True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: I Love Phillip Phillips

My son is much more…how do you say…vocal than our daughter ever was at this age.  Whether it’s a farty noise, a giggle, a whine, or a cry he is pretty much always trying to make his presence known.

Usually when he’s in the car is his moment of silence, but every now and again when he’s over tired or just sick of being in his straight jacket of a carseat he will really let us have it.  No amount of car gymnastics from the front seat to blindly put his pacifier in while you keep the car from going into on coming traffic will work either.  Not even big sister with her silly antics can calm the beast.

There is but one thing…Phillip Phillips.

That’s right the American Idol winner whose song “Home” you’ve heard ad nauseam at the 2012 Olympics, the song you hear on every commercial, and the song that will instantly turn my son into Silent Bob within the first note.

We’ve tried other songs to no avail, but literally by the first pluck of the acoustic guitar Easton is transfixed.  However, just like Cinderella’s magical night the second the song ends the party is over and he is back to whatever bad mood he was in.

So what does any sane, logical, well educated father do?  Put that bad boy on repeat and learn all the words to the stinking song.

Don’t judge, you’d do it too and you know it!

So what is your “Phillip Phillips” between you and God

How do you in the middle of life’s temper tantrums calm yourself and focus yourself back to God?

I can’t tell you how important this is to your spiritual health and growth.  Having time to reconnect with God in a way that has no distraction, no timetable, and no agenda is vital to realizing a full and meaningful relationship with Him.

Jesus was our model for this practice.

In Luke 5 we read about Jesus calling the first disciples and performing miracles in the town he visited.  Let’s face it, the stress we feel with expense reports and backed up lines at the drive-thru are not quite as stressful compared to healing leprosy and selecting the men to start the Church.  It’s no wonder that Jesus was exhausted.

“But isn’t He God?”, you may ask, “How can God get tired?”

The beautifully relatable aspect of Jesus was His humanity.  That while being fully God He was also fully man meaning he experience and felt all the same things we do including fatigue.  And what Jesus does when fatigued is something we should all learn from.

“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”- Luke 5:15-16

Jesus withdrew from the chaos and the work to pray and connect with His Father.  Even with all the people still needing healing, disciples needing discipling, and ministry left to do, He stopped, dropped, and prayed.  It’s how He recharged His batteries for the next phase of the journey and He did it “often” Scriptures tell us.

My challenge to you and me is to be like Jesus today.

Now, before you go trying to walk across the pool at the local High School keep reading.

I want us to be like Jesus in the sense that we need to take time to connect with God just like He did and not feel guilty in doing it.  There is always things to do, places to go, and work to be done, but taking time to recharge with God is what will let you do those things with more clarity, confidence, and holiness.

God isn’t oblivious to your busy schedule, He just wants to be part of it. 

So make a point crank up some Phillip Phillips and let the world slip away so you can calm yourself and connect with your Dad.

I guarantee it will begin to feel just like Home.

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12/14/12 – The Day I Took My Kids For Granted

It even feels hypocritical reading that title.

Especially since my wife and I struggled for so long and had to go through so much just to have our beautiful kids.  We should wake up every day and thank God for every second we have with them.

But I don’t.

I get upset about my son not sleeping, frustrated with my daughter for not paying attention, grumpy when Aniston is whiny, and at my whits end when Easton won’t calm down unless you bounce him.  Heck, we even go so far as to complain with other parents about our respective kids and all the headaches they give us.  It’s as if we are doing these kids a favor by being their parents.

All that seemed normal and “what every parent does”…until Friday…until 9:00 am December 14, 2012…until innocence was lost…until the unthinkable happened…until “normal” didn’t make sense anymore.

Sadly, it took a young man draped in evil walking into an elementary school and shattering all the rules of morality for me to look at my kids differently.  To look at life differently.  To look at the world differently.

As I’m sure many of you did, I left work a little quicker that day and didn’t bother to stop by the local drive-thru for an iced tea on the way home.  I didn’t take the route that “might be faster” just to see what would happen.  No, I went home as fast as I could.

When I got through the doors I kissed my wife, hugged my daughter as we watched Doc McStuffins, and l looked at my son while he drooled on my face.  Through glassy eyes clouded with tears I smiled at what God had given me and begged for His forgiveness.

