kingteamdad

Spiritual Ramblings from a Modern Day Husband and Dad

Month: October, 2013

Celebrate Your Uniqueness

Christ has given each of us special abilities – whatever He wants us to have out of His rich storehouse of gifts.” (Ephesians 4:7 LB)

Ramblings from Evan’s dad – I sit here this morning sipping out of a coffee cup that I like, but it’s not my favorite. This one is colorful and festive for this time of year. My favorite one is not as colorful, in fact, it’s bone colored. This one is pristine in condition, not a blemish to be seen. My favorite has two chips on one side of it. They’ve almost thrown my favorite away multiple times. I have saved it at least once from the trashcan in our kitchen. It is safe to say the others pass it over when grabbing one to pour a cup of coffee. Not I. Sometimes I will find it amongst the dirty dishes. I will take the time to carefully hand wash it, so that it can once again hold vigil with my morning coffee.

What makes that cup so special? Well for one, I have been drinking coffee out of it since Evan was in diapers. We have been through a lot together. We have seen a lot together. Secondly, from a functionality standpoint, it is a heavier more dense mug. Since it is heavier, it keeps my coffee warm longer.

That cup has faithfully held hundreds of gallons of coffee for me. It might not be the prettiest, it might not be the newest, but I know it can still do an excellent job at the job for which it was designed. And no matter how hot the coffee, it never complains.

I am hoping God looks at me the same way. Heaven knows I am not as pretty and colorful as a lot of the other mugs in life. Heaven knows I have a few more scars and imperfections now then I did when I started. But one day almost 30 years ago, God in His infinite mercy, pulled me out of the trash. He saw ALL the imperfections, He saw ALL my filth, and said I can use him. He lovingly cleaned me off, bathed me in the cleansing power of His Son’s blood, and then announced that I was clean. For that, I am eternally grateful!….

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Christ has given each of us special abilities – whatever He wants us to have out of His rich storehouse of gifts. (Ephesians 4:7 LB)

Your Personality Reveals Purpose

Were all your experiences wasted? I hope not!” (Galatians 3:4 NCV)

RAMBLINGS from Connor’s dad – God was not lacking on creativity when He made our three kids. Connor and his two siblings are all very distinct in how He wired them. One is not better then the other. In fact, as a unit, they work very well together because of each one’s unique talents and gifts.

In the early years of their lives, they enjoyed having friends around in a busy neighborhood. They were constantly playing in a vacant lot across the street. The property had previously been a gun club and that area cleared. The only things growing on the lot along with the grass were three young pine trees. That piece of dirt will forever be known as the “3 Trees”. Many a day was spent there. At least one tooth was lost there. Countless clothes were dirtied there. I look back at that innocent time and thank God for the experiences and friends He gave them.

These past 10 years we have lived on a few acres with no kids close by. The kids were forced to play with each other more, taking turns doing each other’s interest du jour. Through those experiences they have sung, acted, jumped, burned things (most of the time with our permission), hid, been chased, shot, swam, and swung.

Living outside of a neighborhood has given them the opportunity to be hosts when we have people and events here. They’ve assisted in parking cars, cleaning before and after the party, greeting people at the door, introducing themselves to adults, and occasionally performing.

They have also had the opportunity to go to other lands and regions on mission trips.  They’ve played with those who have almost nothing, yet were happy. They have held little ones in nasty bug infested projects in Colombia. They have gone out with us late at night and given hot chocolate and bread to homeless Piranha Boys in Peru. They have painted homes in the hot summer in West Virginia.

I pray as they grow older they will look back and be able to draw from those experiences. Through those experiences, I am hoping they will be able to better serve God in whatever He has lined up for them. I know it has had a major impact on this old dad….

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But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. (Galatians 6:4-5)

Discover Your Gifts by Serving

RAMBLINGS from Evan’s dad – Evan is our youngest who has gotten used to being drug into things by his older siblings. Last night, Kris and I  laughed as we looked through some old pictures. It seems when Evan was around 4, Lacy (and maybe Connor) thought it would be a good idea to dress him in one of Lacy’s pink princess dresses. The expression on his face was priceless. He was NOT happy to be wearing it. He WAS counting the seconds until he could get out of it.

