The Hidden Blessings of Smaller and Having Less.

I love the United States, but one of the things I have come to notice through spending time in other countries is we are obsessed with extra-large everything. Nothing is exempt from our obsession, from sodas to cars to the homes we live in, we are hypnotized by truth we hear seemly all around us Bigger is always better. But is it really?

How the gospel keeps wonder alive.

In all my years of kids ministry, I have always been so amazed at the wonder kids have. I have been equally amazed at how uncomfortable I can be and many adults can be with the idea of wonder itself. Here is the problem with wonder. You can’t explain it. You can’t reason with it. It is what it is.

I try my best to keep wonder alive in my kids. My three year old loves the color pink. I ask her every time she says she loves pink and it’s her favorite color “Baby, who made the color pink?” She says “Daddy, God did” I say “That’s right He did because He loves you so much”

I want my kids to grow up with no box to put Jesus in. We start off as kids thinking Jesus can do anything because he can. We then spend our entire life trying to fit Jesus into our carry-on luggage. Something we successfully do with every pat answer we are given and we give others. I love what C.S. Lewis says in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe “He is not a safe lion but he’s good” I can think of no quote that sums up how we must always view Christ to maintain that heart of wonder. A few years ago I begin a journey that I believe has lead to the greatest tool in keeping wonder alive.  In rediscovering the gospel much of my striving turned to grace-filled wonder. I moved from trying to earn my father’s love to grace-filled gratitude for his love he demonstrated to me in Christ Jesus.

How does the gospel keep wonder alive?

1. The gospel address our sinfulness and His sufficiency. It makes no attempt to solve every mystery. The gospel is good news. It’s a declaration, not a doctrinal dissertation. Should we search things out? Yes. Does Theology matter. Absolutely. But if we think have an answer to every question of the human heart will help us we are mistaken. The surest way to kill wonder is to believe you have an answer to every question.

2. Bring everything back to Jesus. – There are few things that I have found that have brought me to a place of wonder more than the meditation on scripture. When you start to think and speak of the greatness of the majesty of who Jesus is and the power of what He has done you are overcome with wonder because the grace of God is truly wondrously amazing.

3. Wonder springs from the a place of passion – I believe law kills wonder because you are so worried about do what is right, about being good enough, about trying harder. When you really believe that there is a God who loved you enough to send his one and only son into the world because He thought you and I were worth saving. It creates wonder. It instills passion.

4. When you start to understand the power of the gospel you see the sovereignty of God at work. The more aware I because of the sovereign work of God in my life and in lives of others I am filled with worship and wonder because I am constantly reminded He is God and I am not.

As we celebrate Easter let your mind drift to the wonder of His grace.

Just Show Up

What to do when someone you know is hurting

One of the expectations of being a pastor is that you always know what to say, when to say it and how it should be said. The is even more true when the person who you are ministering to is hurting. In nearly 20 years of pastoral ministry to the same church family I have learned that when someone is hurting all they need is for you to “Just show up.”

When I was younger I would avoid painful situations and people who were hurting because I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing. I was afraid what I would say would only push them further into despair. The older I got, and the more people I went to see, the more I realized how wrong I was.  I was reminded of the power of showing up when I asked one of the kids who grew up in our churches kids ministry what he remembered most about kids church when he was younger. I would have guessed he would say “the fun events” or “the powerful services.” You know what he said? “You came to see me in the hospital and gave me a video game when I got my tonsils out.” He didn’t remember what I said, he remembered that I showed up. I didn’t even remember doing that, and the video game I got him was a soccer video game – he played baseball. I didn’t do or say everything just right but I showed up.

One of the most powerful illustrations of this truth is seen in C.S. Lewis story of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” Eustace a very frustrating boy who through the greediness of his own heart fell asleep on a treasure and was turned into a dragon. This caused tremendous amounts of pain and frustration for him and those who were traveling with him. Throughout the voyage a mouse named Reepicheep would call out Eustace when he would act selfish or unseemly, much to Eustace’s frustration. In this part of the story Eustace in the form of a dragon is in a deep despair as he feels that he will never be a boy again. Here is what Lewis says:

Love this clip. Carrey address the problem with our morally relativistic culture as only he can. We strive for permanence for significance for “enough” in a world we insist that there be no absolutes. The result is we drive ourselves into a frenzy of madness trying to prove ourselves to ourselves because we don’t see that we are enough because Jesus on the cross said “enough.”

It’s easy to pick on actors because it’s so blatantly obvious. But what about you ministry leader. What is enough? When you have 5000 people in your church, when you get invited to speak or when you are offered a book deal. The question for all of us is this “Is Jesus enough?”

Give your kids whatever they want.

 

If you want to ensure your kids will be on the “The Bachelor”
1. Never show your daughter physical affection.
2. Teach your kids that connections are more important than commitment.
3. Teach your kids there are no consequences for their behavior.
4. Give your kids whatever they want.
5. Teach your kids that their self-worth is tied to people’s acceptance of them.

If you give your kids whatever they want you will teach your boys to be lazy and your girls to be manipulative. I can’t remember where I read it but I will not ever forget it. It’s so true I have seen this played out for years kids that get everything they want rarely turn out how their parents want. Often times it done out of a heart that we want what is best for our kids. We want them to have all the things we did not have growing up.

The efforts of the 20 women trying to capture the affections of one Bachelor was littered with manipulation. They do everything they can to get what they want without concern of who gets hurt. I have two boys and two girls the last thing I want is for my boys to grow up lazy thinking the world owes them something and for my daughters to grow up manipulating their way through life.

Here are some ways you can keep your kids from getting whatever they want.
1. Do not ask them where or what they want to eat.
2. Do give them toys instead teach them to earn money and save money
3. Sometimes tell your kids no when they ask for something when they ask why just tell them because you said so.
4. If your kids want something instead of buying it for them have them pray and ask God to provide for them
5. Teach your kids to be givers, show them how to tithe to their local church. Have them give some of their toys to charity.
6. Teach them please and thank you and to be grateful for anything and everything they are given.