An Act of True Worship

Adah and leaves

Our daughter shared a post yesterday from John Piper about worshipping with our children. It is excellent and if you want to read it, I have included the link below.

It reminded me of my personal story regarding worship and children. It is from the 2nd blog I ever posted – April 25, 2011. Here it is –

As mothers of young children your body is a living sacrifice. You are no longer your own. You get up in the morning, change diapers, breastfeed, have meals, tend to chores (when able) and meet others’ needs all day long according to their schedule, not your own.

Romans 12:1 says “Therefore I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”

A loving mother sacrifices her own wants and needs for her family. I can remember thinking when our four children were small that I would never feel rested again.

I couldn’t imagine getting enough rest!

Yet, God convicted me with the truth of the above scripture one day at our home group. The home group leader, Phil, asked us to think about what in our lives were hindrances to authentic worship. The immediate response that came to my mind was “my children”!

Then I felt shame.

These were gifts from God! Why did I see them as a hindrance?

Because I did not see my service to them as significant in God’s eyes. I thought a “ministry” was more important. Yet, the Lord showed me those children were my ministry at that time. NOTHING was more important. Offering my body as a living sacrifice WAS an act of worship – one very pleasing to our Lord.”

Worshipping in church services with our children is one way to sacrifice – for a relatively short period of time – our own desire to focus on worship without distractions. As our children watch us worship, they will learn what worship is and learn to sense the Holy Spirit’s presence through the various parts of the service.

I believe once children are 5 years old, (some even before), most are able to learn what it means to sit quietly, participating as they are able. John Piper says – “Authentic, heartfelt worship is the most valuable thing in human experience.”   Yes! Amen!

If I believe that, why would I deprive my children of this experience? Add to that the joy of experiencing authentic worship together.

There will be challenging times, especially at first, but it is well worth the effort. This is true for grandparents as well. Grandparents need to support and encourage our grandchildren to worship, first by being examples of those who truly worship ourselves.

What a joy to experience the act of true worship together as families!

 

desiringgod.org  “Should Children Sit Through “Big Church”?

Picture Perfect?

DSC_3441

What would Jesus’ family Christmas photo have looked like?

“It’s like we get those perfect Christmas family photos everyday now on Facebook and social media.”

I heard the above statement on the radio and it certainly struck a chord with me. My friend, Alice Marie, and I had just been talking about the unrealistic impressions that “perfect photos” often bring.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE pictures on Facebook! I joined Facebook in the first place so that I could see the photos our daughters posted of our grandchildren. I also enjoy seeing friends’ and acquaintances’ pictures and activities, some from very far away.

Yet what impression are we sharing? That we are “perfect” and all is peace and light on the home front?

We all are familiar with the idea that “a picture speaks a thousand words” – but are those words accurate? Do they reflect real life?

Let’s imagine for a moment that there was photography at the time of Jesus birth. What would the first family photo of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus look like?

  • Mary and Joseph had traveled that day, so they probably looked pretty tired
  • They had the dust of travel on their clothes
  • There was no room in the inn, so they were offered a stable for shelter
  • Their clothes were certainly not “festive” or “color coordinated” (so, ok, Phil – color does not ALWAYS matter)
  • The animals were nearby, though they were not the pets often included in our holiday photos

So, here is the picture – the family is gathered in a stable, a great setting considering the current trend to use rustic backgrounds for photos. They are in rumpled, dusty clothes, a grouping of three – odd numbers are always good visually. The lighting is good because oddly enough, there is an unusually bright star shining right over the new baby. How fortunate is that?

But wait! There seems to be various men and boys crowding around to get in the picture! They brought sheep with them! They don’t seem to be related to this family of three. (maybe they can be photo shopped out later)

The parents are smiling, weary, but happy smiles gazing fondly at the new baby.

The Baby….

What would that photo of Jesus look like?

Would it radiate with the glory of His heavenly Father? Would there be any indication of the incarnate presence of God? Jesus birth made the angels announce – Luke 2:13-14

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The more I thought about what a picture of Jesus would look like, the more I thought that He would probably look like an ordinary baby. Tammy Youmans said her grandson Micah said – “Jesus rolled himself up into a baby.” I love that image.

We are so much more than our outward appearance, aren’t we? So was Jesus when He was here in human form.

Jesus was fully a man – and fully God.

As we celebrate Jesus’ birth with family and friends this year, let’s take LOTS of pictures and share the joy and fun we experience.

Let us also remember that pictures don’t show the heartache of loss of loved ones, the pain and suffering that is often unseen but is a part of all of our lives.

Let us remember the words of hope the angel shared – Luke 2:10-11

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

God’s perfect gift – Jesus.

I Don’t Know….

Caleb

I don’t know all the answers.

I know that doesn’t surprise those of you that know me. I am a life long learner and I love to ask questions.