The pictures we laughed at often involved Lacy having a “live doll” to play with. Don’t get me wrong, many times he enjoyed it because it involved playing make believe with his sis, or big brother. One picture was of Connor and Lacy in full colonial attire marching in a parade they happened to wonder into, in Williamsburg. Evan lingered a few steps behind them wearing his normal shirt, jeans…and colonial hat. That was his comfort zone.

Evan has always preferred to be “backstage” with them. Working the crew on a play, when Lacy, and later Connor, appeared out on the stage. Wearing black and watching from the wings was more Evan’s thing. That was his comfort zone.

This year Evan (because of Lacy) was drug, figuratively, kicking and screaming into auditions for a play. He was horrified to get a role…where he would be ON stage. The rehearsals have interfered with his shooting trap and skeet on Thursday nights.  He has not been a happy camper. But a strange thing has happened. Evan has formed some new friendships. Through horsing around before, during, or after practice, he and others, have discovered he can sing. The encouragement he has gotten has made him more comfortable with the talent God gave him. It’s never been unusual to walk through the house and hear singing. Lacy has been doing that since she was two. What is unusual is now the singing might be coming from Evan.

Left to himself, Evan would not be rehearsing for his upcoming role ON stage. But because he was willing (maybe reluctantly) to step outside his comfort zone, he has discovered yet another talent God has given him.

I wonder what talents and abilities I might take to my grave?  What might never be used, that could further His kingdom? I don’t want to get to Heaven and have God say, “Ted, Ted, Ted….I gave you these three talents. You could have done so much with them…”

I want to be more like Evan, and step outside my comfort zone….

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For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…(Romans 12:4-6b)

Give God Your Best

Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” (Ephesians 5:17 NLT)

RAMBLINGS from Lacy’s dad – The other night I was waiting on Lacy and Evan to finish socializing at church. While talking to a friend, I noticed him picking trash off the gym floor. So having nothing better to do, I joined him and begin picking up paper, several pieces of uneaten Pez candy, and some crumbled cookie.

About that time our youth pastor, Joe Donahue, walked by and I offered him the crumbled and mangled piece of cookie. He paused and looked at me for a second thinking I was serious. He then laughed and told me his daughter Sophie had offered him the last few bites of her sandwich earlier that day. It just happened to be mushy, messy, and just plain unappealing. We both laughed with the visual of Sophie offering the unwanted leftovers to her dad.

Many times Lacy offers me the final few bites of her burger or sandwich. Often it’s the less attractive corner or edge with less meat and trimmings. Being the typical dad that I am, I often eat it anyway rather then see it go to waste.

As I sit here, I realize I am the same way with God.  I have no problem driving around with a fish on my car. I have no problem going to church on Sunday with my Bible in hand. But how often do I just give Him the leftovers? How often do I give Him the corner or crusty edge? Am I really that different from Sophie? Joe made her sandwich, gave it to her, and after she had all she wanted, only then did she offer the “scraps” back to her dad. The one who had given it to her in the first place.

God gives me life each day. He lovingly puts a bow on it and then gives it to me to use anyway I choose.  I then with my plastic righteousness, sometimes allow Him a few seconds of my day.

…At least Lacy leaves some meat with her crust when she gives it to me….

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Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Fix Your Thoughts on Jesus

We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NCV)

RAMBLINGS from Connor’s dad – Connor, like our other two kids, is pretty bright. In fact, I might be so bold as to say he is one brilliant young man. God chose to give him a lot more gray matter then He did me. He called me from school the other day excited about a new book he had bought on Physics at Liberty’s book store. When we talk I will ask him about his classes and he tells me about chemistry, or statistics, or evangelism, and how much he is enjoying the class. But I didn’t recall physics. I asked him which class he had to buy the book for?  His reply was that he didn’t need it for a class. He just wanted to learn more about it before he took the class. Say what?!?

When I was in college it is safe to say I was the antithesis of Connor. If I ever bought a book, it was for a class I was taking, and was almost always the yellow and black paperback (Cliff Notes) version. I was SO upset when I found out they did not offer them for Algebra!

