Learning Repentance

 

Miranda and I have been working on teaching our children about repentance quite a bit lately. We never really use that word, but we’re trying to lay a foundation which will make it easy to understand as they grow older. Our practice is to teach them a few things to say when they have hurt someone:

1) I’m sorry. (Stop behavior)
2) I won’t do it again. (Turn around behaviorally)
3) Will you forgive me? (Restore relationship)

After listening to a sermon from Rob Morris (Love146) I’m considering adding another element. He reminded me of the Biblical accounts where the repentant sinner’s first action was to “right” the wrong that he caused and and to even go beyond “right” to make it “better.”

Remember Zacchaeus, the tax collector who gave back four times everything he had taken? (Lk 19:1-10)

Or when the rich young ruler went away grieved because he could not bring himself to help the poor. (Mk 10:17-22)

In Luke 3:10-14, John the Baptist is preaching a baptism of repentance and when asked “What shall we do?” He tells them to give to the poor and to treat others fairly.

Evidently, our repentance should impact the poor and oppressed as well.

All this is to say, I need to find some ways to help my kids see that repentance is more than my three step lesson. It should have legs on it and actions tied to it. Repentance should impact everyone around us.

Maybe we should add the question: “How can I make it better?” (Restore/Improve situation)

Lord, guide us to model repentance for our children. Lead us to the strategies that will help us to encounter You – to be confronted by sin, and to recognize that our behaviors hinder our relationship with You. Forgive us. Restore us unto You. Change us. Empower us by the Holy Spirit to choose new behaviors and walk different roads and lead us to improve the situations that we have caused in our sin. AMEN.

Valentine’s Dance

I watched her giggling across the room as she danced. The flashing lights sparkled in her eyes which lit up as she noticed me watching her. Her smile expanded even wider. She floated across the dance floor and threw her arms open to me saying “Hold me daddy!” We danced. Well….I danced and her feet dangled a few feet above the dance floor. It was an incredible night and I’m so grateful that I took the time to ask her out.

valentineKesleigh is 3, almost 4, and I had asked her to go with me about a week before the big event. As her father, it’s my goal to love her like God loves her. I know I’ll never do that well, but it’s my responsibility to be an earthly representation of Him to her. That’s HUGE! I’ve got to do all I can and pray that God will use my even feeble efforts to reveal Himself to her.

I also wanted to make a special effort that night to let her see how a man should treat her. I know it’s early, but I want her to grow up knowing what to look for in a husband. I got dressed up for her – that may very well be the biggest expression of my love. I opened the door for her and was courteous. I bought her dinner (Yes it was McDonalds, but that’ll change as she gets older) and held her hand as we walked into the ballroom. I proudly introduced her to the people around us and waited patiently as she picked out candy for her snack. I asked her to dance with me and even embarrassed myself a bit for her entertainment. I laughed with her as I tried to teach her a few dances – Chicken Dance, YMCA, 2 Step, etc. I tried to serve her in every capacity and when the time was right….in the middle of a slow dance, I spoke to her gently and tried to explain how much she meant to me. I know she’s only three, but she truly seemed to grasp the significance of the moment and before I even finished talking, she looked directly in my eyes, and said, “I love you daddy.” as she wrapped her little arms around my neck. She just held me for the rest of the song. It was magical. The rest of the evening she wouldn’t leave my side. Even when I tried to get her to dance with her friends, she only wanted to be with me.

This is my prayer – that Kesleigh would grasp the significance of God’s love for her and that she would never want to be out of His presence again. LORD, may it be so.

P.S. – If you ask her what the best part of the evening was, she won’t mention any of these events. All she’s gonna talk about is the “Candy Bar” and how she was able to go back as many times as she wanted.

Blessings in Disguise

I leisurely walked out of the biggest Bucees in Texas with my road snacks in hand and noticed the wheel on the camper . . . it looks . . . what in the world? . . . huh? How could it be crooked?

Well. . . It wasn’t just a flat. A few hours later a Mobile RV repairman arrived and when he jacked up the camper the wheel just fell off. I knew something was wrong when I left Lake Jackson. Imhad no idea how bad it was. We had been on the road for at least 4 hrs and travelled about 60mph the whole time. The repairman explained that “someone must have been looking out for you” ’cause if the wheel had come off while we were on the road. . . well, we probably would have lost a lot more than a wheel and axle. My children were in the truck. My bride was in the truck. I can’t imagine and don’t want to think about what could have happened.