(much to the annoyance of my husband, our son, and I am sure, my three sons-in-law)

They don’t like it when I ask questions during ball games. How else am I going to learn the intricacies of the game? I just want to know why the football coach threw down his clipboard or why the baseball umpire ejected the coach. Ok, so I am more interested in the personal interactions of the coaches, players, and officials than the game itself, but I am watching.

We all learn by asking questions. Children go though stages when they ask many more questions than at other times. We get weary of answering, but that is how we as humans learn.

We are much more likely to remember information that we inquired about than if we are just fed facts. Our brains are “wired” to process immense amounts of information, yet MEMORY is tied to connecting information according to usefulness. Our brains are amazing at sorting.

That is why it is SO IMPORTANT to answer our children’s questions. If they ask a question – they want an answer. If we don’t answer their questions, they will begin to find others who will. Those may not be the people who will give our children good or correct answers. Peers are a ready source of information – some positive, some questionable, and some down right negative.

Be the adult who answers questions.

But what about when we don’t know?

Some possible responses are:

  • Be honest. I am highly suspect of anyone who knows it all – even if they do listen to NPR.
  • “I don’t know, but I will help you find out.” This allows our children to see where we look for answers ourselves.
  • “Let’s call and ask…..” Let your child see that there are others you recognize as an expert in a certain area.
  • “I don’t know for sure, and people I respect think differently about this.” (questions about heaven, Jesus’ return, etc.)
  • Google it. (be careful – do this together with your child)

God knows that we don’t know it all. If fact, James gives us advice about what to do in James 1:5-6

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.

We are encouraged to ask God, and ask with faith that He will answer. Yet, sometimes we know that God waits to respond or chooses to keep silent in certain areas for our good. We do this as parents or grandparents, don’t we. We don’t tell our small children that we are taking them to Tweetsie next week because they will find it difficult to wait, or to do what they need to do today.

God also tells us that we don’t know everything, nor will we until we meet God face to face.

1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

What a wonderful promise!!! God is so awesome and His plans for us are beyond our human comprehension.

One day we will know it all – with perfect clarity. We can share that with our children and grandchildren.

I will never forget  – because it was one of those moments seared in my memory – Elizabeth Elliot speaking to 10,000 college students at Urbana in 1973 sharing the following –

I don’t know … but I know the One who does.”

 

Mother, Where Art Thou?

 

Four Generations 1979

Four Generations 1979

Praying.

I have a vivid memory of walking home from school and getting near to my house  – 600 E. Illinois Street – and seeing my mother rush across the street to be home when my brothers and I arrived.

My mother had been at Cristal Parker’s – our neighbor across the street. They had been praying for their children.

Of all the many wonderful qualities that my mother has – praying for me is the one that means the most to me. I am so thankful to have a mother that STILL prays for me. I had two grandmothers that prayed for me as well.

What a legacy of faith!

On Mother’s Day we as mothers may be asking ourselves – “am I the kind of mother I should be?” We may be hard on ourselves and think ” I am not this way….I am not that way…” making mental lists of our deficiencies.

We women can be so HARD on ourselves.

Yet of all the things my mother and grandmothers did for me – praying for me is of the utmost value.

Paul says to Timothy who he was discipling in the faith – II Timothy 1:3-6 NLT

3 Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.

5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. 6 This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.

Paul mentions the spiritual heritage that Timothy had from his mother and grandmother.

This is the legacy we can leave as well – one of praying for our children and grandchildren. I am so thankful for my praying grandmothers.

Thank you , Mom, for continuing to pray for me even as you reach your 87th year.

This is the legacy I want to leave my children and grandchildren – one of faith and prayer.

“Nana, where art thou?”

Praying.

 

Finding Treasure

This winter when our grandchildren were all here, Phil held a treasure hunt for them. He made up clues and even had a map (which I drew) so that they could find the next clue and eventually the hidden treasure.

They had so much fun!

The grandchildren that could read were the team leaders and the others helped once the clues were read. There was one misplaced clue – but all-in-all it was a success.

The treasure was found…

and eaten!

Last week some of the grandchildren returned and Lincoln wanted to design his own treasure hunt. He is in kindergarten and pleased with his new skill in reading and writing. Lincoln asked for “lots of paper, Nana” and began writing clues that would lead from one hiding place to another. The clues needed a bit of help in being “de-coded”. As with many early writers, Lincoln is in a hurry to express himself and doesn’t always leave spaces between the words. Any confusion was quickly cleared up because he knew exactly what he had written.

Lincoln’s clues were short and to the point – yet also effective. All the clues were found by his little brothers and ultimately – the treasure.

Gummy Bears!

treasure hunt 2

I was remembering the excitement that Lincoln expressed about making his own treasure hunt. He would not be able to participate by searching for clues – he was the one who wrote them. Yet he couldn’t wait for everyone else to find the clues and get the treasure.

