Do What You Sing

This morning we sang a song in church that had the words, “I give you everything”. Even as I sang those words I couldn’t help but feel that I was being hypocritical. I loved the power in them. I truly want to believe them. I want to be that person.

But I’m not.

When I sing them… I mean them. They are very much from my heart. But somewhere along the way I hold something back. I may even barter to keep something else. I may hang on to ego in some situations or tithe less than both God and I know I should.

I thought about how God hears this song I’m pouring out of my heart and I think he listens the way I listen to my child.

When my child says, I’ll be good. He doesn’t always keep that promise. And even though I’ve only been a dad for a little over 2 years, I learned on day 1 that I can’t reward the promise… I have to reward the action.

So when my boy says ‘if I promise to eat my broccoli, can I have the cookie first?’ The answer is always, ‘no!’. “eating the broccoli is rewarding… not the promise of it”. Because I see in him my same flaws. Even though he means well, there are far too many temptations along the way to reward the intent.

I believe that God does not reward the song… he rewards the moment. The moment when temptation is beating you over the head and you choose Him anyway. That time away form church and away from good influences, and you choose against the world to do what is right. When no one is watching, when nothing seems to count… that is when God wants to see what you will truly give.

I’m not suggesting we don’t sing this song. It’s beautiful. But it’s only the promise… the real work begins after… and that is what matters most. Many of us would sing this song… very few will live it out in every portion of our lives.

The prophecies of Jesus weren’t fulfilled until His resurrection. He could have been a prophet or a mad man. But when the actions and results matched the promise… then He became so much more to us. What would Jesus have been to you and I had He not kept and met each promise of the scripture? What do we mean to Him if we do not do the same?

Sing it. Mean it. Do it.

Christmas is Done

It’s a refreshing feeling. Everything is back to normal. Stores are open. The house is back in order. The radio DJ’s I know are back on live and all the ‘best of/syndication’ is finished. Traveling is behind me, business hours make sense again and my friends are all back in town. The commercials, the tv specials, the marketing… it’s all about spending money now. That fear of ordering in time or would I receive a gift from someone I didn’t consider? All gone!

Everything changes for the holidays and I usually sigh in relief when it all changes back. I wouldn’t call myself a scrooge… I just see the busyness and stress in all of it. My summary might be…

It was great, but I’m glad its over

Do you cringe any when you see the commercialization of Christmas? Do you see childhood memories and innocent ideals squashed by the machine and trivialized by the masses? Rudolph, Santa and Frosty all have price tags now and Baby Jesus is either left out or promoted with an agenda.

I think we can do this same exercise with church and our relationship with God if we aren’t careful. Sundays can quickly become about parking, childcare, awkward conversations, “I hope he doesn’t ask us to greet our neighbor for 5 minutes”. Whose seat did I take? Song choices are weird, sit down, stand up, I can’t find that verse in the Bible, sit down again, another offering?!!? Lunch plans, getting asked to serve, guilt trips… and when we find our way back home… wheh! That is all behind me now.

When Jesus turned the tables over in the temple He noted that His Father’s house was being operated by a bunch of thieves. But before He called out their transgression, He first stated the original intent.

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers

Matthew 21:13

“My house shall be called a house of prayer”. What a contrast! It would have worked had He just called them robbers and drove them out, but He first established the proper baseline. This place is for prayer. Prayer is communication and worshiping THE God. You have taken something Holy and made it into something human.

While I’m not writing this to call us all thieves… I do see us approaching our time of worship against the original intent. I know this easily because I have done it.

What if we decided to approach the church with the same humility, love, and sacrifice that Jesus approached the cross for us?

Could we simply change some verbiage? I don’t have to lead a prayer or pass out cards, or shake hands, or smile, or meet new people, or teach a class… I get to. I am honored to. A man climbed on a torture device that I deserve and He took my place because He desperately wanted me to be saved.

He didn’t just die for me… I was His prize. He cherished a relationship with me. The thought of not having me was worse than the pain of the cross. He longs for me. When Jesus was born into animal filth and the cruelty of this world, the angels cheered! His plan was in motion… the plan to get me to Him.

So can my response match His? Can I muster together activity in my heart that will allow me to reciprocate in this life a desire to be with Him?