20121217-220145.jpgIn the end we had to spend a lot of $$ that we hadn’t planned on spending. We had to drive another 10hrs to pick up the camper. However, I have been blessed. The LORD protected us that day. He had His hand on us.

I wonder how many other times He has protected me without my knowledge? How many “Thank Yous” do I owe God? More than I’ll ever know. I’m sure. I’m just grateful.

LORD, for all of the the missed thank yous, please accept this one, “Thank You.”

Not Surprised

I am always surprised by the things God does. How He provides. How He speaks. How He. . . .

However, when I look back over my life, I see His consistency in all things. He is always faithful to provide. He is always speaking. He is always working, loving, guiding, intervening. . . He is always. . . He is God.

If I reflect on His character and our relationship, it’s not surprising at all that He would do these things. Why am I surprised?

Maybe my surprise reveals my lack of faith? Or maybe it reveals the greatness of God? He is beyond my imagination and comprehension.

I suspect it’s actually both.

The Bridge

Over the years, the valley had grown wider. All the storms (big and small) compounded and made it tough to traverse so . . . we built a bridge.

I had a great Spring Break! Miranda, Kasen, Kesleigh, and I spent the week in Livingston with our good friends (we consider them family) the Godbolds. We also got to spend time with the Bowles, Leitschuhs, and Dale Googer’s. It was incredible! We spent the week as bridge builders.

We built a bridge over a little creek on the property, but there were also other bridges built. Since the time we moved away from Tomball, we have felt separated from our friends, but bridges were built. I watched my children meet new friends and learn new things – bridges were built.

Bridges were built with discussions around the fire. They were built as we reminisced. They were built as we shared stories and laughed. More bridges were built as we sang old songs and even as we reflected in the silence.

Livingston – this place – the people it represents – the memories – all of it reminds me of who I am and challenges me to remember who I want to become. This is a bridge. Livingston is a bridge between my past and my future. I’m grateful for this bridge – for this place – for my friends – for my God.

The years had worn on them – torn the banks.

We built a bridge.

Livingston is a bridge.

I want my life to be a bridge.

Kasen’s First Day of BMX

We had a great time today at the Beltway 8 BMX track! The people at the track were great hosts and led us through the whole process. Some of the riders were very helpful to Kasen and the other little guys while they were on the track as well.

Kasen loved his first experience as a BMX racer. He even fell down once and got up to race the next time – made daddy very proud. As a dad, I’m learning so much about what it means to love – and how much God must love me. I take so much joy in watching my kids. It doesn’t matter too much what they’re doing – I just love watching them learn, and grow, and experience new things. I love watching them succeed and even watching them overcome obstacles when they fail. It’s so much fun watching who they are becoming.

I’m recognizing how great God’s love must be for me in all of this too. If I can love my kids in this way, I figure God’s love must be even better. Maybe it I shouldn’t stress so much about “what” I’m doing and focus more on “who” I’m becoming? Maybe that’s more what God is interested in too?

Anyway, here’s the video: You can see all of it – the good, the bad, the wipeout. . . everything. Miranda pointed out that I say “buddy” an awful lot too.

Small Prayers

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been praying for a job. I prayed that prayer for so long and with such desperation that I quit praying for smaller things. I was focused. I knew that God would provide, but as often as I was reminded of my situation, I prayed for it. And in the end, God proved Himself once again to be faithful as our provider.

However, now that my prayers aren’t as desperate, my prayer life has changed. I got out of the habit of praying for smaller things, cause I had one really big thing to pray about. It’s not that I didn’t believe God could do something about those smaller things, it’s just that I had different priorities. I wasn’t sweating the small stuff ’cause the BIG thing was overwhelming me.

As a result, I don’t find myself praying for the smaller things now either – I almost feel guilty doing so. I mean, I know other people in desperate situations too. How can I spend time praying for a better parking space or for there to be one more sausage biscuit in the fridge when I get up in the morning? When there are so many real issues, these things seem so trivial. But here’s what I’m discovering – well. . . discovering again: If I’m not praying for the little things, and I don’t have a BIG thing, then I’m simply not praying at all. And if I’m not praying at all, then I’m not growing closer to the LORD. Maybe these little prayers help me stay close to Him. Maybe they keep me grounded and remind me that He is ALWAYS present. He is Consistently Emmanuel – Always with me.

