“Is She A Down Syndrome?”

Recently, my wife and I packed up the family for an afternoon of hiking and exploring in Helen, Ga. We could not have asked for a better day. The kids loved the hike, the weather was perfect and memories were made.   After our hike we had dinner in Helen and we walked around the quaint little mountain tourist town.

My children are Ty (8), Karis (5), Katie (5), and Joy (22 months).   Joy has Down Syndrome(DS).   To be real honest this last detail about Joy is mostly irrelevant in our family.

To us she is just Joy.

She is a great blessing to all of us and rarely does her genetic condition affect us. This is so true that most of the time I forget she even has DS.

On our trip I had forgotten…

I walked with my older children, held my wife’s hand, and pushed little Joy in her stroller.   As we ate ice cream and waited to get our balloon animals, a well meaning young lady looks at Joy and smiles and says to Charyl, “Aw, Is she a Down Syndrome?’’

It doesn’t take long to come back to the stinging reality that our little girl is different and when other people see her they notice Down syndrome and not Joy.

As we walked back to the car that afternoon I had some big old crocodile tears well up in my eyes. As a parent nothing hurts more than when you feel like others do not see the value in your children in the same way you do.

While the conversation was innocent and the young lady was kind, I could not help but feel pierced in the heart by her words, “Is she a Down syndrome?” To a person who does not have a child with special needs this question may seem completely innocent and appropriate but somewhere in the last 22 months I have become one of those overly sensitive parents. Please forgive me. This is not like me.   I am not a particularly emotional or sensitive man.   I rarely cry, in fact I see this as a flaw in my character that I do not feel things as deeply as others, but I have become very sensitive about Joy.   I almost cry as I type this…because I can’t help but desire for people to see Joy as I see Joy. I want them to see HER and not her “Syndrome.” I want others to value her as I value her!

So, NO! She is not “A Down Syndrome.”

She is JOY!

She is made and crafted in the image of God.

She is valuable.

She is beautiful.

She loves to follow her sisters.

She loves to give hugs.

She has a smile that lights up the world.

She has siblings that can’t wait to get home from school to play with her.

She claps and cheers for everyone.

She wakes up happy.

She likes to help her daddy cook.

She is very opinioned and will not eat her carrots no matter how you try to sneak them in.

She is resilient.

She brings hope.

She is her mama’s heart!

She is her daddy’s heart!

Every life God creates carries the stamp of divinity. If we will take the time to get to know people we will be shocked by the beauty we can find in each soul.

I did not ask for, nor did a want to have a child with Down syndrome.   It will always hurt my soul that Joy will struggle with simple things that typical children take for granted.

In spite of my desires God knew better than I did.

I am so thankful that God knows what is best for me when I don’t know how to ask. I am so thankful He brought JOY into my home.

God’ s greatest gifts are often disguised as presents we think we don’t want or don’t need.

When you see a family that has a child with special needs, if you desire to interact with them, ask the person’s name.   Every person is more than their disability.   Say an encouraging word. The family probably needs to hear it.   Find something good you see in the person with disabilities and complement their ability.   It may be as simple as saying, “You have a beautiful smile.” It may mean the world to that family. Be kind and considerate.

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Selling Death To 4 Year Old Girls

It seems to be increasingly difficult to raise God honoring children in a culture that celebrates dishonoring the things of God. Halloween is a particularly frustrating time for me as a parent because every store I take my children in is filled with scary and creepy things.

I recently took my 7-year-old son and 4-year-old twin girls to get a happy meal at McDonalds. As you probably remember yourself this is quite a highlight for small children. Any time I ask my children where they want to get something to eat it is always McDonalds. It is not because of the salty fries, crusty cheeseburger or overly processed nuggets. It is always because they know they will get a toy. McDonalds is a genius at marketing to children. They usually put a toy in the box that is really popular in the culture. This particular trip my little girls got a toy from “Monster High.” I have never seen the show and I do not really plan on it, but the toy is a box filled with activities that feature teenage vampires and monster girls who are dressed like prostitutes. The activities on the inside are two sticker books filled with stickers of crossbones, skulls, vampire teeth, and hearts with teeth in them. Also in the activity box are pictures that teach you how to draw a skull with a bow on it.

The dictionary defines a vampire as “a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse, that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night.”

For our children the line of what is good and evil is becoming more elusive. Vampires are no longer evil. They now sparkle, fall in love with humans, and only suck the blood of deer…unless they get real hungry, then humans watch out.