I was too busy filing my head with important stuff like sports, girls, fraternity, or sometimes even work stuff. In my spare time I might crack a book for school, if I had an exam the next day. I got in my car commuting to work and school and listened to my rock music on the local FM station. That was my world.

Connor likes to talk about the classes he takes, Doctor Who, Switchfoot, and the mission trip he went on last weekend.

I see several differences in my college years and his.

  1. He loves learning, at the time I did NOT.
  2. The music he listens to is more positive, and usually Christian, at the time mine was NOT.
  3. He is involved with Christian organizations and ministry while in school, at the time I was NOT.
  4. He is involved studying God’s word on a daily basis, at the time I was NOT!

One of the few things I quasi remember from my tenure in college was GIGO. That was a term I learned in my computer programming class, “garbage in – garbage out” and I think referred to inputting data or commands.

Is there any computer out there greater then the one God gave each of us? I often talk to a neurosurgeon friend who tells me the brain is the most magnificent organ. Even now we are only beginning to understand its capabilities. Being around people all the time, and having become a student who likes to study people, I can tell you that GIGO is more true today then ever before. We need to be conscious of WHAT we are putting in our minds through what we read, see, and listen to. It will eventually present itself again, when it comes back out.

I guess the question is what is going to come out of us today?….

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Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8  ESV)

Don’t Give Temptation Power

“To avoid being stung, stay away from the bees!” – Common Sense!

RAMBLINGS from Evan’s dad – Evan has a sweet tooth. He loves candy. He loves doughnuts. And he especially loves Cosmic Brownies! Before he went through his big growth spurt, and was still a boy, like many other adolescents, he had added a few pounds on. Partly because these kids of today play more football on TV, then they do in the yard. But in the last year Evan has lost several inches on his waist, grown almost a foot, and now reigns as the tallest in our home.

The other day he and I were going over to see my mom. The drive to her house is an hour and change, so along the way I stopped and got a cup of the world’s best coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  I asked Evan if he wanted anything (at a place that sells doughnuts and ice cream). He replied he could definitely use one of their chocolate glazed doughnuts. I ran in got coffee and doughnut, and we were soon on our way over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.

We got to mom’s where I had the opportunity to do one or two chores for her. Soon we were sitting down at her table to have some lunch. When we were finished, mom asked Evan if he would like a cosmic brownie. He happily replied “sure”. I reminded my child that he had eaten a doughnut all of 94 minutes earlier. My mom replied, “but Tay-ed, he’s at Na-na’s house”. Evan joyfully retrieved his brownies.

He lingered over his cosmic brownie drinking in its flavors, like my buddy Grant Campbell would over a glass of fine wine.  He did not rush the experience, but instead, paused over every bite, almost to reflect on the nuances of its texture and sweetness. He eventually finished his second brownie. Not long after that we were back in the car, homeward bound.

Thirty minutes into the drive, my last-born, who moments earlier was wallowing with great joy in cosmic brownies, now sit beside me, with a tummy ache. He found himself lamenting that he had eaten those irresistible brownies.

I look back at how it played out to get to a tummy ache and regret, and see a couple of things:

  1. Evan was innocently listening to some tunes when I asked him if he would like a doughnut…maybe even encouraged him to get one.
  2. Nana offered him some Cosmic Brownies, even after I told her that he had eaten a doughnut 90 minutes earlier.
  3. Evan gave in to the immediate temptation, not contemplating the repercussions.

Often times the cosmic brownies in our life that tempt us most, are patiently waiting around the next corner. We aren’t necessarily looking for them, we might be minding our own business when we bump right in to them. Sometimes its someone we know, maybe even someone we love, who encourages us to cave in to the temptation.

Kris has done a great job of walking our kids through possible scenarios and then asking them how they would react. She did it when they were little, and she still does it today. She wants them to be prepared as best they can, so that if put in an awkward or tempting situation, they have the greatest chance NOT to give in to the power of that temptation. She wants them to be equipped so they have the greatest chance of pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace!….

