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 -|—

Pulling Him Close

I want to share a story with you quick before the moment passes too far.

It was a moment that took place around 11 PM last night. My wife and I were getting ready for bed when I heard our little girl, Mayah, calling out for mommy and daddy. I went into her room; bent over her crib and said, “Sweetie, are you alright? What do you need?” She said nothing. I asked again but still nothing. Then I noticed that she didn’t have her mookie in her mouth so I searched and quickly found it under her pillow. I then asked, “Sweetie, is that better?” Still nothing. Then she stood up which meant she wanted to be rocked. Normally when I come into her room at night she tells me, “I want to rock” But no words this time. Just actions.

So I picked up my little girl, grabbed her blanket and sat down with her in the rocking chair. She then quickly curled up on my lap and snuggled in as close as she could possibly get, and peacefully went to sleep.

A huge smile formed on my face 🙂

I sat there staring down at my sweet little girl, as happy as I could be; not wanting the moment to end. I then gently leaned over and planted a soft kiss on her cheek as to not disturb her peaceful slumber. But upon receiving my loving kiss, Mayah started moving her arm. She was trying to free her arm from her cozy blanket. Upon her arm breaking free, Mayah reached up and placed her hand on the back of my neck. She then pulled me in so my cheek was next to hers, and then held me tight. A gentle but firm hold as to say, “I want you close.” And with that she drifted off to sleep with tears of joy welling up in my eyes. After a couple of wonderful minutes, Mayah’s arm went limp and fell to her body. I then stood up, kissed her again and gently laid her in her crib. I leaned over and stared at her for a few more moments; watching her sleep, and then left her to her peaceful slumber.

What a moment, but now leave it to a pastor/.daddy to make a connection to our heavenly Father:

Oh that we would call out to God more and more; longing to be held by him and then pull God close for an intimate moment. Sometimes words are not necessary but rather just a few moments, basking in God’s love. Oh that we would call out to God and seek him; as God is always there, ready to show you incredible love. Oh that we would call out to God and know his grace; something that never fades and is never distant.

Oh that we would call out to our heavenly daddy…

The Pastor -|—

Sweet Malachi

Malachi, sweet Malachi,
today you are one;
growing up fast;
putting a smile on our face every single day,
and touching our hearts along the way.

Malachi, sweet Malachi,
it’s hard to believe, though,
that one year ago
we didn’t know you existed
but God did, and that’s what matters.

Malachi, sweet Malachi,
and even though we weren’t there when you were born,
God was there and that’s what matters,
and even though we weren’t the first to hold you,
God was the first to hold you and that’s what matters too.

Malachi, sweet Malachi,
you may not carry our DNA,
or look similar to us,
but you are our son, forever and ever,
but what matters even more is that you are a child of God.

Malachi, sweet Malachi,
one year ago you entered the world,
to make Mayah a big sister,
and mommy and daddy happy parents of two.
And we love you, sweet Malachi.

Malachi, sweet Malachi,
today we praise God for you,
for bringing you into our lives.
Today is your birthday and
so we shout “Happy birthday” and “God is great”.

Happy first birthday, our sweet Malachi.

The Pastor (Daddy) -|—

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 -|—

The Heart of a Child

The heart of the child is something that should be nurtured, cared for and encouraged, because what is planted in the heart of a child, especially at a young age, is something that will pay dividends later in life; for the child and for the Church.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

This past Sunday during worship, I was up front leading the offering prayer and then led the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer. As I was praying I started to hear the voice of a child also praying and I quickly recognized it.

It was my 2-year-old little girl.

My heart immediately melted as I stopped saying the words of the Lord’s Prayer so I could listen. Mayah didn’t say all the words of the prayer but she was definitely trying. I knew she had been doing this for a while but I just never heard her before Sunday.

I was one proud daddy 🙂

I have heard parents lament over whether their kids are getting anything out of worship. I tell them that they might not understand everything now but they are definitely getting something out of it so don’t give up. Children have amazing recording devices in their brains that are connected to their five senses. They take in information (good and bad) but they may not process it until later; when they are able to decode what their brains were too young to comprehend then. It may seem like you child is just goofing off or not paying attention or just plain bored;

but keep at it (with the good stuff, that is),

keep training them;
keep exposing them to the saints of the congregation;
keep bringing them to the assembly;
keep the rituals of the faith in front of them;
keep talking about Jesus with them;
keep planting seeds.

Granted, Mayah doesn’t understand what she is trying to say now but she is beginning to understand that when we gather in this room every week we say these familiar words. As she grows up she will hopefully begin to comprehend what she is praying. Seeds are being planted now. So all that is left for me to do is to continue to nurture those seeds and be patient; waiting to see what the Holy Spirit will bring forth from them.

So…

parents of young children,
people who worship with parents of young children,
pastors who lead worship for parents of young children;

never, ever resent the presence of noisy children in worship but rather do your part as a member of the Body of Christ to raise children up in the way they should go. Never dampen the spirit of a child as they are trying to make sense of the faith. Never discourage a parent who only wants their children to experience worship with the assembly. Never take for granted what children may be absorbing during worship. Never glare or stare or judge, but rather teach and encourage and nurture. You just never know what children are learning, as it just might be something they will hold on too even when everything else has seemingly left them.

Let’s not show children the proverbial door through our impatience or being annoyed that they are squawking during a “holy moment” in worship, but rather let’s be in the business of planting and nurturing seeds; remembering how Jesus received children…

And they were bringing children to him (Jesus) that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:13-16 ESV)

It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a Church to pass on the faith and it takes a child to teach us adults the humility required to receive the kingdom of God. The circle of faith.

Father God, grant me the faith of a little child; one that receives you as their father. May I be granted the wisdom to teach children and serve as a faithful example of Your love. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Holy Parenting (Ephesians 6:4)

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I claim no expertise in parenting but rather, I claim a strong desire and passion to raise my children to know and love God through Jesus Christ. And that is why I am so drawn to the above verse. I am constantly thinking about ways to be a good example but also thinking about what my children are seeing in me. Children are going to learn about God from their parents. Hopefully they learn a lot at Sunday school and Bible camp and vacation Bible school, but children will learn about loving and living with God by watching their parents.

So parents be mindful.

But not just parents. Church, be mindful. The children are watching you too. Whether you have children or not, they are watching you. When you are in worship; children are watching you. When you are interacting with others; children are watching you. Whether you like it or not you are being recorded by a child’s built in video camera in their brains, so be mindful.

But one of the biggest misconceptions in parenting is that as parents we need to be their child’s “best friend”. Children don’t need that. They have plenty of people to be best friends with. According to scripture, children need parents that will discipline them and teach them to know the Lord.

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24 ESV)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t share this verse in order to advocate beating your child. This verse is about a parent’s God-given responsibility to discipline a child when they go astray. How a child is to be disciplined is something for another blog post. But here, parents are not called to be best friends. Parents are called to raise their children to walk the narrow path; disciplining their children out of love not anger.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

And a parent may actually do this but see their child stray from the faith. If this happens, be patient, you have planted a seed. So don’t lose heart. Keep training them in the way they should go. How this training goes will vary from parent to parent but the common thread is, don’t be their best friend, be a faithful example of the Christian life. Love your children but even more than that, love God.

I have said this a number of times but it bears repeating:
The best thing a parent can do for their child(ren) is to love God more than them.

That right there says a lot. Love God above all things and all people and as a parent, you will do fine 🙂

Father God, parenting is hard work. Grant Your Spirit that parents and other adults may have the wisdom it takes to pass the faith on to the next generation. In Jesus name, Amen

The Pastor -|—