Lessons From The Bouncy House

As a parent, I see a bouncy house as a huge air inflated, germ infested, loud, injury waiting to happen. However, all my kids see is FUN!  Recently, our church had a block party complete with, you guessed it, bouncy houses.   My kids were overjoyed with excitement, particularly my 4 year old.  Joy (my 4 year old) was ready to conquer all of the bouncy houses.   She quickly ran from one to the next with excitement overload, as she couldn’t decide which one she wanted to try first.   She knew nothing of the lines of children who were politely waiting their turn. She ran right to the front of the line as if they had all been waiting just for her.  Each time I would pick her up and take her to the back of the line and instruct her that she needed to wait like everyone else.

Lesson One: Waiting Is Hard.

For some reason, my daughter thought she was entitled to the front of the line.  She thought, in her little 4-year-old mind, that it was her party and everyone else

IMG_1086was just an extra.  As a parent, most of my days are spent trying to teach my children a lesson that I am still learning.  Here is the lesson: this is not your party and the world does not revolve around you. From the time we are born we have a selfish inclination to want to put ourselves at the front of the line.  We would rather others wait than we wait.  To follow Jesus means you let others go first. The Bible teaches us to do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility we should think of others as more important than ourselves.   The good thing about waiting is that if you take the time to look around, God has probably put you in line with people you can make friends with.  The wait may be better than the bouncy house.

Lesson Two: Obstacles Are Part Of Life.  Tackle Them With Excitement.

I loved watching Joy continue to get knocked down and bounce right back up and keep going.  She has always been very resilient.  She tried to climb the wall of the obstacle course and fell multiple times.  She smiled and giggled and got back up and tried again.   I know that life is no bouncy house.  Over the years I have also learned that so much of life is not about the obstacles in our lives, but about how we respond to them.  Life is really hard.  Life is better for those who can keep getting up and moving forward.  I wonder if you and I might make more progress in life if we had a different attitude towards obstacles.

Joy did not let the obstacles slow her down or discourage her, and neither should we.  We should know that on this crazy bouncy house called life we are going to fall, get knocked over and even get run over.   Get up.  Smile.  Move forward.

Lost your job, get up and find a new one.

Lost your hope, it may be right over the next obstacle.  Keep moving forward.

Friends let you down, find some new ones.

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You get the idea.

What is the obstacle of life today that is knocking you down?   Identify it, acknowledge it, make a plan and move forward.

For the Christian, the Bible gives hope and meaning to the obstacles we face.   It says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Lesson 3: You Might Not Want Help But You Need It

Her favorite bouncy was the obstacle course.  This was a big one with lots of little areas she had to go through and climb over.  I was nervous about Joy going on this obstacle course because she is small for her age and she has Down Syndrome, both of which Joy is completely oblivious.   I didn’t want her to get hurt as older and bigger children raced through the course.   I did what I often do.  I sent her big brother (Ty) with her to make sure she would make it through safely.

Joy is very headstrong and stubborn.   She would not quit, but there were a couple of barriers that no matter how hard she tried she wasn’t going to get over them.  She didn’t want help but she needed it.

She couldn’t quite make it over a certain wall so her big brother gave her a gentle nudge (yeah right, more like a mighty shove).  This was enough to help her make it to the next obstacle.  It does something to a father’s heart to see one sibling helping another.

There are times in our life when we all need help!

When the obstacles of life come along and we get stuck, we need a gentle push, or a helpful hand to pull us through.   Sometimes we need a mighty shove!  So many people get stuck and can’t move because they don’t have anyone to help them along.  They’ve chosen to isolate themselves and they think they can make it through life by themselves, but they can’t.

None of us can.

My little daughter with special needs will always need help, but so will all my other children.  They will all experience hurt, disappointment, setbacks, fears, and the hardship of life.  This is why family is important.  This is why a church family is important is as well.

The Bible says “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”

It blows my mind to think that we are more connected than ever and yet people feel lonelier than ever. The suicide rates in the US keep going up as more and more people find themselves hopeless.  We all have a deep need for the help of others but most of us are too prideful or afraid to ask.  God hardwired the need for friendship and community into every person.

