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Archive for the ‘children’ Category

“In the long run, what counts is how the next generation thinks. How far new ideas permeate culture is not measured just by attitude change during one generation, but by what is taken for granted in the next.” – Helen Haste
(The Sexual Metaphor: Men, Women, and the Thinking that Makes the Difference, page 149). (ht)

What do you think we are taking for granted?

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A couple of weeks ago, my sons “graduated” from kindergarten. I know.  But it was fun being there and I took all kinds of pictures. What can I say. I’m just like that. And as my son was being praised by his teacher I noticed the four little signs above him.  I took the picture above.

The sign in red say, “We respect the rights of others.”

The sign in yellow says, “It’s intelligent to ask for help.”

The sign in blue says, “We are free to make mistakes.”

The sign in green says, “It takes courage to take a risk.”

And when I read them something inside of me said, “What would happen if we hung those in our local church?” Respect for others, asking for help, freedom to make mistakes, and my favorite, the courage to take a risk. I love it. And something in me also wondered if someone would take them down. Yet these were likely fundamental to the early church.

What would happen if you hung those signs in your church on Sunday?

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When I was a child I used to go to my grandmother’s house in Ontario California for a week during the summer.  We’d wake up by 7:00 because there were no curtains in the room we stayed in and the sun used to shine in our bedroom.  The first thing we would do is rush and turn on the television and watch our favorite cartoons.  But once breakfast was served, my grandmother would turn off the television and tell us, “You two should play outside.”  When we used to complain, she would then say, “You kids should be so lucky.  I didn’t even have a television set when I was your age.”
Fast forward 30 some odd years.  I spent a weekend a while ago with some friends at  nice little retreat up in the hills.  It was an absolutely stunning location with so much beauty.  My wife and I have a strict rule of no television until after school during school year.  On vacation we relax that a bit.  But sensing the beauty of the surroundings I turned off the television and told the kids (some mine and some my friends) to go out and play.  My kids are used to this but my friends kids instantly grabbed their hand-held Nintendos and spent the next two hours playing them.  When they had to turn them off the first thing they said was, “I’m bored.”

And now I’m wondering if I’m turning into my grandmother or this generation just doesn’t know how to use its imagination.  Some of my best days were spent with the television off.

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My friend Rick, who seems to post something great about every six seconds ;-), recently wrote about the idea of freedom. His post is a summary of the idea of freedom and definitely worth the read.

But it also got me thinking about the nature of freedom before the fall. In God’s infinite wisdom, he somehow forgot to publish the manual. Yes, there is a sign post but it has one lousy warning that doesn’t even apply to us, and it reads,

And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'” (Genesis 2:16-17)

That’s it folks. That’s the extent of God’s instructions on what not to do before the fall, which is mind blowing if you think about it. In God’s original iteration of kingdom, He’s not really interested in telling us what NOT to do. There is a tremendous amount of freedom in that. It’s like telling a kid entering Disneyland that there is nothing he can’t do. Can I climb on the outside of the Matterhorn? Yep. Can I drink pink lemonade and eat popcorn all day? I guess, if you want to. Can I ride Space Mountain seventeen times…in a row? Be my guest. Can I…yes.

The sad reality is that the fall distorted humanity and God’s creation and God has to provide the law, which is insanely impossible to follow if you’ve tried. But the work of the cross helped restore God’s creation and gave us access to His Spirit. It also helped usher in freedom once again.

I think one of the hardest parts of Missio Dei is exploring freedom. The Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians,

“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. (1 Corinthians 10:23)

This verse freaks me out to be honest. When you come from a religious background like I do it seems to easy. And yet this idea of freedom seems to keep popping up. Rick even pointed out another earlier verse Paul wrote to the Corinthians.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (1 Cor 3:17)

Freedom is one of the central themes of the Gospel. In fact one could argue that the central theme of Galatians, which was the first letter written after the resurrection of Jesus, is all about freedom. The word free or freedom in used 9 times. In fact the writers of the New Testament love the word, using it 47 times in the epistles.

It’s like God is saying, “yes you get to play on the outside of the Matterhorn. Yes there really is freedom.” And I have to ask. Are we, as His beloved the one’s leading the way to freedom? Are we the one’s taking the risks to find out what this really means?

And so I want to be the guy exploring what this means. What does it mean that I have freedom? The interesting thing is that I want this same freedom for my children. I want them to feel at ease around me and in my home. I don’t want them to feel fear at the slightest indiscretion or fault. I want them to know first that I love them and that they have freedom to live out their lives. When we go to Disneyland, I want them to have fun.

And all this talk about freedom makes me wonder if it is me that is keeping me back from experiencing all that God has to offer. Maybe it’s the enemy that is speaking quietly in my ear saying, “Nah, it’s not really THAT good.” Maybe it’s me that doesn’t want to let go of the condemnation and retribution. Maybe it’s me that is missing something and God is simply waiting for me to find it out.

Maybe I need to go get my climbing gear. Just kidding. Actually I’m not.

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Aaron at The Colorful Journey invited me to take part in a Simple Faith Meme started by Gary. The question is, “How would you define simple faith in Christ?”

Faith to me is surrendering to the winning side. It’s stepping into trust with my Heavenly Father who loves me deeply and embracing His Spirit. It’s taking the risk to live the life I was created for. It’s embracing love as the defining action in my life. And it’s enjoying the ride.

What is interesting is that I see this in my children. They don’t worry about things the way we do as adults. A friend of mine relayed a story to me that illustrates what I’m talking about. Another friend of ours sent out an email with a devotional that talked about a verse in Luke,

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”—Luke 18:16-17

My friend was reading the devotional very early in the morning and uncharacteristically his seven year old daughter, who doesn’t usually wake up that early, walked into his office at that moment. My friend was intrigued by the idea that children don’t worry. So he asked his daughter, “Do you every worry about tomorrow?”

She looked at him with a funny face and said matter of factly, “Why?”

I look forward to the day when I can say, “Why?” I look forward to the moment when trust is just a way of life. I look forward to the day when surrendering is not the issue, but embracing the simple truth that He loves me more than I can possibly imagine.

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This is an update of WWJD…WTC.

Jesus seemed to love the way children would approach him. He even said,

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)

Their honesty is often humorous and even ironic, conveying meanings and truth they didn’t know they are saying.

Today I took my son to get a new pair of shoes for school. While we were driving he said to me, “Daddy, why do we go to church?”

My son is only five years old, and not wanting to make any assumptions about why he said it, I simply asked. “Why do you say that?”

His response was immediate and brisk. “Because I don’t want to go anymore.”

“Why don’t you want to go anymore?” I asked.

“Because all they give us are donuts.”

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In our every day lives how often do we stop and smell the roses? This is the question a researcher asked recently. He took “one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made” and put him in a Washington Metro station to see who would listen. The hypothesis was that people would stop and notice, taking in the beauty and respond by giving handsomely to the artist for his art.

No one noticed.

Only a handful of people stopped, with one exception: the children. “Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. and every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.

Maybe children get it better than we do because we’re so intent on getting somewhere. Maybe children realize that to do so is to miss all the beauty along the way. Or maybe they haven’t bought into the confused mass appeal of the games we play that have devastating consequence.

Why did we lose so much of our focus on beauty? Why don’t we stop and take in the beauty of the music that is there but often drowned out by the noise in our lives? My only hope is that I would be one of those who stopped.

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