My Kids Gave Me Grey Hairs

It wasn’t long ago that I started noticing that I have grey hairs coming in. One at a time, and sometimes multiples at a time. I look in the mirror every morning and BOOM, there’s another one.

Now, I could blame the beginnings of the color transition on the fact that I’m getting older and that would be accurate but, I can ignore one major factor that is a defiant contributor.

It’s my kids.

The children that God has so graciously blessed Carmel and I with. We have 4 kids and they are part of the reason my head is turning grey. Now, you might be thinking, “wow, his kids must be hard to handle. Poor guy, his kids are aging him quickly.” But honestly, that’s not what I mean at all. It not because of the stress they cause me that I am gaining in grey but, because of the many wonderful experiences we have had together. You see, it’s because of my kids that I have had the chance to learn and grow to become the kind of man God has called me to be.

Psalms 127:3-4 says, “Behold, children are a gift of the LordThe fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth” and Proverbs 20:29 says “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”

I am a father of 4! One boy and three girls, and each one, with their individual personalities and strengths, offers the opportunity to grow in trust of God for wisdom and grace.

And that being the case, they are the reason I have grey hair. They are the ones that allow me to grow in wisdom. They are the ones that offer me a chance to live moments of humility where I realize I don’t have any answers. They have brought me joy unspeakable and memories that I treasure.

As I get older, my children have offered me the chance to invest into those who will live on beyond me and hopefully, make a difference in the world they live in.

I have started to gain grey and it’s because of the amazing influence that our children have made on my life. And for that, I am thankful. It’s because of my kids that I am starting to get grey hair.

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What’s in a name?

“Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius, as does the truth itself. We ourselves can say the same for him, and you know we speak the truth.”

‭‭3 John‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Even though our aim is not to please man, we are challenged by God to be people of good reputation. Our name and reputation speaks to others about who God himself is. We see this with Daniel along with his three friends. 

Our character and the way we live will speak to others about Gods love and goodness. 

God, help me to be a man that is spoken well of. That my desire to live for you spurs others to know you more and that Your name is glorified in my life. 

Who’s Building Your House?

Unless the Lord builds the house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord guards the city, guarding it with sentries is in vain.

Ps. 127:1

Everything we do starts with allowing God to put us where He plants us and then allowing Him to lead the way. Wherever we are planted is His doing to begin with and it is our privilege to listen and let Him lead.

I may not be a Lansing resident anymore but I can’t help but have a huge appreciation for MSU coach, Mark Dantonio, in recognizing that the one that builds his house (career) is God. Maybe that’s one reason the Spartans beat my Wolverines in the last 10 seconds of the game… maybe.

Click the link below for the interview

Father, in this part of my life, please lead me in the way I should go. Help me to listen as you guide the way. Help me to be patient when I need to wait and to be bold when it’s time to move.

In Jesus name,

Amen

http://www.wilx.com/home/headlines/Mark–Becky-Dantonio–Weve-had-Gods-Favor-352387631.html?device=phone&c=y

To Much Stuff

Ok, so maybe the phrase I want to use is “to much junk!”

We just packed a 26′ truck front to back and my wife and I are shocked… SHOCKED, at how much stuff we’ve accumulated. 

Now, if I can give our family some leeway I will say that we have lived in the same house for 12 years and we have four children. We also had a garage sale and gave away a ton of stuff. That being said… We have a lot of stuff!

When we originally planned our move we were certain that we didn’t have all that much, but as we began the packing process, boxes began to pile up but the house didn’t look any emptier. We quickly realized that we were living under an illusion. The illusion that we were not “stuff” collectors. As the boxes filled up the motivation to get rid of as much as possible started to rise up inside of us and I’ll be honest, when we did get rid of things, it felt good. 

This shift in our life allowed us to honestly evaluate ourselves and realize that although we never intended to, we had allowed our home to get cluttered with things. 