Gone were the thoughts of fatigue or frustration towards my kids because an overwhelming sense of blessing had filled those spaces.  I realized in that moment what was important, what I could no longer brush past, and what I needed to NEVER take for granted again.

However, in that moment of reflection and vulnerability something also became crystal clear.

My family is not running away.

We will not place our children in a figurative or literal bubble to shield them from the challenges of this world.  I am the proud son of two public school teachers and I will be the proud father of children in the public schools.  We will still go to movies, shop at malls, and go to amusement parks.  We will travel on planes, drive in cars, and visit foreign lands.  We will play in public, worship in public, and work for the public for the reason is simple.

As Christians, this is what God has called us to do and this is what God himself did.

God did not shy away from the evil of this world.  He pressed into it with His full weight and full force sending His very best in Jesus.  God’s plan was never a plan of retreat but one of attack.  An attack led by Love.

The natural tendency is to ask the question of “Why?” when tragedies like this happen.  It’s our attempt to understand and reconcile our brains to what just took place so we can neatly package it to explain later.  Howeve,r there are times in life where we may never know the Why because the answer can only be summed up by the fact Evil still roams this earth.

And our attempt to justify evil will always come up empty.

Ironically the pursuit of understanding happiness and evil have a similar end result.  Like nailing jello to the wall the second you think you have it nailed down your happiness will change or the evil we seek to understand will morph again leaving us chasing mirages.

I pray we do not waste so much energy chasing down fleeting answers to question of evil, but rather harness all we have into pursuing the Light and being light.

Jesus said in Matthew 15:14-16

““You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

In times where evil seems to bubble to the surface of life and overflow into our worlds we must fight the urge to retreat.  We cannot insulate ourselves in fear and place ourselves in a self-made cocoon of insecurity.

Instead, as Christians we must stand tall, find the highest point we can, and shine Light in the face of darkness.  We must point to the One that has come to overcome all evil and will never back down for a second.

I know there is pain, I know there are questions, I know there is anger at the evil that was done.  Jesus knows too and feels our pain, but only He can do something with it and He has.  He nailed it to a cross, broke the chains of death, and kicked Evil in the teeth for you and for me.  Evil may appear to win in this broken world, but it never will win in the World that counts.

I leave you my friends not with my words, but with Words from the Creator of the Universe Himself and the One that has and will always triumph over evil.

And the One who I will never take for granted.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.- John 16:33

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If We Can’t Win We Will Whine

The other day I was talking with my friend, and I asked how he was doing.   He jokingly said, “Good!  I mean, I guess there is always something to complain about though right?”

We both chuckled and went our separate ways, but I got thinking about what he said.

“There’s always something to complain about right?”

That seems to sum up the natural human condition doesn’t it?

No matter how much good is going on in our life, how many blessings we have stored up, or how much we have to be thankful for we will always find a rain cloud to bring over our head.

I believe the inner reason for that is that we are never satisfied and we desperately want for all parts of our life to have a big red bow on it like the Lexus commercials at Christmas.  We want everything to be perfect or at least as personally favorable as possible.

That’s why we will complain about pretty much everything.

We will complain about our food, foot, football team, foundations, fatigue, fears, and our functions sometimes before we even leave the house!  Why is that?

It’s because we think we know what’s right and since life isn’t listening to our master plan we grumble.  In other words, if we can’t win we’ll whine.

Jesus had to deal with this whining and grumbling nearly every day of his ministry.  A classic example of this in John 6 which must have made Jesus think “Can I ever win?”

Where we pick up, Jesus had literally just got done walking on water.  He probably was stretching out his calves and doing a cool down when a crowd approaches Him.  Interwoven in the masses was a group of Jews who, in questioning Jesus about his claims of being God, bring up that Moses was able to provide the people of the Exodus mana from heaven to keep them fed and could He do that?

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.  But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” – John 6:35-38

Well this must not have sat well with the Jews because they saw they couldn’t win so they began to whine.

“At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’? – John 6:41-42

In their dismissal of Jesus they attack His divinity through his pedigree.  Since what he said didn’t line up with what they believed they chose to dismiss Him because he came from “common” people so how can He be God?

“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” - John 6:43-44

Jesus tries to redirect their mumbles and grumbles back to the Truth in His promise but they don’t listen and leave arguing sharply amongst themselves.  Turning to His peeps, his followers, his disciples, He gets an interesting and surprising response to what transpired.

