Archive for the ‘Baby blogs’ Category

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Prayer and Parenting

September 16, 2011

Kaeden is learning to talk.

He can already pronounce some one syllable words. We think we hear car, mommy and daddy. Our parental desires, however, may be influencing what we are ‘hearing’.

Have you ever asked yourself, ‘Why are all the ‘best’ swear words so easy to say’? So many of them are one syllable. That concerns me as a father. It will be easier for my son to pronounce the F bomb than the word fornication (an F word that is far more neglected in our culture).

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Justin Bieber ‘wrote’ a song called Pray; it’s about prayer. Somehow I saw the music video which ends with this quote, “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer”.

God does speak in the silence of the heart, but is listening the beginning of prayer?

When the disciples asked Jesus, ‘Teach us how to pray’. Did Jesus respond with silence? Did he say, ‘ first things first, listen’. No. He gave them a pattern of petitionary prayer that begins with the spoken words ‘our Father’.

Prayer is a conversation with God. Prayer is a child learning to talk to their perfect heavenly Father. Yet many people say they don’t know how to pray. They may know how to converse with a stranger on a bus but not with the God of the Universe.

Perhaps, it’s because we’ve made prayer something it isn’t. We’ve made it too formalized. Prayer becomes less like a child learning to talk to their parent and more like a theologian discoursing on the incommunicable attributes of God’s nature (by the way incommunicable attributes are those characteristic’s of God that he doesn’t share with people eg. all-powerful, or everywhere present) .

To hear people pray like that can really intimidate the beginner.

Or the language of prayer can seem really foreign to people when we start using words like ‘thou’, ‘thee’ and ‘though art’, or my favorite prayer word ‘beseech’. I try to use the word ‘beseech’ once a day in ordinary conversations. It’s difficult to slip it in.

I know some people would respond that it’s important to use special words in addressing God because it’s a sign of reverence. To speak to God in every day speech is too familiar, too irreverent. If you address God as ‘dude’ I see their point.

But again, prayer is a child talking to their heavenly father. You can certainly respect your father without addressing him in 17th century english and cliches.

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If prayer is a conversation with God prayer must also involve listening. Kaeden is learning to talk. He is also learning to listen. Kind of. Like most Christians in prayer Kaeden is better at talking than listening.

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Kaeden is learning to speak by spending time with his parents. If you want to learn to pray rub shoulders with people who already know how to pray. Plunge into the Psalms, which is like enrolling in a school of prayer.

Lastly, remember the heart of God for his people. I will be delighted to hear my son’s first crystal clear word because I’m his father. To hear him call me ‘daddy’ for the first time will be a sweet sound to my ears.

Our prayers can delight God in the same way (Rev 8:4).

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God the Gardner

August 8, 2011

I’ve never gardened in my life until this past week. My wife and I inherited a small back yard with a planter’s box overflowing with weeds from the previous owners. It was a gardener’s worst nightmare.

But with the help of family, we rolled up our sleeves and tackled the chaotic mass of weeds, plants, and floundering flowers. It wasn’t an easy job, but it was worth it. The end result was a beautiful garden.

Theological Reflections:

God is a gardner in Scripture. Think of the Genesis Creation account. Day 1 and 3 correspond to the creative activity that takes place in days 4 to 6. God creates a space and than He fills that space with His handy work. God is bringing order out of chaos.

Isn’t that what a gardner does?

Our lives are often a jumbled assortment of intertwined fears, worries and anxieties (not to mention pride, bitterness and resentment.) These ‘weeds’ choke out the abundant life that Jesus wants us to experience and cause our lives to be unfruitful. God plants good things in us through his Word but when these good things try to grow and bear fruit, these unruly ‘weeds’ choke the life out of them.

Often, we are aware of these ‘weeds’ (and if we’re not, our friends or spouses remind us of what they are) and we try to deal with them by mowing them over only to have them grow back a few short days later.

Thankfully, God is a good Gardener who wants to pull the weeds out by the roots. God’s not after behavioral modification, He is into internal transformation. God goes after the root of the problem, our rebellious, selfish hearts; the inward curvature of the sinful will, which feeds incessantly on self, needs to be resurrected and reoriented towards our Creator God. This is the redeeming work of Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

God’s fashioning a space within every believer that he wants to fill with his glorious presence. The Spirit of God is hovering over our lives right now wanting to bring order out of chaos, beauty out of brokenness, and harmony out of the discordant, discombobulated jumble of emotions and sinful behaviors that sometimes seem to dominate our lives.

