Archive for the ‘Children- including me’ Category

Would my kids know Jesus from knowing me?

April 28, 2010

Would they? I don’t know. That’s my aim, however.

If my family were somehow shown the essence of Jesus, as he was incarnated, (I mean as he was in human form, not as the majestic being of infinite glory ascended and seated at the right hand of God the Father) would they be able to say, “Yeah, I’ve seen that before. That’s kinda like my Dad/Husband.” Or if God were to grant my prayer that they might “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”, would they be able to say, “I already know a little bit of that kind of love.”

Lord, have mercy. May it be so.

The following is a post from Anne Voskamp, at “A Holy Experience” (another of my favorite blogs) that looks at this question.


How The Kids & The Neighbor-Next-Door Might Really Become Christians?

I’m brushing my teeth, flecks of white spraying the sunny mirror, confetti celebrating new morning, when she crawls up on the toilet, leans into the mirror to find my reflection and ask me straight up, “How do you become a Christian?”

I’m Crest-foaming.

Which is slightly less than conducive for a theological treatise.

I rinse, wash the pearly whites clean, swish again, decide the best way to answer the curl girl’s question might be exactly the Jesus answered questions.

With another question.

Aren’t the answers that strike the deepest the ones our own unlikely lips discover, pull out of thin air?

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“Shalom,” I tap the toothbrush dry on the side of the sink, porcelain knocking at today. I still haven’t found my glasses amidst the teetering stack of books on my bedside stand so I have to peer into her face, her one shake of seven freckles peppering her nose. “You tell me, Shalom… How do you become a Christian?”

I want to think I’ve fulfilled my parental calling, that she knows this one and this is a test more of my own mothering than of her four-year-old mind. But nose to that sun-kissed nose, I’ve got to concede: “Do I even know?”

What is it to become a Christian? Aren’t I still, even now, always, becoming Who I really am? Whose I really am?

What I used to think of as a four-line prayer on the back of a Billy Graham tract I now see as oceanic, cosmic, a decision made with every lugging up of the lungs for breath and it takes a whole life to labor into rebirth.

Lashes dipped gold, she rolls her sapphire eyes and grins sheepish, her head tilted shy. Has she got it? Yes? I smile, tap the end of her button nose, a vending machine tap of the universe for the right answer and maybe the Child can show me the way into the Kingdom?

So how do you become a Christian?” I set my toothbrush in its cup and turn to her and she looks clear into my canyon depths and before she opens her mouth I feel exposed.

“I know…. ” she touches my cheek in morning light mottled.

I get it from you.”

Oh.

I’m not ready for that.

I reel, pull away, glance me in the mirror and I don’t want to see, turn, fold a towel up just straight, breathe through the burn.

She’s got her theology all wrong. And all right.

She’s getting her Jesus from me.

Is that what we’re all doing here? Passing out the crumbs of our Jesus, the Bread of life we’ve been given, to the beggar starving sunken beside us?

And is that why there are fewer and fewer of genuine disciples?Because we who have Bread are indifferent hoarders, letting the masses die? Or because we’re going around passing out cardboard, pseudo-Life, because the ugly truth is that we’ve never tasted of the Real Christ ourselves?

He said those Easter People would receive power when the Holy Spirit came, that we’d be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the table, the ends of the couch, the ends of the street. The ends of the earth. Witnesses who hand out the Real Story. With their whole body.

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And I’ve got to ask and I’m the one who has to find my own answers:

What Christ am I witnessing and what Christ do I read of, and where do I see God in my life and Who do I really eat of every Sunday? And is this body of bones wrapped in bluing thin flesh a faithful witness at all to the Truth or do my words twist the Gospel, my hands and my tongue lying outright about Christ, the Messiah?

Doesn’t anyone take the witness stand for the God who laid it all down? Have we not seen? Heard? Touched? Why shrink away? Why lie about it?

I don’t know…. I don’t claim to know.

I just know that the Child’s startling claim that she’s getting her Christianity from me brings me to my knees. It’d better keep me there.

And I know that I’d better be handing out the real Bread — not something that will make her, anyone, soul sick. And maybe the answer is that, whether we realize it or not, every moment is our testimony before a world who has Christ on trial.

When I tenderly gather her up into the lap there on the edge of the tub, I explain what it means, how to break the amniotic waters of new life, or what little I know of the mysteries of being born again, and I feel so small.

She feels along the story for days.

I pray my hands are a better witness than my words.

She prays a sinner prayer on a Tuesday, and we who conceived her bones are bent with her, midwives for the second birthing. I pull her close, kiss her forehead fresh with heaven’s scent and I whisper into curls, “The angels have seen this, Shalom, the angels bear witness. The angels have a party today.”

On her new day one, we make angel cookies, her and I, of the wheat kernels fallen to the ground, gathered and ground fine, angel cookies for the angel party, for the lost sheep found, celebration for the long delivery begun.