When my six year old gets vegetables on his plate he eats what he likes and then claims he is full. If I offer chocolate, he invariably exclaims, “YES!”. But he was just full one second ago. And, if I return to the vegetable, he is still full. He has no desire for what is good for him, only for what his appetite enjoys.

He has to want to be healthy. He has to learn about what harming his body with junk can really do. He will never truly be healthy… he will always return to the bad food, as long as his thought process is… ‘I have to eat vegetables to get what I want”.

What he needs is a love of himself. A love for health and purity and for what the body was created to take in and process. What we need is a love for Christ. A desire for the bread of life and to yearn to be what we, as temples of the Holy Spirit were created to be.

This can easily be checked. Do we have to… or do we get to? Is it a task or an honor? Do we anticipate, or are we glad when it’s over? Do we come to pray, or have we commercialized religion?

Some of the trivial things will not change, but our outlook on them certainly will. Christ gave His all… His very best. Do we have to give back? Do we cringe when we give a tenth? Do we roll our eyes or sigh when the newsletter announces service days? Are we proud of the response to our Savior? Can we go to simply pray to our Savior and commune with Him… or do we have another agenda?

Remember the Price, because we are the Prize.

A manger is defined as an animal feeding trough. It is what the hay goes in. The cow or horse will stick its head into the box and use it’s lips, gums, and tongue to maneuver the straw into it’s mouth. In addition to eating, these mammals will scratch up against the corners to cure a good itch as well as sneeze and cough into the eating area while consuming food.

In short, a manger contains animal hair, germs, mucus, saliva, some blood and any remnants of feed that fell back out of the animals mouth. oh… and bugs along with whatever bugs do (molt, lose wings and legs, leave waste, etc). I asked Lysol and they said they couldn’t do much to disinfect the manger that Jesus laid in… they didn’t come to be until almost 1900 years after Jesus was born.

I see two problems with how we view our Savior. First, we don’t view Him accurately in the manger. And second, we don’t view Him properly on the cross.

We try. Especially on the cross. We have some bloody and gory movie depictions of what He must have gone through. And it’s difficult to watch. But in our day to day, I think we lean toward miracle Jesus. He is the man that walked on water. He told the children to come to Him. He freed possessed people, cured blind, and raised the dead. He confronted the pharisees and really put them in their place.

His birth was stage one of His death. Filthy and disgusting, he lay in the mess of this world. Our hero, our Savior, our King, longingly anticipated is now finally here… laying in the place animals eat. Not in the same room, but in their actual food dish.

And as He lay with the animals, who just happened to be the only ones who would accept Him when He needed a birthing place, He was now on path to die a miserable death. These are His book ends. His alpha and omega are miserable birth and torturous death.

When we think about how unpleasant it is to think of our Savior this way, we tend to go back into the habit of picturing the kind man that fed thousands. Rarely do we ponder His discomfort. How often do we consider that His birth pain was merely foreshadowing to what He came to do for us?

He was overwhelmingly un-welcomed by those He came to save. Yes we have the angels and the shepherds and the wise men… but we also have the Herod’s, the pharisees, the mobs, the Romans, and even the disciples who neglected Him in prayer and in allegiance.

Yes, the disciples. Denying Him. Fleeing. Selling Him out. Yet we well up with pride when the shepherds are exited to see baby Jesus. Jesus was condemned to die in that manger. It was His mission. We disservice Him directly when we pretty up the picture to something it wasn’t. We imagine a hollywood moment where Jesus is comfortably resting in cozy clothes and the animals all bow down in honor set under a star filled, clear sky with peaceful quiet all around.

I’m not a fan of going for the harsh, bitter, gruesomeness of it all… but that is all it was. This is our Savior. It’s what He came to do. When we forget the story… the whole story, we reduce His sacrifice for us. He came to die. From day one He gave for us. He gave His birthright as King. He gave up comfort, prestige, peace, family, friends, dignity, and so much more.

This time of year we have help in one thing we must always do… remember. Remember who He was, what He made Himself, and who exactly He gave it all away for. You. He took your place. He is your King, lying helplessly among the animals… occupying their feed box, and waiting His turn for the nails to go through as punishment for all the things He didn’t do, but we did.