If you have made it to an obstacle in life and you keep trying but keep getting knocked down, it’s time to ask for help.

Start with your family. If you have someone in your family that will help you, reach out to them and ask for help.

There is another family that is often stronger then blood relatives, it’s a church family.   Many times people are estranged from their own family and don’t feel they have anywhere to turn.  If you find yourself in that situation go to a local church. Meet some people.  Find a friend.   A loving church is the best place in the world to find real community.

I would love to meet you at Christ Place Church.  You can find out how to find some friends here www.christplace.com

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What I Am Going To Do To End Racism

We are on the heels of yet another heart breaking senseless crime. Another young white guy has murdered a mass of people.   This recent mass murder is a little different than some of the others. This one was clearly motivated by racism. This young man in his deranged mind justified the killing of 9 innocent people at a church prayer meeting.

What horrible irony. The place you go to find hope and forgiveness would be the place that he would bring death and destruction.

What if we could end racism? What if the answers are already there?

I can tell you the answer is not in passing a law, having the right person in public office, or going on a social media rant.

This murder has caused a lot of attention toward the Confederate Flag and whether it should be taken down from certain public areas.   Some use the flag as a symbol of pride and to some the flag is an object they have always associated with racist people.   Maybe the flag should come down, but the flag is really not the issue. The issue is always the same. It is a matter of the mind and heart. This is where we are losing.

I grew up in the Deep South. As a Caucasian male I don’t pretend to know what it is like to an African American person. I don’t know how hard it is. I don’t know how a black man sees me, or what feelings well up within him when he come in contact with a white man.

I do know that I grew up in a culture that verbalized disgust when a white woman and a black man were together. I grew up in a culture where there was always some level of fear when young black men were around because the perception was that they were angry and would commit some crime. In the school I attended black people hung out with black people and white people hung out with white people. While I had many friends that were black I did not hang out with them outside of a school setting. We played sports together, were in the band together, and sat next to each other in class but there was always a clear distinction between black and white. There was a always a clear level of separation that was seen most clearly on Sundays at church.   These are just the facts of how things were and how in many places they still are.

As I have grown in the Lord many of my personal views have changes. I have come to fully realize that every person is incredibly valuable because Christ made us.

Galatians 3:28 says, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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This tells me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ transcends race, socioeconomic status and gender. In Christ we all have value.   We are one church under His blood. The precious blood of Christ was shed for every man.

Because the world is broken and people are naturally sinful I am sad to say that racism will not end.

Many will take this tragedy and use it to politicize their particular agendas.   Many people will use this opportunity to throw out more hatred. Neither of these responses helps anyone.

Racism will probably never end…but I just might be able to end it in my family.

I cannot change the pain and anger that people feel in their hearts, but I can teach MY children.

Here is how I am going to end racism in my home.

I am going to teach my children what God says about people. I am going to teach them that God loves people so much He gave His life to save them. John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

I am going to teach them that we should love people and give our lives in service and love towards others. Matthew 22:39 “…’Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

I am going to teach them to do to others, as they would have others do to them. Matthew 7:12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

I am going to teach my children to value other people and cultures. 1 Corinthians 9:22 “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.”

I am going to invite people of other races into my home. 1 Peter 4:9 “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.”

I am going to teach my children that we do not judge someone by the color of their skin but the content of their character. John 7:24 “”Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

I am going to show them the evil of prejudice and teach them the beauty of love. Romans 12:9 “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

I am going to (if the Lord allows) open my home to foster children of whatever race the Lord sees fit.   James 1:27 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

I am going to beg my children to not repay evil with evil but to repay evil with good.  Romans 12:21 “Do not overcome evil by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I can’t end racism…but I can make a difference in my home. I pray my son will not be the deranged young white kid with hatred in his heart towards people of a different skin color.

I pray my children will not be the problem but the answer.

We end racism one decision at a time, one heart at a time.