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I took the toys from my girls and threw them in the trash. I was not cold hearted and I told them I would replace them with a more appropriate toys. I tried to use this moment as a teaching moment. I told my son and my girls that as followers of Jesus we do not celebrate death. I tell them that Jesus came and died the death we deserved so that we might have eternal life. (John 10:10)

Death is not our friend.
Sin brought death into the world.
We will not and cannot celebrate what sin brings.
We cannot celebrate that which separates us from our loved ones.
Death brings depression and despair.
We celebrate joy, hope and life.

I think there has been a not so subtle shift to an acceptance of satanic things and most parents have not even noticed. Horror movies, teen vampire romance novels, and a host of other things that focus on the occult, demons, monsters, evil spirits and witchcraft have been infused into the lives of our children. Is it any wonder that so many young people are taking their lives.

Children and teenagers are naturally drawn to spiritual things. Even if children are not brought up in church or have no religious affiliation they will seek out that which is spiritual, be it good or evil. There is an unseen battle going on for the hearts of my children and for the hearts of your children (if you have them).

With Halloween on its way if you are a Christian parent you should pause and think about how you want to direct your children to think about the Holiday.

In our culture Halloween is largely a celebration of fear and death. If you do not believe me then go to your local Wal-Mart or CVS and count the number of skeleton, witch, and zombie paraphernalia available. As a kid Halloween was one of my favorite Holidays. Cool weather, candy, and dressing up are fun for any kid.

Here are some ways I am going to enjoy October 31st with my family without embracing the culture of death.

1) Have Fun – Not every day do you have a chance to dress up with your kids and walk around and get free candy. I am going to take tons of pictures of my kids and let them be princesses, a flower and a super hero…heck I might even dress up myself.

2) Change the Focus – We celebrate Fall. We celebrate the cool weather. We celebrate dressing up as our favorite characters. We celebrate candy. We celebrate Reformation Day (October 31 is the day the Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the church at Wittenberg. If you don’t know what that means then you should really Google “Martin Luther Reformer”…it’s kind of important)

3) Dress Up – Every child likes to dress up for Halloween. It is one of the highlights of their year. I can remember being a kid and all of the thrill and excitement that came with finding the perfect costume. I only allow my children to dress as something positive and not scary or evil.

4) Teach Your Children why you do not celebrate scary things at Halloween.

5) Use Halloween to the Glory of God – be kind to your neighbors. Do not hide in your basement or turn all the lights out in your home. This is the one time a year you actually have people coming to your home. Buy the best candy on the street. Be the house every kid wants to go to because you give out full candy bars. Have a block party in your yard. My Brother-in-law looks forward to Halloween every year. He gets to know his neighbors and grills hotdogs for everyone that comes by. He told me he gave out something like 200 hot dogs last year and all of the neighbors were so appreciative.

6) Love the Zombies – I have to be real honest, it bothers me when I see a cute 5 year old dressed as a zombie and he is holding a pretend severed head in his hand. I want to slap his parents for allowing him to dress like that. But I am not his parent so my job is just to love him and make sure I give him some good candy. He may come to my church one Sunday.

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Don’t Waste Drive Time With Your Children

Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach them diligently to your children…when you rise

 One of the greatest times of my day with my three oldest children is the 5-10 minute drive from home to school. This is such a key time to teach them something meaningful.   Below is a list of what I am seeking to teach my children over the entire school year. These are foundational life principles that I believe to be of most importance.   I teach them one a week (sometimes it takes two weeks).   They love doing this each morning.   I try to make a big deal about it each morning.   Feel free to take my list and tweak it or steal it.   Don’t waste drive time.  

 FOR TY, KARIS AND KATIE 2014-2015 SCHOOL YEAR

  1. JESUS, MOMMY AND DADDY LOVE YOU…NO MATTER WHAT

Romans 8: 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

  1. GOD MADE YOU WITH A PURPOSE. Your job is to find out what your gifts skills and abilities are and use them to glorify Him

Psalm 139: 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

  1. BE HUMBLE – Think of others as more important than yourself

Philippians 2:Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves

  1. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE? LOVING JESUS

Matthew 22: 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

  1. BE TEACHABLE – Listen to those wise people God has put in your life

Proverbs 19: 27 If you stop listening to instruction, my child, you will turn your back on knowledge.

