"…<pause to ponder and dream>…a "childlike faith" that drove people to pursue God in order to attempt to "take everything in" to a point where our brains (and hearts) would go into overload because of the AWESOME love and grace of God.  Just imagine…

…it is time for me to start reading again.  Take care and God bless.
-edh-