If I’m praying small prayers, ‘it’s cause I believe God is in control of everything and that He wants to be involved in the details of it all. I love when my kids ask me to help them put their shoes on or brush their teeth. Why wouldn’t God love to help us (His children) with our little things? Of course He would. He loves us. If He’s anything like me, not only does He enjoy helping, but He also feels honored to help. Maybe our asking Him to help us with the small things is another form of worship. If He is honored and glorified in it, then that sounds like worship to me.

Prayer: LORD, help me to prayer smaller prayers. I’m great at BIG desperate prayers, but need help when it comes to small things. You are always God – always sovereign – always concerned about Your kids. Teach me to come to You as a child and to honor You by praying crazy little prayers. AMEN.

Hijacker

If this represented my life, it would be a nice big tree with no roots at all. I'm good at facades.

I’m a hijacker.

I was listening to a podcast by Tullian Tchividjian called “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.” In it, he described how even our spiritual growth efforts can become self-centered by taking the focus off who God IS and making it about what we do.

The intent of spiritual growth is to build our relationship with God, but I’ll confess that sometimes I find myself hijacking it for my own glory. I’m not nearly as interested in spiritual “growth” as I am in gaining spiritual “knowledge” to add to my “spiritual” arsenal or to expand the “spiritual” facade I hold up for others to see. Wow! Did that make any sense? What I meant is this: Instead of being motivated to “grow” toward God, I am motivated by selfishness to make myself look like I’ve “grown” toward God. Sinful. That’s what it is. I’m sinful. I need Jesus to rescue my attempts at spiritual growth. I’m so sick that I need Jesus to keep me from tainting the very practices that guide me toward Him. True spiritual growth efforts are motivated by the greatness of God which moves us to seek Him. Often, my efforts are motivated out of a desire to know more than my friend’s know – out of a selfish “I’m more spiritual” attitude.

I will also confess that I love the way I feel when I go to another “level” or “spiritual” high. Even a new tidbit of information or insight about the Bible is enough to make me feel like I have “grown.” My insatiable desire for more doesn’t allow me to fully rest in Jesus’ effort on the cross. This is sinful. I wrongfully believe my efforts and knowledge about Scripture is what matters. It’s NOT! What matters is God’s character. NOT the things I do, but the things He IS. What matters is the cross! Because of who He IS, He chose to go to the cross. And because of that, I am already close to Him. Even when I seek spiritual “growth” with selfish motivations, even in the midst of my sin, He died for me. He loves me fully! Right where I am He loves me.    He . . . . . loves . . . . . me.

God should be glorified. Completely glorified. ‘Cause He’s great and we are not. He is faithful. He is love. He is amazing! Loving each of us no matter how sick we are. He is so out of our league. We can never understand how great He is – how great His love is. His ways are so much higher than ours. (Is 55:8-9)

I guess what I’m saying is that this hijacker wants to return this glory back to it’s rightful owner.

To God be the Glory forever, and ever, AMEN!

Romans 11:33-36
33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
36For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

 

Look

Check out Charles Spurgeon’s conversion story in his own words.

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache.

The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man,* a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was,—

“LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.”

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus—”My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pains. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!” said he, in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.'”

Then the good man followed up his text in this way:—”Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!

When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death,—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.” I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said,—I did not take much notice of it,—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.” – Taken from Charles H. Spurgeon: His Faith and Works, H.L. Wayland, 1892.

God used a snowstorm to keep a pastor from making it to a service so that another preacher would be there for Spurgeon to hear the exact words that He needed in order to be saved. “Look.”

John 3:14-15msg

“In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.”

Numbers 21:4-9msg

They set out from Mount Hor along the Red Sea Road, a detour around the land of Edom. The people became irritable and cross as they traveled. They spoke out against God and Moses: “Why did you drag us out of Egypt to die in this godforsaken country? No decent food; no water—we can’t stomach this stuff any longer.”

So God sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke out against God and you. Pray to God; ask him to take these snakes from us.”

Moses prayed for the people.

God said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live.”

So Moses made a snake of fiery copper and put it on top of a flagpole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the copper snake lived.

Look my friends. LOOK upon Jesus. In Him, you will find everything. You will find salvation. You will find peace. You will find truth and light and life. Look upon Jesus and be saved!