For Such a Worm As I

image

The pew was shaking –  I knew because my parents were giving my little brother and I the “evil eye”.

The pew was shaking because we were trying our best to suppress the laughter that arose every time we sang that song. After once being overcome with giggles, a simple glance at each other set us off again.

Did that ever happen to you? Do you remember how hard it was to stop – even knowing the trouble we were in if we didn’t stop.

It happened every time we sang the hymn – “At the Cross”

“Alas and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die?

Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?”

That was the line that did it! That set off the giggles. It is a beautiful hymn with deep and heartfelt meaning. But for Gregg and I, the vision of ourselves as worms brought on laughter every time we sang it.

Sometimes it is hard being a child in a worship service.

Three weeks ago we attended the worship service in Maryland where our daughter and her family attend church. In the seats in front of us I saw two “tween” age girls who were writing in notebooks during the service. As we stood to sing the closing hymn, I glanced down and saw that they had been taking notes during the sermon. I asked one of them about it afterwards and she said,

“Our youth leader gave us these books to encourage us to pay attention to what the pastor was saying.”

What a blessing!

As a teacher and committed note taker myself, I was thrilled! These young girls were following along as the pastor preached and writing down statements they wanted to remember. The notebooks had a two page spread for each Sunday. There was space for such things as:

  • date –  topic
  • verses used
  • notes
  • questions I have about the sermon

I thought this was a great way to introduce adolescents to note taking. These two girls seemed very engaged with the process.

It is a challenge for children to participate in worship services, yet it is such a blessing for children to learn at a young age that they can sense God’s presence and learn to honor him through worship. God gives instructions to his people, the Jews, before they enter the promised land. They have spent 40 years in the wilderness and God wants to make sure that they REMEMBER the lessons he has taught them.

Doesn’t that sound just like a parent?

Deuteronomy 4:9-10

9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”

Teaching our children the importance of authentic worship is best accomplished when they see their parents and grandparents worshipping authentically.

Some ideas we found helpful when our children were small were:

  • expect excellent behavior, clearly communicate expectations before the service
  • do not threaten. If a child misbehaves, take them out and correct behavior right then
  • threats prolong misbehavior and the child will keep misbehaving to see just how long they can get away with something before the parent intervenes.
  • give grace as a child is learning to worship respectfully, encourage them as soon as their behavior improves
  • talk about the service afterwards, at dinner, or on a walk, ask questions
  • do NOT criticize the worship service in front of your children, such as complaining about the choice of songs, the sermon, or the special music. This will breed disrespect for the participants in the worship service.
  • pray together as a family that your worship will honor God

Looking back on my over 64 years of participating in worship, I am so thankful my parents included me as a young child….

even a worm such as I.

 

Deep Faith

IMG_5972-2

“They are fine. They have deep faith.”

My older brother spoke these words in response to my question, “How do you think Mom and Dad are doing?”

Ever since Garry said that, I have been asking myself a question –

Deep Faith – what is deep faith?

It is more than hope.

It is more than a reasoned sense.

It is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that GOD IS FAITHFUL.

No matter what happens, no matter how I feel, God is faithful.

As my “tween” grandchildren would say – “God’s got this.”

My 91-year-old father has been in the hospital and we are waiting for results from a myriad of tests. In the mean time, we must have deep faith. No matter what the results, God is faithful.

God is faithful to my dad who is weak and doesn’t like being in bed, poked and prodded.

God is faithful to my mother who is watching her mate of 68 years struggle.

God is faithful to my brothers and me as we watch the rock of our family seeming to fade.

Deep faith is based on the immovable, unchangeable, irrefutable fact that God is faithful. God will fulfill His purposes and His word assures us it is for our good. God is love.

Shallow faith is subject to the circumstances around us. Just like a shallow rooted plant, shallow faith

  • dries up when it is not watered
  • it is easily uprooted and destroyed
  • it can wither from being crowded out
  • it’s existence is based on outside conditions

Hebrews 11:1-3 (NIV)

11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Deep faith.

The kind of faith that stands firm no matter the circumstances.

May we have this deep faith in our loving, heavenly Father.

 

 

 

Unsolicited Advice

Three Generations - Four Mothers

Three Generations – Four Mothers

“Don’t give advice to your adult children unless they ask for your advice.”

I made this statement to a friend whose daughter recently got married. Now she has a son-in-law for the first time. This couple recently moved to another state and my friend wondered about sharing some practical advice with them that she thought would be helpful.

We have three sons-in-law, and I realized early on that as soon as our daughters got married, their source of advice switched. As well it should.

The Bible says in Genesis 2:24

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

So, the man and wife each LEAVE their father and mother and become one. Notice it doesn’t say “and become six” which would include both sets of parents.

Leaving is not just a physical act, it is also intellectual and emotional.

  • leaving physically  – changing location of “home”
  • leaving intellectually – understanding what it means to become one, choosing your spouse over others
  • leaving emotionally – feelings that your love and loyalty goes to your spouse first

That is why we shouldn’t give unsolicited advice. When we do, our adult child is put in the middle and must decide between following the parent’s advice – or the advice of their spouse.

That is not fair.

Do I always follow this practice myself?

Absolutely not!

Do I never give unsolicited advice?

Unfortunately, I do.

But I have three daughters who will respectfully let me know – “Mom, this is not your business.” It is a very good thing that they do. I don’t want our daughters or our sons-in-law to dread my interference in their lives.

I had 20+ years to tell our children what to do – to mess with their lives. That was enough time.

We often look back fondly on the “good old days” of our children being young and think that our grandchildren should have the same opportunities. We remember how we used to do things and think it was so much better.

But was it really better? Was it better because we were young and we remember how it felt being young?

Our children and grandchildren will look BACK on these current times and someday remember them as “the good old days”. Imagine that!

What can we do when we see something that sincerely concerns us about our adult children or grandchildren?

Pray.

Philippians 4:6-8  (TLB)

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. 7 If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.

When our adult children do ask for advice – give it respectfully and thoughtfully. What a blessing it is to have adult children seek our advice!

When my parents lived with us, Phil would often ask my father for advice, especially when it came to plants and trees, my father’s field of study. My dad is the kind of person who never gives advice unless asked, which is a reason we were able to live together so well. In the past several months, two of our sons-in-law have asked Phil for advice. Phil also does not give advice unless he is asked. We were blessed that they valued Phil’s thoughts.

So, remember to treat our adult children as we want to be treated. That is why the golden rule is golden…..