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Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:21-22)

Don’t Be Reluctant to Show Mercy

You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13 NLT)

RAMBLINGS from Lacy’s dad – Early in their lives we taught Lacy and her bothers about forgiveness. When one of them was wronged, the offender had to apologize and ask for forgiveness. We taught the offended NOT to say “it’s ok”, because it’s not. We taught the offended to say “I forgive you”. We didn’t want one of them to get bopped in the head with a rock and then learn to tell their sibling “it’s ok…to do that behavior”.

Hopefully, that is what we see in small group settings or Bible fellowship groups. There will be the occasional potato-head that “tosses a rock” at another in the group, typically a spouse. When we witness that, or learn of that, it is our responsibility to lovingly say “bad idea Mr. Potato head!”

It really is amazing the things people are clueless about when it comes to proper behavior and treatment in a relationships. There are many people out there now who were raised in very dysfunctional homes. Abuse was common for many. Lingering pain, hurt, and bitterness are the remnants of that type behavior.

They say harboring hatred for someone is similar to drinking poison and waiting for the other guy to die. It ends up hurting us much worse then the other person. God knows every second of life. The highs, the lows, the things done in private, the things done against our will. We need to lay all of that at His feet and say “Here, You deal with it. I can’t anymore!”

For most of us it’s easy to be offended. It’s easy for us to feel hurt. Many times it is justified. Many times we are mistreated, or spoken to in the wrong way…you know now that I think about it, a certain Jewish Carpenter was mistreated, spoken to in the wrong way, eventually even killed.  Some of the final words out of His mouth were “Father, forgive them….”

I need to be more like Him!….

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Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)

Healing Choices: A Healthy Dependence

Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19 NIV)

RAMBLINGS from Connor’s dad – A few weeks ago Connor was home from school. While here we had a 5K race for Whispering Hope, the local crisis pregnancy center. The whole family went with Kris, Evan and I volunteering, while Connor and Lacy ran. It was a beautiful fall day for such an event.

I took Evan and three cousins out to the half way point where people turned around to come back, and set up a water table. We had a good time encouraging the runners as they began the much harder half of the race heading back. As the last “runner” (a young mom carrying a baby) headed back, we started packing up. We loaded everything on a friends’ truck and then slowly headed back picking up the orange cones in the street as we went. Thirty minutes later we were back in the church parking lot speaking to some of our friends.

One of the pastors came up to me and told me we had some awesome kids. I replied with a smile “we sure do.” He put his hand on my shoulder to make sure he had my attention, and once again told me that we had some incredible kids. This time I looked him in the eye, and told him “thank you, they have a pretty awesome mom!”. For some reason I don’t think he felt like it fully sunk in (an often occurrence with Mr. ADHD) and a third time he looked me in the eyes and told me we had some pretty special kids. This time I just gave him a very sincere “thank you”.

I noticed Connor was hanging out with Mr. Bill, a man at church in his 80’s. Mr. Bill and his wife Mrs. Helen, have had a profound impact on Connor. I walked over and spoke to him a minute, as he cooled down from running the 5k. I spoke to Mrs. Helen, and got to meet their daughter, who was with them. The afternoon wore on, medals for the winners were given out, and we all headed home.

The next day Lacy received a beautiful arrangement of flowers from Mr. Bill, Mrs. Helen, and their daughter. Later a gift card came in the mail from them for Connor. It seems Mr. Bill was encouraged along the way by my two nimble energetic teenagers. Lacy accompanied him most of the last half, while Connor finished the race, and then ran back to finish it with Mr.Bill. I am profoundly proud of my kids for loving on people, no matter their age.

It suddenly dawned on me why Pastor Mike told me three times that we had some great kids. I wish I could take the credit for it. Years ago when the kids were quite small, we came up on a special needs child. Kris, who was a Special Ed major in college, calmly coached the kids through going over and talking with the child. It went amazingly well. Afterwards she showered them with praise, and then through role play walked through what do to when an opportunity came up like that again. Through Kris, our kids have learned true compassion. They have learned encouraging and loving others will come back to them multiplied by their Creator. It now comes as natural to them as breathing.

I want to be more like them!….

