Pause, Pray, Praise, and Repeat

Sometimes, what we need most, is to pause, pray, praise, and repeat.

After a series of poor choices this evening, Annie received the consequence of an early bedtime. While she was unhappy at first (being the older sibling, yet having to go to bed before her brother), it was music to my ears to leave Wes’ bedroom and hear her singing “Thank you, God (thank you, God), for our food (for our food), and our friends and family (and our friends and family), Amen (Amen)” (sung to the familiar tune of Frère Jacques).

Several thoughts on my mind as I reflect on this:
1. I love that the song she’s singing is a prayer Grace and I sing with our kids before just about every meal. There is nothing wrong with rote prayers and repetition. In fact, so much good comes from it I’d venture to say you’re better off sticking to a script than always improvising prayer on your own.

When the disciples wanted to learn how to pray, Jesus gave them a SPECIFIC prayer that they could pray (in Matthew 6:9-13). Acts 2:42 talks about how the early christians devoted themselves to “the prayers” (PLURAL. Not “prayer” but “the prayers,” suggesting there was a written set of prayers they devoted themselves to).

People often say, “Well, I can’t pray written prayers, written prayers are lifeless.” But prayers aren’t living or dead, they are either true or false; what’s dead or alive is the person praying them.

There’s nothing wrong with rote prayers. In fact, they can be of huge benefit, because, as seen here with Annie, the prayers we practice in one environment can come into play in times of grief and frustration to help cultivate within us a heart of gratitude.

2. I’m thankful for great friends like Travis and Britney Hamm who taught us the song to pray with our kids. Parenting is not a solo act. Whoever’s tried it knows it! It takes a village and it’s incredible to get to parent alongside people you trust. Thankful for the ways these two have helped Grace and me (and so many others) learn how to love our children well!

3. As difficult as it is at times to discipline your own children, if done with a heart that rightly seeks restoration, it actually mirrors the very heart of our loving Father God who also disciplines those he loves (as Hebrews 12 says). As much as I love my children, and as much as it breaks my heart to do what I know I must do for their sake, I can only imagine how much it must break his heart because of how much he fully, wholly, perfectly loves us as his children.

4. Don’t chase after the momentous or miraculous, the lightning crashes and ocean roar, but look deeply and quietly into the mundane. It’s often when we least expect it, when we’re not even looking for it, that God seems to speak and teach us—in those little moments, with a gentle whisper and still, small voice. Parenting is like that. Sometimes where are trophies and graduations, awards and accolades, but more so it’s these simple moments—simply beautiful moments—where we need to pause, pray, praise, and repeat.

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A Whisper Of Perspective

“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” I Kings 19:11-13

I know it says “The Lord was not in the ____” regarding the wind, earthquake, and fire, but I’m wondering: though God was not ‘in’ them, were these phenomena the effect of God’s gentle whisper?

I’d never read it that way before, but it seems so obvious now. Elijah was afraid for his life so God called him out to meet with Him.

What if the wind that shattered the rocks, tore up the earth, and caused lava to flow out was from initial exhale of God’s breath as He began to speak in a gentle whisper?

Talk about perspective.

.: Social Media = Colosseum :.

Social Media has become the new Colosseum.

We’ve thrown our own to the lions with our words.
We’ve sought entertainment at the expense of others.
We’ve gossiped instead of encouraged, torn down instead of mended, broken instead of built up, destroyed instead of delivered, put out instead of prayed for, and laughed at instead of loved.

What’s been gained?
Who has it benefited?
Does it make you feel less small to degrade someone else?

I’m done using anti-social media as a platform to crucify others… isn’t it enough that Jesus was?

Robin Williams (my impossible girl)

I don’t generally get caught up in celebrity news, but this one’s different.
 
Similar to Doctor Who & his impossible girl, Robin Williams seems to have been strewn across my entire timeline. Whether as the Genie, Peter Pan, Professor Sean Maguire, John Keating, etc… the man was nothing short of a genius and his influence on my life has been profound.
 Robin Williams smile
Some have said comedy is born out of pain; it’s the mask worn to cope with the struggles of life. I can’t help but wonder if his brilliance was in part due to his life-long battle against depression.
 
He never claimed to be perfect: numerous times he’d run to other things to numb the pain, the self-doubt, and the demons that plagued him. But there’s something about being acquainted with human frailty that causes us to rise above.
 
Robin Williams was able to masterfully utilize all the questions in his life as ammunition toward the ones so deeply felt in others.
 
When we were mourning, he’d teach us to laugh.
When we were crying, he’d dry our tears.
When we were hurting, he’d be there to comfort us.
 
Behind that wrinkled, well-worn, contagious, bright-eyed smile was a familiarity with pain. It was his acquaintance with grief that made him relevant enough — or even caring enough — to help.
 
What he could do was nearly divine, and it’s because it was. God’s fingerprint marked his very soul. Men like Robin Williams point beyond themselves… they point to someone greater.
 
Robin Williams points us to Jesus.
 
The prophet Isaiah speaks of Jesus this way:
“He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”
 
It’s the humanity of Jesus,
the sorrow of Jesus,
the rejection of Jesus;
it’s His acquaintance with grief that makes Jesus matter in our lives.
 
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
 
Without experiencing pain, He couldn’t help us endure it.
Without feeling loss, He couldn’t help us become full.
Without seeing death, He couldn’t help us overcome it.
 
My heart mourns for Robin Williams and his family.
A man who brought such joy to others, it seems, had yet to truly experience it for himself.
 
Wherever you are today in your life-long search for joy:
in your darkness, Jesus is there.
in your sorrow, Jesus is there.
in your hurt, Jesus is there.
 
Jesus came so His joy may be in you… that your joy may be full.

Oops.

We have an intersection by my place that prohibits left turns from 4-6pm on weekdays.

Turns out, “…but, Mr. Officer, I only unintentionally made an illegal left turn because my clock is set 15 minutes ahead of time so I won’t be late to anything…” is not an acceptable reason for making a left turn at 5:50pm on a Wednesday night.

Oops.

moral of the story:
relative truth counts for nothing when confronted with absolute truth.

Diversity

Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, has been quoted saying this:

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids… we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong in our clothes, and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.

That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores, because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people.”

I don’t know whether or not this is an internet rumor, but nonetheless it struck a convicting thought:

In what ways are we doing this in the church today?

We claim that we want diversity (ethnic, socio-economic, personality, etc), but are we simply lying to ourselves? Take a look at your church leadership — if diversity isn’t represented there, it certainly won’t be reflected in your congregation.

We need to stop “loving on” people

Don’t love on people… just love them.

The phrase “love on” is incredibly condescending.
(ex. “We went over to that neighborhood to love on some needy kids” or “I felt in my heart I should love on that person cause they needed groceries”).

It suggests that “I had to step off of my ‘holier than thou’ pedestal in order that you might benefit from my charity.” There’s no humility in it; it’s entirely self-assuming, not selfless.

You want to love your neighbor? Then simply love them.
Invest in their lives. Let them come be a part of your life, not just a mere random act of kindness that you can check off of your christian to-do list for the month.