We remember Jesus in all of His pain, because He did that for us. He took our place. He battled the enemy we can’t beat and He won for each of us. We have to remember the price because we are the prize. He did it for us. To receive us to Himself. A miracle wielding Savior isn’t the whole story. He humbled Himself. He subjected Himself. He was humiliated, shamed, and discarded.

Don’t remember Him out of pity. Cherish the accurate story of what He endured to make it possible to get to us. No one becomes a Christian because they have to. A Christian is someone who experiences the gifts of Jesus and runs out of their life to follow Him. He gave Himself. He is the gift. We are the prize to Him. We will meet and relish that the journey is over. Until then, we remember. He gave everything to receive us.

He doesn’t want a Sunday morning “Christian” that looks the part for a fraction of the story. He wants someone who remembers and follows. The angles rejoiced as Jesus lay in that manger. Can you imagine that? Look at God… in that filth. Yet it invoked a joyous response.

If the angels can rejoice at Jesus’ arrival to pain and misery… what can we muster at the thought of His triumphant return that marks the end of this mess that sparked both the manger and the cross?

And that sums it up splendidly for me. The life and death of Jesus isn’t meant to inspire guilt… It’s meant to bring hope. Because of what He did for us, we have an amazing, supernatural hope. But we must remember what He did and respond.

How will you respond to the Man that endured both the manger and the cross for you? Do you think about the rules and the difficulties like the disciples in their weakest moments? They struggled because they had not yet experienced the cross. But once they did… they traded in everything for the honor of wielding His name. We have double the hindsight as we have both the manger and the cross in our good news.

How can we celebrate the Son who started in a feeder and ended as a tortured spectacle? While that answer must ultimately be up to you, I’ll start you off with this. I think the angels celebrated Christ’s arrival to the manger because they knew something not yet known to the rest of us. I think they knew of the tomb. When you finish the story with an empty tomb… it changes everything.

Christ didn’t suffer so we wouldn’t have to. He suffered and died so that we could have an empty tomb too. Being a Christian is hard. To do what is right, our lives would look like that of Jesus, misery and all. We would know pain and strife. But the empty tomb is the gift Jesus gives to those who remember and follow Him. Not miracles and not easy lives. But hope and eternity in a restored world.

So many refuse Jesus because life doesn’t get easier. It won’t get easier. He didn’t promise that. He promised an empty tomb among other things, but never an easy life. But as He endured the cross I believe He looked at the end game and saw us with Him… and that reminded Him to finish His goal. I also believe we need to do the same. To look to the end game and see Him and the restoration and the empty tomb and we will find nothing is worth not remembering and following Him.

Speaking Challenge: Gossip, Political, Religious, Slander, etc.

If you have not shared a meal with someone, don’t share an opinion about them.

Dear random stranger on the internet. We have not met. I know nothing about you. Therefore you can pass along without judgement.

Hello sports star or celebrity. You haven’t been in my house. I don’t have any inside or personal first hand information from you. To ponder any further beyond my lack of knowledge and experience concerning you would be very silly.

Greetings politician. I’m not on your staff. I wasn’t with you in college. I haven’t see you on dates with your loved one, how you treat your children, or how you drive in traffic. I don’t know what pain goes into your decisions or how much effort you exert to make things right. I may have seen you in a suite… but I’ve never touched your heart. I will not claim to know your motives or feelings.

Teenagers, classmates, and colleagues… You look different than I do. You act different. You eat different foods, listen to different music, dress differently… Instead of pointing out how different YOU look, I’ll agree that I don’t look like you either. We both look different. And isn’t it a good thing that in a world this big we all can work together to cover all the hobbies, careers, and necessities of so many people?

Sorry coach. I may have made a different decision than you… maybe. With that pressure, those circumstances, those players, your bosses, your home life, and all the unknown things that happened on the sideline and in the locker room and shared from other scouts and coaching staff that the world wasn’t privy to… I might have made a different choice then… but I would have blown it somewhere else. Because I’m not claiming to be perfect and I don’t expect you to be either.

