Identity Through the Eyes of a Nine Year Old

Identity Through the Eyes of a Nine Year Old

Identity conversation with a nine year old

Date

January 13, 2023

Categories

Parenting

One of the highlights of my week is driving my daughter to her ballet lesson. I enjoy the time with her, our conversations, and honestly, treating her to a slurpees afterwards. What follows is a sneak peak into one of our recent conversations. All of our conversations are not like this. But it is in having lots of average conversations that we get the ones that are particularly gratifying. I offer this as an encouragement to parents with younger children that their kids can begin to do commerce with their identity in Christ.

Eric: How did you day go?

Ella: I helped mom with Isabella. (Isabella is a 4 year old that Leslee sometimes babysits).

Eric: How did that go?

Ella: She arrived loud, angry, and crying. It was really hard.

Eric: What did you learn about yourself through that?

Ella: I don’t like to help.

Eric: How does Jesus help you help mom with Isabella?

Ella: He died for my sin.

Eric: Ok. How does Jesus dying for your sin help you help mom?!

Ella: Because he died for my sin, I should be able to put up with Isabella.

I doubt that my daughter fully grasps the full meaning of what she said, but, that does not concern me. She is LEARNING to THINK like a new creation in Christ!

For more encouragement:
The Ology by Marty Machowski
Three Essential Truths We Need To Tell Our Kids

These Two Words Will Change Your Life

These Two Words Will Change Your Life

Does the bible contradict itself

Date

November 22, 2022

Categories

Home

When was the last time someone thanked you for something you did for them? Were you surprised? —”Wow, I had no idea what I did meant so much to them.”

When was the last time you thanked someone for something they did for you? If you’re convicted by the last question, do not fell put upon! That is me. That is all of us.

What I want to share with you is not a typical Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving message (I’m not kicking dust on ole Norman). But it is something that I hope will be a great encouragement to you and lead to greater joy in Christ—which is what I want to be about.

My main point is simply this: when we say, “thank you!” we bless others, and receive a blessing back in the form of a changed life. Here’s how this happens in three steps.

STEP ONE – Practice saying, “Thank you!”

Given human nature, it is safe to say that our natural tendency is toward entitlement rather than thankfulness. Sometimes, “thank you” is not reflexive but something we have to remember to say—or to say well. For example, as parents, we know how hard it can be to get our children to say thank you for a gift from a friend or grandparent. I suppose in this way our children are more like us than they are unlike us, but I digress.

Over time, saying those two words and penning handwritten notes create an awareness that we each have been given much more than we realize. We have taken a lot for granted. It is not only decent but healthy to practice saying “thank you” for everything from a Christmas gift, a good deed, a word of encouragement, personal concern voiced, or even for an enduring friendship.

STEP TWO – Grow in gratitude

Over time, as we practice saying “thank you”, we become more grateful people because we realize how dependent on each other we really are. Little things: the words of encouragement, the times given for impromptu conversations at desperate moments, the simple meals with a friend, the many “I’ll pray for yous” about your scary doctor’s appointment, financial or marital struggles matter. These and so many more blessings we enjoy take on much greater meaning. And this is where it really gets good!

As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we enjoy a huge benefit. We begin to see how God is really the One who is behind all of our blessings. God is behind every act of kindness we receive because he is love. Giving was his idea because that is who he is. He is the giver and redeemer of life. He is at work in all our lives, making us more like him as we are woven together as one in Christ through his Holy Spirit. This is a joyful thing to see happen.

STEP THREE – Let joy change you

Our joyful response to seeing God’s love poured out to us through others, quite frankly changes us. Here’s how. God’s love is reflexive. It has the effect of causing us to love others (see 2 Corinthians 5:11-21). Growing in being others-centered represents Christ-like change. Gratitude causes us to see ourselves as the truly unworthy recipients we really are. This gives us joy! God loves me so much that he has put people in my life who genuinely care about me and who will help. We become what the world is desperately seeking but that apart from Jesus, will struggle to ever find: people who really care about others—no matter who they are.

Say thank you to someone this Thanksgiving. Say thank you to someone the day after Thanksgiving, and on January 11, March 3, July 21, and September 15 (i.e. every day!) Doing so cultivates a grateful attitude that will not only spawn new and deeper relationships. It will increase your joy and also change your life.

