My Abba

Holy Father,
Jesus said, “let the little children
come to me and do not hinder them,
for to such as these belongs the
Kingdom.”
Oh God,
may I have the child-like faith
to run into Your holy arms.
May I receive Your Gospel as a baby excitedly receives their milk.
May I cling to Jesus as tightly as my children do to me as I try to leave for work.
May I gaze upon You as a newborn does unto their parents.
Holy Father,
I thank You that You do not hinder me coming to You.
I may stumble and fall along the way,
but You are quick to scoop me up.
Loving Father,
here I am; hold me.
My Abba. My God.
Amen.

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 -|—

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 -|—

An Open Letter to a Birth Mother

Dear birth mother,

I can’t imagine how you must be feeling this day; the eve of Mother’s Day, knowing that you are not mothering the child you brought into this world. But I want you to know how thankful I am for you and for your courage. You made the difficult choice to place your child for adoption. But not only that, you made it possible for me to be a father and my wife to be a mother.

For the longest time I struggled with why God had not chosen me to be a father. I struggled with a God watching my wife and me struggle to get pregnant. I struggled to watch others around me parent children while I waited and wondered; will it ever happen for me? For the longest time I struggled, but through God you brought our struggle to an end.

And now…

Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for the child you entrusted us to raise.
Not a day goes by that I don’t look at my child and smile.
Not a day goes by that I don’t consider your sacrifice.

In my eyes you are an amazing woman and my child (your child) will grow up to know how amazing you are as well. We will never stop speaking of you. We will never stop praying for you. We will never stop remembering you.

But I also want you to know that even though my child does not contain my DNA, that does not mean my love for them is lessened in anyway. The child you brought into this world is loved beyond measure. But even though I love my child there is one that I love more than them: God. And because of this they will know God and His amazing love for His children. And my prayer is that this child will grow to share that love with others.

Birth mother, know that you are remembered, cherished and loved. Your choice will never be forgotten. Your sacrifice will always be remembered. And even though you brought an end to our struggles I recognize that your’s may continue. And so if it is of any comfort to you, know that your child is being showered with love every single moment.

I thank you, again, for entrusting your child to me and I pray that you may always know the love of your heavenly Father. You gave your child up in an attempt to give them a better life (and I pray that I won’t let you down) and God gave up his Son, Jesus, that you may live forever.

So on this Birth Mother’s Day I celebrate you. You may not be “mothering” the child you brought into this world but you will always be a mother in my eyes.

May God bless you always and forever.

Sincerely,
A grateful father

The Pastor -|—

National Day of Prayer 2015

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Today is the National Day of Prayer. It is a national observance that takes place on the first Thursday of May. The Jackson Kiwanis Club alongside the Jackson Ministerial Association leads prayer time for the teachers early in the morning and then at the flag poles, just before the school day starts, at the four schools in our district. At 12 noon today there will be a prayer service on the steps of court house (weather permitting, otherwise we’ll be inside).

Today, I was leading the prayer time at Riverside Elementary which is next door to Salem Lutheran Church. There were a lot of kids and community members that showed up to pray for our government, Church, military, families, education, media and businesses. What a privilege to be able to do this.

But my cute story from this morning happened as I was welcoming the crowd at the flag pole. I was talking about what we are going to be doing and thanking everyone for showing up. As I was talking, a little boy on the other side of the circle had his hand up. He had to be in kindergarten or 1st grade or so. So I called on him, half expecting a prayer-type question, instead I got this:

[Looking up] How big is this flag pole?

Got to love kids 🙂

With a smile, I directed him to his principal, but part of me wishes I had been more on my toes with a better response. At least this little boy was looking up, and maybe I should have recognized that and encouraged him to keep looking up, to God, not just now or this one day in our year, but always. What a teachable moment. Maybe next time I’ll be ready for the random/cute question of a child.

In the mean time, look up to God and pray, not just today but always. Our nation needs our prayers.

Holy God, on this National Day of Prayer, may we be a praying people always and not just today. We want to follow You and be obedient. So send Your Spirit, oh God, that we may be a blessing to others and for Your glory. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—