I think the parallel to life is that if we are not careful, we can think that our life isn’t all that cluttered and that we have a good handle on things. But an honest, God led inspection of our lives might reveal that we have a lot of “stuff” in our lives that we’ve been ignoring or maybe not allowed ourselves to realize are there. 

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1 & 6‬ says, ‭“There is an appointed time for everything…A time to keep and a time to throw away.”

‬‬I’ve noticed that God, in His wisdom, will allow things to happen in our lives to help us grow and sometimes that means getting rid of things that hinder growth. He will provide opportunities to expose stuff that we need to get rid of so we can move into the new identity he has destined for us. 

“But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” Colossians‬ ‭3:8-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Verses like this will often inspire one of two things. The first could be that as you read it you think of all the people who should be reading it and applying it to their lives. Or it could be read and allowed to reveal, through Gods promoting, all the things that need to come out of our lifestyle to make us better people. 

To keep from becoming spiritual hoarders, let’s commit to getting rid of the stuff that God reveals as clutter in our lives. 

Let’s realize we have to much stuff and make a change. 

A Journey of Trust

country road

Well, it’s come to this. My family and I are about to take the journey of trust that so many have taken before us.

In November we will be moving from the only home our children have ever known and going to a place we have never been (except for a breif 3 day visit) nor thought we would ever go to.

Its a challenge of trust in our God to believe that He really is the one who holds our lives in His hands and that we can trust Him to care for us through it. With this challenge comes the possibility for new beginnings and a chance to trust God to be our provider in a way He has never been before.

That’s not to say that He’s not provided for us but that this step in faith opens up the door for Him to show us a new level of provision and trust. And with expanded faith comes expanded territory.

Plotting The Course

In May of 2015  Carmel and I felt in our hearts that something new was coming our way. It was one of those moments when we just knew that something had shifted and we were going to experience change.

At the time I was personally feeling a strong sense that my time as a children’s pastor had ended. Not that I didn’t want to have the privilege of ministering to kids, but that there was a reorganizing of my life goals and priorities. Family ministry began to rise up inside my heart in a new and real way.

What I mean by family ministry, briefly, is that I wanted to be a part of creating an intentional plan in the church to make strong families and healthy homes.

With that I started to peruse some conversations with key people within the church I was serving in. What I didn’t know was that God was actually preparing Carmel and I for something completely expected that would challenge us to know that we’d heard Him clearly.

It’s probably important at this moment to point out that we were in no way searching for something else. There was no desire for a “better position” or to “move up” in my job title. Carmel and I simply knew that God was up to something and we were just eager to know what that thing was.

The words in Isaiah 43:19 were words that reflected what was happening in our spirits. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness.

The Path Becomes Clear

In July God really started to point us in a direction that was away from Mount Hope Church (I had been at Mount Hope for 12 years and 17 years for Carmel). Through a series of confirmations it became crystal clear to us that God was sending us to Colorado Springs, Colorado. I jokingly tell people that Gideon has nothing on us. He put out a fleece, we through out a whole sheep. We just needed to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was God’s direction for our family.

We have never had such a mixture of emotions. We felt excitement that God would choose us and trust us to make a move that would dramatically change our lives. We also felt extremely sad to know that we would be leaving friends that had become family, a church that had been our lives for so many years and a pastor who we loved dearly.

In His wisdom, God reminded me that He called Abraham away from what he was familiar to go on a Journey of Trust. Genesis 12:1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.

This move wasn’t practical. It wasn’t convenient. And it certainly wasn’t without heartache. But if Abraham was willing to trust God it would be a move that would bring blessings to him and generations to come. It was a move that required faith and trust.

We trust God, and we don’t want to be in any place other than the center of His will. There have already been so many lessons that we have learned through this process of trust (I plan to share a few of those lesson in future post) and we know there will be so many great things that we will learn individually and as a family.

Currently, a lessons I see we are getting the opportunity to learn is how to hold on to Jesus more as a family through this transition. There are so many emotions that each of us are going through during this time and it has been powerful to see how God has shown us how to seek His face not only individually but as a family.