  1. BE COURAGEOUS – Do what is right even when it is difficult or frightening.

Joshua 1: This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

  1. BE RESPONSIBLE – Take responsibility for your actions and for other people God has put under your care

1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers and example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

  1. BE COMPASSIONATE

Mark 6: 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things

  1. HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE

Colossians 4: 2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving

10. THE THREE P’S OF MARRIAGE – PROTECTOR, PROVIDER, PASTOR

11. SHOW ME YOUR FRIENDS AND I WILL SHOW YOU YOUR FUTURE. 

Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

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Dear Richard Dawkins, YOU ARE WRONG

Richard Dawkins is a world-renowned atheist that is known for his polarizing stances on a number of issues. The latest shocking statement he made was in regard to women who find out they are pregnant with a child who may have Down syndrome (DS). I would not usually take the time to address something said by Richard Dawkins, but I feel that I must address this issue because his comments hold the power of life and death. He has a large audience and there are many who will agree with his statement.

Here is what Dawkins tweeted in relation to someone pregnant with a child with DS: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

I believe his comments to be ignorant and murderous. What we believe about life and death, animals and humans has everything to do with our worldview. Dawkins is an atheist who believes we all came from nothing. Therefore, in his view, animals and humans have the same value and any human who cannot further the human race should be discarded. To him, people with DS are simple genetic anomalies that are the result of random chance and should be killed before they have a chance to feel pain or cause difficulty in the lives of others.

The article continues, “But faced with a stream of dissenting comments, he wrote: “Apparently I’m a horrid monster for recommending what actually happens to the great majority of Down Syndrome foetuses. They are aborted.””

What bothers me most is not what Richard Dawkins said, in fact I would expect him to say that, I am bothered by the fact that most people who find out they are going to have a child with down syndrome do choose to abort their child. In some places the statistics are as high as a 90% abortion rate! 90%!!! That is genocide. This could very well be related to the fact that when most women prenatally test for Down syndrome and the results come back positive, what is explained to her is a list of all the things that will be wrong with her baby (when in fact, it’s a list of things that MIGHT be wrong, and many issues can be corrected with surgery and therapy). Obviously not in all cases, but as a whole in our mainstream medical community, abortion is very much encouraged with these mothers and they are led to believe that they are doing “what is best.”

Why abort the child? I think people abort their children for a few reasons:

They think it will be too hard to raise a child with special needs.
They think their child will have no quality of life.
They believe it will cost too much.
They think their child is a curse and will ruin their life.
They believe their child will be destined to a lifetime of ridicule.
They just don’t want to spend the rest of their life taking care of someone else with special needs.

I would like to remind everyone that the hardest things we do in life are the most rewarding. Those who make a great impact on the world are not those who say, “I want the easiest path” but those who decide to do what is right and best in spite of the personal cost to themselves.

Back to the issue at hand, Richard Dawkins and anyone who believes that people with Down syndrome are not as valuable to society as “typical” people are dead wrong. I would argue the opposite to be true. Perhaps people with Down syndrome are some of society’s most valuable members.

Most people assess value in terms of production. Value in the world is assessed in questions like: What can a person produce? Are they a great worker? Are they a great thinker? Are they strong? Are they beautiful? Are they talented?

I want to explore that there are other, perhaps greater, measures of value. What about things like faith, hope and love? Producers are important. Thinkers are important. Doctors, teachers, firemen, secretaries and 1000 other jobs are important. While all of these professions are vital, I have found that the greatest need that people have is to feel love, experience hope, and have faith in something.

The unique genetic makeup of people who possess DS seems to allow them to possess superhuman amounts of faith, hope, and love. Surely we cannot lump every person with DS into the same category, but I believe this generally to be true.

Every person I have ever met who has DS that I took the time to talk to has made me feel better. They made me feel accepted. I felt no judgment from them. The one thing I felt from every person with DS is love. To say people with this special and unique gift should not be given the chance at life because they may have some physical and intellectual challenges is ludicrous. Every single one of us has something wrong with us. There are no perfect people. Eugenics is a dangerous game that leads to the kind of atrocities that Hitler committed.

On a personal level, I have an amazing 8-month-old little girl named Joy who happens to have Down syndrome. When she was born I experienced the most painful and intense emotions of my life. Most of it could be boiled down to fear. I feared what most people perceive about people with Down syndrome. Before Joy, I would have thought that having a child with DS would be one of the worst things that could happen to a family. I WAS DEAD WRONG! Joy has been our family’s greatest gift.