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?” - John 6:60-61

Even his own disciples were whining about what He said!  It’s like the players after the game talking about the coach to the press.  Not everyone that says they want to be on the team has what it takes to be on the team and Jesus knew that and this grumbling was a sign of the inevitable.

“For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.  He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” – John 6:64b-66

Some of the followers of Jesus couldn’t handle the entire Christian package.  It got too tough, too much was asked of them, and too much would have to be given up so they left.

His Twelve stayed with Him, but many of the others left to go back to join the crowd of whiners instead of staying with the group of Winners.

In our life we will always have the choice whether we want to follow God’s plan or whine when we don’t.  However, our decision to choose whining is not God’s fault.  If we don’t want to obey we miss out not God.

Don’t turn you back on God and whine about why you did it.  Keep leaning into Him and although there may be a TON of stuff to complain about choose to focus on the goodness of God and all He’s done for you.

That always puts things in the right perspective for me and I guarantee it will change your outlook on your day.

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Stick It To Goliath!

The story of David and Goliath is one of the most well known and recited stories in all of history.  Christians and Non-Christians alike are familiar with the story of the undersized, under protected, under manned David defeating the 9’9” giant known as Goliath.

Goliath and the Philistines had intimidated and dominated the people of Israel for so long and with such force that the Israelites were terrified and paralyzed.  They had lost sight of the God that parts seas to protect them and wins impossible battles with ease.

It wasn’t until a small shepherd boy with mad sling shot skills and a resume that included lion and bear killing reminds them of the God that they serve.  As David stands in front of the mighty Goliath and absorbs the giant’s taunts, he quickly puts things into spiritual perspective.

“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.” – 1 Samuel 17:45-46

The two rush at each other and David takes dead aim at Goliath’s massive head that was swollen both literally and figuratively.  Needing only 1 of the 5 smooth stones he brought with him, David strikes the giant down and the place comes unglued.

The Israelites charge the retreating Philistines and God’s plan begins to play out in David’s life on a battle field he was never meant to be at in the first place.  But before we tuck this story to bed and go on with our day there is a part of the story we skip over but is fascinating when you look at it.

It happens after the rock hits its mark and Goliath is either unconscious or stunned on the ground.  David rushes his enemy and stands over the top of him, but this time he doesn’t use a stones.  The time for stones was over.

“David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.” - 1 Samuel 17:51

Did you catch it?

Whose sword did David use?

Goliath’s!

The undersized, under manned, and under protected shepherd boy, David, takes the massive sword of Goliath and cuts the giant’s head off with it.  The weapon that Goliath had intended to kill David with turns out to be the very weapon that would end his life.

God has a tendency to do that.

In fact, He did it with His own Son.

We mistakenly assign the cross exclusively to Jesus.  In reality, this was a common device of torture and murder in the Roman world.  In fact, history tell us that the Romans perfected crucifixion before Christ’s death and at one point they crucified 1,000 Spartan warriors at the same time along a roadside to prove a point.  Rebels against Rome and this could be you.

Jesus was killed by that perfected crucifixion and although it was reserved for the worst of criminals it wasn’t used exclusively for Him.

But yet, Jesus used their weapon of death and torture to defeat them in the end.  Three days after the soldiers had taken His lifeless body off that cross and assured He was sealed in a tomb, Jesus arose and beat them at their own game.  But the goal was never to beat crucifixion it was always to beat sin.

Listen to the writer of Hebrews.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” - Hebrews 12:2-3

Jesus stood over the giant of sin that had torn the children of God away from Him and He killed it once and for all.  Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection are what made sin null and void to the believer and left Satan on a battle field bloody and decapitated.

God still is doing that today.

God is able to use everything in our life and in this world for His glory.  This means that he can somehow use our addiction, divorce, selfishness, pride, depression, and anything else this world throws at us to bring people back to Him.  However, it all starts with us submitting to Him and giving up that control.  Giving Him the permission through our repentance to use what was once destined to kill us to ultimately save us.

You and I can choose if that happens.

David chose to pick up the sword meant to kill him and cut the head off the evil in front of him.  Jesus chose to take on the cross that was meant to humiliate, torture, and murder Him and now it rests as symbol of freedom and love to all believers.

What will your challenges end up looking like in your life?

Will they be what defines your end or will you use them to beat them at their own game and redefine your future?

Don’t lose heart…Jesus is still fighting for you.

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