It made me start thinking about how wonderful it would be if our children and grandchildren were as excited about finding real treasure.

Isaiah 33:5,6

5 The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high;
 He will fill Zion with His justice and righteousness.
6 He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.

Here the prophet Isaiah tells God’s people the Lord is “a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge”. Now that is real treasure!

I need to start communicating clearly to my children and grandchildren that REAL treasure is from God. Isaiah says “the fear of the Lord is the KEY to this treasure”.

The Amplified Version expands my understanding of “fear of the Lord” this way. It says “the reverent fear and worship of the Lord.” This is the awe that I feel when I realize the majesty of God and His creation. It is the overwhelming sense I have when I understand that God, and God alone is worthy of worship.

I find this treasure when I put God first in my heart and mind – the ONLY place worthy of God.
So – where is my treasure?

Do my children and grandchildren know what I treasure?

Lincoln copied Phil because Phil had made the treasure hunt so enjoyable. What kind of things do children see me do that look enjoyable – that look like I treasure them?

  • shopping?
  • cooking?
  • gardening?
  • cleaning? …(uh, no they don’t see that)
  • using an electronic device?
  • reading?

We must all be intentional in sharing with our children what really matters. I do many things during a day – but what really has my HEART? Do I express the importance of Jesus in all that I do?

Finding Jesus is finding true treasure.

 

Building Foundations

Amos building

I have had the blessing of having our twin grandsons – aged 4  – the past few days at our house. I got some Lincoln Logs down from the attic yesterday and we have been building cabins for each of the boys and for various Little People.

I like to build. I like to have all the pieces fit and the roof stay on even when “people” are going in and out. I also like the various shades of these old Lincoln Logs to match.

I know, that is way over the top! The boys could care less about the log color – but I did find out they care about the roof color!

We used all the longer log sections and ended up with four buildings and a “stable” for the horses.  There were bunches of singlets left. You know – those log pieces with just one slot. These are important for building windows and doors, but our Lincoln Logs are parts of three yard sale sets and there are LOTS of singlets.

One of the boys tried to build these little logs into towers – but the most he could stack that would stay up independently were three. There was not enough of a foundation to hold any more logs.

Tyler building

Relationships are like building with Lincoln Logs. You need a good foundation to have a secure structure –  a structure that will withstand the pressure of use.

The time to start building the secure foundation in a relationship begins with the birth of a child.

Some parents and grandparents think that they will have plenty of time to build that relationship when the child is older and ready to;

  • really communicate
  • spend time doing the things the adult enjoys
  • is able to take care of their own physical needs

in other words – ceases being a child!

That will be TOO LATE.

Children will build the foundation of meaningful relationships with others if the parents don’t take the time to do so. I have heard many adults lament the fact that their children or grandchildren never want to spend time with them as teenagers or young adults.

Did those adults spend time building the foundation of a good relationship early on when the child was young?

Children will go through times of rebellion.

It is natural for children to pull away from the adults in their lives as they grow older. Yet if there is a strong foundation  – a bridge of respect will allow the child and the parent or grandparent to bear the weight of that challenge to the relationship.

I heard this Scripture shared yesterday as a key to building respectful relationships with our children.

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 (NIV)

10 You are witnesses, and so is God,  of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Those three words from verse 12 hold a key to building a secure foundation in our relationships with our children and grandchildren.

  • encouraging
  • comforting
  • and urging them to live lives worthy of God

Notice it does not say –

  • nagging
  • criticizing
  • listing the child’s mistakes

May we all take the time and effort needed – with God’s grace – to build those strong foundations based on the LOVE and GRACE that our Heavenly Father has so lavishly shared with us!

 

 

Whiter Than Snow!!!

our deck this morning, 7:30 am

our deck this morning, 7:30 am

“I’ll believe it when I see it!”

I said this yesterday when it was 50 degrees outside and the weather forecast said we would get 1-3 inches. Well, I see it and I believe it. I measured 6 inches with a yard stick an hour ago and it is still coming down.

I love snow. I love the quiet whiteness. I love the definition that the snow gives to the trees as it clings to branches. I love to sled.

Snow is SO white.

Websters Dictionary defines “white” as “free from color, color of new snow.” There you have it – white as snow. In looking at the snow falling just now, it made me think of the verses in Psalms 51.

6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

The world around us is covered in a blanket of purest white, all the mud and mess is covered and everything looks pure and new.

God wants to create that fresh newness in each of us!

He wants to cover our mess (sin) with the washing power of His Word. Ephesians 5:26  to make her (the Church) holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.

God also says in verse 12 – He wants to restore to us the JOY of our salvation.

What a wonderful promise! My hope is that the snow around us reminds us of God’s faithfulness and His desire to:

  • cleanse us white as snow
  • restore the joy of our salvation

Now let’s go sled!