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And I bear witness to her splitting smile, the Christ Alive and bits of the heavens fallen quiet across the greening earth, the blue periwinkles, the dark violets, the dandelion suns.

Compassion International Bloggers Trip to the Dominican Republic

November 6, 2008

I’ve got a Compassion button on my sidebar from the last bloggers trip to Uganda. Another group is in the Dominican Republic right now with great posts from all the folks. But there is one in particular that stands out above all the rest, Nick Challies’,  Challies Jr. blog. It’s well written, thoughtful and informative, but there’s lots of posts coming from this trip that are those things. What sets Nick’s blog apart is the fact that he’s only eight. That’s right, you heard me, only eight!

Go read both he, and his Dad’s trip posts. Really good stuff.

Tomatoes

October 10, 2008

One of the things I’ve done with the boys this year is grown tomatoes. Just a couple of plants, but I wanted them to see how things grow, to understand the process growth a little better. Personally, I consider this a spiritual discipline, although I’ve not seen it formally listed as such.

I wanted them to learn about planting, how deep do you plant them?, how important is soil preparation? Watering, weeding, feeding, diseases, and bugs, all need to be watched and tended to. How the cages that seem so big and useless at first, but later become the framework that allows the plant to flourish.

Neither of them like tomatoes, unless you first make them into ketchup, but they really like to go check on the plants. They spend most of the time looking at how big the plant is, and how many tomatoes are on them.

I don’t know how much time they think about the roots. My guess is not much. I’m a lot like that.

I’ve been pondering this article from A.W. Tozer in The Root of the Righteous . Tending to the root of anything is, by and large, hidden. It’s aim is for soundness for the long haul. It requires regular maintenance, knowledge of what you’re doing. 

ONE MARKED DIFFERENCE between the faith of our fathers as conceived by the fathers and the same faith as understood and lived by their children is that the fathers were concerned with the root of the matter, while their present-day descendants seem concerned only with the fruit.

This appears in our attitude toward certain great Christian souls whose names are honored among the churches, as, for instance, Augustine and Bernard in earlier times, or Luther and Wesley in times more recent. Today we write the biographies of such as these and celebrate their fruit, but the tendency is to ignore the root out of which the fruit sprang. “The root of the righteous yieldeth fruit,” said the wise man in the Proverbs.

Our fathers looked well to the root of the tree and were willing to wait with patience for the fruit to appear. We demand the fruit immediately even though the root may be weak and knobby or missing altogether. Impatient Christians today explain away the simple beliefs of the saints of other days and smile off their serious-minded approach to God and sacred things. They were victims of their own limited religious outlook, but great and sturdy souls withal who managed to achieve a satisfying spiritual experience and do a lot of good in the world in spite of their handicaps. So we’ll imitate their fruit without accepting their theology or inconveniencing ourselves too greatly by adopting their all-or-nothing attitude toward religion.

So we say (or more likely think without saying), and every voice of wisdom, every datum of religious experience, every law of nature tells us how wrong we are. The bough that breaks off from the tree in a storm may bloom briefly and give to the unthinking passer-by the impression that it is a healthy and fruitful branch, but its tender blossoms will soon perish and the bough itself wither and die. There is no lasting life apart from the root.

Much that passes for Christianity today is the brief bright effort of the severed branch to bring forth its fruit in its season. But the deep laws of life are against it. Preoccupation with appearances and a corresponding neglect of the out-of-sight root of the true spiritual life are prophetic signs which go unheeded.

Immediate “results” are all that matter, quick proofs of present success without a thought of next week or next year. Religious pragmatism is running wild among the orthodox. Truth is whatever works. If it gets results it is good. There is but one test for the religious leader: success. Everything is forgiven him except failure.

A tree can weather almost any storm if its root is sound, but when the fig tree which our Lord cursed “dried up from the roots” it immediately “withered away.” A church that is soundly rooted cannot be destroyed, but nothing can save a church whose root is dried up. No stimulation, no advertising campaigns, no gifts of money and no beautiful edifice can bring back life to the rootless tree.

With a happy disregard for consistency of metaphor the Apostle Paul exhorts us to look to our sources. “Rooted and grounded in love,” he says in what is obviously a confusion of figure; and again he urges his readers to be “rooted and built up in him,” which envisages the Christian both as a tree to be well rooted and as a temple to rise on a solid foundation.

The whole Bible and all the great saints of the past join to tell us the same thing. “Take nothing for granted,” they say to us. “Go back to the grass roots. Open your hearts and search the Scriptures. Bear your cross, follow your Lord and pay no heed to the passing religious vogue. The masses are always wrong. In every generation the number of the righteous is small. Be sure you are among them.” “A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.” ( Article taken from The Root of the Righteous, Chapter 1 )

 

 

Water… and sin.

