You know what question
Gets under my skin?
What part of left
Becomes right again?
Also how much sky touches the ground
Or how much upright is upside down?
How much red is found in blue?
How much desert is covered in dew?
What about laughing that turns into a frown
Or how secretly unhappy are whimsical clowns?
Does it really matter how much a hen weighs?
Or how many hours add up to days?
How loud and heavy is a plop?
How many flips are in a flop?
Why are people different than they seem?
Why don’t we ever see grape ice cream?
Who has the job of inspecting my flight?
Who invented the original kite?
All of these things swirl in my head
And make me toss and turn in my bed
But…the answer to all of these
Will never change the earth
Nor will the constant worry
We have experienced from birth
So take a moment to calm your mind
And leave your concern far behind
You don’t really have to be the one
To know all the answers under the sun
Take a breath.
Go to sleep.
Your day is complete.
Even though slumber sounds like an impossible feat.
Ladies and gentlemen
Welcome to the main event
A fight of the century
The bout worth every cent
In this corner, Daddy
Big, strong and wise
In the opposite; daughter
With the biggest blue eyes
This fight will put chills down your spine
It’s bound to be a thrill
Let’s listen to this verbal match
Lean in quietly and be still
The smallest one starts it off
Let’s hear her first swing
With a phrase she starts the brawl
Then Daddy steps into the ring
“I love you so much” she begins
We can almost hear the crowd roar
Their eyes stare each other down
She gets the very first score
“I love you more than you will ever know”
Daddy says with a smug grin
Then little lady fires back
The intense struggle is about to begin
“No, I love you times a million”
She says thinking she was going to win
But Daddy was ready for her joust
He cracks his knuckles, takes a breath, and leans in
“You are out matched little one
You don’t have a prayer
Mom and I asked God for you
We loved you before you even breathed air”
Daughter tried to fire back
But Daddy didn’t let her go
There was more that needed to be said
He was not nearly out of ammo
“I love you more than wide is wide
I love you farther than the planet Mars
I love you all the way to God and back
Way past the twinkling stars
Don’t try to defeat me in this
Because you have already lost
I would do anything for you
No matter what the cost
Sometimes mom and I can get mad
And raise our voices to correct
But never forget how much we love you
You are mine, despite whether or not you object
And with that final blow
The 4 year old accepted defeat
Not a thing could be said
As she stated at her little feet
Then, suddenly she looked up
with joyful tears in her eyes
She kissed Daddy on the cheek
And he realized this was all a guise
All she really wanted
Was to hear her Daddy say
That He loved her without conditions
And then she ran off to play.
“Red rover, red rover send Stacy right over!” You remember that game don’t you? Two lines of children would face one another and when your name is called, your job is to run at full speed and attempt to break through the human chain that opposed you. Some would timidly trot only to be captured…others would use this opportunity to take out some aggression. These are the types of things we did at recess as children.
Recess was an incredible time. Next to lunch, it was my personal favorite period of time during school. If we grew up with this as a common occurrence we can close our eyes and remember times when we made terrible decisions, and also lifelong friendships in the midst of a kickball game or on the “time out wall” when we pushed Emily Stevens down the curly slide and she had to be a stinkin’ little tattle tail and rat us out…umm…hypothetically.
As I was reflecting on my experiences during this unstructured time of play, I realized that there were lessons I learned from the playground that can translate into my spiritual life. It may be a stretch, but sometimes it is fun to see how things like this can link our thoughts to wisdom.
There are 5 lessons I think we can take from recess
1. Tetherball is important– The game of tetherball can be a lesson in the way we handle our pain. The point of tetherball is to hit the ball and draw it closer to the center pole. Your opponent’s purpose is to drive the ball farther away from the pole in the opposite direction and oppose your progress. Each day we are tested in the same way. Life abuses us, sends us through trials, and we walk through suffering unwillingly. If we are not careful, we can walk through these struggles and, if not looked at redemptively, they can oppose our growth and draw us further from the center focus…God. God does not want any pain to be wasted. We can use these instances to draw closer to Him.