What are the ‘weeds’ that are choking our joy, peace and abundant life in Christ?

Maybe these ‘weeds’ are masquerading as inner commitments that we’ve made unknowingly with the enemy of our souls. The Holy Spirit can reveal what these inner commitments, or inner vows, are:

I will never be loved.

I can’t be forgiven for this.

I’m a failure.

I’m worthless.

I will never succeed.

There is no point to my life.

All the above are common agreements, or inner vows, we make unwittingly with the enemy of our souls that bear bad fruit in our lives and need to be renounced.

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I realized long ago that there is a lot of need in the world; an overwhelming amount. Darfur, Haiti, Somalia, the environment, the girl in youth group who is cutting herself (the list goes on and on). I started erecting barriers around my heart to protect it from all the need because I didn’t want to feel all the hurt in the world. I made an inner vow that I would only care up to a certain point.

I was protecting my heart from hurt, which means I was protecting my heart from love, which means I was protecting my heart from God. I need God to knock down the walls, or uproot the ‘weed’s that keep me from feeling things deeply.

I need God to heal my heart by breaking it for the things that make His heart break.

I need God to do some gardening in my soul. Invite God the Gardner to begin His pruning work. Freedom Session is a good place to encounter God the Gardener.

He’s been working on me.

John 15:1-7

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Pain and Parenting

August 4, 2011

Twice in his young career as a human being my son, Kaeden, has dipped his fingers into his Daddy’s piping hot Coffee. On both occasions, pain filled cries erupted from his mouth. I would like to think that he’s learned a valuable lesson about the World of Coffee, but I doubt it because if he had the chance, he would do it again.

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A few days ago, Kaeden was standing in his crib with two hands placed firmly on the railing to keep his balance. First, he removed one hand with a triumphant smile. He was still vertical. Emboldened by his initial success he removed the second hand.

For a wild moment, victory was at hand. He had done it. Days of toil and struggle had finally paid dividends. He stood on his own two feet without anything holding him up.

It lasted two seconds.

Then he did a face plant into the railing of the crib. Once again, he experienced this thing called pain. Eventually, he will learn to fear it.

Is pain a gift?

I once saw a book entitled, ‘The Gift of Pain’. The book looked like a pain to read so I didn’t bother and now I’m suffering without the answer.

If pain is a gift, it’s one that I’m disinclined to unwrap. Pain is often treated as a foe but seldom welcomed as a friend. I understand why; the annoying thing about pain is that it hurts.

In a North American culture enamored with comfort, to suggest pain is anything other than an enemy is an open invitation for ridicule. If pain is a gift, why do we medicate it? Why do I (the author of this blog) have a medicine cabinet filled with Tylenol and Advil? Why do I pop pills like pez from a pez dispenser whenever I’ve got a headache? Why do people drink away emotional distress?

More seriously, how is the pain experienced by a person dying of a terminal illness a gift?

C.S Lewis once famously wrote in his book, ‘The Problem of Pain’, that “God whispers in our pleasures but he shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”.

Okay. Fine. But once God’s woken us up can’t the pain subside? Sometimes it intensifies long after God has already gotten our attention.

What would you say to a friend who continued to dump buckets of water on you long after you had awoken with a start from your slumber? Would you respond with some form of hostility? I doubt you would be very happy with the first bucket, even if you were in danger of sleeping through an exam, or an important appointment.

‘Dude, wasn’t there another way to get my attention, or wake me up? After all, you’re a pretty resourceful guy.’

(You might think the above analogy is a caricature of Lewis’ thought expressed in the quotation. You’d be right).

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If I wanted to argue that pain is a gift, here are some things that I would say:

(1) Pain is a warning sign that something is wrong with us. Many people have been spared a heart attack because of the warning signs of chest pain. Lepers are often hideously disfigured because the disease doesn’t allow them to feel pain. As a result, a leper patient can burn themselves without realizing it, walk on a broken foot without noticing, or have a serious infection without seeking treatment, leading to horrendous disfiguration.

(2) Pain can push us to discover the inestimable worth of Christ. Pain strips away all earthly comfort. Pain causes us to long for God’s Kingdom to be fully present and suffering and sorrow to be done away with. Pain reminds us that the world, in its present state, isn’t our forever home and we need not get too comfortable here.

(3) Nerve endings are a gift. Without pain, pleasure would be impossible. As a result, the same sun that warms my face can burn my skin.