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So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.  (Romans 14:19)

Authentic Friendships Help Healthy Choices

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.” (James 5:16 MSG)

RAMBLINGS from Evan’s dad – Evan has known only a couple of churches in his life.  He and I drove by PCBC the other day and he said he remembered it, even though he was only 4 when we moved away. He knows First Redeemer where we have spent 6 years and he is involved now.  And he has grown up experiencing several times a year my family’s church I knew growing up, Union Grove.

These are three very different churches. The first one when we attended, I am guessing, had attendance in the 700-1000 range each Sunday. FRC has almost 5000 members, and runs a larger Sunday average.  And lastly, Union Grove is a little country church that runs less then 100 on any given Sunday.

Evan will tell you he likes them for different reasons. He likes the big churches because of all the young people his age he can hang out with. He likes the bigger churches because of all the things they offer to help us grow in our Christian walk. He likes the music and even the quality of the music. And he likes all the events they have for the youth.

Evan also likes little bitty Union Grove, attendance last Sunday probably 57. He doesn’t like it for their quality of music. They have 12 in the choir, and if everyone shows up, a piano and an organ. He doesn’t like it for the number of young people, because its basically our kids, and their 2 cousins. He doesn’t like it for the things they offer, because they don’t have the ability to do a lot.

He likes it because everyone there knows him. Everyone there loves him. Everyone there cares for him and many of them pray for him. He loves it because of its authenticity. When it was time to get baptized, Evan chose the tiny Union Grove over our mega-church. There is just a sweet, sweet spirit there that permeates throughout the small congregation.

When I sit and think about it, Union Grove with its tiny size, has more of the feeling of a Sunday School class (some Sundays we have more in our class then they do in church). With that intimate size you have many of the qualities a Bible study group would have, with prayer requests being made known, food being taken to the sick, and a lot of focus on the individual.

Basically loving on each other like Jesus told us to.

He wants our love and concern to be authentic, because His was!….

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Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.  (James 5:16)

Healing Choices: A Shared Life

For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20 NLT)

RAMBLINGS from Lacy’s dad – Lacy came by our class after church and met a sweet couple that had visited our Sunday school class the past two weeks. I told her that in my conversation with them, they told me they were members at a big church near by. She asked me why they were visiting our church. I told her they liked their church, but it didn’t offer Bible fellowship groups or Sunday school classes. Hence, their visiting our class, and church.

There is great teaching at both churches. But at their church they have no opportunity to get into a smaller group to fellowship. The past two weeks they have seen some of the following:

1)  A time where we share prayer requests concerning kids, jobs, death, birth, ups and downs we are going through. Sometimes a previous week’s prayer request is asked about before that individual brings it up. I had this happen just last week regarding a situation at work. One of the guys in our class texted me wanting to know how that situation was going.

2) Encouraging each other through prayer and small group conversation. Nothing like hearing another individual talking to the God of the universe about your problem. In a smaller group you have the luxury of talking through problems or concerns with like minded people. Its amazing the insight God will give someone else regarding my problem. Maybe that is one way God shows we need Him first, but also each other as the body of Christ.

3) Time to get to know others better in a smaller setting. In time, having transparency with each other regarding our hurts, our failures, and our victories.  Its easy to put on the “church face” and greet everyone. Its a whole different scenario when a handful of people roll of their sleeves, pray for each other, counsel each other, even bring food over when you have a baby.

I called my insurance agent the other day. I wanted to know if we needed to increase or decrease our coverage. We talked for a few minutes about the insurance where he assured me we were adequately insured, and then we talked quite a bit about our families. Why? You see the two of us spent five or six years together with a couple of other guys in a Tuesday morning Bible study. As we met each week studying God’s Word, we talked about life. We shared the ups and downs we were going through. The struggles in work in marriage, in parenting, in our spiritual walk. We became BROTHERS.

I can pick up the phone with any of those guys 15 years later, and still instantly connect with them…because of the fellowship we experienced together. That is why I believe its imperative that we believers get into a small group with fellow believers, who are headed on the same Heaven bound ship, and while we are on our journey…have FELLOWSHIP….

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For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.  (Matthew 18:20)

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