2. Bullys are everywhere– Whether it be in the work place, in the grocery store, or the bank we know that bullys still exist. We encounter people on a regular basis who seem to desire the worst for us and our well being. Our first impulse may be to put them in their place or get angry, but often we do not see below the surface. Many times the people who are this way are dealing with such deep pain. Pray for them…they need an encounter with God. They are not your enemy.
3. People will chase you– I noticed that, when people chased you at recess, that meant they really like you. Personally, I was a fan of being chased by girls even though I didn’t admit it. Obviously our main goal in life is not to be liked by all, but we must ask ourselves what type of influence we are to others. What kind of life are you living that deserves to be influential? Hopefully it is one that is chasing after Christ.
4. The point is to get sweaty– As kids we knew what recess was really about. Teachers wanted to get us sweaty so we would “get the wiggles out” for the rest of the school day. It was smart because we were more productive in the second half. Many of us limit our Christian experience to reading, and silent reflection. These are absolutely essential, but there is also more to it. When we get closer to God we realize that there must be a point in which we bring action and service to our faith. “Getting sweaty” is the point of a life that draws us closer to Him. We are being formed in His image to be a light to the dark world.
5. Red rover, red rover– Remember this game? I think we can learn something from it. God wants us to live our lives with purpose and focus. With His resourcing we can break through to freedom. The enemy will try to prevent us from growing and being a part of God’s mission, but He has plans for us. Plans that can give us hope and a future…we just need to close our eyes, put our heads down, and run towards Him.
This is just what I have reflected on…it is no comprehesive exposition of scripture, nor is it meant to be used in a university setting. All I know is that God wants us to learn things through every experience we encounter.
Know you are loved. Know you have a purpose.
You may not know this, but if you go to a church, or are “shopping around” for one that fits you there are some things that you may not know about what the pastor is actually thinking. Pastors put on a great front and try to paint on a fake smile, but deep down inside we are cringing at what you just said to us. Don’t get me wrong, we know your heart and know you have the best intentions behind what you are saying to us, but quite frankly, sometimes we also have a bad day and want to throw a tantrum. We are not allowed to though, because we are pastors, and our angel wings are at the cleaners getting polished for the potluck next week. If I am to be brutally honest, some phrases we hear from our parishioners sound like a broken record. I may be out of bounds, and presumptuous by thinking I can speak for all pastors, but I know I can safely speak for many.
Here are 6 things we are tired of hearing…
1. Pastor, it’s not about the numbers… – You know what?!? It is about the numbers. It is all about the numbers. Think about this…as a pastor, a man or woman dedicates their whole life to service for one purpose; spreading the Gospel among as many people as possible. We have sacrificed time, energy, money, and friends to boldly go into whatever mission field God has called us to go and impact as many as we can. So, when people take this lightly, it really stings. As pastors, we get tired of hearing this, because many honestly don’t even think about church until Saturday evening. Do us a favor, and help us spread the message God has called us to…
2. Children are the church of tomorrow- False. Just because they are not good tithers, doesn’t mean they can’t impact the kingdom like anyone else. Children are the church of right now, and should be incorporated into every part of the church body that their abilities can handle.
3. A few people have said…– No…they didn’t. You and Mrs. Jones don’t count when presenting me with that phrase. You are lovely contributors to the kingdom, but Mrs. Jones complains about everything, and if anyone else really said anything about this I will give you $1000. Send around a petition and we will talk. Love you by the way…
4. The church down the road…– Let me stop you right there… First, there is only one Church, and just because that congregation is growing rapidly doesn’t mean they are sinning or “watering down the word”. It could actually be that they are experiencing a revival that God has brought. Second, they are our brothers and sisters. It is our job to help them grow…WHAT?!?! Yes…you hear me right. We are not their competition. We are their support and extended family. Now, put on your big boy pants and pray for them. Love you by the way…
5. Remember when...- It is sometimes a lot of fun to reminisce about things from the past. We only get tired of hearing this when it stands in the way of reaching more people. Remember, what brought us here will not necessarily get us there…I can admit, though, that it is easy to sometimes “throw the baby out with the bath water” and overlook the fact that there are some things we used to do that may work now.
6. I’m only human– Ok…excellent. Now you can sin all you want. Whew… NOPE. The fact is, you are not only human. If you know Christ, and desire to grow in Him, within you dwells a divine substance. The Christian life takes work, and thank God for the grace of correction.