The answer is almost never in legislation or anything in the realm of politics. The Bible has already showed us how to end racism. We just have to obey it.

There is hope. Close friends of mine, who are Caucasian, have become foster parents of three young African American children. I am so thankful for this. One of the children is a girl and she has become best friends with my little girls.

One of the three children is a baby who just turned one and had a birthday party that we attended. It warmed my heart to see my 7-year-old son blowing on the belly of this baby just like he blew on his sister’s belly.   He didn’t even think about the difference in skin color. He just loved the baby.   I pray that my children will grow up to love people…all people.

The families of the victims in the Charleston shooting have showed us what Christian character and love look like. In the midst of the deepest pain they chose to publicly forgive their enemy instead of pile on more hate. Let us all learn from their example.

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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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Hardwiring Your Child’s Heart

There has been a parenting movement in our nation over the past few decades that encourages parents to let their children find their own way.  This philosophy urges parents to provide a safe environment for children but not to be overly pushy.   Don’t try to impose your beliefs on your children, just allow them to find their own way.   As a Christian parent the bible teaches me that this new philosophy of parenting is, as my dad would say, “HOGWASH!”  As a parent it is vital to attempt to build values and convictions into your children so that they will become all that God desires them to become.   Much of the book of Proverbs was written as a father to a son.   Over and over again in the book the author reminds the reader to “listen,” “remember,” and “bind my teachings around your neck.”   The truths in Proverbs are truths that the author knew his son must absorb into his mind and heart. photography-wallpapers-love-heart-love-fire-allneed-pics

As a parent there are certain truths that I must do everything in my power to ingrain within the minds and hearts of my little ones.  To fail in this area of parenting could have eternal consequences for my child.  I want my children to know truths because they have heard them so often that they become second nature.  I want God’s truths to be hardwired into their hearts.

If you have multiple children you know that each one of your children is wired very differently.  It is a process getting to know how each child learns and the specific needs and gifts of each child.  My oldest son, Ty, is 6 years old.  Each day I take him to school and have a few vital moments to speak truth into his life.  On our drive, or when I eat breakfast with him at school, these are the things I try to tell him every day.

I tell him that Jesus and his parents love him dearly.   I want Ty to know that whatever happens, whatever he does, not matter how bad he blows it, he has a father who will always love him.   I love him because he is my son.   My love for him is not conditional.  I am clear to him everyday that I love him not based on his performance.  I love him simply because he is my son.   We are all more suited for life when we know we are unconditionally loved.

I tell him God has a plan for his life.  I want it to be ingrained in his head that he is not an accident.  He is not a result of a random chance.  He is a special creation of God.  He was put here by God to accomplish a great purpose for the kingdom of God.  I want him to learn that he has gifts and abilities that are given to him for the purpose of God’s glory.

I tell him that even if things don’t go well at school and people don’t treat him with kindness that he fits at home. School is tough.  Kids make fun of you.   Kids are cruel and mean.   We cannot shield our children from these truths.   I believe home must be a safe haven where every child fits and every child is accepted.

I tell him to think of others as more important than himself.  The foundational principle of the Christian life is humility.  The highest value I can teach him is humility.  Each day Ty quotes Philippians 2:3 to me in order to remind himself and his dad to “think of others as more important than yourself.”

I ask him: What is the most important thing in life?   The question is the same and the answer is the same.   His answer, “To love God.”  To which I say, “Correct, son.”  Teaching him to draw is awesome.  Listening to him read is so cool.   Throwing the football with him is epic, but teaching him that loving God is the most important thing is absolutely critical.

I am working on different ways to communicate the same truths to my little girls.   Karis is my diva who really struggles with having a bad attitude.  Each day I get her to repeat after me: “My attitude determines my joy.   I will choose today to have a good attitude.”   For a four year old this is probably not sinking in.  But I know that if I am diligent now when she is young, when she is grow that statement may just make up the DNA of her life.

I am still working on how I need to speak to Katie and Joy.   I am seeking to know my children better every day.

What do you tell your children everyday?  What do you desire to build into their DNA?