August 18, 2008

Bill Kinnon at achievable ends posted this video a while back. It’s a powerful reminder that many of the things we take for granted in the West (like clean water) aren’t the norm for much of the world. I would encourage every group to consider what they can do to help. Check out organizations like World Vision, who produced the video, or Blood:Water Mission to see what you can do. 

But the video has another message, for me at least. 

It’s a powerful picture of how vile and pervasive sin is, and how oblivious we are to it. How it infects everything and everyone it touches, and how much we need to be cleansed. How when we drink it in, we drink in death.

So watch the video with those two thoughts in mind.

This Is Pretty Cool

April 8, 2008

If you ever had dreams as a kid of making it to the majors, this will be pretty cool. (HT-Kurt Nordstrom)

 

 

 

 

The Kingdom

April 4, 2008

I keep coming back in my thinking to the idea that the “gospel of the Kingdom” (which is, according to Luke, what Jesus preached) is so much more than personal salvation.

If we are just preaching a gospel of personal salvation I’m afraid we’ve misunderstood what maybe the whole point of what jesus was saying and doing the whole time he was here. Scripture says time after time that God will put all the all things “under His feet”, under His reign and dominion. In other words the Kingdom will be restored under the rightful King’s rule.

When I’ve talked about this with folks I usually throw in the emotionally charged, but pertinent question, “Which gospel are we teaching our children?” It’s a question I asked myself before I asked anyone else, and was … to say the least uncomfortable with my answer, as was everyone else when I asked. The response was striking in its uniformity. “Well you’ve got to talk about personal salvation first, and then later you can teach about the Kingdom. The Kingdom is a much more complex concept.” To which I reply, You’re right, forensic justification is a much easier concept to grasp than a story about a rightful King who comes to defeat a evil one who isn’t really a King at all. What were those guys at Disney thinking marketing The Lion King to a bunch of kids?”

The Kingdom is too hard to understand?

I told that the other day to a couple of pretty bright guys. One said, “Why do they think there have been 85 million sets of the Chronicles of Narnia sold?”. The other said, “Well, scripture says you have be like a kid to even get in the Kingdom, so there ya go.”

I thought about that again that night. I had realized that the gospel I had told my children about was one that centered on their forgiveness of sins, and them going to heaven, but I hadn’t told them much about the Kingdom.

So as I laid down on my youngest’s bed that night to say good night and pray, I told this kind of stilted, not so creative story about a king in space who came to a planet to put down a rebellion and so on, and so on.

When I was finished, I made the leap to the “and that’s kind of what God does.” explanation.

My youngest thought for a couple of seconds and said, “Oh, I get it now! That’s why we go to church and pray.”

So there ya go.

Who, Me?…Poetry?

February 21, 2008

I didn’t grow up with any appreciation of poetry. So it is somewhat surprising to me that later in life I have begun to read a few poets. Christina Rosetti, John  Donne, G. M. Hopkins, Gerhard Tersteegen, and Wendell Berry to name a few.

Wendell Berry is one that makes me slow down and breathe easier. It’s not because he only says comforting things, but rather because he brings a quality of sabbath to bear in his writings.  It doesn’t take a literary genius to figure that out though. His volume, A Timbered Choir, is tagged on the cover, “The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997”.

This is one, from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, I really resonate with.

The Peace of Wild Things


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Berry

I’m Haunted (part 1)

February 16, 2008

I’m Haunted. It seems like I’ve been haunted forever.

I’m haunted by verses of scripture that say things like, “Religion that is pure… is this: that you visit widows and orphans in their afflictions….”, or this, “If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed.’, but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”, or this,”I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do to one of the least of these, you did not do unto me.”

I’m haunted by how much stuff I have and how much stuff I still want.

I’m haunted by how many times I have turned away from that guy at the exit ramp  with the sign that invariably says “Stranded…God Bless” 

But I think I’m haunted most by the eyes of any, no, every little African child, hollow, listless, almost lifeless, and certainly hopeless.

Lately I’m haunted by the reports from the Compassion International blogggers trip to Uganda.

As I write this I’m sitting at my computer, in my warm house, listening to music on my Bose SoundDock. I’m trying to figure out what to fix for dinner that will work with the low-carb diet I’m on because I’ve eaten so much over the last year or so that I’m getting fat. 

Something is wrong with this picture.

Compassion International Trip To Uganda

January 30, 2008

See the post below this one for a bit of my limited experience with Compassion. 15 other folks are about to have an experience of their own.

Compassion has come up with a pretty good idea. They are inviting 15 bloggers to go to Uganda to see the work they’re doing, and blog about the trip. Should be good reading.

Here’s a list of bloggers from their site.

