His Presence Brings Security and Joy

My wonderful wife is a stay-at-home mother and is around our children much of the day.  One of the things that has happened as a result of this is that my children have an incredible connection with her.  I’ve noticed that they don’t go more than 5 to 10 minutes without looking for her to see where she may be.  There are several times during the day that they will look up and notice that she is not around.  As a mommysreturnresult, they will come to me with hesitancy and panic in their eyes and ask me, “Where is mommy?”  Once I have assured them that mommy hasn’t gone far and that she will be back, they calm down and go about their ways.  But once mommy enters the room again, their hearts are warmed with joy and they feel fully secure again.

This is the way that we should be with our heavenly Father!  We should have a constant awareness of his presence.  The difference is that he never leaves us nor does he forsake us, and he constantly dwells in us.  David was known as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) and he was always looking for God’s presence.

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.  For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.  You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. – Psalm 16:8-11

Father, help me to always set your presence before me.  Help me to constantly be aware of your presence.  Because of your presence, I will be secure, the things of this world will not shake me and I will find joy at your feet.  Thank you for never leaving me and for guiding me on this journey.

Standing Up and Being Bold

In a day where everyone seems to have an opinion and wants share them vehemently using Social Media, I find myself saddened at most of it. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and has the right to live their lives within the laws of the land as they see fit. While this may seem just to some, it will seem unjust to others. Some will feel that their rights have been violated and others will feel justified, both at the same time.

One of the problems I see, however, is that the loudest of our friends on Social Media still come off as hateful, offensive and disrespectful; this, no matter which side they may take. As a Christian, I personally think Facebook is not the platform for us to speak loudly about these issues. It honestly proves no point as most of these personal statements turn into arguments that change absolutely no one’s opinion. In fact, many times, we come off as foolish instead.

I’ve seen many of my so-called Facebook “friends”, who happen to be Christians, call for us to “stand up” and to be “bold” for Christ in these days. They will call those of us who are silent on this said platform as even cowardly. But then at the same time, I see many of these same people, struggle with relationships within and especially outside of the four walls of the church. Then, in the context of a face-to-face relationship, they are often silent and fearful when it comes to sharing the gospel of Christ. Which is truly less bold and more cowardly?

God meant for us to be in relationship. He meant for us to share the gospel in the form of a personal face-to-face relationship. Facebook may use the term “Friends” as those who we are connected with, but the truth is, it is still an impersonal way of sharing life. I implore my brothers and sisters in Christ, to stand up and be bold sharing the good news of the Gospel of Christ, loving the Lord with all your heart and soul, and loving your neighbor as yourself.

A Father’s Love

I didn’t grow up in the church and didn’t start attending church until I was about nineteen.  Even though my dad only came to know Jesus years before his death, he still modeled the love of a father to me.  I knew my dad as someone who loved me unconditionally, who saw the best in me, even the things that I didn’t see.  He was always there for me.

More than 11 years ago, my dad passed away due to a heart attack.  This left a gaping void and hole in my life.  We often desperately seek different things in our lives to fill that hole but only wind up frustrated and even more broken.FathersDay2015

Over the years, I’ve had to learn to lean upon the Lord as my Father.  Because of my dad’s faithfulness as a loving father, this only made it easier to see God as a loving Father.  Even though I still miss my dad and have some hard days, I’ve learned that only God can fill that void and hole.

As I think about my beautiful children, I want to be the same model for them and want to be sure to show them the Father’s love.  One that is unconditional, that sees the best in them, builds them up and is always there for them.  I want to teach them about the Father that will never fail them.

You may not have been blessed to have as great of a model as I did for a father.  Or maybe you have also lost your father just as I have.  I want to encourage you to lean upon and learn to know God as your loving Father.

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. — Psalm 68:5

New Year’s Resolutions

This is the time of year when many are creating resolutions and writing up things that they want to achieve.  Please don’t hear me wrong in this post as I’m not trying to heap any condemnation on my fellow brothers and sisters, I just want to offer a word of wisdom.  For many of us who call ourselves Christians, we desire to grow in maturity and increase in our intimacy with the Lord.

We will often use activities, disciplines or servitude to in effect, make us more mature Christians.  We might decide that we need to spend more time studying our bible.  We also make goals of reading through the bible in a year.  We also try to do more good, whether it be serving in our church or in our community.  All of these things are good in themselves and I would encourage people to do these things.

