Wednesday, June 26, 2019

lessons from my parents

So, I let a couple of big days pass without really saying anything about them--Mother's Day and Father's Day. I have to say, though, I think I've been incredibly blessed in both those departments. I have parents who have taught me more than I could ever begin to list, who have poured themselves into others selflessly, and who have shown me what it means to love your kids well. In honor of both of them (and the arbitrary days set aside on the calendar to say you love your parents), here are a handful of the things they've taught me.

  1. Life is seldom easy.
  2. Love means dealing with the best and the worst in people.
  3. Wealth isn't defined by money.
  4. Set boundaries for your kids, but don't be afraid to let them push right up to the edge.
  5. Fight for your family with everything you have.
  6. You should pour yourself out for people, but don't forget to refill.
  7. "Now you know we don't use those words..."
  8. Just because something's "always been done that way" doesn't mean it should be.
  9. God demands the best of you.
  10. Family isn't only defined by blood.
  11. Help others simply because it's the right thing to do.
  12. "Home" isn't an address.
  13. Give more than you take.
  14. Love hard, even though it means hurting hard, too.
  15. Hold hands.
  16. "Make good choices."
  17. Prayer may not change a situation, but it will change you.
  18. Never be afraid to get your hands dirty.
  19. Say I'm sorry--and mean it.
  20. "Religion" and "faith" are not synonymous.
  21. Say I love you with your words and actions.
  22. Spend your time on the things that are important.
  23. Sometimes, you each need a tv.
  24. Seek God first.
  25. Coffee makes the day better.
  26. The truth will always get out, so save time and just be honest.
  27. Respect is earned.
  28. Stand up for people, even if they don't deserve it.
  29. Bring food.
  30. Trust God's plan, even when--especially when--it doesn't make sense.
  31. Know how to change a tire and drive a standard.
  32. Learn from your mistakes.
  33. Do your best in everything you do.
  34. Mind your manners.
  35. Read good books.
  36. Spend your money wisely. You don't need a $40 shirt!
  37. Follow the Golden Rule.
  38. Laugh.
  39. Cry.
  40. Learn to play cards.
  41. Sometimes you need to play the devil's advocate.
  42. If you know something, teach it to someone else.
  43. Be a good winner and a good loser.
  44. "If you can love your kids through junior high, you'll love them forever."
  45. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  46. You preach a better sermon by how you live.
  47. You help your kids.
  48. Sometimes the best answer is to keep your mouth shut.
  49. Don't think happiness is always found in the next thing.
  50. Support the people you love.
  51. There's no such thing as a half-truth.
  52. Love is patient. People aren't.
  53. Do the right thing even when it's hard.
  54. Don't avoid the hard topics--those are the ones worth discussing.
  55. Take responsibility for your actions.
  56. Be someone people can depend on.
  57. You can't soar like an eagle if you're flapping like a chicken.
  58. You're hardly ever the smartest person in the room or the dumbest.
  59. It's your fault if you're bored.
  60. "Turn off the tv and go do something!"
  61. God can handle your questions.
  62. "I love you way up to the sky!" 
  63. Do what you have to do, then do what you want to do.
  64. Love people.
  65. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
  66. Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.
  67.  People matter more than things.
    “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” 
      Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

what I see and what God says

I'm a big fan of church signs. I can still remember all the times I was responsible for putting the letters up for Pop when he was the pastor at Rehm's Park SBC in Bonner. I wasn't part of figuring out the words--my only piece of the puzzle was making sure the placement didn't look funny. Since then, though, I don't think there's ever been a time that I drove past a church sign without looking to see what it said.

Lately on my drive to and from work, there's been something of an anomaly--two different churches with the same message on the sign.

Don't let what you see
make you forget what I said. 

I'm not really a big believer in coincidences, so two little country churches that I drive past on my daily commute both having the same message seems to me like something I should pay attention to. I've been contemplating it for a while now, trying to figure out just why it is that God is reminding me of this simple message.

Then today I went to and the verse on their landing page stood out:

"Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10 (NASB)

You're probably more familiar with versions that say, "Be still and know...", but I think there's a lot of meaning in the translation, "Cease striving..."

Webster's gives two definitions for strive:

1. to devote serious effort or energy

That first definition doesn't sound too bad. I should be devoting effort and energy to the things that are important, right?

It's the second one that catches you off guard--

2. to struggle in opposition

That one gets me. How much of my striving, even when it's for good things, is actually me struggling in opposition to what God wants for me? How often to I push and fight and try to force what I think should happen instead of having faith that what God says is true, and that He has a plan for my future, and that He is in control no matter what I think I'm accomplishing?

It's easy to look at the world and start thinking that what it values is what is actually important: the right career, the right car, the right title, being tolerant, self-expression, success, self-reliance (that one hits me kinda hard, I have to admit)...

In all of the hustle and busy-ness and chaos of the world, it's easy to lose sight of what God values and to forget what He's said are the important things:

~love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)

~do justice, love mercy, & walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8)

~love God with all your heart, soul, strength, & mind; love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27)

~fear the LORD, walk in His ways, love Him, serve Him with all your heart & soul, and keep His commands and laws (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

When all is said and done, what we see in this world isn't what matters. All our accomplishments and failures fade into obscurity when we view them through the veil of the blood of Christ. And when the time comes, all our crowns will be cast at His feet. We will bow to the One who says,

"I am the Alpha and the Omega,
who is and who was and who is to come,
the Almighty."
Revelation 1:8

"So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:11

Parents, step up

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