Joy has her challenges. My wife and I are constantly concerned with her health and development. We want to give her the best chance in life that we can. I am telling you no lie when I tell you that she is pure JOY. She brings so much joy into the lives of everyone she touches. She has yet to meet someone she doesn’t like.

If you or someone you know is pregnant and have recently found out that you might possibly have a child who has Down syndrome, please, from the bottom of my heart, please give that child a chance at life. Do not let your fear nor the untrue societal stigma keep you from giving your child life. Talk to parents who have children with DS before you make a decision to kill your baby. I would be glad to talk with you about it. IMG_1762IMG_5161  IMG_3069

The Theology of Yoga Pants

1 Peter 3:Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

It is that glorious time of the year known as spring.  In our hyper-sexualized culture as the heat rises clothes start to come off. To say our culture is obsessed with body image would be like saying Antarctica is kind of chilly.

As someone that cares about Christian women I want to give a little pastoral/fatherly counsel. I find there are less and less young ladies that have a Godly father or male role model to speak truth into their lives. I would like to speak to Christian females as a loving father, as if I am talking to my three girls. These are some things I will tell my girls as they grow up, they may be helpful to some of you grown women as well.

Everything you wear says something about who you are and what is in your heart. While most women would not verbalize this, or even think about it, they want people to look at them. They want others, particularly men, to think they are beautiful.   Today, people spend countless hours at the gym and tons of money in order to make their bodies look a certain way.  Most of the time people say that diet and exercise is for their health but if their hearts were exposed it is really about 10% for their health and 90% so they can look good (this is true of both men and women).  They have been told since the time of childhood that princesses are beautiful and wicked stepsisters are ugly.  From almost the moment of birth little girls are taught that so much of their value is found in their looks.

Beauty= good

Ugly = bad

Yoga pants defined – tight (usually black…black is slimming you know) pants that cling to every fabric of your skin.  These pants are appropriate to wear at home with your husband and are great to go underneath a dress or long tunic…however when you leave your rear end uncovered you are pleading with every man in eye shot to check out your backside.

WHAT WOMEN CANNOT UNDERSTAND

Contrary to popular opinion God made men and women different.  Women and men are wired so differently it is impossible for a woman to understand how a man’s mind works (It is doubly impossible for a man to understand how a woman’s mind works).  Men are visual.  God wired us in such a way that when it comes to the female form we do not miss much. If a woman is wearing something that is tight fitting, too short, too low cut, etc., a man will notice. He may not admit he notices, but he does.  I can hear the rebuttal from women now, “Men are just a bunch of dogs and should learn to control themselves.” Perhaps your argument it very sound. Men are geared with a deep sexual desire that God gave them to express in the joys of a marital relationship. But saying men are like dogs does not change that fact that men are looking.    Christian men are looking. Ladies this may creep you out but you need to know, OLDER (think grandpas…eww) men are looking.  You see, the desires of a man’s flesh never changes.  Whether he is young or old he has to constantly deny those sinful desires and seek to honor the Lord with his mind.   If you love your brother in Christ and do not want him to see you or think of you in a way less than holy then consider these few questions and ponder them in your heart:

ARE YOU ADVERTIZING WHAT IS NOT FOR SALE?

When you put a “For Sale” sign on something, if it is interesting people will check it out. If you put a “FOR SALE: CHEAP” sign on something they may want to buy it if they have to pay very little. When you wear clothes that are immodest, you are advertising to the men all around you that you are cheap. God made women in His image and He never meant for them to be cheap.  The Bible says that He bought our redemption not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.  If Christ would pay this much for your soul, why would you advertise your body as cheap?  I will tell my girls that they are very valuable and when they find the man God has for them to marry, they will know because he will marry them before he tries to sleep with them. If you’re dressing in a way that is immodest, would you consider that you are inviting men to think about you in a sexual way?  According to the Bible, this way of thinking should be reserved for your husband.  Christian men should see Christian women as daughters, sisters, or as mothers. Do you want your Christian brother to think of you as an object of lust, or as a sister in Christ? The way you dress WILL influence how he thinks of you.

ARE YOU MAKING OTHERS FOCUS ON A PART OF YOU THAT WILL SOON FADE AWAY?