One of our greatest hopes is that through this our family is made stronger and that this helps our children become the man and women that He intends them to be.

The Journey Begins 

So now we go. Knowing that when one steps out in faith, an adventure is sure to follow. We will soon be in Colorado Springs and beginning this new chapter of our lives. For now, we don’t have all the answers.

The next steps aren’t crystal clear.

Without Him, the future could seem overwhelming.

But we choose to follow Gods plan for our lives and because of that we will travel on this journey of trust.

Identity Confusion

I had the privilege of speaking at the first ever Kids Ministry Connext Conference in 2014 (http://www.kidminconnext.com). What God put on my heart to share with this group of influential KidMin leaders was not so much about tips and techniques in children’s ministry but it was more about us and our identity. We can get lost in what we do, which can then cause us to develop a case of identity confusion. When we lose our identity, we can focus on the wrong factors to tell us who we really are which then lead us to have the wrong thoughts about ourselves.

The clip provided is from my talk at Connext. I pray that it blesses you and reminds you of your true identity. Whether you are in children’s ministry or not, I believe that the principle is one that can help us all stay in the place of personal identity that God wants for us.

Please leave a comment and let me know how this spoke to you. If you would like to hear more from the great speakers at the Connext conference, or want information on upcoming events, click on the link provided. There is something for every level of KidMin involvement or for your personal growth.

http://www.kidminconnext.com

Everything You Desire, But Thats All

Imagine being able to have whatever you want. Lets imagine for a moment that kid in the grocery isle that is asking for a candy bar. Mom quickly says “no.”

Then you witness the build up to the scene we have all seen played out time and time again.

The child who was told “no” starts to get red in the face, the eyebrows start to furrow and then it happens, the full blown fit. Pandemonium erupts in isle 5.
This scenario can play out in a lot of different ways but we’ll stick to the one that makes us all cringe. Mom gives in and gives the child the candy bar.
What’s interesting about this situation is that at the moment the child thinks that they have won. But the truth is that their insistent push to get what they wanted has caused a rift to form between them and their parent.

The truth is that we can all become that child. We can be the ones that are trying to strong arm God into getting what we want. And if we hear anything other than, “yes, of course. Here you go” we blow a gasket. We get angry and blame God for not coming through the way we think He should. We can whine, moan and wonder why God didn’t come through instead of listening to His voice.

Eventually we might even get what we are begging for but at what cost? Sometimes getting what we want can mean not getting something we actually need.

That’s what we see happening with Moses and the Israelites in the follow passage:

 Exodus 33:1-3 The LORD said to Moses, “Get going, you and the people you brought up from the land of Egypt. Go up to the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I told them, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’ And I will send an angel before you to drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Go up to this land that flows with milk and honey.
Guaranteed success, prosperity and even angelic intervention. This was everything they had been hoping for. It was time to go into the promise land and into all they deserved.
And most of us would be happy with just that. We want to hear God say, “Go for it, you’ll succeed and see miraculous things happen.” And we might even assume that God is please with us and that’s why He’s saying to go. But the next line changes our perspective some.
But I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people. If I did, I would surely destroy you along the way.”
God was actually not please with Israel at all. He was angry. He was so angry that He was sending them away from Himself so that He wouldn’t have to punish them for their rebellion. What’s interesting about This text is that God was still guaranteeing their success. He just wasn’t going to be there with them.
Success, prosperity and victory, but no God.
This was a test, and thankfully Moses had the proper reply:
Exodus 33:15-16 Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”
Moses understood the idea that without God’s presence all the other things were worthless. It’s the presence of God that brings favor. It’s the presence of God that defines us and it’s the presence of God that sets us apart from others.
What is amazing about God is that he offers good things to His people but what He really longs for is a loving relationship. The problem with only getting the stuff without the God who give it is, when hardships come, all we have is the stuff. But if we first focus on our God, then we can be sure that He will carry us through the difficult times. Because it’s not the stuff that matter, but the God who makes it all happen.