(4) We live in a physical world where pain seems like an unavoidable necessity. If I can hug, I can hurt.

(5) Much of our pain is the result of free will. Many diseases we suffer are the result of poor health choices that we’ve made. Much of our emotional pain is the result of someone sinning against us. Free will is a good thing but buried within the gift is the potential of evil. Without free will; however, love and virtue would be impossible. I can’t imagine living in a loveless world and love requires a uncoerced choice and, unfortunately, so does evil.

(6) Pain can mold our character in a positive way. Affliction is a harsh school master but its lessons are often ingrained deeply into our character. It can deepen us and teach us compassion, empathy and humility in ways that pleasure cannot, if we’re willing to bow our hearts under its rod. Have you ever met a child who was given everything and shielded from all hardship? Do you want that baby sitting job? I rest my case.

(The above points have been made in more detail by many different authors (See Norman Geisler ‘If God, why Evil’?, C.S Lewis ‘The Problem of Pain’, or Phillip Yancey, ‘The Gift of Pain’).

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There is also the issue of animal pain to deal with. Author Michael Murrey in his book, ‘Nature Red in Tooth and Claw’, distinguishes between 3 different levels of pain:

(1) The first level is ‘Information bearing neural states produced by noxious stimuli resulting in aversive behavior’. This level of pain is experienced by insects like Spiders, or Praying Mantis’. Basically it means that insects don’t have a subjective (or conscious) experience of pain they are simply reacting instinctively to their environment (at this point you may think I’ve tricked you into reading this blog with cute pictures of my son. You may feel how he looks… sorry).

(2) The second level of pain is ‘a first order, subjective experience of pain. This is pain that higher animals, like dogs, bears, or Liger’s experience.

(3) The third level of pain is ‘a second order awareness that one is oneself experiencing pain’. This type of subjective awareness is connected to the pre-frontal cortex in the brain. The pre-frontal cortex is not shared by an other animal (other than ‘humanoid primates’).

Therefore, a conscious awareness of pain in the uniquely human sense of ‘I am the one enduring this gut rending sensation’ is only experienced by human beings. Lucky us. That pre-frontal cortex in the brain is a real pain. But it does make you feel better if you’ve ever witnessed a pet suffer because their experience is of a different quality than ours.

To attribute to an animal, or an inanimate object, the same experience of pain that a person suffers is to commit the logical fallacy of Anthropopathism which is ‘ascribing human feelings to non-human entities’.

Our family has shed tears over the death of animals. Kaeden may one day cry for a pet that has gone to be with Jesus. It’s nice to know that animals don’t experience agony in the same way that we do because they lack the pre-frontal cortex in their brain.

But let’s be honest, we are most concerned with our own hurt and the hurt of those we love.

It grieved my heart as a Dad, to watch my son shed tears because he burnt his hand in my coffee, especially considering that I created the context in which he experienced pain. If I hadn’t been holding him, he wouldn’t have gotten burnt. Curiously, he also wouldn’t have experienced the closeness with his Daddy that he wanted.

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Back to C.S Lewis. In a book published years after ‘The Problem of Pain’ called ‘Grief Observed’, written after the heartbreaking death of his wife, Lewis wrote,

“What do people mean when they say, “I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never even been to a dentist”?

A good dentist might hurt to heal and a good God might do the same. Here’s the bottom line:

God allows us to experience pain. Either there is a purpose for the pain or there isn’t. If there isn’t a purpose for the pain, I don’t see how God can be good. Since we have independent reasons, in spite of pain, to believe that God is good (namely the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the witness of the Holy Spirit in our lives) I choose to believe that pain has a purpose in the hands of a sovereign benevolent God.

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Because of the 6 reasons listed above I think, with proper perspective, pain can be a gift but beyond a certain point it is hard to receive it as such. Perhaps it would be better to say, ‘pain in itself is not a gift but the conditions that allow us to experience pain are.’ Or ‘Pain is not good in and of itself but it can produce good in our lives’.

It seems, however, some suffering is the unfortunate result of living in a fallen world and to call it a gift would do a great disservice to the person bowed under it’s agonizing, oppressive load. With certain chronic pain, or terminal pain, there comes a level of intensity or longevity that causes pain to transition from a potential blessing to a distressing burden. I believe fervently that God can use even this type of pain for good but it’s sometimes difficult to see how in the moment.

