Aug 10 2012

Who are you listening to? Part 2

A few posts ago I wrote about the importance of listening to Jesus in order to receive the words/message that He may desire you to pass along.  Thus, in our marketing-saturated society, we’ve got to be careful who we’re listening to so that we don’t miss out on the best messages.  Well, thanks to a series of life circumstances over the past couple weeks, I’ve got version 2.0 of that message.

In all honesty, it’s been a tiring couple of weeks, physically and spiritually.  Sparing the details, there were travelings, sicknesses, losses, disappointments, unmet expectations, flat bicycle tires, and often a general feeling of being spiritually assailed by the evil one.  Enter into that picture a simple children’s praise CD that has put various Scripture verses to music.  (Caleb requests this one a lot.)

[ band strikes up ]

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks . . . the mouth speaks.”

“Matthew 12:34″

And that’s the song.  Remarkably simple, with a fairly catchy tune (come take a ride in our swagger wagon . . . I’m telling you, Caleb will likely request it.)

Well here’s the rub.  I realized that in the midst of this difficult couple of weeks, my mouth wasn’t “clothing myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12) like I would want.  The lyrics/verse of the song provided the reason why.  I had definitely been short-changing my time in the Word in the midst of the craziness.  My heart was overflowing with more woes that it was with the Word.  So in response, I dove into Psalms to help find my bearings.

The Lord rewarded my obedience with Psalm 25 .  Go ahead, take a few minutes and read it.  Put yourself into the Psalmist’s shoes and pray this from your perspective instead of David’s.  Pay attention to your heart as you meditate on the picture of God described in the chapter.  Pray that God would keep His Truth in your heart . . . and watch how your responses throughout the day change.  ‘Cause ya know . . . “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”


Mar 2 2012

what I’m listening to

Music is a powerful influence.  I’ve heard it said that music is the only thing that can enter a persons soul without getting permission from the mind (or something like that, anyway.)  Regardless, music has a tremendous ability to illicit deep seated emotions and move us in profound ways.

An album that I’ve been particularly fond of and moved by lately is “The One You Need” by Shane and Shane .  Songs about Liberty, celebrating our freedom in Christ.  Songs proclaiming the sufficiency of God’s grace, even (or especially) in the midst of hard times.  The title track is a moving description of a father’s prayer over his daughter.  It’s totally worth looking up the music video.

Last night, we put in the album after our family dinner and turned it up.  After a good romp around the room to “Liberty” the upbeat opener, the second number, a melodious song entitled, “Your Love,” began to play.  The flowing tune and powerfully descriptive lyrics drew out some of the old ballerina in Carrie.  I stood holding our youngest and watched in awe as my beautiful bride graciously spun across the floor with my two older children captivated.  As the dancing continued, my heart continually grew fuller as I marveled at the goodness that the Lord has lavished on my family.  As Lillie twirled like her mom, I saw there, also in the deep parts of my heart, a yearning for my children to follow us in knowing the love of the Lord as much as they mimic our movements.

God’s love often comes in the form of rebuke, discipline, and conviction, of which I’ve had plenty.  And thankfully, His love also comes in the form of twirls, giggles, and tender moments that fill the heart.  I love my God, and I love my family.

I did manage to snag a few precious moments of the “show”, so I hope you enjoy a sliver of what I did.

Family Dance (click to view)


Nov 1 2011

Growing in Grace

2Cor. 12:9 > “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (italics added)

Eph. 1:7-8 > “In him we have redemption through is blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished on us…” (italics added)

In a few short parenting moments last night, I turned a new corner in my understanding of grace.  What’s more, I’ve come to greater treasure the Lord for His lavish grace, and I’ve been convicted of how far I am from emulating Him as I ought.

The scene was fairly routine as the night began to wind down.  Bed time.  Long day.  Everybody is tired.  As we round the final corner and head towards lights out, Caleb asks, “Dad, do we have time to read a book?”  Now, I don’t have anything against reading books, but sometimes I just want the bed-time-routine to be over.  So selfishly, I just want to say, “No.”  But the fact that there is time to read a book together with the fact that he asked so nicely, it’s really hard to decline.  So here’s what I said:

Well buddy, I’ll tell you what.  If you can go finish your milk and have a good attitude through your bathroom chores, we’ll check the time and maybe read a book.

Seems like a pretty good response, huh?  Well, allow me to let you in on what what going on in my heart.

As Caleb headed to get started on that list of contingencies, I grabbed the Bible story book knowing full well that “there would be time.”  While grabbing the book and considering its contents the Holy Spirit split me wide open:

Don’t kid yourself, Jason.  You are not showing your son grace.  You’re making him work for your “favour.”  You’re making the expression of your love and generosity dependent on him conforming his behaviour.  Do you want him to have a good attitude because it makes your life easier or because you want him to know and do the right thing?  Aren’t you glad God doesn’t work that way with His grace and you?

Wow.  I sure am glad that God’s grace — the lavish grace that is sufficient for all that I lack and the grace that is greater than all my sin — isn’t couched in a list of qualifications.  God offers His favour to me unmerited, undeserving as I am, though I’ve done nothing to earn it.  Jesus is the one who earned His grace . . . I get it just by my faith-filled association in Christ.  What a privilege.

Now back to parenting, I don’t think the answer is to spoil my kids.  God has given me a responsibility to teach them right and wrong and the consequences of their actions.  But what I don’t want to do is to teach them that they need to work for my affection.  I don’t want them to learn love as a works-based privilege.  I want to be stern in discipline, teaching them what is right and wrong.  And at the same time, I want to be able to show them that I love them like God loves: freely, without manipulation, without qualification.  They are mine, I love them . . . just like I am His and He loves me.

Caleb and Hannah

Caleb and Hannah


Jun 10 2011

my routine pick-me-up

Spring 2011

The Lord is good to give me little reminders during the day that do two things:

1.  Make me feel loved, wanted, respected and generally good about myself,

2. Make me humbled at realizing the significance of my influence in others’ lives.

One such reminder which happens most mornings, typically when I’ve run up to the kitchen from the basement office to top off a cup of coffee.

Caleb, my three year old, will usually look at me and say, “Dad, are you going back to work now?”

Yes, sir.  I’ll see you later.”

[pause, wait for it . . . ]

You’re my best buddy, dad.  And I love you and I like playing with you.  Okay, see you later.”

Then, though no one really sees it, I descend back to the basement with coffee in hand, grinning from ear to ear.

I am amazed at the opportunity adults have to influence the lives of children.  But not only children, anyone who gives us permission to step beyond the metaphorical “front porch” of our lives.

Some people will just wave from their porch as we walk by in life, some will invite us up to the porch swing for some lemonade (can you tell I’m from the South?), and many others will invite us in to “stay a while.”  Those relationships are the ones where we have such an incredible chance to bless one another.

I’ve been greatly encouraged these past few weeks as I’ve read through Galatians 6 in preparation for Sunday messages.  The truth there has left me with a deep prayer and desire to see our “household of faith” make significant investments in each others’ lives.  Whether it is the example we put before the children in our church, the effort we put forth in small groups, or general tenor of how we speak and relate to one another, I sincerely pray that

we [will] not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those to belong to the household of faith. (Gal. 6:9-10)

So to my friends and church family:

You are my dear buddies.  And I love you and I love spending time with you.  Okay, see you later.”