Lets set the bar low. I’m not asking you to stop gossiping, complaining, or even armchair quarterbacking… I’m asking you to attempt one simple rule over your speech. If you haven’t shared a meal with someone… don’t share your opinion about them. Teach your brain to remember what it already knows… We make exceptions for ourselves everyday for one simple reason: We know all the details and surrounding circumstances and internal factors that made our reasoning acceptable.

If we are going to put the spotlight on others and demand perfection from them… they should at least get the chance to share with us, personally, what their exception was based in. This information does not come from biased media, slanted hearsay, or third party reports… it only comes from getting to know an individual as the human they are.

You can still vote with your wallet, check your conscience on the ballet, and boo from the stands… but do not “let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29.

The Blueprint Doesn’t Match Because it isn’t Built

Our son wished us to be gone. While the words felt devastating coming from a 6 year old, it was comforting to learn from other parents that it is much more common than we first thought.

I asked him what he would do with us out of the picture and he sniffled through the tears to tell me that he would take care of himself. Oh, it was because we turned off the TV and he wanted to watch more. No beatings, no yelling, no grounding, we just turned off the TV because it was time to do other things besides watch TV. I know, we are monsters.

I asked how he would take care of himself and he shrugged his shoulders. (fun fact, he can’t use the remotes yet… he doesn’t know how. So you can see how well he thought this out. With us gone, he will have zero TV).

I asked how he would get food and he told me he would just go downstairs and get it from the cupboard. This is where we keep his chips, fruit snacks and crackers. And that was the extent of his plan. Which makes perfect sense… because he is JUST NOW 6 years old.

His master plan of living the good life is watching TV all day and night by getting rid of the only people that know how to operate said TV and he will sustain himself for the rest of his life on gummies and potato chips… enough to last maybe a few days. And because he is 6, we can’t even explain why this is such a bad idea.

His emotions take over and he knows more than anyone else. At first our feelings were hurt. We’ve done nothing but show patience and kindness and love to this child. We went through frustration, concern, a little laughter over the absurdity, and then it hit us.

God has a sense of humor, I think. Because even though we may not use the words, we speak this out in our life actions. We brush God away and claim, “I’ll handle this myself”. Either through distrust or lack of wisdom or lack of patience, or ego… we start trying to call the shots.

When the miracle doesn’t happen fast enough, it can feel like someone just turned off the TV. When the pain persists. When the hunger remains. When the relationship collapses… I’ll fix it. I’ll make my own way. I’ll do my own thing. I’ll make a move now. And how quickly forget that the God we push back, is the one that filled the cupboard for us to begin with. We think we don’t need God because we have all the gifts He has given us at our disposal.

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10 ESV

Another translation reads:

Cease striving and know that I am God

Psalm 46:10 NASB

Cease striving. Trust. Patience. Let God take control. Allow life to fall outside of the tiny box you crafted for it. Get bruises, accept scrapes, shed tears, and be mocked… In other words, line up behind Jesus and walk in his footsteps. But also, and this is key, allow the Father to lead through ANY valley, just as Jesus did. And accept and walk through those lows with eyes fixed on greater things.

Growth doesn’t fashion out of comfort. The things worth our moments aren’t conceived from our 6 year old minds. Our Master has put in us a blueprint full of pain, sorrow, and misunderstanding. But on the other end of that sketch is the love, protection, sustenance and all the saving we will ever need.

Until our fulfillment, we trust and we grow. Growth comes through effort, challenge, and acceptance of God’s gifts. There is a reason the blueprint doesn’t look like the finished product… we have to build it first. Until we finish building, all we have are parts and instructions. Once we finish, we have a God-inspired masterpiece.

When we don’t feel like building, when we think the effort is unfair or the destination looks off… we tend to turn towards ourselves. We grab the remote and pout against all the monsters that stand in our way. What if, instead of blaming the blueprint maker, we ask for His help instead? What if, instead of fleeing from Him, we wander to Him and spend more time with the architect and less time trying to figure it out through our own shallow and short-lived plans?

What if we could slow down and even come to a full stop… and know that TV and crackers aren’t the essence of life. Nor our jobs or accomplishments or hobbies. You know what is the most fun? When the desires of our hearts matches the blueprints within us. And don’t run after that frustration… the one that says the blueprint is wrong! That is what the 6 year old does.