Witness Blog History

For the first time, Compassion is taking 15 Christian bloggers to see the ministry’s work firsthand. Read their blogs and get an insider’s view of Compassion as the bloggers send live updates from:

Carlos Whittaker 
“Ragamuffinsoul” by Carlos Whittaker, innovative worship leader
Read Carlos’ Blog.

Chris Elrod 
“Chris Elrod Properties” by real estate agent Chris Elrod, married to Randy
Read Chris’ Blog.

Doug Van Pelt 
Owner, operator and editor of The Hard Music Magazine
Read Doug’s Blog.

Heather Whittaker 
“Whittaker Woman,” a refreshing blog by Heather Whittaker, Carlos’ wife
Read Heather’s Blog.

Phil Ware 
“The Phil Files,” blog of Phil Ware, president of Heartlight Inc.
Read Phil’s Blog.

Randy Elrod 
“Ethos … a Cultural Watercooler,” blog of Randy Elrod, a Hugh Hewitt “blog of the month” winner
Read Randy’s Blog.

Shaun Groves 
“Shlog,” blog of Shaun Groves, an insightful songwriter and musician
Read Shaun’s Blog.

Sophie 
“BooMama” from Sophie, author of this hilarious women’s blog
Read Sophie’s Blog.

Anne Jackson 
“Flowerdust.net” by Anne Jackson, who is a writer and serves on staff at LifeChurch.tv.
Read Anne’s Blog

Shannon 
 “Rocks in My Dryer” by Shannon, a 30-something stay-at-home mom, featured in Good Housekeeping
Read Shannon’s Blog

David Kuo 
“J-Walking” by David Kuo, Washington editor for Beliefnet.com and former special assistant to President George W. Bush
Read David’s Blog

Tom Emmons 
Compassion’s Internet Marketing Program Manager and sponsor of two Compassion children
Read Tom’s Blog

Spence Smith 
Spence Smith, Artist Relations Manager for Compassion
Read Spence’s Blog

Keely Scott 
“Queen Anne’s Lace,” blog of Keely Scott, photographer
Read Keely’s Blog

Brian Seay 
“A Simple Journey” by Brian Seay, Artist Relations Manager for Compassion
Read Brian’s Blog

Compassion International

January 29, 2008

Something interesting happened a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

I came in from picking up the boys from school one day, and there was a message from Compassion International on our answering machine. That was a little odd, we’ve never gotten a message from Compassion before, just letters and emails that sort of thing. What they said kind of caught me off guard a little. Made me think back several years ago when we started with them. 

About 11 years ago, shortly after the birth of our first child, we decided we needed to do something to help someone else.  We decided we needed to help another child and his parents if we could.  I kept thinking about what it would be like to love your child as much as I loved mine, and not be able to give them the things they needed to grow up healthy, or even to grow up at all.   I knew that if  I were in a situation like that, I sure would want someone, anyone, to come alongside me and help.  So we decided to sponsor a child through Compassion. 

We signed up and sent all the paperwork off to them. We let them pick the child and the country he or she was from.  They sent back a package of info with a picture of a skinny boy named Gamaleyan, a 9-year-old from India.  We put his picture and info on the refrigerator and began to sponsor him. We began to pray for him. From time to time we would recieve progress reports from Compassion on how he was doing in school and such, and also letters from Gamaleyan. “Dearest Uncle Seaton and Aunt Kristin, Thank you….” began the letters, and they would end “I am praying for you.  Affectionately yours, Gamaleyan”

So for the next 11 years, every month, Compassion International took out $32 from our bank account and Gamaleyan went to school, had food to eat and clothes to wear.

Back to the present.  The message from Compassion International was to notify us that Gamaleyan was now an adult and had graduated from the program.  He had made it through school, was trained as an electrician and looking for work.  We were no longer his sponsors. 

It was a strange feeling. 

It still is.  

It doesn’t feel like we did very much, a letter every now and then, a little extra money at Christmas so he could have a gift. We surely didn’t do as much as we could have.  Somehow I feel a little guilty, a little embarrassed.  It was so easy.  We didn’t miss the $32 a month. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even think about it most months.  But I’m glad we did it. 

And thankful too. Because he was interceeding on our behalf, and only God knows how much we needed it, still need it. Maybe we were more in need than he was. Sometimes I forget the letter to the to the angel of the church at Laodicea. I may not say that I’m rich, well fed and in need of nothing, but I sure do live that way. I forget to look beneath the veneer of stuff, and remember that I am poor, pitiful, blind and naked and very much in need of the One who stands at the door and knocks.

Now it’s time to do it again, to start over with another child.  Soon we’ll have another picture on the refrigerator, each month $32 will transfer from our bank account to Compassion International and somewhere, I don’t know where yet, a child will begin to go to school, eat every day, have clothes to wear. Maybe she will pray for us.

And maybe a parent, both here and there, can give thanks.