As I close this Thanksgiving article, I want to say, “thank you!” to you, our faithful audience. Some of you are new to the ministry, some have been with us for years. All are a blessing to our family. As you listen to our humble attempts at podcasts and support the ministry through donations and prayers, you have meant so much. We look forward to walking into the new year with you and growing in the joy of the gospel, together. Happy Thanksgiving!

You May Kiss the Bride

You May Kiss the Bride

Does the bible contradict itself

Date

November 16, 2022

Categories

Home

Parenting

What is your favorite part of a wedding? Is it watching the radiant bride walk down the aisle? The exchange of vows? When the pastor says to the giddy, newly minted husband, “You may kiss the bride!” These are iconic moments. Weddings also provide vital opportunities to seize encouragement we desperately need in a broken world.

Last week, I married off my first child and daughter, Abigail. It was a glorious day filled from beginning to end with joyful celebration… and admittedly, some tears.

As I reflected on this experience, I realized in a fresh way that weddings have incredible power to comfort and embolden us as we face disappointments, fears, and frustrations.

Three Reminders.

First, our lives find meaning within God’s larger story. Isn’t it easy to get engrossed in the details of our own little lives? When our purpose is defined by the selfish words “me-my-mine” we taste the bitter fruit of self-pity, depression, anger, worry, and other woes. Our world shrivels like a raisin, rigid and dark. We lose sight of God’s broader purpose for our lives which is to be part of his story whose plot is redemption.

We are not our own, we were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Our relationships are both an end and a means to the end of redemption in our own lives and the lives of others. We are interdependent. We give and we take. We need each other. Marriage in all its complexity is to be a technicolor picture of how redemption works out in the lives of saved sinners. It points to the much more important and eternal relationship of Christ and his church. As such, weddings remind us of our place within God’s larger story.

Second, we find great peace and rest when we follow God’s plan. It is God’s general plan for men and women to marry (for the good and joy of both). God has demonstrated throughout history that he blesses his people when they follow his plan. Even when we fail, God’s plan provides provision for how to get back on track. We find peace and rest when we follow his plan for our relationships. We can embrace it with the expectation that he will bless it and he will redeem, despite cultural disdain.

Third, God is good. Marriage reminds us of God’s goodness. God created all things good, including man and woman. God said that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). Why argue with The One who made us this way? Men and women are gloriously different but complimentary. Our spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical differences were designed to bring us joy. Even the lows; the frustrating struggles of marriage when handled with the grace of the gospel, demonstrate God’s goodness as a redeeming God; restoring us to himself and to each other. We can always build back better (to redeem an otherwise euphemistic political phrase). If we still have a pulse, it is never too late. His attributes of sacrificial love, forgiveness, and oneness (all good) intended to accomplish good are all modeled in marriage.

Now, I would like to make two observations.

Parenting Years Fly by Fast. Enjoy Them.

Life is short and our time with our children is shorter. As I prepared my “father of the bride” speech, I was struck anew with this truth as I considered stories about my time with Abigail as a little girl. Those wonderful years were filled with precious moments. But they flew by so fast and I confess that I did not choose to enjoy those years as much as I could have. We do have jobs that need our attention, but our jobs do not ultimately define us. I’ll never forget these sage words, “When you are on your deathbed you will not be wishing you spent more time at the office.”

As parents, we really are circus stars. Raising children is a balancing act that lasts 20 years, not 20 seconds. Actually, the metaphor of a balancing act isn’t exactly accurate because a job and raising children are not equal. But it does convey the idea that we need to intentionally engage the struggle if we are doing it faithfully. Do we seek ultimate significance in our careers that will often rob others, or do we rest in our significance as redeemed sons of the Most High God freeing us to serve others? If it all seems too easy, perhaps we are “out of balance.”

Be Grateful for Our Relationships.

Weddings (and funerals) help us see that our church relationships matter—a lot. I was looking at the wedding guests and each one has played a significant role in our lives. Some of the people were extended family, but many were fellow church members who have been part of our lives for decades. They were there because they were special. Unfortunately, there were many special people who we could not invite but even that realization was a blessing.

Weddings provide a visible reminder that we are not alone. God has given us a community, an eternal family to help us walk with him, especially when we are struggling, which if we’re honest is often. He has made a way for us to have enduring joy, peace, and purpose in this broken world. Weddings are vital reminders or God’s effervescent love and provision for our joy and redemption.

To hear more from Leslee and me about the wedding and our takeaways, please listen to the Home In Him podcast here.

Rediscover your identity in Christ as a family with the free
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