In those times our great comfort is that the glories of heaven will far outweigh our trials on earth. The Apostle Paul suffered from chronic pain and he wrote,

“Our troubles are small. They only last for a short time. But they are earning for us a glory that will last forever. It is greater than all our troubles” (2nd Corinthians 4:17 NIRV).

If we’re tempted to think Paul doesn’t understand pain, read 2nd Corinthians 11 and 12 and we’ll be quickly robbed of that illusion. Paul chose to place his earthly suffering on a scale with the eternal glory waiting for him and found that God’s promise outweighs the pain.

I pray Kaeden grows to believe this. But when all my philosophizing and theologizing ceases, all my boy knows is that it hurts to burn his fingers in Coffee.

My son isn’t old enough to understand.

I’m not sure that his Daddy is either.

But I trust my God who died for me.

I pray Kaeden still trusts me, even though I allowed him to burn his fingers, because I really love him and would die for him if it came to that.

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Learning to Walk and Run

July 30, 2011

God is genderless. God is beyond masculinity and femininity. God doesn’t have the identifying ‘parts’ because God is Spirit.

However, God is still called a Father in the Scripture. In fact, God reveals Himself in the Bible through predominantly masculine imagery. This is not solely because the Bible was produced in a Patriarchal age. The truth is masculine imagery for God can prevent us from thinking erroneous ideas about God’s relationship to the world.

Philosopher Peter Kreeft writes,

“Alone among the ancients ‘gods’, the Jewish God was always ‘He’, never ‘she’. For ‘she’ symbolized something immanent, while ‘He’ was transcendent. ‘She’ was the womb of all things, the cosmic Mother, but ‘he’ was other than Mother Earth. He (God) created the earth, and He came into it from without, as a man comes into a woman.”

The masculine imagery for God safeguarded the truth that God is separate and distinct from creation. In Pagan Religions where feminine deities were prevalent, there was always a strong tendency towards ‘Pantheism’ (the belief that everything is God) because in these worldviews creation is birthed out of the mother goddess thereby sharing in her very nature.

The end result was the deification of creation.

Over and opposed to this worldview is the Biblical worldview which claims that God is distinct from creation but loves creation and floods creation with His presence and glory. Not only does God love the world He’s made, He enters into creation through Jesus to redeem and restore it from all the consequences of humanities’ sin and rebellion. The masculine imagery for God protects these theological distinctions.

However, despite the predominance of masculine imagery in the Bible, the image of Motherhood is also applied to God in certain scripture passages by way of analogy (contrary to Peter Kreeft’s strong statement above. See Isaiah 49:15, Isaiah 66:13, Dt. 32:18, 1st kings 3:26)). Here is the key point I want to stress:

God’s parenthood is not a projection of our parenthood. Rather, our parenthood is a reflection of God’s.

The above Biblical understanding is the underlying assumption of every Baby Blog I’ve written. Because our parenting reflects God’s, we can learn much about God’s interactions with us through our own interactions with our kids (See Hebrews 12:7-12 where the Bible exemplifies this very principle).

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The author George McDonald once wrote that ‘God is easy to please but hard to satisfy’. The above comment floating free from it’s original context could mean a lot of different things to different people.

I believe that George McDonald was originally making a remark about Christian sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which God conforms the Christian to the image and likeness of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

God won’t be satisfied until we grow up into the likeness of Christ. But he is pleased with our first feeble, faltering steps in the direction of Godliness and obedience.

In this regard, a parent can reflect God in their attitude towards their children. Here is what I mean if it isn’t clear already: My son has recently learned to stand with assistance. He’s also begun to crawl and I am very pleased at his efforts. I constantly encourage him and affirm his progress even if he can’t fully receive it yet.

But I must confess, I’m not satisfied. I won’t be sufficiently satisfied until he can walk and run. I won’t be satisfied until he grows up into a fully functioning adult. But that doesn’t subtract from the pleasure I have in witnessing his first faltering step. His mother and I celebrate it like he won the hundred yard dash in the Olympics.

Kaeden stands up like he’s ‘tipsy’ and stumbles more than an unregenerate College freshman on Spring Break, but he’s our little ‘drunk’ and we love him. I like to think he’s hammered on the Holy Spirit but I digress…

One day Kaeden will run but he will have to fall a lot first. He will have to fail. Failure is not an option, it is a requirement if he’s going to learn to sprint. We’ve given him permission to fail because we’ve given him permission to grow.

And if he is going to fail at running I want him to fail aggressively. I want him to fail by trying. I won’t be pleased if he fails passively, by refusing to try, what good parent would be?