The infant wants a new blueprint. The adult wants to complete the work. Lets grow in Christ. Be Still and know…


Image by Justin Martin from Pixabay

Is Church Taking the Scenic Route?

The church often fails to meet the needs of the people based on a simple misunderstanding. The goal of the church is not meant to be a destination. Instead, it’s intention is that of transportation.

The church is not an endgame. It’s a car pool. We are supposed to, as fellow travelers, help people to find the Christ. The true goal is God. And all of us, the church included, is on a path to Him.

Both parties can get this wrong. The people expect the church to fulfill the needs only God can accommodate and the church gets so caught up in filling the van, it forgets that there is a more eternal purpose for gathering.

The church can do a lot of amazing things, as long as those things are done on the journey to an eternal Savior. God’s people in the church are a crucial place along that journey. But often disappointment comes when people find just that in the church… more people. Other people. Sinners.

We find failure when we come to the church seeking God’s perfection. We won’t find it there. In other words, Jesus hasn’t returned to the church yet either. Those buildings still rest on fallen soil.

We find success when we come to the church seeking other seekers and unify in a journey that will end with the return of the Messiah.

Frustration comes when the eternal sight is lost. Have you ever set out for Disney Land and stopped at a rundown motel along the way? It’s a bed and some safety… but it’s not the purpose of the trip. If you have children with you who use the pool and watch some HBO, they might decide this is all they ever wanted. They might even argue to stay and forego the final destination.

Those children got distracted by something that looked good temporarily but was not the life-changing event they signed up for. Is the church a rundown motel? Not really. Perhaps compared to what we are aiming for… the case could be made. The church is a perfectly intended tool created by God. I’m not knocking it… but it’s just a tool. And that is what we often forget.

The message of the church has often been, “Come join us.”, when it should be, “Come with us”. While there may not be ill-intent in the verbiage, it’s a significantly different recruitment for a massively different purpose.

Likewise, the church seeker should consider, not what programs or styles, or in many cases, which issues are sided with… but instead, who is trying to get to Jesus? Whose path is the straightest with the fewest stops along the way? Whose goal, is simply and solely to get home?


Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

True Love’s Kiss. What Will Break the Curse?

The TV show Once Upon a Time goes into great details about how the amazing power of true love’s kiss can break any curse. There are 2 rules the show expounds on that I think are worth covering briefly before we examine who our true love is.

First, the love must be reciprocated. If only one party has love for the other, then true love is not established and the kiss is powerless against any magic.

Second, The biggest curse is broken by the love between a mother and son. When Emma kisses Henry on his forehead, the entire kingdom is freed because of their true bond and maternal love for each other.

The sad moments generated from this knowledge showed failed couples, who had fallen out of love in one way or another, unable to wield the magic breaking power of true love. Either one party or both no longer cherished the other and the kiss would simply fall flat.

Nothing spoke stronger about the deepest, truest feelings one could have for another than seeing the results of a kiss when needing powerful spells broken.

So I’d like to pose a challenging question for each of us to ponder for a while. What is our true love? Before you answer, consider that many people think they have a true love, only to find that circumstances can prove surprising and upsetting results.

We don’t need fairy-tales to see the wreckage of failed marriages, broken homes, friendless individuals and desperate souls. How many people find their true love only to wake up to an empty bed and a broken heart? Easily more than half. We all know the lies told of “love”. Few of us know the truth of real love.

So when life’s curse falls on you, what truth would be revealed? Would your spouse be able to break the spell? Would your love for them, and their love for you unite in an explosion of salvation and healing? Or would it fizzle into despair as you realize that at least one of you only lives for another?

Would it be your children? Would their love for you be pure? Is it your career? Would cold hard cash release the spell as the thing you love most in this world? Popularity? Health? Status? Possessions?

What about Jesus? Would His kiss on your forehead have the reciprocating power of true, eternal love?

Remember, this is a magical fairy-tale and the deepest thoughts of the heart are revealed against all will and logic. It’s not a question of, would you want it to… It’s a question of, would it work? Is the love already there, deep deep down in your heart. If Jesus planted one on your cheek, would the world find out that you truly love Him back above all others, or would He walk away broken hearted?

