Victoria

I saw her at the grocery store.  A beautiful five-year-old girl pushing one of the child-sized carts.  The cart was full – full for Victoria – it had a gallon of milk in it.  That was enough.  Her dad was there to help her, but he didn’t get to do anything.  Victoria was doing all the work.

I had to smile at her.  She and her parents are dear to my heart.  I love watching her grow up and become more and more independent.  I love the course that she is on.

As she was getting ready to check out, I thought about the way we pass on information to our children.

Her dad did not teach her with words: “First, put both of your hands right here.  Walk forward and the cart will move forward.  Apply more pressure with your right hand to turn left…”  He didn’t have to say any of that.  We do not tell our kids how to live, we show them.

What information are you passing along to your children by example?

Deuteronomy 6:7 “You shall teach these things diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

You might tell your kids about God today.

You will definitely show your kids about God today.

What will you teach them?  Here is how you find out:  Wait until they start pushing the weight of the world around – then you will know exactly what you taught them.

Teach well.  The world needs more Victorias.

“Jesus, please let me show my kids how much You love them.  Your love is worth all my words and much more!”

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Closer

We have a water cooler at the back of the church. It also has a hot water feature with a child safety spigot.

The other day I was watching Daniel the 2-year-old walk around back there.  Every time he would go near the water cooler, I would get a little closer to him.  If he reached his hand out toward the cold water spigot, I would get closer to him.  He would back away – I would back away.  He would get close, I would get close.  The dance!
He reached toward the hot water spigot and I was right there.  BOOM!  I am ready to rescue.

He fussed. Threw a fit. He doesn’t have the vocabulary yet, but what he was saying was, “Dude! Back away! I know what I am doing and that red, hot water thing looks much more awesome than the cold. You have got to let me do some things that I want and stop pushing your conservative protective agenda on my life!” (something like that).

I am watching my kids get more independent.  This is both wonderful and frightening at the same time. I want them to grow up, but I also want them to avoid scourging hot water.  So I guard them a little closer when they are near the danger.

Something you should know about Jesus:

The closer I get to pain, the closer Jesus gets to me.  This is what rescuers do.

I do not always know that I am closer to pain.  In fact, often, I cry out for independence rather than protection.  “Make me a better…”  “Give me what I need to choose…”  “Let me go…”  When what I should probably pray is, “Thanks for stopping me, God.  I need You.”  (Try that simple prayer sometime.  It will change your life.)

Yet, regardless of how I pray or react, Jesus still walks closer in times of hurt.  Whether I throw a fit or not, He still abides.  I am eternally grateful for that.

I know some of you are closer to the flame than you should be.  Maybe you want to feel the fire.  Maybe you are bored with, or angry at the safe places.  Maybe you don’t know the danger is right in front of you.  You are getting closer to the hurt.  I am sorry, I know how confusing that is.  But be assured…  The Rescuer is here.  He watches all the time, but sometimes He dances.  Don’t try to break His hold, try to learn from His embrace.

We need a Rescuer.

Jesus, please rescue us.

Romans 7:24 “Wretched man that I am!  Who will set me free from the body of this death?”

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Separate or Set

Intramural basketball game.  Jammed finger.  Ouch.

I played basketball a lot so I was used to having jammed fingers.  There is a painful but effective way of taking care of the ailment:  unjam the finger.

Grab the end of the finger.  Deep breath.  Prepare for pain.  Pull…  Hard….  I never had the stomach for pulling my fingers out of a jam, so I had to repeat the process a few times with each finger.

And that’s what I did.  Pulled and pulled and pulled.  I’m going to get that finger unjammed!

After a week of inneffective unjamming, I was in the doctor’s office.

Diagnosis:  “Tree, your finger is broken.  Let’s surgery that thing and put a couple of pins in it so you don’t have arthritis later in life.”  (I’ll tell you that story later.)

So yes, I had spent a week breaking my finger a little more with every pull.

You separate a jammed finger.  You set a broken finger.

This one goes out to all of those who, like me, have tried to separate the things that should be set.

Maybe you feel betrayed, maybe you have been hurt, maybe you just thought you would be better by yourself.  You separated. You disengaged. You ran from. You gave up.

I don’t blame you, but I know how much it hurts when you try to treat a jam and end up breaking.

Take it from the guy that had to drive across the country while wearing a cast: Instead of ripping your heart away, put your heart next to the One that will never move. His name is Jesus and the Bible says that He does not falter (Isaiah 42:4)

Set your heart on Him and let healing begin.

Job 11:13-15 “Still, if you set your heart on God and reach out to him, if you scrub your hands of sin and refuse to entertain evil in your home, you’ll be able to face the world unashamed and keep a firm grip on life, guiltless and fearless.”

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The Kindness of Strangers

We were tired.  Disney.  Great lines to wait in.  Delicious fast food.  Pushing a stroller against the stream.

My kids loved it.  

When it was time for the two princesses in the family to get their Splash Mountain on, the boys and I headed out of the park for a well deserved play date with a Lightning McQueen bed.

We were standing on the bus.  I was holding 1 diaper bag, 1 camera case, 300 pounds of rocks and bowling balls, and a two year old kangaroo that “needed” to destroy my glasses (Daniel).  This left Joshua to fend for himself.

He was standing and talking in the aisle.  Then he was sitting down in the aisle next to a cute 10 year old girl.  (That’s my boy!!). So I turned my attention to the kangaroo.

“Would you like me to catch him?”  The lady sitting in a seat asked me as she pointed to Joshua’s head bobbing up and down in a showdown with exhaustion.

I nudged him.  No response.  Called his name.  More bobbing.  Gave him a thermos of grocery store coffee…  Nothing was getting through to this kid.

I was helpless.  (A father cannot say that without ripping out his own heart.)

Then, I was rescued.

The 10 year old put her arms around him and let him lean on her shoulders.  The ladies in the seats held their hands as a pillow for his head.  The guy in charge of the wheelchair ramp offered a spare wheelchair if we wanted to cart Joshua into the hotel.  I didn’t ask for any of this, I didn’t earn it, but these strangers offered it all.

Life rushed back into me as I stood speechless and grateful for the kindness of strangers.

In the end, Joshua woke up as we arrived at the hotel.  
Helpless.   

Maybe you have felt it too.  The weight of need.  The hunger for help.  Nowhere to turn.  Emotionally bankrupt.  Exhaustion is winning the fight.  You need a bus full of heroes.

Rescued.

What these strangers did for my son is what the Son of God did for my soul.  I was so tired, so broken, so in need.  But Jesus was on the bus.  Hear His invitation in Matthew 11:28 “Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

I don’t think you deserve it.  I know I don’t.  We cannot earn it, and you might not even ask for it, but…  It might be time for you to rest in His arms today.

Join me on the bus full of the rescued today.  Ask me how.


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