Your looks are not around for long.  Even the most beautiful woman may have 40 years of stunning physical attraction. What happens after she has passed her prime? What happens when your perfect curves begin to sag?   What happens when that beautiful skin begins to wrinkle?  If you have made others value your looks then you are quickly losing your value. If you value comes from, “the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” then as you get older you only become more precious to God and others. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

ARE YOU TAKING WHAT GOD MADE HOLY AND MAKING IT COMMON?

There is a Proverb that says, “A beautiful woman who lacks discretion

is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.”  Can you picture gold, the most precious of metals, in the nose of the most vile animal? A pig spends its days in the slop and has no need or concern for the value of gold. A woman who is immodest is taking the gold that God has given her and putting it before pigs (sorry guys).  You are so much more valuable than your vessel.  You are not a body that has a soul, but you are a soul that has a temporary body.  Your body will soon wear out.   Help people look at you for what is lasting about you and not what is quickly fading away.   Here is what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:15 “Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ?”

HERE ARE A FEW BASIC GUIDELINES THAT MAY BE HELPFUL.  

Wear Yoga Pants/Tight Pants in private and not in public unless you are covering your backside. You should not wear clothes that cling to you.

NO BIKINIS.   Bikini = wearing your underwear in public.  Even with most one-piece bathing suits you should probably cover them with shorts. I know this sounds dramatic and archaic but trust me on this one.

You should not wear clothing that draws men’s eyes to your breasts.

Skirts should go past your knees and should have enough material that you can still walk when wearing them.

 

If you are in doubt about something don’t ask another girl or even your mom.   If dad is in the picture ask DAD! And when you ask him and he shocks you with his opinion, have the respect to listen to what he says. Remember, Women DO NOT THINK like men. If you do not have a Godly father or grandfather to ask, seek the advice of an older Godly woman and go by the basic guidelines I have listed above.

The point of this blog is not to be offensive, but to remind my sisters in Christ of their great worth and value.men-staring-at-woman  I hope it is helpful.

 

The Horror Of Having A Child With Down Syndrome

Horror!  That is quite a word.   It is a word that makes me think back to when I was a kid and saw my first Dracula movie.  I was so scared that I had nightmares for weeks (Now vampires sparkle but that is a blog for another day).  Horror is a terrifying word and yet when people think about their supposedly healthy child being born with the condition of Down syndrome (DS) the word Horror comes to mind.  It is almost like a death sentence.   This is not what you expected.  This is not what you had hoped for.   So much to learn…so much to do…so much to think about.

Since our daughter Joy was born with DS everyone one asks me, “How are you and Charyl?”  “How is Joy?”

I have to be completely honest with you.  I am not going to hold back the bitter truth…

Joy has been the most delightful child I could imagine!

Here are some real horrors we have experienced with our little Joy

THE HORROR OF SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT – Joy is now 11 weeks old and she has slept through the night since we brought her home.  Our other children have not been sleepers.  We went almost a solid year without a good nights sleep with our twin girls.  Joy’s awesome sleeping schedule has allowed Charyl and I to be able to quickly adjust to the needs of a family of 6.

THE HORROR OF SNUGGLINESS – Apparently snuggliness is not a word but I am making it up because it so accurately describes Joy.  She is the cuddliest child imaginable.   I have nicknamed her “Snuggles.”  She is like having a little warmer full of love on your chest.  If you could somehow package love and hold it in your arms my little girl would be what you would come up with.

THE HORROR OF SUPER BIG SMILES, TONS OF BABY NOISES, AND PLAYFUL EXCITEMENT – I don’t want you to get the impression that Joy sleeps all the time or does not interact.  She loves to interact with everyone she comes in contact with.  She is very social.   She “talks” all the time.   She loves for her brother and sisters to talk with her and play with her.

I will not say that our experience with Joy is typical of all parents who have children with Downs.   Many children have open-heart surgery during the first few weeks of their life.  Some children with DS have many different health issues.  However, I will say that the joy found in parenting a child with DS seems to be unanimously wonderful across the board.  I have had the opportunity to meet a number of parents who have children with DS and all of them have such a deep love and appreciation for their child.

The only real horror of downs is the same horror I have for all of my children.

It is the horror of fear.

The horror of fear of the future that has not yet come and may never be.  Fear and worry are brothers from the same father, Satan.  They say that worry is a down payment on something that you may never need to pay for.

Fear is satanic in nature.   When we worry we are saying to God that we cannot trust Him with our future.   We cannot trust Him with our children.