Who do you really love? For some of us… the question may be, what do we really love? While this might be a revealing and depressing process for those of us being really honest with ourselves… remember this. The cross proved Jesus’ love for us once and for all.

Instead of true love in the form of a kiss, He showed His love by taking on our mistakes and nailing them to a torture device while He still held them. Should we choose to love Jesus the way He first loved us… we never have to wonder if He might return the sentiment or not.

We never have to question that we are His greatest desire. The price He paid proved that far beyond what any make believe story could attempt to describe.


Image by JacLou DL from Pixabay

Remember that Movie about the Things and the Stuff?

What is your favorite movie? When you share it with friends in conversation how do you describe it? What if you had to sum it up in only 1 short sentence? No commas. No run on. No compounding. Just a short, simple sentence.

I’ll describe some of my favorite movies this way and lets see if you can guess any of them:

  1. A love story about a billionaire and his secretary.
  2. A young man finally stands up to his father.
  3. The world obsesses over jewelry.
  4. He took back what was his!
  5. A shy girl takes a risk on a loser.
  6. A small door is more versatile than expected.
  7. They danced in Chicago.
  8. Roasting marshmallows in New York
  9. Everyone just watched.
  10. One of the best Christmas movies.

You can scroll down a bit to see the answers if you want them now. They are in bold.

Did you get them all? Did you guess any correctly? Let’s be honest, you can’t accurately depict a movie in this way. Two hours doesn’t condense into a single simple sentence. The math doesn’t work that way, and even when you try, the logic doesn’t follow.

Most movies are so good for the very deep things that would require lots of explanation. What we tend to enjoy are masterfully wrapped surprises that are slowly unveiled throughout the course of the story. While every synopsis above was accurate in one way or another, none of them get to the heart of what makes each movie so good.

Before we go any further, here are the movies I was attempting to summarize:

  1. Iron Man.
  2. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
  3. Lord of the Rings
  4. Lion King
  5. Rocky
  6. Titanic
  7. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  8. Ghostbusters
  9. Truman Show
  10. Die Hard

Isn’t it silly to think that we could convince somebody to give up 2 hours of their day to watch something we recommend in under 1 sentence?

Even the most basic life fundamentals require discussion and dissection. Have you ever seen someone about to get hit by a ball or some other projectile? Someone yells “duck!” or “Look out!” and what happens? Does the person duck or dive out of the way without any followup? Not usually. The first thing they tend to do is to look right towards the person yelling. The fastest way to get someone to put their face directly in the path of the object about to hit them is to yell, “look out!”.

We are conditioned to see for ourselves. We just can’t take someone else’s word for it… even when its to our own peril. The lesson is also true of hot stoves. You can tell a child not to touch it, but the lesson is only temporary at best until they actually touch it and experience the pain for themselves. THEN, we could say the lesson is burned into their thinking.

If we can’t accurately depict a feature film in one sentence, what would it take to share the life of Jesus to a world conditioned in receiving information 140 characters at a time?

What story are we telling when we only give snippets of the Bible? What message is our audience receiving when we dwell on the rules of the scripture? Do non-believers go rushing to the Bible book stores when we dive into politics? What if we just try to live by example, and so people only ever see a nice person living out their days? Maybe we only talk about God on Sundays?

We can be really good at summing up the Bible in all the wrong ways, just like I did with the movies a moment ago. And if you thought that exercise was futile… so it is with preaching only a tiny fraction of God’s word. If you thought it ludicrous that anyone would guess the movie after such a short and poor description… imagine what the world thinks of God when we can do the same thing with a much larger, more complicated work about the life of Jesus.

We aren’t a short Psalm. God didn’t craft us to be a parable. None of us can be summed up by a list of rules. We are children of God and have good news to share. Let’s share the whole story!

The common excuse is that we are waiting on something. We need money, power, status, followers, time and strength. We need spiritual gifts and a platform to perform them.

The followers that Jesus accepted decided to follow Him before He made Himself truly known (i.e. before any of the excuses listed above). They dropped what they were doing and walked away from their lives over a simple request, “Follow me”.

The people that wanted to follow Jesus after He made Himself known were turned away (Luke 9). So how do we change the world? How do we get the attention of the lost and share this amazing story with a people that get bored before we get the first sentence out of our mouths?

