I’ve noticed a change in my son’s morning routine. He used to start every day by asking if he should wear short or long sleeves. Now he wears long sleeves without asking. Every day. And sometimes a sweatshirt or jacket. I didn’t think much of it since it has, after all, been “winter” in SoCal.
Then a few days ago he came in with a couple pieces of wood and asked if he could somehow tie them with rope around his head so they covered his face, “and maybe drill some holes here for my eyes so I can see”.
Come to find out, there’s drama in the neighborhood. One of the boys Nathan plays with got a BB gun. Now Nathan thinks about the reality of getting shot with a BB every day from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed. He frets about it, plans for it, and dresses accordingly.
A BB gun. And he’s crafting his own armor.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
Maybe we should take a lesson from Nathan. When was the last time you woke up planning on being attacked by the enemy, so you buckled some truth around your waist or covered your weaknesses with righteousness before you even left the house?
We are in a battle. Our enemy is far more menacing than the neighborhood kid with an AirSoft. And we must – we MUST – be ready!
You know that distinctive sound of an object being thrust into a box fan? Kind of a really fast repetitive thud? Yeah – I had the pleasure of hearing that noise a few nights ago as my kids were playing upstairs. Followed by a gasp.
“What hit the fan?” was my immediate – and a little bit worried – question. Nathan sheepishly came down the stairs holding his hand. “What hit the fan?” I asked again.
“I think my finger got in there.”
“You think your finger got in there?”
How many times do we give God those kind of answers?
“I think some unloving words came out of my mouth.”
“I think my temper got lost.”
“I think my eyes looked at those pictures. Again.”
This Sunday I talked to the Renovate men about obedience. We looked at John 14.15 – “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” For followers of God, obedience is not an option. God is love and we want to obey him.
But Nathan’s experience with the fan teaches us another important lesson: When we disobey God, we hurt ourselves. Are you lying to your employer? Guess who gets fired when they find out. Looking at images or movies you shouldn’t be? Guess whose relationships are going to be destroyed. Putting control, pleasure, image, wealth…ahead of God? Guess whose life will be empty, lonely, and filled with fear.
Fortunately Nathan’s finger didn’t suffer any damage this time. But he certainly learned the lesson we have told him time and time again. Will you be wise enough to learn that lesson, too.
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” — Jesus
Filed under Main, Ministry
We have this conversation often in our house:
One of the girls, in mostly-pretend tears – “Dad! Nathan hit me with (insert just about any object that can resemble a light saber).”
Nathan, running down the stairs behind her – “I didn’t hit her hard enough to hurt!”
Me, to Nathan – “But, you DID hit her?”
Nathan – “Yes, but not hard enough to hurt.”
Me – “But, you DID hit her?”
Nathan – “Yes, but not hard enough to hurt.”
[Repeat until Nathan just says, “Yes”.]
Me – “Do you get to decide what hurts someone else?”
And then I get convicted myself. How many times have I argued with Amy about why what I said or did shouldn’t have hurt her? How many people have I brushed off or flat-out ignored because I thought they were acting more hurt than they really should have been? How does that square with the times I get angry and bitter at people who refuse to believe that what they did actually hurt ME?
Who in your life is saying, “You’re hurting me!”? What would change if you started believing them?
Filed under Main, Ministry
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In our family, the tooth doesn’t fall far from the mouth. Or at least…not easily. I remember losing teeth. It was horrible. As soon as I had a barely-loose tooth, I would gather an assortment of tools – tweezers, floss, mirrors, paper towels and washcloths, flashlight, nitrous-oxide…okay, no laughing gas. But everything else. Seriously.
Tonight, Nathan had a barely-loose tooth. Not his first, but just like his daddy before him, he knew what he needed to do. After nearly an hour of prying, digging, twisting, and even tweezing, his perseverance paid off. Look at that face!
Looks like I need to go buy some ice cream. How else am I supposed to get change to stuff under his pillow?
I’m afraid I’m passing on my techno-geekness to my son. For one, he’s been a wiz at the remote control/DVR for years already. For two, he loves to check the weather online first thing every morning, even though we live in SoCal where it is pretty much either hot or hotter. For three, oh, I could list several embarrassing things, but I’ll get on to my point.
The other day my 9-year-old son called me to get the e-mail address of one of his church teachers. (How cool that is is another post that I’m sure will come shortly…) A few minutes later my iChat window bounced informing me that I had a new message. I clicked it and there was a question from my son. (I had shown him how to use iChat a few days prior, so it isn’t like he signed himself up or anything. But I’m still not all the way used to it.) Anyway, he was IMing me to say that the e-mail address I gave him was rejected. Here is the tail-end of the conversation that ensued…
If you knew my son at all, you could totally here exactly how he would say that last “OOOOOOOoooooooh”.
I snickered and talked with Amy about how crazy it is that our kids are getting so smart. And ever since, I can’t get over the embarrassed sense that sometimes (probably even most of the time) I’m more intentional about passing on techno-savvy than the knowledge of the tools of faith. Virtues like Faith, Charity, Hope, Justice, Mercy – will he know how to turn those off and on like the DVR? Will he wield the Sword of the Spirit as proficiently as he does the universal remote? Will he scour God’s Word to clothe himself in Righteousness the same way he examines the forecast to see what he should wear today?
Or for that matter – do I? That’s where it gets scary, isn’t it?
Deuteronomy 6 says we should make sure our kids know the commands and decrees of the LORD by “talk[ing] about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” So let’s get transparent for a few minutes and talk about it. Tell me where your heart skips a beat when you hear that. For me it is definitely in the techno-gadget aisle. What is it for you? Knowledge of the zone defense or how to read a curveball out of the pitchers hand? Who’s hot on American Idol/Dancing with the Stars/Survivor/…, and who’s not? The latest fashion trends and Red Carpet gossip? If you really got honest with yourself, what knowledge or skill have you let creep in front of your passion to pass on your love of and faith in your Heavenly Father? Speak up…we’re all in this together.
Several months ago my son lost a tooth. In the middle of the night my wife woke me and asked if I had put any money under his pillow. I hadn’t. So with eyes mostly closed, I dug through the change drawer, pulled together $2.00 in quarters, stealthily exchanged the tooth for a Ziploc bag with the coinage, and got back in bed, all without ever really waking up.
Next morning, Nathan came in wearing a huge smile and toting his bag of change. Me: “Tooth Fairy come last night, buddy?” Nathan, excitedly: “Yep. And YOU [very proud that he knows no such fairy exists] left me a dollar and eighty cents!” He proudly bounced out of the room, cherishing his treasure. And Amy and I looked at each other puzzled, and then nearly fell on the floor laughing. Apparently in the middle of the night the tooth fairy can’t tell the difference between a quarter and a nickel!
How I wish I was like Nathan. Too often I see my Heavenly Father like a cheapskate tooth fairy, not giving me all that I feel like I deserve…of something I could never deserve. I focus on the “20 cents” He must have forgotten about instead of the bag of money (amazing wife; healthy, beautiful kids; a great church and job; good friends and family…) I’m holding that I had no business receiving.
Do any of you ever feel on the short end of a gift God is in the process of giving you? What gifts do you most often forget that you need to be completely thankful for? Tell us about it.