2 Timothy 1:7 God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love. It helps us control ourselves.

I cannot speak about what God has in the future for Joy, or any of my other children.   I can speak of what I know.  I know that God has been faithful to my family and I.  I know He WILL continue to be faithful.  Joy’s DS has just given us one more reason to trust our heavenly Father more, for that I am eternally grateful. IMG_3069 IMG_3244 IMG_2933

Ty’s Faith

We had a group of strong men come to First Baptist Greensboro called Team Impact.   These men went into the local schools and shared a message of hope with the students and invited them to come to the nighttime program we held at First Baptist.   Kids and adults alike love the show.  The men break bats and bend steel bars.   They do all kinds of crazy things and then they share the simple message of the Gospel.   The response is amazing each night as lost people come to know Christ.

On Saturday night of the Team Impact Crusade my whole family attended.  The date was February 22, 2014.  There was a very large crowd and Ty was so excited to be part of it.  We were sitting in the back and there were tall people in front of us and this made it difficult for 6 year old Ty to see.   There was an open chair a few rows up so we told him that he could go sit in it.  So there he sat, by himself, locked in on the strong men of God.

Since before Ty was born we have prayed for him.  Our prayer, first and foremost, has been that he would trust Jesus for his salvation.   I have tried to be diligent in teaching him the Bible.   From a very young age he has understood that Jesus, God’s perfect Son, came to this earth, lived a perfect life, and then gave His life that all who believe might have eternal life.   When Ty was two years old he had already memorized John 3:16.  I have never been a preachers kid but I am sure there are a lot of stresses involved.  So many people expect so much of you that sometimes you feel like you have to be perfect.  Charyl and I have tried to be careful to allow Ty to make his faith his own and decide to follow Jesus when he was ready.   This is a challenge as a parent because for our own security we want them to trust Christ so our souls can be at rest about their eternity.   But, God has no grandchildren so the decision to follow Christ must be personal and not because mother and father want you to.   Ty for many years has known in his head but only God would know when that would transfer to belief in his heart.

The Preacher/Team Member that Saturday night was a friend of mine named Shonn Keels.  Shonn did a great job of clearly explaining what it meant to put your trust in Jesus.  Shonn used a simple chair for his illustration and he talked about knowing in your head and believing in your head that the chair would hold you up is not the same thing as putting your faith IN the chair.  Shonn then sat in the chair and illustrated that now he was putting his faith IN the chair.  He used this illustration to parallel faith in Christ.  He said many believe in their mind that Jesus is God’s son who came to die for their sins but few have put their faith IN Christ.  He challenged the crowd to trust in Christ and surrender completely to Him.

Shonn then gave a clear invitation to those who trusted in Christ that night to show the world by coming down to the front of the stage he was preaching from.  Ty is normally pretty shy around large groups of people so I really did not expect him to do anything.  As the pastor of the church I was on the stage with Shonn and there I saw my little boy coming forward.   My little 6 year old, on his own, with no prodding from his parents or peers was making his profession public.   The counselors came and took everyone off to the counseling rooms.  I specifically did not go with Ty as I wanted someone else to hear Ty verbalize his faith.  Charyl was able to be in the counseling room with Ty.   Here is her summary of what happened:

“Tonight I experienced a very precious moment. The gospel was presented tonight, as it always is at the conclusion of every Team Impact event. When the invitation was given for those to come forward who prayed to receive Christ, Ty walked to the front by himself. (It was interesting he did not walk down last night, when given the opportunity.) Ty has been raised in the knowledge of Jesus his entire life, so I wanted to make sure that this was a decision he was truly making…not just because he thought it would be neat, or to please his parents and that it was not just “head knowledge,” but that he was internalizing it. I was able to counsel with him and asked him why he went forward. He said, “God led me to move forward.” I then asked him what was said tonight that spoke to him. He said, “That Jesus is more than just a man on a cross. He came to this earth as the Son of God and was not sinful like we are, and although we are the ones who deserve it, He died for our sins.” Can’t argue with that! I was amazed at how thoughtful and serious he was about it. At the end of the counseling, Mrs. Evelyn asked him to pray, and it was so sincere. He said, “Dear God, thank you for this path you have led me on and the path you have for my future.” I’m so thankful that even at the age of 6, Ty seems to have a great level of maturity in spiritual matters. God is good, and I do too believe that God does indeed have a great future for Ty to do a great work for Him!”

We are so thankful for all that God is doing in our little boy.  We pray that he will grow up strong in the faith.   We pray that our three little girls would follow Jesus and trust Him with their lives as well.

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