We act like Jesus. We talk like Him. We pray like Him. We love like Him. We lead to the Father in our every breath, step, and motion. We don’t seek numbers of followers or reports of grand conversions or even baptisms. We simply go about the Father’s business and He will take care of the rest.

This was the faith of Jesus. We must have faith like Jesus. That even on the cross, when things look the bleakest, we can know that Dad will take care of everything. When we trust in God, the story is heard. When we pray faithfully and love unconditionally, the truth is told. When people can see Jesus everyday rather than hearing poorly worded, second hand summaries…The good news is told and spread.

When we know the whole story, we know the great commission isn’t just to retell the story. We are to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus. The life saving gospel is only fully told when we are fully engaged in Christ. Otherwise, we are just spitting out one-liners and hoping people will go and watch for themselves.

If we want people to know Jesus… we have to introduce them. They have to see Him for themselves. We can’t introduce them to someone we barely know.


Image by creative_designer from Pixabay

I want God’s Bed Time

Our 5 year old wanted to know why we had different bed times. He often forgets his responsibilities (things like turning off a light, brushing teeth, being nice, his middle name, etc), but he has an epic, razor sharp, iron clad memory when it comes to the rules for others.

Oh, how he can spot a discrepancy. “What do you mean you don’t have to go to bed also?!!!?! That’s not fair!!!!”. He fully expects the same food portions as adults, the same allowance, the same… everything. In his mind, fair is fair… there are no exceptions.

So after the first 3 hundred or so times of me explaining that he would get a newer bed time when he got older, he turned 6. Well, that is getting ahead of ourselves… he almost turned 6. With the birthday still 3 days off, he was already a 6 year old in his mind.

And out came the logic. “You said I could stay up later when I got older… well, now I’m older!”. And this isn’t something that can be explained to him. Not yet anyway. He isn’t ready. His mind can’t process that even though he is a year older from the first time we had this conversation, he is only a day older from the last time we had it.

He doesn’t understand that we also told him that he could drive when he was older too. But that hasn’t stopped him from asking for a car of his own. A real one. And I’ve yet to find adult words that will pacify a child who feels like he is ready.

And I wonder if this is how we sound to God?

I’m ready for that next step. I’m ready for more gifts. I’m ready for that relationship. I’m ready for that promotion. I’m ready for more favor. I’m ready!

And the God who really knows us and loves us sees this infant asking for a car to drive… but we aren’t pacified with the wisdom of a God who loves us too much to allow us to destroy ourselves with ignorance and ego.

I know that in the last year, I’ve used the phrase, “when you’re older”, about 365 times. And I think I’m being generous, because I know it’s often said more than once per day.

I wonder how many time God uses that phrase, or perhaps a variation of it? Waiting on the Lord is a common theme in the Psalms. Patience is a form of love and a fruit of the Spirit.

I love my son… but I’m not about to let him behind the wheel of the car just because he cries tears of unfairness. I’m not going to let him stay up late when it isn’t good for him and I’m not going to let him eat the portions of a grown man just because his brain hasn’t developed enough to understand.

Shouldn’t God do the same for us? What that means to us is… we need more patience, more understanding, and more reality that we aren’t equal with God. We don’t share His bed time. We aren’t privy to all the knowledge and wisdom of the creator of the universe.

Sometimes His answer to us might simply be, “because I said so”. And we need to faithfully learn that that is an excellent answer. The creator of the world, including our small part in it, deemed us as perfect, right where we are, for now. And if, as parents, we want our children to appreciate that safety and protection that we provide in those moments, we should thrive there as well.

But we also teach our son to ask. It’s OK to ask. We love him and want him to be happy. So, as frustrating as it gets, he is allowed, and even encouraged, to ask for a later bedtime. And someday, he will get it. And it will most certainly be on a day that he asks for it. But not yet. Not today. He isn’t ready. His little body needs sleep.

Part of what he doesn’t understand is that I’m happy to give him things that he enjoys once is ready for them. And if, in my sinful nature, I can manage to be that for him… imagine what God is prepared to do for us… when we are ready.


Image by Pexels from Pixabay