The Redo

I don’t know who is reading this but I am writing this anyway. Maybe this is more therapeutic than anything else but hopefully the beginning of something. I was reading my devotions this morning and could feel something stirring in me; a stirring to explore and write. I am not sure where this is going so we’ll see what God is up to.

So why am I writing this morning?

Today got off to a bad start. First, I over-slept, which is something I rarely do with two young children. One of them is usually up early. Second, I got so caught up with being on time that I didn’t see the needs of my family. I was rushing to get myself ready while trying to get the kids fed and ready for preschool. I got flustered and impatient when I should have been more composed and compassionate. It was no one’s fault but my own that I over-slept (my Fitbit alarm has now been set for tomorrow, hopefully that problem solved).

After a moment of conviction I had a little heart to heart chat with my son; seeking forgiveness for being impatient and not there for him. I received a big forgiving hug and a smile from him. I was then ready to go, but still unsettled. I dropped the kiddos off at preschool and made my way to the office. Once settled in I turned to my Bible reading plan. What I read first got my attention and thus the motivation to write this morning. From Psalm 145:1-13…

1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The underlined parts grabbed me and convicted me. This is our awesome God but doesn’t it also point to how a father ought to relate to his children? Granted, this psalmist probably wasn’t thinking of parenting when he wrote this, but it still works. I mean, think about it. A parent ought to…

~ Commend God’s mighty works and deeds to his children…every day.
~ Be gracious
~ Be merciful
~ Slow to anger
~ Abound in steadfast love
~ Be good to all

That right there is the call for ALL Christian parents and thus I am going to be reflecting on this more and, God willing, be writing more about these actions. Once again, I am not sure where this is leading. Maybe it is more of an outlet for my own thinking and exploring. Who knows (well…God does), so we’ll see. For now, I am anxious to get home and have a redo with my children; to do better. I am anticipating some hardcore playing in the backyard. Hopefully my bad back will hold up 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Bedtime Blessing

The following is the bedtime blessing I speak over my son each night I get to lay him down:

Good night my sweet boy.
Mommy loves you and Daddy loves you,
but Jesus loves you more.
May God bless you with sweet dreams
and a peaceful sleep.
And God willing, may I see you in the morning.

Nothing fancy, just a daddy blessing his son.

Good night.

The Pastor -|—

The Nose Poke

Sometimes it is the little things in life that can break through crabbiness, a downtrodden spirit and/or selfishness; putting a smile on one’s face and placing things in perspective. Last night was one of those nights for me.

My wife was at camp; volunteering as a camp nurse, and wasn’t going to be home until after bedtime. That meant I was on my own with two kids; something I have done before. Everything was going great. My two year old was behaving and being a good little girl until…

…I was about to lay down a sleeping 8 month old. At the moment Mayah thought it was necessary to bring one of Malachi’s noisy toys into the room to show me.

Enough said.

Malachi was awake and I was frustrated; frustrated with the situation and frustrated with Mayah. My attitude became sour and therefore I probably wasn’t as playful with Mayah as I should have been. The evening was lost.

I finally got Malachi down and then got Mayah ready for bed. Still crabby I read her some books, prayed with her and laid her down. A couple minutes later, as I was enjoying some peace and quiet; trying to calm down, I hear Mayah calling out for me through the baby monitor. Still crabby, I went in to see what was the matter. She just wanted to rock some more. So we cuddled up in the rocking chair and then she broke through.

As I am looking at her she gently reaches up with her finger, pokes me in the nose and smiles.

That was it
A nose poke
and a smile

My eyes immediately teared up. What did my crabby attitude get me that night? Nothing but lost time with a playful toddler. I squeezed her tighter and confessed my crabbiness to God.

Oh God, forgive me. Help me to repent. May I not lose time like this again.

It never ceases to amaze me how God uses the little things to break through. I was intent on being crabby; to show Mayah that she interrupted my schedule and my expectations for the night, but she just wanted to be my little girl. And I wonder if God feels something like this at times. We have our expectations but then they go south that leads our attitudes to blow up. All the while God has something else in mind and just wants to be our God.

Maybe we just need to be a little patient, go with the flow and let God be God. And if you forget, don’t worry, God will playfully poke your nose 🙂

Father God, break through my “tough” exterior and show me your love when I am intent on being my own god. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

A Heart of Mixed Emotions

This pastor’s heart is
sad and
happy and
thankful and
hopeful

Today was the last day of release time; a program where 3rd, 4th and 5th graders are released from school early to attend Bible classes at the church of their choice on Wednesdays. The program runs from mid-September through the Wednesday of Holy Week.