The problem comes with our mentality in these activities.  Are we doing these things because we think it makes us a better Christian?  Do we think that God will look upon us better?  Do we think that if we spend x amount of time doing this or that, we will be more mature?  Do we think these things make us closer to God?  Or do we wear these things as a badge of honor, flaunting our works all over Facebook to make us feel better about ourselves – please don’t hear me wrong here, there are times to share.

All I’m trying to get at here is what is your mentality in all of this?  If we are honest with ourselves, we are all often guilty of striving in this way.  It’s built into our nature at birth, but remember, we are now a new creation and we are to renew our minds to who we have been made in Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The truth is, there is nothing that I can or can’t do that makes me appear greater in God’s eyes.  The truth is, that I need to know who I am in Christ and what he did for me through adoption as a son.  Once we realize that our activity, good or bad, really doesn’t affect our right-standing with God – we can truly find rest.  That’s the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Maybe it’s time, instead, to take a step back, spend time in his presence and seek what it is that he wants you to do.  Rest in his presence.  Be still and know that he is God.

That Guy in the Red Suit Sure is Scary!

Christmas2014Call me sick, call me twisted, call me whatever you like…but this was the most fun and best Christmas picture ever! I still can’t stop laughing about the 7 minutes of chaos we provided at our local mall to get a picture with Santa. We don’t even really do the Santa thing for many reasons that I will not get into, but we do get an annual picture just to appease my mom and a few others. The truth is though, that guy in the red suit is pretty scary!

We waited in line for about a half hour and as we got to the second in line, Santa went on break. Out came a brand new Santa who was about to begin his shift. The first kids in line were so excited to see Santa and everything went smoothly until our kids came. At first, everyone was quiet, but as we inched closer, the chaos began.

Of course, my 5 year old had no issues and walked right up. McKenna was next and walked slowly but lost it as soon as he picked her up. Ryleigh was clinging to me as tight as ever with a death grip like none other. I set her down on the chair behind Santa and she went hysterical. We sat Josiah on his lap and he lost it and kept jumping down running away with his hands outstretched in terror.

Brittany and I never planned on getting in the picture, but we had to just to hold the kids down in place. Ryleigh continued to scream her shrill cry. McKenna was planted firmly into Brittany. Josiah kept sagging down to the ground, trying to roll himself away from Santa. Poor Santa, who just started his shift, he must have been thinking this was a wonderful way to start the night.

Now we ask the babies, “You want to go see Santa?” To which McKenna will respond with a look of concern and very adamantly will say, “No!” Here’s to hoping that all of you will have a Merry Christmas this year!

Small Group Transformation

Why is it that most of our churches create small groups segregated by type of people?  Most often each group is separated by a theme like College and Career, Married 20-30, Married 30-40, Seniors, Men, Women,  Singles, Recovery, etc, etc.  It seems we like to categorize or label people and throw them all together because of their similarities, stereotypes or labels in hopes that relationships will be built and even for some, church growth.

Everyone already knows we have a discipleship problem in the church, that is, a lack thereof and we need to become better at it.  I personally think a large part of it comes with the way we do our small groups.  If we restructure small groups to be more diverse, throwing different ages, races, cultures or dare I say political types together, we might invigorate them and as a result grow more mature believers.  Instead, we create fraternities or country clubs, often with clicks and effectual spiritual growth.

How much am I going to learn from people that are just like me and think the same exact way that I do?  Of course, one can learn something, but how much more could they learn if they are challenged to think or see things differently?  When we segregate people from others, we don’t create opportunities for older men or women who may be more mature in their faith to come along side someone younger and pour into their life.  The benefit for both the young and old or mature and less mature is immense.

Discipleship Lessons Through Legos

When I was a young child, my dad built models of cars and airplanes and displayed them in my room. He hung the aircraft from the ceiling with fishing wire and displayed the autos on shelves or furniture that I couldn’t reach. I remember how much I loved that part of my room and had the thought that I would do this same thing for my son.  Legos seemed like a good idea since they’ve come so far since I was a child.

I began my project and to my surprise, my five year old daughter wanted to help me. Unfortunately, these IMG_0375sets were complex and too hard for her to be of much help. Enjoying the time that we shared, I decided to go out and purchase her an age appropriate set of legos. Then we set aside time to work on it together.

This being her first set, she didn’t understand the whole process, so I began to lead her. I would show her the instructions, then I would have her collect all of the pieces that the instructions called for. I remembered an approach that I learned at the Exponential Conference introduced by a group called New Thing and decided to try it out. In a nutshell, I would show her how to build that particular segment while she watched to help her see it in action. As we progressed, then I would show her how to build it getting her to help me so that she would feel a part of it. Then as we went on, I would have her build it, while I helped her. As time went on, she would then build it while I watched.

