School is coming…For some it is already here…For some parents it is a great day, for some parents their will be tears . For some kids it is a struggle filled with anxiety and for some kids they just cant wait to be back at school with their friends. It is a mix of anxiety, joy, fear, and excitement for a new year.
One things we will all experience this year is the busyness that comes with a new school year. It seems to me that every year, sports gets more intense, classes get harder for kids, the schedule for ministry even seems to get more and more intense. All these things may be amazing opportunities for learning, exercise, friendships, and fun. These things can make it almost impossible to have opportunities to share a meal, share your day, or just find times to be home and slowing down together with your family.
Somewhere as a family we all learned that to be the best parents we have to run, run, run. We have to be in everything, be there for everyone, and give our kids the most experiences possible. I am here to tell you we are all wrong on this front. Yes experiences for our kids are great. It is important to give them times to succeed, and fail, to find joy, and sadness so we can help them navigate those moments before they become adults. The thing I think we miss is how can we also teach them to rest. How do we teach them to slow down enjoy life with the people God has put in our lives.
This fall our Church is starting something new. We are calling it Family rest nights. The second and forth Wednesdays of each month during the school year we have opened the school and Church schedule so that no events happen in the building after 4pm. We want to model for families to be home and with each other gathered around His word. I love food so for us it will include a meal. We plan to send out emails with devotional questions, scripture readings, and prayers for the family. The goal is to help model family times of rest. My prayers is this will help families slow down and be. Slow down and be in the presence of each other and Jesus. I know I need to have those times of rest. Join us in resting in Jesus and growing together as a family.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42 NIV)
This morning in chapel at St. John I thought it would be fun to take all the palm branches left over from Palm Sunday and strewn them all down the aisles. It was a huge mess. I would say it might have been the biggest mess you can make in Church. In fact I was pretty sure after chapel the janitor would no longer be speaking to me with kind words. Kids walked in and were shocked by the mess on the floors. It was a glories mess. (By the way as a youth leader making a mess is what I do)
I had them read with me Mark 11:1-11. It is my favorite version of the story of Jesus being called king. In this text, Jesus rides his donkey into Jerusalem and the people were excited that this might be the next king to rule. They are excited because they thought he would come and kick out the romans and rule the world again. Jesus walks into the temple and does nothing. He just walks back out. I would say all the people who are holding those palm branches just dropped them on the floor. He wasn’t the king they expected, but He is a king and he would show them how he would clean up their mess they had in their lives.
I proceeded to share with the kids and staff about the mess we all live with. My family can make some big messes. Please don’t ever plan on just dropping in because if you do you will see a mess. If you give me some time I can clean up some and make it look like my house is clean. In fact I say to my wife and kids. The trick is make it look good but not too good so they don’t know we worked for a couple hours making it look clean. You see I think many of us have a mess in our lives we pretend isn’t really there, or we spend a lot of time making clean ups look like we have it all together. But here is the thing we are a mess.
This week is Holy week. It is the week Jesus shares with us that he isn’t here as some great king to conquer the world but here to clean up our mess. He shows us his love Thursday through being a servant, then he continues that service on Friday to make the ultimate sacrifice on the cross to clean up our mess. He rose again Sunday to keep His promise of new life in Him.
If you haven’t been in worship in awhile I would encourage you to join the Church any Church these next four days. Come and see all He did for us. It wasn’t necessarily what we expected and certainly is more than just a quick cleaning. Jesus has come and rose again to bring new life and clean up the mess that is our life.
Thank you Jesus for your love and grace.
(By the way we did clean up the sanctuary today, and the janitor is still speaking to me…)
One of the hardest parts of reading the scripture in a year is getting through the many sections of names. It can seem tedious, and well, down right boring. I have read them over and over many times. Going through long lists of names can be tedious and often funny when reading it out loud. But in those lists of names we are reminded of two very important things.
God remembers our name. This might seem so simple but is so powerful to me. We are not just some number on his score sheet. God doesn’t do a count of people just to say oh look I have 10,000 believers, or I have 20,000 believers. He has your name written in the book of life. You are his. He records them and reminded his believes so many years ago to do the same. As you read through those genealogies and read those names which might seem weird or just plain odd remember he has your name written in the book of life. He did it at your baptism and holds you close to himself. He knows you and knows your name. You are important to Him. He died and rose for you.
Lastly God is faithful. He took time to work out our salvation. He took time to work through all these people before us and was faithful. He promised to bring our salvation to completion and did through Jesus. God worked all these things so some of the most unfaithful, and awful people. He didn’t pick a bunch of amazing wonderful people. He chose us because he is faithful. God is good!
This last week we have done a good job as a family of reading our scripture each day. It isn’t always going to be easy but is going to help us see Jesus and His work for us. He knows you and your family by Name.
My God bless you as you read the scriptures as a family.
You can download a daily reader from: http://www.oneyearbibleonline.com/readingplan/oneyearbiblereadingplan.pdf
Fire is one of my favorite things. I love camping mostly because I get to build a fire and watch it. It is mesmerizing. It is amazing really. It is also a dangerous thing. When I was a young boy my dad and I were in the back of the property burning up some brush. It was mostly a white pile of hot embers at the time and so I threw in a new stick. My Dad was in the front of the house getting more wood and I grabed at that stick to move it again and BAM new flame burned my hand. My dad came running and got me some ice to help my hand heal. I was in a lot of pain but it could have been a lot worse. As a kid I didn’t understand the danger. I was in playing with fire.
Last week I had the privilege of sharing the staff devotion for the school teachers. I know most school devotions take the form of reading something you find meaningful to share with others. I read a text from Jude
22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 22-23 NIV
These verses remind us of the our ministry among each other. Every day my goal is to help my kids be snatched from the fire. I pray every day God uses me to snatch other kids and families from the fire. Their is no greater calling as a parent, Dad, friend or minister. This is serious business and God has called all of us to be a part of it. The Holy Spirit does the work. He changes hearts, He changes minds, we just get to be a part of it.
In the season of Christmas and the crazy times we are living remember to be merciful to those who are struggling. Be merciful to those who don’t know Jesus. Be merciful to all you meet. You just may be a part of snatching them from the fire.