This year I had 22 students; five of which were 5th graders who we sadly said good bye to today. After I held a little “graduation” ceremony where I gave them a “diploma”/certificate we played for a bit outside and then came back inside to wrap things up. At the end I asked the 5th graders to lead the closing prayer. I started and then turned things over to them. What I heard made my heart happy on this sad day. They thanked God for a great year and a fun 3 years. One prayed for the 3rd and 4th graders coming behind them, one even prayed for the homeless. It was such a touching prayer from a group of formerly quiet 3rd graders from a couple years ago.

And so on this sad day my heart was thankful that God gave me the privilege of teaching and growing with this class of kids. My heart is happy that I get to have them in class in the fall as confirmation students; guiding them as they go deeper in their faith. And my heart is hopeful as I reflect on how much they have grown emotionally and in their faith.

Praise be to God!!!

But there is one other little fact that sticks out to me about this class of 5th graders. This class contains the first group of kids that I baptized when I first arrived here nearly 11 years ago; and now they are on the cusp of confirmation. What a joy it has been to watch these kids grow up and I praise God that He has chosen me to stay here this long.

Mixed emotions but all good. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Holy God, you are an awesome God who is up to holy and exciting things. Please continue to use me to guide young people in their faith and continue to guide me through the faith of young people. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The (sad, happy, thankful and hopeful) Pastor -|—

Evening Prayer ~ My Son

My five month old son…

…is resting peacefully in my arms.

…will gaze into my eyes and smile.

…will sit in his bouncy seat but definitely prefers mommy or daddy’s arms.

…depends on us for food and care.

…can do nothing to cause me to love him less.

…did nothing to earn my love.

…sleeps much better when mommy or daddy is near.

Oh God, if only I would look at you in the same way. If only I would trust you and depend on you like my son trusts and depends on me. If only I could learn a child-like faith like my little boy’s.

Oh God, draw me close that I may see you as a child sees their mommy and daddy.
Draw me close that I may learn to trust you with my life.
Draw me close that I may see the joy of resting in Your arms and know true love.
Draw me close that I may know and remember true peace.

And so may I rest tonight as a child sleeping on their daddy’s chest and may I awake in the morning with a new lease on life; praising and glorifying You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

My Father’s Arms

My 3 1/2 month old son likes to fight sleep when he is lounging in his bouncy seat. He will fuss and thrash and whine and cry. Pacifier or no pacifier, he is not happy until mommy or daddy picks him up. And at that moment he will calm down.

Well…

…I just sat down from living that above episode. Currently my little boy is sleeping soundly in his bassinet. But as I was cradling him in my arms; staring at him, this pastor brain was once again shifting into high gear. Good or bad, I can’t help but work out a “sermon illustration”; especially in a cute and special moment like that. Maybe it is just my faith playing out through my eyes and other senses as the Holy Spirit opens my eyes to see God in various situations.

Whatever the case, as a stared at my sleeping little boy a few words/phrases came to mind:
~ Vulnerable
~ Peaceful
~ At rest
~ Not a care in the world
~ Protected
~ Loved
~ Daddy
~ Child
~ Safe
~ Mine

And as I thought about these words I thought about my heavenly Father. Because really, I don’t experience those words unless I am assured that I am being cradled in my Father’s arms. I am restless and anxious and not at peace if I think I am alone. But that moment when I am reminded of my Father I feel at peace; maybe something like what Malachi was feeling as he drifted off to sleep in my arms.

And when you think about those words, they indeed describe a child of God nestled in the heavenly Father’s arms. Through faith in Jesus this reality is yours. You may forget from time to time. You may think that you are living a nightmare at times but all you need to do is “wake up” and “open your eyes” and see that you are still cradled in your Father’s arms and that those above words are your reality.

Malachi will still have those restless moments and nightmares; that is something I can’t take away. What I can do, though, is always be there to comfort him. In much the same way, our heavenly Father doesn’t take away the nightmares in our lives, but he does continue to hold us. All we need to do is look and see.

So much about the parent/child relationship shines a light on our relationship with our Father in heaven. So maybe this pastor brain/Holy Spirit moment, was nothing more than my Father reminding me of his love for me that I may be at peace. And let me let you, I am feeling peaceful now (and not just because both kids are sleeping). I am feeling at peace in my Father’s arms.

May you feel at peace in your Father’s arms.

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

Not quite awake

Sometimes this pastor’s devotion time involves holding my sleeping 3 1/2 month old son while drinking coffee, praying and reading scripture. And then taking time to pound out a few words on my tablet, in case anyone cares what the pastor is doing this morning 🙂

But before you think that I have run out of thoughtful words to share please understand that I am working on 4 hours of sleep and very little coffee up to this point. Trust me, this pastor will be up to full operating capacity in no time and then a more thoughtful post will follow.

And I am guessing that once this first pot of coffee hits my system I may wonder why I wrote this (and posted it).

Oh well

God bless you and I’ll be back with something more thoughtful later 🙂

[I need so much more coffee]

The (not quite awake) Pastor -|—