Discipleship in the church should be done in the same way. As we do life together with someone less mature than us, we come alongside them and have them observe us in action. Then we have them help us while we do this particular thing. Then we have them do it and help them. And finally, we come to the point where we can observe them doing it without needing to help.

This isn’t a particularly difficult concept.  Nor is it anything new.  It’s just a simple approach to take as we help those around us grow in their maturity.

Happy 2nd Birthday Triplets!

triplets2yrsTwo years ago today, our little family of 3, changed dramatically, doubling in size to 6. I still remember that day like it was yesterday. The tension of not knowing what to expect, not only for that day, but for the future as well. Would we be able to handle this? Would this put a huge strain on our family mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, financially? Would they be healthy?

We never had a moment like we had with our oldest that day, much less for weeks. We didn’t get the opportunity to connect with our new born children who were born 6 weeks early. I got to see them for about a minute each before they were rushed back to the NICU for extensive testing and incubation. It was hours before I would get to see them again as they were hooked up to breathing apparatus’ and had a ton of wires hanging off of them. It was days before I actually got to hold them for the first time.

The last 2 years have been hard, but not nearly as difficult as several doctors who advocated for selective reduction had described. None of the horrors that were told that could happen ever came to fruition. Today, instead is one of those markers or mileposts to where we look back and see what the Lord has done.

We have had to rely upon the Lord more in this time and we have seen him act on our behalf. He has been there for us in everything. He has provided our needs. He has blessed us. Things might not have gone the way we thought or even asked, but he has never left us nor forsaken us. In these two years not only have my wife and I grown, but we watch as our oldest daughter is being drawn to Jesus. What we have seen is that God has equipped us for what he has put in our care and asked us to steward for him.

McKenna might be the smallest of the three and is the one that everyone seems to fall in love with. She loves to cuddle and be held, but don’t let her small stature fool you, she is valiant and doesn’t let herself be bullied by her brother and sisters. Josiah is the sweetest of the three as he is the only one that will give kisses freely when asked. He tends to have a goofy personality and loves to be the center of attention. Ryleigh, who was born as the smallest, is now actually the tallest. She is also the one that tends to lead the pack being the first to do everything.  Each have completely different personalities but yet share a strong bond to one another.  They are all blessings.

Happy birthday to Ryleigh, McKenna and Josiah as they turn 2 today! While this is a special day for each of them, it really is more a testament to how good our God is.

Happy 5th Birthday Addison!

AddieMy sweet baby girl turns 5 years old today!  These 5 years have come and gone so quickly, it’s so hard to believe.  Addie started VPK this year, which is basically pre-kindergarten.  She absolutely loves school to the point that she cries if she has to miss due to sickness.  Like any other girl her age, she loves the movie Frozen, especially Elsa and Olaf.  She loves to play board games with my wife and I.  And she loves to have regular story time, bible story time and prayer before bed.

One of the things that was a staple of hers was that she couldn’t say Chick-Fil-A, she had always said Chicken Afe instead.  She also would for some reason say Narms instead of arms or Norange instead of orange.  Sadly though, she finally grew out of these pronunciations within the last couple of months.  I will continue to call it Chicken Afe though.

Addie has gotten to the stage where she is curious about everything.  I sometimes marvel at the thoughts and questions running through her head.  She is quite mature  for 5 years old and a very smart girl.

I’m so proud of my sweet girl and can’t wait to see what year 5 will hold for her!

The Art of Celebration

A couple of days ago, I got to experience a concert by a group called Rend Collective. What an incredible band!  The artistry in music, playing all kinds of different instruments is awesome.  But what strikes me more with this band is their love and devotion to 51TPCOM1vcL._SL500_AA280_Jesus.  As they are traveling from city to city, they are bathing their tour in prayer – prayer for a revival in the church.  A revival that brings joy and celebrates the work that has been accomplished in Jesus Christ.

 

I am a serious person.  Sometimes too serious for my own good.  I’m experiencing a revival of sorts in my own heart.  A revival of pure joy – so much so that even I want to dance and have fun.  This isn’t a joy that is manufactured by man or a joy that is out of my own effort.  It’s a joy that comes as one of the fruit of the Spirit.

 

If you have a chance, check out their tour.  If they are coming to a city near you, I would highly recommend experiencing one of their concert celebrations.

http://rendcollective.com/tour/

 

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