Brothers and sisters…please understand my heart in these writings. It is not an attempt to shame anyone, but a light-hearted look on things that I think we really need to ponder. Let us be thoughtful in the words we speak and Biblical in the thoughts we think. Love you by the way…
For the most part, my blog posts are meant to inspire, encourage and provoke thought in those who read it. As we are ending 2013, I want to thank all of you who read/ follow my writings. I hope you and your family see God at work in a special way this coming year. Also, even if this last year was not the most memorable, I encourage you to take time to reflect about how God has provided and protected you.
Today, I want to write something a little different. I want to write something fun and light-hearted. I want to tell you all some things I have thought about for many years, but have never shared publicly.
Many people have the misguided notion that pastors sit around all day in empty, quite rooms reading and getting excited about the newest Greek or Hebrew word they just learned. Sometimes this is true, but like any other person, we have crazy desires that we secretly wish would come true but feel silly about revealing them. I would like to share a very short list of some secret desires I have had in my lifetime.
Here it goes…don’t judge me.
1. I have secretly wanted to sing with an a capella group– I know what you are thinking. “This guy must be a great singer“. Nope. Just something I have always wanted to do. I did, however, enjoy the opportunity of being in an a capella group in college. We were called “Undeniable”. We did a lot of practicing and one gig at a church in Michigan. Perhaps you heard of us and have wondered where this stellar group went…..Well, the world just wasn’t ready for us.
2. I have secretly wanted to learn parkour (free running)– Look it up. It is pretty fantastic. I’m not sure how many people, in their minds, connect me with speed and agility but that’s okay. I may have been built more for liberal arts but it is a desire nonetheless.
3. I have secretly wanted to be a voice actor for a cartoon– I used to love mimicking voices when I was a child and equally loved watching cartoons. When I watch Veggie Tales (yes I do watch Veggie Tales) I think about how fun it would be to record in that way.
4. I have secretly wanted to record a children’s audiobook– This desire has come to the surface within the last several months. It is one I would like to accomplish to honor a friend who I lost recently to cancer. Janis Hires was a great inspiration to me and her personality and loving spirit was contagious. This desire was actually her life dream, and I would like to do it to fulfill her dream.
5. I have secretly wanted to learn more languages– One of these is American Sign Language. I have been inspired and encourage by people in my past who have deaf family members, or who have led deaf ministries. It is a beautiful language. I am also interested in Arabic.
6. I have secretly wanted to own an RV– The freedom of travel while still having the comforts of home is something that is appealing to me.
7. I have secretly wanted to be a superhero– Shut up and keep scrolling…..
Perhaps some of you have similar desires. It is fun to day dream and there is nothing wrong with it. God gave us an imagination and He delights when we use it.
My son is so fun to watch. He is now in a phase in his life where he loves to jump. He loves to jump in place, from one tile to the other, over cracks in the sidewalk, and even off the couch. The couch jumping had me nervous for a while until I saw him do it. He actually has pretty good technique.
When watching him play, I have noticed that he focuses intently on what he is working on. If he is putting together a puzzle then he holds his tongue out slightly like a golden retriever until he can figure it out. When he is building a block tower worthy of a medal, he does the same thing. The best time to watch my son is when he is playing with no restrictions or structure. You know…the times where is just spinning, jumping, or running laps around the dining room table. In those moments, the only purpose he is seeking…and the only resource he is reacting out of is joy.
Do you know why it is so fun to watch him? It is fun because my son has not allowed the world’s problems to steal his joy. They are still there, and he knows that sometimes people get “owies” and mean people push each other at the playground, but for some reason he has the ability to put that aside for a simple expression of joy. There is no worry about the mortgage payment or fear of Mondays…he doesn’t think about where the next meal will come from. He trusts.
Sometimes I think we are sinning by not living life in this way. In a way we are…because this is the life that God intended for humanity at the very beginning. Sure, Adam in the Garden of Eden still had important work to do, but everything he did was punctuated by the trust he had in God and His
very presence. We, as humans tend to lose our focus on joy.
Today, seek to find joy. Seek to live for the purpose of joy. Not fleeting and temporary happiness, but true delight in the fact that God is in control.