We will fail God. We will stumble. But that’s how we will grow in our understanding of Grace and Godliness. God is easy to please but God is hard to satisfy because God is a good Father.

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Solids and Scripture

July 15, 2011

(Photo by Rachel Raymond)

We started feeding Kaeden solids over a month ago. His first meal was something called ‘rice cereal’ not a splendid blend of wheat and carrots as I originally posted. He’s tried a lot of different ‘foods’. The least appealing to my refined palate was the blended broccoli that resembled the innards of a slug.

Parent’s sometimes warn not to introduce fruits to early in the babies life because once you do it will be more difficult to get the child to eat things like vegetables. Vegetables aren’t as sweet as fruit but vegetables (in most cases) are healthier.

Why must unhealthy things taste so much better?

In my mind, this is perhaps the greatest argument against the existence of God. Perhaps it’s not ‘logically sound’ but it carries a lot of emotional weight for me and my stomach.

Have you ever asked, ‘Why God’? Why? Why must unhealthy foods taste so good? Whole wheat pasta? Give me a break. Isn’t whole wheat pasta demonic, or at the very least a corruption of that which God made originally good?

Anyways, feeding Kaeden solids has caused me to reflect on the Bible. You might think that is a stretch but the Apostle Paul wrote this to the Corinthian church,

“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly- mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it..” (1st Corinthians 3:1,2).

There are certain truths that are sweet to our soul. God loves me. Jesus died for all of my sins. God will never leave me or forsake me. My life has meaning. Existence isn’t absurd and I’m not a cosmic coincidence. Death is not the end; Jesus conquered the grave.

To my knowledge there are no movements among Christians to eradicate these truths from the life of the church. These truths taste sweet to our spiritual palate.

But there are other truths that taste bitter. Other doctrines that are more difficult to swallow. For some the doctrine of hell is a toxic concept that should be expunged from the teaching of the church. For others the Christian teaching of forgiveness is incredibly hard to embrace as well as Jesus’ comments about loving your enemies. How about this one, ‘Any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and woman is sinful’.

That last one is a real crowd pleaser.

I’m not saying I don’t struggle with some theological issues but here is the pertinent issue for me in the form of a question, ‘Is God good’? Christians would answer ‘yes’. ‘Is the Bible the word of God’? Again, Christians would answer ‘yes’.

If we answer yes to both of those questions that means the Bible teachings that taste bitter to us at first are for our spiritual growth and health and when we are more mature (and humble) in our faith we may learn to appreciate that truth. In a similar way that I now appreciate foods that I neglected when I was a youth.

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Most of the theological controversies in the Evangelical church today are the result of Christians who refuse to swallow the ‘spiritual’ food being feed to them by their benevolent ‘parent’ (God through His word) because of an unbalanced proclivity towards the ‘sweet’ truths of scripture. Some teachings in the Bible aren’t hard to understand but they are hard to accept so we pretend like they’re hard to understand. I learned that in Bible College.

Maybe that is too harsh. It’s probably overly simplistic.

But didn’t someone once say, ‘God created us in his image and we have been returning the favor every since’? Hmmm. That happens when my criteria for spiritual truth becomes whatever ‘I like’. The ‘god’ that results from my pickiness begins to look a lot like me, or the surrounding culture. This type of ‘god’ is nothing but a Freudian projection of my wishes and longings and it’s certainly not the God of the Bible.

I’ve done this in my theology, do you? Isn’t this ‘pickiness’ the unavoidable result of taking a handy highlighter to the scriptures?

I’m convinced that if our spiritual diet only consists of truths that taste sweet we will be unbalanced in our theology which will likely lead to us being unhealthy in our lifestyle. Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences sooner or later. The end result is that we will become spiritually stunted individuals. Mere infants in the faith. God wants us to grow up in our theological thinking like we’ve grown up in our eating habits.

But this pastor still doesn’t like Peas.

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Commands and Cribs

June 22, 2011

No parent wants their child to have a weirdly shaped head. For the first couple months of our son’s life, he was always lying on his back and we were afraid the back of his head was starting to look abnormally flat. I realize his character will be more important then the shape of his cranium but still…we were concerned.

It was our parental desire for a boy with a normally shaped head that caused us to begin to practice ‘tummy time’. ‘Tummy time’ is when you put your infant on their stomach and they lie there like a beached whale. It’s a great photo opportunity.

Kaeden hated it with an intense passion that erupted from his 2 month old vocal chords. He’s not shy about voicing his displeasure.

Eventually Kaeden learned to roll from his stomach on to his back. So his mom and I would put him on his stomach for ‘Tummy time’ and he would immediately flip on to his back. We’d flip him over again. And he would flip back. I wrote in an earlier blog that it began to feel like an act of defiance.

It still does.

Things have changed now. Kaeden is starting to become more mobile. Not only can he flip from his stomach to his back now he can turn from his back to his stomach. But he still dislikes being on his stomach.

Here is the situation we now find ourselves in. Daddy puts Kaeden down for a nap and leaves the room. Two minutes later, the sound of crying shatters the serene stillness that silently signifies that glorious space in a parents day: nap time. I go into the room to discover that he has rolled onto his stomach and he is stuck. He is flailing about to no avail. He’s tangled in the clutches of his blanket and he’s not getting on to his back without outside intervention.

I flip him over and leave the room. Two minutes later more crying. I go back in. Kaeden has flipped onto his stomach again. Dad comes to the rescue.

I go downstairs. 3 minutes later. More crying. Once again the boy has turned onto his stomach. I applaud his effort but am disappointed in his lack of foresight. I roll him over.

1 minute. 2 minutes. 5 minutes. Silence. He’s learned his lesson.

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But I’m not sure if I’ve learned mine when I consider my relationship with the God, who is also called a Father.

I act in a similar manner to Kaeden when I sin by breaking God’s commandments. God loves me. He knows what’s best for me (and all of us). If we were like a car, God has written the owners manual. He knows how we’re supposed to run and has communicated that information to us through his Son (Jesus) and his Word.

But we often do the opposite of what He tells us to do (instead of putting oil in the car, we put sawdust in it and then wonder why the car doesn’t run right), and unlike Kaeden, we often know we are doing it. Then we get into a mess and cry for God to bail us out. And often He graciously does because God is a good Father. Or sometimes God lets us feel the consequences of our actions because God is a good father.

You think I would have learned my lesson by now. I’m pretty smart. After all I have a blog. But God is smarter than me. I should do what He commands instead of rolling into sin and then ‘crying’ when it gets uncomfortable.

God’s commands aren’t meant to solely constrain us, or limit our freedom, but to promote our liberty. Freedom from guilt, self-inflicted suffering and the insanity of sin.

I wish it only took me three times to learn that lesson. I would leave God less of a mess to clean up.

My wife says, ‘Amen’.

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The 6 month shots

June 3, 2011

I hate shots. Always have. I guess I’m not very unique in this regard. After all, who likes having a needle jabbed in their arm?

Not healthy people.

There is at least one thing I like less than getting shots. Taking our son to get shots. Several weeks ago he had his 6 month shots. Now he is old enough to be aware of what is going on. He can look at me with pleading eyes that seem to beg for rescue.

‘Why are you doing this to me dad’? ‘I thought you were a safe place’? ‘Why would you let this woman hurt me’?

Don’t tell me its all in my mind. I heard it in my heart; the non verbal accusations. I’m thankful he can’t actually talk.

Why would I put my son through such an traumatic endeavor purposefully? I pinned his arms down for heavens sake.

Because I know its for his good. These shots will contribute to his health and well being in the long run. They will fortify his body against future disease. I’m letting my son suffer momentarily because I love Him.

Kaeden’s perspective is limited. He knows nothing of this. All he ‘knows’ is that his dad is letting some strange woman poke needles into his thigh. And it hurts.

If he could talk I wonder what he might say; ‘I thought you loved me dad’? ‘ I thought you had my best intentions in mind’? ‘Don’t you have the power to rescue me from this’?

From his perspective he can see no good reason why I would allow this painful event to happen to him.

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I don’t know why we suffer what can seem like gratuitous evil. I don’t know why God lets it happen. But I do know that if God is God than the chasm between his understanding and my own is far greater than the gap separating the comprehension of a 6 month old and his daddy.

If God is big enough to blame for suffering, He is big enough to have reasons for it that we can’t fully understand. So when life sticks its needles into our souls the questions we need to ask ourselves in the moments of clarity are, ‘Do we trust Jesus’? ‘Is God sovereign and good’? If so, there is a sanctifying purpose for this sorrow. When I grow I may even know what these trials were all for.

Or maybe not.

Either way through it all God holds us in his proverbial hands and whispers to our souls through His Spirit words similar to the comfort I offered my son. ‘I love you’, ‘It’s okay’, ‘It will be over soon’.

I believe that. And it helps.